**I have been given full permission to share this with you. 🙂 It’s about my husband. He’s my favorite. I thought it would be nice if you all got to know us a bit more.**
Can I tell you Max’s story? I respect him more than any other person on this planet. He is my guy and I want to tell you how he came to know Jesus.
Max grew up in LA. He spoke only Spanish until he went to kindergarten. He grew up in the Catholic church and went through Catechism and took his first Holy Communion.
In Jr. High, Max began to be interested in gangs. He was drawn to the idea of being a part of something…to be included. He did not have a good relationship with his own father and the gangs offered him an escape from his home life and dysfunction.
When Max was eleven or twelve years old he started drinking alcohol. At thirteen he used marijuana for the first time. This snowballed into a lifestyle of alcoholism and experimental drug use that lasted well over fifteen years.
LA in the seventies was a crazy place. During these years, Max transitioned from the Cholo gang to a fraternity of Chicano friends. During this time Max and his friends were heavy into the LA clubbing scene. This lifestyle included a lot of violence because they were usually in the wrong place at the wrong time. Testosterone mixed with women, drugs and alcohol became a recipe for many, many violent encounters.
It is a miracle that Max was not killed during this time of his life. Not only was he involved in violence but he also drove while drinking. He totaled his car and spent a night in jail for a DUI.
His life deteriorated to the point that he could not get high anymore. No matter how much alcohol he drank or how many drugs he put into his system, he could not numb his pain. Max realized that he would end up dead if something didn’t change. So he enrolled himself in rehab and got clean and sober.
The first years of sobriety, Max focused on becoming a healthy member of society. During all the years of alcohol and drug abuse, Max was still able to keep a stable job as an operations manager. But he was not a good employee. Now that he was clean and sober he focused on working hard and making a good living. He tried to become a good person.
After four years of being clean and trying to be good, Max began to have thoughts that the sober life was no better than being drunk. In AA they have a term for this, it’s called being a “Dry Drunk. “It means that nothing other than the lack of alcohol had changed. It was just a matter of time before he took another drink. He acknowledges now that if he had taken that drink, he would probably be dead.
At this time a follower of Jesus began working at Max’s company. She was different than anyone Max had ever met. She was free. He knew immediately that she did not live under the same “rules” that he lived under. She invited him to a small group in our fellowship.
Max began attending our fellowship and at first we all thought he hated small group. He would sit in a corner with his arms crossed and scowl at us. He can be intimidating. 🙂 But little by little we began to see that he was looking for Jesus. Or more accurately that Jesus was pursuing him. Max speaks of being drawn to believers and to the Word of God. It was like nothing he had ever experienced before. He knew in his spirit that the truth of what he looked for in Cholos and Chicanos was in this vagabond broken group of follower’s of Jesus.
We all shared with Max many times. He wanted to follow Jesus but at first he struggled with the idea of becoming a follower. Did this mean he had to turn his back on his family and heritage? To be Mexican is to be Catholic. What happens when you stop being Catholic? Do you stop being Mexican? It was a real struggle at first. But the more Max read God’s Word, the more he wanted Jesus.
Finally, on July 25, 1993, Max gave his life to Jesus in the Baker’s Square on Beverly Blvd in Montebello, California. He and our pastor had gone to lunch together after church one Sunday and there on that crowded Sunday afternoon, Max knew his Savior.
Many changes happened after that. Max cleaned out his apartment of paraphernalia he was still holding onto. He sold an extensive gun collection (reminders of the violence) and began to make amends and ask forgiveness of those he had hurt.
The most confusing part for his parents was when Max was baptized. They were unsure and hurt by his turning away from Catholicism. But they could not deny the huge changes they saw in his life.
One of the hardest things for Max was to quit smoking. It took him three months of throwing away cigarettes and then returning to them again and again. He went back and forth until he completely released them to Jesus.
Max forgave his father. He reconciled his relationship with his older brother who he hadn’t spoken to in several years. And he told his family all about his relationship with Jesus.
The prevailing thought was, I have been forgiven so much. How can I not forgive anyone else?
“Even though I was once…a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life.” (I Tim 1:13-16)
Anyone who knows Max now, knows that he is the gentlest and kindest of men. The Lord has redeemed what was death and He has given Max life. Jesus is his life.
I pray Max’s story is an example to you of Jesus’ mercy and patience. There are none too far gone that the grace of Jesus cannot reach them.
Love from the islands,