Urban Report

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Yvonne Lewis (Host), Chris Da'Costa


Series Code: UBR

Program Code: UBR000159A

00:01 From Atheist to the Air force to Believer,
00:04 stay tuned to meet a man
00:06 whose testimony illustrates the mighty power of God.
00:09 My name is Yvonne Lewis and I'm Jason Bradley
00:12 and you're watching Urban Report.
00:39 Hello and welcome to Urban Report.
00:41 Our guest today is Chris Da'Costa
00:44 a young man with an inspiring testimony.
00:47 It's so good to have you here with us Chris, welcome.
00:50 Thank you for having me.
00:51 Absolutely, today is the first time
00:55 that Jason and I are interviewing together,
00:57 and what happened was when we read...
01:00 and heard about your testimony,
01:02 he said, "I want to interview him,"
01:04 and I said, "I want to interview him,"
01:05 so we decided we're going to do it together.
01:07 Awesome, and this is also our first hour-long Special
01:12 so, you're a part of history, Dare to Dream History right now.
01:16 That's right. Thank you for having me.
01:18 It's really good to have you here,
01:20 you have such an interesting journey, Chris, because
01:25 one of the things that we say here on Dare to Dream
01:31 and on Urban Report, is that,
01:34 we know that God has a plan for us, Jeremiah 29:11,
01:38 and so, everybody has a purpose and a plan in this whole mosaic
01:46 and your journey has been so fascinating
01:50 and God's hand has been on you throughout your whole journey.
01:55 Let's start with your childhood, where did you grow up?
01:59 I was born in New York City and I was raised in Virginia
02:03 so my family... my mom and I moved around a lot, actually,
02:08 but I'd say for the first seven years of my life
02:12 I spent it in New York City.
02:13 And were you in a two-parent home or a single-parent home?
02:16 I was living with my mom and her father at first,
02:20 but, she was a single parent.
02:22 Okay, and so were you in a Christian family or were you...
02:29 did you know about Jesus,
02:31 so where were you in terms of your spiritual life?
02:33 Actually, I had never really heard of the name of Jesus
02:37 until much later in my teenage years,
02:40 my family was predominantly Atheist
02:42 with a lot of them being unbelievers
02:45 and so my grandfather had weird beliefs
02:49 and so forth he was more like... Agnostic
02:51 and my mother was an Atheist
02:54 and so, there was not much religion
02:55 or anything about Jesus in the home.
02:57 How does that... this is a... perhaps a naive question
03:02 but how does that play out like a home without Jesus Christ
03:07 there's no mention of God, there's no...
03:09 in fact there is no belief in God,
03:12 how does that play out in day-to-day life?
03:15 You know it was very challenging
03:19 not having heard of Jesus or the name of Jesus
03:22 or anything about church or anything like that,
03:25 it was a... you know... I think when you're young,
03:28 it's challenging looking back at the childhood upbringing
03:33 but when you're there in the moment,
03:34 in those upcoming years,
03:36 not hearing about Jesus in the home,
03:38 I think it's just... you get used to a way of living
03:43 and everything you see and...
03:44 are introduced to, you think is okay.
03:46 Hmmm... hmmm...
03:47 Did you hear about Jesus in other places though,
03:49 like... you didn't hear about Jesus in your home
03:52 but when you went to school or around some friends
03:55 did you hear about Jesus and did that spark a curiosity?
03:59 Not necessarily and I hadn't...
04:00 I didn't hear anything about Jesus
04:02 when I was younger from anyone
04:03 and my mother and her father and my family,
04:08 everything was so dysfunctional
04:10 and... no... I hadn't heard anything about God
04:13 at a young age, it wasn't until I was about
04:16 16 or 17, I actually heard about Jesus.
04:19 Really? Yeah.
04:20 And what were your thoughts
04:23 when you first heard about Jesus?
04:25 When I first heard about Jesus I actually was very antagonistic
04:30 I wanted nothing to do with the God of the Bible
04:34 or the God of the Christians,
04:36 at 17 years old, I became an Atheist
04:39 and I knew that in my younger years
04:43 having not heard about God, I didn't really care,
04:45 but when I was 17, I became a decided Atheist,
04:48 I said, "No, I don't believe in religion
04:50 I want nothing to do with the God of the Christians
04:53 and I believed, at that time, that Christianity was just
04:57 an "emotional-based experience" used to deceive people.
05:01 I want to come back to that in a bit,
05:05 but I want to go back to when you were a child
05:08 and what your life was like growing up in a home without God
05:15 were the morals high in your home,
05:18 what was going on in your home as a child?
05:21 You know, the morals were very low actually,
05:25 I have a relative in the family who is one of the leaders
05:30 over our family and he has been living here illegally
05:34 for over 22 years and he has one of the biggest
05:40 drug cartels in New York City
05:42 and so being in that family environment
05:48 I was introduced to drugs at a very young age
05:52 and when I moved from New York to Virginia,
05:56 I went back to New York every summer
05:59 to spend time with my family
06:00 and because of the drug trafficking,
06:04 I began to work with my relatives
06:09 and that was my way of kind of earning money
06:11 and also participating in the experience and so
06:14 I had that at a very young age.
