He Could Not Outrun Fear
From the time I was about twelve years old, a disturbing thought started to come to me: “If I die, where will I go?” I had no answer for that question. My heart told me that I would go somewhere, but I did not know where, and that overwhelmed me. Many times, in an effort to get rid of that thought, I would play baseball or go to the basketball court. I grew up in the countryside of La Romana in the Dominican Republic, so if I was alone I would go out to the hillside by myself and just run and run. I was trying to get away from that question, “If I die, where will I go?”
My family went to a Catholic church only every once in a while. We were not taught about the Gospel or who God is. I had no understanding of those things. However, all that changed one glorious day in 1976. I was fourteen years old, and some friends invited me to the Apostolic Faith Church. When I went in, I didn’t know what they were singing or what was being preached. At the end of that service, one of the brothers led me to the altars to pray. I repeated the words he said after him, “Save me, Lord. Forgive my sins.” Soon, though, I started to pray on my own, saying the same words but from my heart. I asked God to forgive me, and He saved my soul and changed everything in my life! He forgave all of my sins.
One day my parents told me that they did not agree with me being a Christian, but I responded to them that I could not leave God because I knew what He had done for me—He had saved my soul.
Before God saved me, I had been sad and depressed. But the day God came into my heart, the concern about what would happen to me if I died was all gone and I was able to look at the future with optimism. There was a real change in me. However, I had to go home and face my parents, plus nine siblings who were not Christians. Many of them laughed and made fun of me. Instead of calling me by my name, my oldest brother would mockingly call me, “Christ! Christ!” One day my parents told me that they did not agree with me being a Christian, but I responded to them that I could not leave God because I knew what He had done for me—He had saved my soul. God helped me to stay saved in that home until I was old enough to move out on my own.
My Christian training came through the Apostolic Faith Church. In the beginning I didn’t know anything about the Bible. One time, the preacher gave his opening Scripture and I started looking for it at the beginning of the Bible—in Genesis. But the passage was from Revelation! When the preacher finished his message, I was still looking for the book! Over the years I prayed, “Lord, teach me to walk in this way and show me how to follow,” and He answered that prayer. Today I am a minister and can teach others.
Through attending church I learned about sanctification and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. About four years after I was saved, I began to consecrate my life to God more seriously, separating myself from the things of the world and seeking the deeper things of God. One evening at a youth service, God sanctified me. I felt such joy; it was an unforgettable day. After that, there was a spiritual stability in my walk with God, and a deeper level of maturity in the Spirit.
About a year later God baptized me with the Holy Spirit. That day, I had gone to a little chapel to pray and had told God, “I don’t want to leave the same way I came in.” I knew I was lacking the power of the Holy Spirit. When He filled me, it was something glorious. Another brother who was praying by my side received his sanctification, and it was wonderful! After that I told the Lord, “I don’t want to allow the work You have done in me to fall.” Thank God, He has helped me remain steadfast.
I have learned that when God calls us, He assures us that He will be with us. We just need to trust and believe in Him.
On several occasions when I was praying, God showed me a vision where I saw myself at a pulpit preaching the Word. Eventually I was asked to be a youth minister and then I was appointed as the Youth Superintendent. Later I was asked to be a pastor, and today I am the pastor of the La Romana church. I have learned that when God calls us, He assures us that He will be with us. We just need to trust and believe in Him. When He puts something in our hearts to do, it is because He wants to use us, and we only need to open our hearts to be an instrument in His hands. Whatever He calls us to, He will help us and He will not forsake us.
God has given me a Christian wife, and we have three children who are all serving the Lord. From seeing what God has done in my life, two of my siblings have been saved, including the one who had mocked me so much when I was younger. The work in La Romana today has many young people, and we work with them closely because we know they are the future of the church. My desire is that God will use me to be a great blessing for our church and for all of the Dominican Republic. I want to give the best of my life to God because He has given me more than what I deserve.