HOW I HAVE FELT THE CALL OF GOD IN MY LIFE
I was born in Colombia on May 19, 1974, the youngest of 3 boys. In 1979, my parents separated, so we moved to Fort Lauderdale, FL. My mother had to assume all the responsibilities of a single parent. We grew up in a Pentecostal church, so I knew Jesus died for my sins, I knew the way of the LORD growing up as a child and was well informed of GOD’s plan of redemption; however, I chose to rebel.
We grew up in poverty. I was pressured to behave older than I really was, so I could fit in with the “crowd.” That led me into a life of crime, fear and hurt. It resulted in many arrests, jail, drugs, gangs, violence and prison. My life was a life of hurt, fear, insecurities, worries, hate, revenge, violence and the list goes on and on. I dwelt a lot on the things that I could do to get back at society for my bitter life which I was living. I cheated, took, lied and many other things to get what I wanted. I thought that I would just get away with everything that I could. I saw myself as an individual that had no other choice but to do what he had to do to survive in a world where teenagers were left to fend for themselves on the combusted but lonely streets of the world.
I grew up in places where aggressiveness and violence were required to gain respect. Those who did not meet these standards became the victims of the strong and were subject to humiliation and abuse, both mentally and physically! I did what I had to do to survive. This led me into a life of crime and sentences in correctional institutions, a life that started from petty theft to gang affiliation. After being in and out of Juvenile Detention and various facilities, I joined a gang, called “Folk Nation,” to have a sense of belonging. I believed that my involvement in a gang was my security of a family. The gang became my family. Later on, my brothers and I formed a gang of our own called “World Wide Folks,” to gain more recognition and even more respect among other gangs. The respect that came with it did not compare to anything. This led to more trouble with the authorities.
One night after a gang fight, I was arrested and charged with Aggravated Assault. Since I was only 15 years old, I was sent to the Juvenile Detention Center. They had dealt with me through the years with no lasting results, so 3 months later, the judge decided to waive me over to the county jail to be tried as an adult. They sentenced me to 3 1/2 years in a Florida State Prison.
After one year and a month, I was released. Determined to stay out of trouble, I faced society once again. I got off to a good start, but sadly, I found myself back with the gang. One day while flipping through the channels on the TV, there we were on CNN news! Our last fight had been taped on a security camera in a local “Subway” sandwich restaurant where the altercation ended up. My brother and I were wanted by the authorities.
Inevitably, one month later, we were arrested. I was in the “Broward County Jail” facing a 45 year sentence in prison and I had just turned 17. I had already been to prison before and many other correctional programs. Only this time I was looking at spending the next 45 years in prison! The “party” came to an end and I thought my destiny had come true. My life came to a terrifying halt! I always figured that my destiny was to spend my life in prison. Why did I think this way? I didn’t fully know. All I knew was that my life was nothing but a curse. I had no faith in hope whatsoever. Yes, I knew and recognized that JESUS was the answer, but I wasn’t willing to give up the life of sin which I was consumed in. The power and respect which I held as a gang leader in the streets was like heaven to me. With the tables turned on me, I was forced to acknowledge the tender loving voice of GOD which was calling me since the day I was born.
Six months later, after I had had a lot of time alone to consider and weigh things out. I was in solitary confinement listening to Christmas carols on a Christian radio station. It was 2 o’clock in the early morning of CHRISTMAS EVE of 1991 and I was going to spend CHRISTMAS DAY and NEW YEARS in the confines of my cell all alone and possibly the rest of my years in prison over a gang fight that really didn’t amount to anything.
As I was listening to Christmas carols, I thought about the hurt and shame and all the bad things I had done against my mother and loved ones. I started to weep and I knew the life I was living had only lead me to life in prison or the grave. As I was weeping, I began to cry out to the LORD and I felt a love come over me, I knew it was the SPIRIT OF GOD! There in many tears, I accepted HIM as my LORD and SAVIOR and received the gift of eternal life.
After this, it seemed as though my life got harder. I was faced with so much opposition. It seemed as though I was on somebody’s hit list. Life itself seemed as though it wanted to keep me from serving GOD. Being identified as a CHRISTIAN became a great struggle against all things. Being a man of GOD in an institutionalized environment was considered suicide by those who were not living for GOD. I learned that it was the opposite. However, I found out that as long as I kept focused on the LORD that I would survive!