06:16 What kinds of drugs were you surrounded by?
06:20 Marijuana, mostly Marijuana
06:24 and lots of different types of pills and so forth.
06:27 That's got to be...
06:30 I guess if that's what you're used to,
06:32 so to speak, as you mentioned before,
06:35 then that's kind of all you know.
06:37 Yeah. You don't know any...
06:38 any better than that, so that's the normal for you.
06:42 Yeah. And that has to be a...
06:44 looking back over it, and comparing your life now,
06:49 post AD, right, you know, after Christ and before...
06:53 and BC... it's got to be like...
06:55 such an amazing awakening
06:57 and appreciation for what you have.
07:01 Yeah.
07:03 So your family was pretty dysfunctional
07:06 Very, the last time I saw my father
07:09 was when I was about five years old
07:12 and so, not having a father in the home,
07:16 having just myself, being the only child with my mom
07:20 single working mom, and moving around so much
07:23 and also disorganization and my mom...
07:26 having to work two to three or four jobs at once,
07:29 to take care of her only child in Virginia,
07:33 I was at the babysitter a lot
07:35 and I was out roaming with friends a lot
07:38 and it was around 13 or 14
07:40 that I began to really dive down to a dark path.
07:43 And what happened then?
07:45 When I was around 13 or 14,
07:47 I had surrounded myself with so many bad...
07:51 such a bad influence of friends, and not only my own family,
07:57 but I also had really negative influential...
08:02 influentially-negative friends that were encouraging
08:06 Marijuana and encouraging promiscuity
08:09 and encouraging theft and so forth,
08:12 and so, having that atmosphere
08:16 with both friends and family, that was my lifestyle,
08:18 that I thought was okay.
08:20 That makes a huge difference,
08:22 whoever you surround yourself with,
08:25 the company that you keep is usually how you'll turn out
08:30 or usually how you'll become
08:31 because you're spending all your time with these people
08:34 and they're leading a certain lifestyle
08:36 and then you kind of begin to embrace that lifestyle.
08:40 It's interesting to me because
08:43 even though you didn't grow up in a home with Atheism,
08:49 you grew up in a Christian home,
08:50 it was kind of at that same age that you went astray too,
08:55 Jason went astray around 13 or 14
08:57 getting involved with the wrong people and all that,
09:01 what is it about that age...
09:06 that time of life that makes you feel like
09:11 you can kind of drift that way or kind of pushes you into that
09:16 what do you think, both of you, what do you think?
09:18 I think it's watching so much television and movies and
09:24 listening to certain types of music
09:26 it kind of shapes your mind, your thinking about yourself
09:29 and about the world, and so,
09:31 what Society had presented to me,
09:33 I accepted it, you know, lived... being a teen,
09:37 now it's time to party and have all this "supposed fun"
09:41 and go out and get intoxicated and hang out with friends
09:44 and do all these other things,
09:48 once I turned 13, I knew that
09:51 that's the life I wanted to live.
09:53 Hmmm... And so, yeah,
09:55 and my mom tried to place
09:57 a little bit of limitation on that
09:59 because she noticed I was going down a darker path
10:03 and so I actually, ran from home and left home
10:07 for a long time because of it as well.
10:09 So you ran away at 13?
10:11 I ran away actually at 16
10:13 and I wanted to get away completely
10:17 and my mother had married another person
10:20 and I didn't want anything to do with it
10:23 and... so I ran away to kind of do my own thing
10:27 when I was in high school.
10:28 I tried to run away once I didn't make it,
10:31 I didn't get very far,
10:33 so, I was like seven- or eight-years old
10:35 how old was I? No, I was like nine...
10:38 I was probably nine, but I ran away,
10:40 and I'm a huge foodie, and I forgot to pack food,
10:45 so I had to turn around, I had to go back and get food,
10:48 but I have to agree with you on
10:49 with the 13- and 14-year old mindset
10:54 when you're watching movies and listening to music,
10:57 everything that's bad pretty much is glorified
11:00 in the Media, so all the drugs, the women,
11:02 the money, the cars, the clothes, the fast money
11:05 and going about it in the wrong way,
11:08 selling dope or whatever...
11:09 it's glorified and they don't show
11:13 all the consequences and repercussions that come along
11:16 with that lifestyle, so you get caught with some Marijuana,
11:20 you might go down the road for a little while
11:22 or if you get caught with some Ecstasy
11:24 that's like an automatic felony
11:26 and you're going to go down the road for a little while
11:30 so, yeah, I've had my fair share of experience with that
11:34 and it's definitely because of the movies and music
11:37 and the company you keep.
11:39 True, so...
11:40 So you found that at that age
11:44 you got drawn into the dark side.
