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What If God Is Real?

What If God Is Real?

As I was growing in the gang, my sister was living her own life. She had her own friends. She was focused and strong, smart, studious, and beautiful. Guys in the neighborhood around us would call out to her, sweet talking, trying to pull her in, and she was having none of it. She didn’t pay them any attention, which was unusual, because every other girl fell into the gang culture.

My grandmother, who had helped us escape from Central America years earlier, had moved to America too. She started going to a Hispanic church that changed her life. Soon my mother and sister started attending. Not long afterward, Laura sensed the call of God on her life, and she began to develop a profound prayer life. While I was devoting my life to violence and crime, my sister was devoting her life to prayer. Involved in Bible studies, worship meetings, and retreat centers, she was experiencing new life. While I was running the streets, my sister was in the prayer closet praying for me.

Don’t get me wrong, her life had become complicated as well. She was dealing with a lot of stuff too. Life was hard on all of us. The difference was, where I had found hate and anger, she had found peace and joy. That peace and joy came through her relationship with Jesus. Yet I couldn’t fathom what she had found because I was doing life on the other side. Though we were living in the same home, we were experiencing two different realities. Every day, I was facing the real possibility of death or that I would go into a youth correctional facility and eventually end up in the state penitentiary. I knew my time was coming at some point, because that’s where most of us ended up if we lived. Still, it had been my choice, at least in the beginning.

She was a different person after she found Christ. Her mindset was different. Her desires became different. She was even dressing in a way that spoke to the values she had adopted. Most importantly, though, she began to read and study what most of us were afraid to get into, the Bible. Of course, I believed there was a God, but at the same time I didn’t believe there was a God, if that makes sense. I was not ignorant to the fact that there was a God, but I didn’t believe in Him like I do now. I had faith that God existed, but I didn’t want anything to do with Him. At that time, believing in Him meant I would have to change everything about my lifestyle, and I wasn’t ready for that.

Unexpectedly, while Laura was fasting and praying one day, God spoke clearly to her heart that He was going to protect her brother, save her brother, and do a work in his heart that would cause him to come to know Jesus. With that word came a strong faith that this would indeed happen. Yet in the natural, I was as far away from God as you could get emotionally, physically, and spiritually. But based on that word, my sister contended for my life in prayer and asked God to soften my heart.

One thing about my sister was that she never preached to me. She never got aggressive with me or condemned me. She never said, “Repent, you sinner!” She knew that wasn’t going to work. Plus, you didn’t have to tell me I was a sinner. I knew that full well. All she knew was that God had given her a heart to pray for me, not to preach at me—not at that time anyway. In response I would mock and make fun of her, but she answered with grace and compassion.

One day, my sister did what many feared to do, and that was to step into my world. She put her reputation on the line and even risked her life. She stepped up to me like no one had ever done. She came to me with tears in her eyes; she was looking at me with compassion, with eyes filled with hope. There was not a sense of judgment in her tone. She simply said, “Mondo what if God is real? What if prayer works? What if you have a different destiny? God has chosen you and has protected you.”

Those three questions would be a catalyst to change my life. They pierced my soul, disrupted my thinking, and got into my DNA. I could not shake those words for the next few weeks. I couldn’t sleep well. I couldn’t function correctly. “What if God is real? What if prayer works? What if you have a different destiny?” It gave me fear because I didn’t know what was next. I didn’t know if I could accept those thoughts. I didn’t know what would happen to me if I accepted them. Where would I go? What would my life look like? I was fearing hope. I was fearing the hope of leaving the gang. I was fearing the hope of living, of believing something different could take place.

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