Although things got rough, great things also began to happen on my behalf. I was only sentenced to 4 years in prison, of which I only served 2, followed by 1 year of House Arrest to be served after my release from prison. I was sent to a prison where I met many brothers in CHRIST who encouraged, supported and taught me the true meaning of being a disciple sold out completely to GOD. The LORD instructed me to go directly to a different city four hours away from my where I grew up! This was to avoid reuniting with my old gang buddies.
GOD was always faithful to me and HE eventually opened the doors for me to attend Southeastern Bible College and met my every need and there I could learn how to better rightly divide the WORD of TRUTH. My major was Church Ministries, with a Concentration of Preaching. I was on the Prison Ministry Team, where I was able to share my testimony in the prisons, that those serving time could see living proof of GOD’S transforming power. In the inner city I shared how the power of GOD was able to change any man or woman who really desired to be transformed into a vessel of GOD.
In spite of the glory GOD showed me, I ended up walking away from HIS grace! It was New Years Eve, and my friend and I engaged in an argument with two people. All of a sudden, my friend who just happened to have my gun on him, took it out and shot them both twice! We jumped in my car and sped off, but we were immediately pulled over by the police! Again the LORD was there and thanks to HIS mercy, it turns out that when my friend shot them, a police cruiser just happened to be passing by and saw it all. He testified that I had not done the shooting. I would have gone free, but since I was selling marijuana, and I had it on me when we were caught, I was sentenced to a year and a day, since I was not the one who shot them.
I made some mistakes and ended up leaving the States! I came to Colombia, the place where I was born. I left Colombia when I was just a baby so I didn’t even speak the language very well. I managed however to quickly find work as an English teacher. Things were going well for me. I was really happy. I had it going on! But I was neglecting my commitment to my LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST!
Nevertheless, as time passed by, I started getting more serious in my relationship with GOD and this in turn allowed me to become more involved in at my church. I have had the privilege of being a Sunday school teacher; but at the moment, I’m on the Praise and Worship Team.
I’m currently working on a Christian Rap album as a tool for evangelism in the inner city.
My life has been a series of ups and downs. I still have so much more to share. It’s not a walk in the park! However, I have GOD on my side and I don’t have to worry about anything. It has been such a struggle and a great challenge living for GOD. The only way I have made it this far is because HE is always there to help me and guide me. I have such a long way to go before I can be a faithful minister of GOD, but I am confident that HE, who has called me into the ministry, will make me a man who HE can use to reach out to those who need to hear of HIS plan of salvation.
There is a scripture in the Bible that I hold dearly to and that comforts and assures me. It’s in Proverbs 3:5-6 and says to trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge HIM, and HE will direct your paths.
As long as everyone follows this principle, there should only be assurance that you are going to heaven and will be blessed while waiting to go!
I have shared all of this as candidly as I possibly can. I hope that you, the reader, might have some kind of feel on “How I Have Felt the Call of GOD in My Life.”
For The Glory of GOD!
Edwin Vargas also known as Preacher Man to his music fans, is one of the leaders of the youth ministry at Cali, Colombia-based Vida Eterna Assembly of God Church. He records Christian Rap. He is involved in outreach ministry.
Edwin also assists e3 Partners http://www.e3partners.org/. Since 1987, e3 Partners has brought a unique, biblically-based approach to world missions that has produced significant results in cultures around the world. The focus is church multiplication, incorporating all the key elements of Christ’s commission of going, making disciples, teaching and baptizing in order to plant and grow new churches. They equip God’s people everywhere to share what Christ has done, develop Christ followers/leaders, and establish thriving churches that multiply and make a real, lasting impact on their surrounding communities. They do this around the world, using national leaders in 20-plus countries supported by hundreds of field ministry staff, along with thousands who annually take short-term trips for evangelistic, church-planting, and other outreach efforts. They have pioneered the most durable low-tech tool for sharing Christ, the Evangecube http://store.e3resources.org/ and a high-profile, high-tech method of lifting up Christ, I Am Second http://www.iamsecond.com/.
In addition to his role as a leader and upcoming artist, Edwin’s perspective as a Christian leader and in reaching the Rap culture has led him to rap and speak at different churches and events, youth and worship conferences and workshops. Edwin now calls Cali, Colombia his home.