11:48 Yes.
11:49 What happened from 13 to 16,
11:53 where was your head, what happened to you?
11:55 I think I would say, from 13 to 18,
11:58 between 13 and 18,
12:00 I, having worked under my family's
12:03 drug trafficking system,
12:08 and having been introduced to drugs at a very young age,
12:13 I think between those ages, I went as far as possible
12:17 because I'll just add to that, when I was 17,
12:21 I realized that my mother had begun to search
12:25 for what she called "a meaning in life"
12:29 Hmmm... and I knew when I was 16 or 17,
12:31 when I became an Atheist, for sure,
12:34 when I realized that she was searching,
12:38 and she had gotten married to this man and
12:42 when I really wanted to get away from everything,
12:45 I wanted nothing to do with God
12:48 and I realized that she was searching and then eventually,
12:52 in her own experience, found God,
12:53 and I think it was in 2006 that she was working at
13:00 Wells Fargo Bank and... or Wachovia Bank
13:03 in Lumberton, North Carolina,
13:05 and an Adventist Pastor came through the drive-through,
13:08 and invited her to the church and
13:11 to a Daniel and Revelation Seminar and she went
13:14 and she was beginning to experience God in a new way
13:17 and she was eventually converted and during that time,
13:20 I was like, "No, I'm not having it,
13:23 I want nothing to do with God,
13:25 I want nothing to do with my mom and her experience with...
13:27 her church experience" so that is one of the things
13:30 what is kind of...
13:32 what I allowed to drive me away from the house in leaving
13:34 so between those years, 13 and 18, when I left home,
13:40 I wanted to go even further, I started skipping school,
13:46 in High School, I started doing more drinking,
13:51 doing more Marijuana, doing more drugs,
13:54 doing more pills,
13:55 having 20 different girlfriends at the same time,
14:01 and skipping school as much as possible,
14:04 and I... a friend of mine, his mother,
14:07 was very... she lived in a very
14:11 high SES Community
14:13 and she had a couple of homes and she gave us a home.
14:15 What kind of community?
14:17 A high Socio-economic Community. Oh, hmmm... hmmm...
14:20 And so, she gave us a house and she was gone, for the most part,
14:26 working so much and we threw parties all the time,
14:30 maybe twice a week and my weekends consisted of
14:34 Thursday through Sunday and so I went really far
14:38 and I was angry that my mom had accepted this new experience
14:42 and I thought to myself, you know,
14:44 "I thought she was an unbeliever how can she accept this...
14:48 this emotional, deceiving stuff in the Christian church?"
14:51 So your impression of where your mother was
14:57 was... she had gone off onto some tangent
14:59 and had gotten all emotional about "God"
15:03 this God that you were rejecting and how could she...
15:07 how could she go there, right, is that where you were?
15:11 Yeah, I was thinking, "How could she do that?"
15:13 you know... Hmmm... hmmm...
15:14 So I wanted, absolutely, nothing to do with it.
15:16 Wow! and how was she responding to you during that time?
15:21 She was very, very afraid, I have many friends right now
15:26 who are Christians, who have a hard time believing,
15:30 saying, "Chris, we can't see you doing those things,"
15:32 they say, "You look like the kind of guy
15:35 who'd be in the church all his life,
15:38 sitting in the front pew from three-years-old," you know,
15:40 and so a lot of stories that I told them,
15:42 and they're like, "Chris, we can't picture"
15:45 but I told them how... you know, it's the power of God.
15:47 Yeah. And so in that time,
15:49 my mother was very fearful, very nervous
15:52 because she realized that I would...
15:56 she saw me going a deep, dark tangent in life and
16:01 to me, her accepting God...
16:04 I thought that was a dark, deep tangent,
16:07 and I thought, "She's... I don't know what she's doing,"
16:09 and so, I began to visit Palm Readers,
16:12 I began to go even further,
16:14 just to get my mind from any realization,
16:17 get my mind off of any realization
16:19 that I needed something or that I was missing,
16:22 that I was lacking peace of mind or anything,
16:24 But you were searching,
16:26 if you are going to a palm reader
16:28 or you're going to an astrologer,
16:30 or you're looking for something, even though you don't realize
16:34 that that hole in your soul is a "God hole,"
16:38 you're trying to fill it with... whatever
16:42 and you don't even realize that that's what's missing,
16:45 so you started getting into palm reading
16:49 and spiritualism basically,
16:53 and that... where did that lead you?
16:56 I mean, where was your head then once you were doing that,
16:59 where did that take you?
17:01 this actually began in North Carolina,
17:03 because we had moved from New York to Virginia,
17:06 to North Carolina, and in North Carolina,
17:08 where mom got married and
17:11 when she accepted Christ and so forth,
17:13 it was in North Carolina where I began to visit
17:15 palm readers and it's there when I left home,
17:18 so where it took me...
17:20 it took me to another world of confusion,
17:22 because I wanted to know my future,
17:27 and I wanted peace of mind, Hmmm... hmmm...
17:29 having left home,
17:30 being away from home for a long time,
17:32 living with a friend, doing all these things,
17:35 I realized, coming back from these parties
17:37 and coming back drunk at 3 or 4 in the morning,
17:40 from the different events,
17:41 I realized that sitting on my bed, looking up,
17:44 trying to get some sleep, that I was missing something
17:46 and it came to mind
17:47 that I would think about how my mother
17:51 was so happy all of a sudden,
17:52 and when I thought about her being happy and going to church,
17:56 I got even angrier and so, visiting the palm readers and
18:00 just even going further down,
18:02 it brought me more confusion. Hmmm... hmmm...
18:06 And we know that God is not the author of confusion.
18:09 Chris: True... Jason: So...
18:12 Chris: So... Yvonne: Yeah, that's got to be a
18:14 weird place to be in because you're searching
18:17 and the one place that you can get the answer from,
18:21 you don't want to go there,
18:22 you don't want to even think that that is the answer,
18:26 Chris: Yeah Yvonne: you're going to try
18:28 everything else
18:29 thinking that that's the answer. Chris: Yes.
18:31 So, this is from 13 to 18, you were in that dark place
18:37 just kind of... on another path
18:40 what happened at 18?
18:42 At 18, I realized that I was... I had gone so far
18:49 that with my friends and all the parties I was throwing,
18:55 there were many different instances
18:57 where I almost lost my life,
18:59 because of having the wrong friends,
19:02 and being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
19:04 Tell us about one of them.
19:05 One of them...
19:07 I threw a party for Prom weekend for my high school
19:16 and I was the kind of guy to...
19:23 go... I was the kind of guy to
19:30 I was in the wrong place at the wrong time,
19:36 doing Marijuana, selling Marijuana,
19:41 being in the wrong areas as well
19:44 and so when I threw these parties,
19:47 certain people would come to the events
19:51 that I hadn't invited, Hmmm... hmmm...
19:54 but they were people from these different areas
19:57 where I was doing these things, at the wrong time,
20:00 and so, and then being around certain types of friends,
20:03 Like drug dealers and that kind of thing?
20:05 Yes, and so, they'd come to my... the parties I threw and
20:09 it was there that I almost lost my life several times.
20:12 So, fights would break out and that kind of thing?
20:15 Yes. That's very... you know,
20:18 one of the things that people don't realize
20:22 is that individuals attract the...
20:29 people call it "energy" but it's spirits, you know, so,
20:34 if you're dealing with people who are walking in darkness,
20:38 they're bringing in those dark spirits,
20:42 so that room is full of dark spirits,
20:45 I remember I went to a funeral one time
20:49 of a hustler, he had been a hustler,
20:52 and it was like...
20:55 it was a Viewing at a funeral home
20:58 and I could feel...
21:02 he was a hustler and the room was full of drug dealers
21:06 and pimps and hustlers,
21:09 and I could feel the evil in the room
21:14 because they brought with them that whole kind of energy,
21:19 you don't realize that you attract evil spirits
21:24 or you attract heavenly spirits, you know,
21:27 and that's one of the things that I think,
21:31 when you're looking for associates,
21:34 don't go to the bottom of the barrel,
21:37 and hang out with people that are doing the wrong things
21:41 because they bring with them that whole energy,
21:45 that whole dark side so what was happening too is
21:49 the devil wanted to take you out
21:52 while you were in the midst of your sins
21:55 the devil wanted to take you out,
21:57 and I can imagine that your mother was praying for you
22:02 constantly... because if she had become a believer
22:06 and you were still out there as I know... from my son
22:11 who was still out there, that it's such a burden
22:17 that you just don't want your child to die in their sins
22:20 so your life was almost taken from you because,
22:26 really, because of your choices, the choices that you made.
22:30 Yes, and it wouldn't even been worth it.
22:31 I know what you're saying
22:33 about those dark evil spirits and all that,
22:36 I went to a club one time
22:38 and I used to go to clubs all the time,
22:40 I used to throw parties, like promote
22:42 and be a club promoter and stuff and I went to this one club,
22:46 and I was just... after that club,
22:49 like I wasn't even going to church but I was like...
22:51 "Man, I need to go to church after that... "
22:53 it just felt so evil,
22:54 like... everybody in there was on some kind of drug
22:58 or just drunk,
23:00 you got one guy in the middle of the floor
23:02 jumping up and down with his red rag and just
23:05 losing his mind, he was just off,
23:08 I don't know what kind of drug he was on
23:11 but it was that club,
23:13 somebody has been stabbed in that club
23:15 there's... I just felt like I needed to go to church.
23:18 At what point, for you,
23:22 did you transition out of the drugs and that lifestyle?
23:28 It was at 18, when I actually tried to join the military,
23:35 I wanted to get away from everything,
23:38 I noticed that I have a lot of family members
23:42 who are involved in gangs and so forth and...
23:45 so I wanted to get away from everything,
23:48 and so what I did was, I joined the Air force
23:51 and I knew that in order to get into the Air force,
23:54 you couldn't have any...
23:55 certain types of drugs in your system
23:58 so I began to train six times a day
24:01 and I joined the Air force in 2008.
24:03 Jason: Oh, wow...
24:05 So you trained before you got into the Air force,
24:08 you trained for the Air force. Yes.
24:10 Wow. I trained and I studied
24:12 a lot of different things on the internet
24:15 to do well in the ASVAB test and so forth
24:18 to get a certain job and I joined the Air force
24:21 in a while, I became an
24:22 Aviation Resource Management Specialist
24:24 and I began to work with MQ-9 and MQ-1 drones,
24:29 remote controlled planes, Hmmm... hmmm...
24:32 and I started off in North Carolina
24:34 and I moved to Lackland Air force Base
24:38 in San Antonio Texas
24:39 and it was there that I began to really
24:43 search a little bit more so...
24:45 So what happened, tell us about the Air force.
24:47 So what happened was when I moved States,
24:50 I felt like I was going under my own
24:52 and I could get away from some of these things
24:54 I just wanted to go,
24:56 I signed up hoping that they would deploy me immediately,
24:58 I can get away and no one knows who I am and
25:01 get out of the stuff that I was in,
25:02 but then going to further my training in Texas,
25:05 it was interesting because I was in a dorm
25:08 there were over 20,000 soldiers in one base
25:11 one big training base,
25:13 and in my dormitory, there were about 60 men
25:15 in one big dorm,
25:17 the beds were like this close to each other,
25:19 and on the weekends, during training,
25:21 on the weekends,
25:23 every soldier has a specific duty
25:26 to keep yourself occupied and busy on the weekends,
25:29 and so, out of all 60 soldiers, me and one other soldier
25:34 are selected to become Chapel Guides.
25:36 Jason: That's not by coincidence.
25:40 That's right, Chapel Guides,
25:42 now what was that, what did that entail?
25:44 So, I'm an Atheist... as a Chapel Guide
25:46 in the Military, I can't ask for a different duty
25:49 that's my mandatory weekend duty,
25:52 and what you have to do is basically
25:54 go to different dorm buildings on the base
25:56 and march groups of soldiers, groups of Baptist soldiers,
26:01 Catholic, Methodist, Buddhist, Wiccan and Adventist soldiers
26:07 to their respective chapels on the weekends.
26:09 Wow! and that was your assignment.
26:12 That was my assignment and I grieved every moment of it
26:15 and I thought, "Why do I have to do this,
26:17 I don't even believe in God, and I'm marching soldiers
26:20 to their chapels so that they can worship their God"
26:22 I didn't understand it.
26:24 Now how did your family feel when you decided
26:26 that you were going to go to the Air force,
26:28 was there any backlash from that?
26:32 You know, there wasn't much opposition from my family
26:37 to go into the military, in fact,
26:39 my family being predominantly Jamaican,
26:41 they thought it was an honor to the family
26:44 for the son to go into the armed forces
26:46 and represent the culture and so forth and
26:49 and so... yeah...
26:51 So you were walking these guys
26:54 to their respective worship places, what happened?
26:58 And so, I... during that time
27:02 my mom had communicated to me that she was praying for me
27:04 and I'm an angry Atheist at the time
27:06 this was 2008, and I told her and I told others
27:11 "Stop praying for me,
27:12 I don't want anything to do with your prayers"
27:14 and so... marching these soldiers
27:17 I pick up Catholic soldiers and Baptist soldiers on Sundays
27:24 and march them to their chapels
27:25 and there's no talking taking place
27:27 while marching them, "hup, two, three, four... "
27:30 and there's no smiling in training
27:33 and if you even smirk, you're in huge trouble.
27:37 You can't even smile?
27:39 There's no smiling, you don't show your teeth
27:41 Jason: Wow! Chris: and so these soldiers
27:44 they can't look at me in the eyes, that's my duty,
27:47 they're new... coming into the base...
27:49 and I am a more "seasoned trainee"
27:52 having been there for a couple of months,
27:53 so these newbies coming in,
27:55 they can't share their faith with me,
27:58 they can't say anything to me, and so,
28:01 when I take them to their chapel services on the weekends,
28:05 out of hatred toward religion, I'd stand outside of the chapel
28:09 and I was instructed to stand inside with them
28:13 but I didn't want to hear about anything
28:14 about the God of the Bible,
28:16 so I'd stand outside of the chapel,
28:17 at attention for about two hours just standing up straight
28:22 waiting for them to finish their service.
28:23 Wow! why do you think you were so angry about God?
28:28 I think, one of the number one things was that my...
28:32 I kind of looked at it like,
28:35 "Oh, the Christians took my mom away"
28:38 so that gave me... I was very disappointed
28:42 and I thought,
28:44 "How can she be deceived so easily
28:45 to go to this church and then to get baptized and then... "
28:48 I was really upset. Hmmm... hmmm...
28:51 Yeah. It almost makes me wonder
28:55 because you know,
28:56 your mom was working all these jobs
28:59 and then she... somebody witnessed to her,
29:01 a pastor witnessed to her at the Bank
29:03 which goes to show, that you can be a witness,
29:05 a light and a witness anywhere but it makes me wonder
29:09 because she accepted Jesus, she started going to church
29:13 and everything and she was excited,
29:15 you saw this excitement in her,
29:17 it's like, it didn't spark a curiosity
29:21 for you to go with her
29:22 but it drove you in the opposite direction.
29:26 And so it was... it was actually when I was there
29:31 in training, and then I was also instructed
29:37 to go and pick up Adventist soldiers,
29:39 so my fellow soldier and I would go to these dorms,
29:43 and go to the Front Desk and ask for the Adventists
29:46 but I didn't know who they were there at the time
29:48 I had a long list of different religions to ask for,
29:51 and I asked the Front Desk person,
29:53 "I'm looking for the Seventh-day Adventures
29:55 can you call them over the intercom"
29:58 Yes, "Looking for the Seventh-day Adventures,
30:00 please come to the front desk"
30:02 and so I get the "Seventh-day Adventures"
30:04 to come forward and march them to their Adventist Services.
30:06 "Seventh-day Adventures"
30:07 I've heard "Seventh-day Advantages"
30:10 which kind of is... that's a good one...
30:12 "Seventh-day Adventures" that is so funny!
30:15 And so there was... now... having gone through some time
30:19 when I was here at the base, it was in the middle of July
30:24 in San Antonio, Texas,
30:25 and it was so hot outside of the chapels
30:27 that I was getting a little bit weary
30:29 standing outside for two hours at attention,
30:31 in the heat, so I said, "Okay, I'm going to go inside"
30:34 and I went inside one of the Adventist Chapels,
30:36 and sat at the very back,
30:37 not wanting to hear anything about God
30:39 and I was waiting for my soldiers to finish their service
30:42 and then come and go back home,
30:44 and I had heard messages on Daniel chapter 2
30:47 and it really...
30:51 that really sparked my curiosity
30:53 because in some of the Military Training I had heard
30:55 of some of the Kingdoms,
30:57 Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and then Rome,
30:58 I had heard some of these things before,
31:00 and I heard that message being presented in the church,
31:03 and I thought, "How did they come up with this,
31:06 is that in the Bible? that can't be in the Bible,"
31:08 so that kind of got me thinking.
31:10 Hmmm... hmmm... look at God, look at how...
31:14 God knew how to reach you,
31:16 he knew
31:18 to have you of all people leading other soldiers
31:23 to a service that you... the heat was so intense
31:27 you had to go inside and sit and listen?
31:30 Jason: He has a sense of humor.
31:32 He does, He really does, God is amazing
31:35 so, you got... you sat in there
31:38 and your interest was peaked, Yes.
31:41 you decided you wanted to see what was this image about,
31:44 what this whole Daniel 2 situation about
31:48 and so... you began...
31:49 did you begin to study at that point?
31:50 At that point, I began... I got a Bible on the base
31:56 and I began looking for that chapter
31:58 that the pastor was talking about
31:59 and I began searching on my own,
32:01 I didn't want anyone to know that I was looking
32:03 in the Bible for that stuff, Hmmm... hmmm...
32:05 so I would read it secretly and in the middle of the night,
32:09 I would read it and try and look for information,
32:12 and what they were talking about in the church and so that...
32:15 I was very confused
32:20 because of what I heard in the Adventist church
32:23 at the time on the base, so I thought to myself,
32:26 "This is not as emotionally based as I thought
32:29 this seems to have some meat to it
32:31 this seems to have some information or something there"
32:33 so, I began to really look and yeah...
32:37 What was it like at the base with religion,
32:41 in regards to religion because I know that
32:45 it's like the mission, the mission, the mission
32:48 and you are... you know... so what was it like
32:51 trying to walk with Jesus at that point?
32:57 I think God really used the negative aspect of it
33:03 to bring about His will because in training,
33:06 the religion aspect of it,
33:08 the religion aspect of training is not to encourage Christianity
33:11 it's just to encourage you to have peace
33:14 because the training is very intense,
33:16 some of us were doing live training in different countries,
33:20 in third-world countries and it was during the time in 2009
33:24 that I was in a place that I cannot speak of
33:26 where I was doing live training and they encourage you
33:32 to go to the chapel and to sing a song,
33:35 to kind of help you with the stress
33:38 so it's not so much...
33:39 the agenda isn't so much about
33:43 getting to know Jesus,
33:44 it's just about coping with your internal stress.
33:48 Yeah, to keep you from having a nervous breakdown.
33:51 Basically... I agree...
33:53 So what happened as you
33:55 continued to go to these services,
33:58 as you continued to study on the down low
34:02 what happened, what happened to you?
34:04 I began to experience a little bit of a conversion on my own
34:09 and I began to study about the Sabbath and so forth
34:13 in the Bible, and during that time
34:16 it was before that, actually, I was doing some live training
34:20 in a place and I saw so many things
34:23 that overwhelmed my conscience
34:28 and working with drones and
34:33 these remote controlled planes, the purpose is to kill
34:39 and so you see a lot of death at a young age
34:45 and the training is very desensitizing
34:49 so that you don't really respond to having a sense of conscience
34:53 towards those things but having saw so much...
34:57 many times having bullets flying past my ears,
35:01 there are not many Atheists in that moment,
35:05 and so having seen families exploding to pieces,
35:12 that is what really got me thinking
35:15 and what's interesting is that in the military,
35:17 when you see these things or
35:21 a lot of Christians who join the military become Atheists
35:24 because they can't... you can't deal with that,
35:26 and a lot of Atheists are staunch Atheists
35:30 and so... but what I saw,
35:33 rather than encouraging me to become more of a staunch Atheist,
35:36 it encouraged me to search more,
35:39 I didn't understand... how was this happening?
35:43 all this blood, all this death,
35:46 I did not understand how...
35:50 I knew that there seemed to be something
35:52 in that moment,
35:53 I didn't really understand how to articulate it
35:56 but there seemed to be something happening
35:58 behind human eyes,
36:00 or some great controversy happening between good and evil
36:02 and so you could see that in these events
36:05 and that is what really got me searching even more
36:07 and so I then called my mom, who, I had before told her,
36:10 "Never pray for me,
36:12 don't ever tell me you're praying for me,"
36:14 I then told her,
36:16 "Look I'm thankful for your prayers,
36:17 and I'm going to consider the Christian experience. "
36:20 What was her reaction to that?
36:23 She was overwhelmed...
36:24 she was overwhelmed, she didn't really understand
36:28 but I told her before
36:33 that I would never, ever visit a church
36:35 and, of course, here I am at the base visiting churches
36:38 I told her I never would on my own will,
36:43 and so, out of my own will out of deep curiosity,
36:47 because of what I had seen bothering my conscience,
36:51 out of my own will, I wanted to visit her church
36:55 the one she attended, and so,
36:58 I then went to North Carolina
37:01 and I went to church with her for the first time,
37:05 I was very skeptical and I just wanted to know,
37:08 "How is she so happy?"
37:12 before I was antagonistic about her happiness
37:14 and now I was kind of receptive toward it,
37:17 and so, at that church, that Sabbath,
37:20 one of the Elders gave a testimony
37:22 and it was there...
37:24 he gave his testimony about how God brought him
37:26 out of a life of drug addictions and promiscuity and so forth
37:30 similar to mine, that I was kind of "still in"
37:33 so that really... that really touched me a lot
37:36 and it was that moment I gave my heart to God in 2009.
37:39 Amen, so you went to church with your mom,
37:42 and while there,
37:44 someone gave a testimony that mirrored your life,
37:48 and that just drew you close to the Lord.
37:52 Chris: Yes.
37:54 Jason: I had a chance to read an article about your journey
37:57 and I recall reading something about
38:02 when that experience was shared and you...
38:04 there was still kind of a
38:07 rebellious part in you
38:10 and so you went... when they did the alter call,
38:13 touch on that part.
38:15 Yes,
38:17 because I had been wrestling for so much before
38:19 I went to church that Sabbath, I was more receptive
38:22 and the Elder gave an Alter Call
38:24 asking for people to give their hearts to Christ
38:28 for the first time, and it was very difficult,
38:32 I was very interested and compelled
38:34 to stand up and give my heart to God
38:36 when I stood up for the Alter Call,
38:38 pride settled in immediately, I thought I could never do this,
38:42 wait... back up and think twice about this,
38:44 I have too many things going on for myself,
38:47 I'm in the Military, I have a good career,
38:50 I have all this money, I bought this new car,
38:52 I have too many things going on right now,
38:55 I cannot give my heart to God at this time
38:57 so when I stood up
38:59 I immediately ran to the bathroom instead,
39:03 because people are watching,
39:06 I'm like, "No, I cannot do this right now,
39:08 go back and think again,
39:10 think logically here,"
39:12 I ran to the bathroom, locked the door
39:15 thinking no one was going to come find me here,
39:20 and I was just... and the reality of God's love
39:24 that he was sharing in the sermon,
39:26 had hit me harder when I had ran...
39:28 and so I just fell to my knees,
39:30 and I was like, "Okay, I'm done fighting this,
39:35 I've been fighting this for a long time,"
39:38 and so I, in my own heart I told God,
39:41 in my own little ways... "If you exist or whatever,
39:44 I'm just going to accept it,
39:45 I'm going to accept you" and so I did.
39:49 And at that moment, was there an overwhelming
39:52 peace that came over you
39:54 after you made that decision to accept Christ?
39:58 Yes, there were two feelings fighting for the victory,
40:03 one was peace and one was fear,
40:05 having peace that I've accepted Christ
40:09 and that He is going to take...
40:11 He is going to take my life into His hands
40:14 and I have nothing to worry about for the future,
40:16 I have nothing to fear for the future...
40:18 and then the fear, that, whoa, whoa, whoa...
40:20 "What if I still want to do
40:22 some of these things I was doing before,"
40:23 Jason: It's that old man in you.
40:25 I don't want to...
40:26 "As Christians is it going to be boring or fun
40:28 or I can still go to these parties and
40:30 can I still go to these clubs
40:32 and get drunk with my friends or not?"
40:35 and so, even after the day of baptism,
40:37 which was June 21st, 2009,
40:39 even after the very day of baptism,
40:42 I was... there were several others getting baptized
40:47 that same day,
40:48 and when the person that was going before me
40:52 was getting baptized, me being next,
40:55 I left the church, out of fear again,
40:57 I said, "No, I can't do this, I have to think critically,
41:00 I just don't want to give up my 'stuff'
41:05 I don't want to give up my girlfriend
41:10 or the clubs or the drinking and the parties"
41:14 and so, I left the church
41:15 and it was thunderstorming and raining so bad that day,
41:19 I left the church and I was
41:21 walking between cars in this huge parking lot
41:23 and basically hiding from everyone again
41:25 hiding from God, you know, hiding from people,
41:29 and I was fighting it
41:30 even to the day of baptism to the very moment,
41:32 I was fighting it, fighting it, fighting it,
41:35 and I got into the car of a friend of mine
41:38 in this parking lot, in front of the church
41:40 where they're getting baptized, and I stooped down in the seat,
41:45 and I was like, "No, I can't do this,"
41:47 and I was hiding under the steering wheel
41:49 hoping no one could find me,
41:50 hoping no one would find me,
41:51 and I would see people walking out of the church looking for me
41:56 because it was my time to get baptized,
41:57 they were looking for me, and saying, "Where is Chris?"
41:59 and I was hiding, hiding, I did not want to do it,
42:01 but one of the Elders...
42:04 the Elder who preached that Sabbath
42:06 came out looking for me, for some reason,
42:08 once he came out of the church,
42:10 he made direct eye contact with me
42:12 even though I was hiding in the car,
42:14 way in the back of the parking lot,
42:16 he saw me immediately and he came to me and asked me,
42:19 "Chris, what are you waiting for?"
42:21 and so I knew to get up and to stop hesitating
42:25 and so by God's grace I was baptized that day.
42:28 Jason: Praise the Lord.
42:29 Amen, so what happened after you got baptized that day
42:33 how did your life change?
42:35 It changed tremendously,
42:38 I began to have more peace of mind
42:42 and I began to, through Christ,
42:46 to be little more victorious over the fears I had
42:48 before giving my heart to Him fully
42:51 I went back to training literally 24 hours after baptism
42:57 so I had no mentorship, no one to tell me,
43:01 "Hey, you're a new Christian, let us help you along the way,
43:04 if you stumble, we'll help you," this and that,
43:06 or "we'll nurture you," I had nothing,
43:08 so going back into a road of,
43:11 going back into the Military setting,
43:15 back into training,
43:16 it was difficult... very difficult,
43:20 I was doing more training in San Antonio, Texas,
43:27 and it was there that I began to try and pray on my own and
43:31 I didn't know what I was doing
43:32 the soldiers who were in my dorm began to make fun of me
43:38 and a lot of them being Atheists,
43:39 they said, "Why are you praying,
43:41 you're stupid, you shouldn't believe in God"
43:44 and it was very difficult, but thankfully,
43:47 out of the 60 soldiers that were there,
43:50 most being Atheists,
43:51 there were two that were searching on their own as well,
43:56 but hadn't communicated that to anyone
43:59 because it's such a tight, political,
44:02 militaristic environment,
44:04 that it's difficult to share spiritual things,
44:07 feelings, you're looked upon as "weak,"
44:09 you have to run ten miles a day, do hundreds of push-ups and
44:14 you do all these things, you have to be serious and
44:17 keep what is called "a military bearing"
44:19 there's no showing of emotions and feelings
44:20 and believing in Jesus, none of that,
44:22 and so, it was difficult for me to do that there,
44:25 but by God's grace I had a friend of mine
44:30 named Lee, who noticed that I was praying
44:35 and getting all this opposition from my fellow soldiers,
44:38 and he asked me, "What is it that you believe?"
44:41 and the guy who was marching the soldiers
44:44 to the Adventist Chapels, now I'm going there with him as well
44:47 one of the guys, he asks, "Can I go with you as well?"
44:51 he was baptized into the church by God's grace.
44:54 Amen, so your light was shining even there, yeah.
44:58 Chris: By God's grace.
44:59 There was a miracle that took place
45:01 but there was a struggle that happened prior to it
45:05 with you trying to gain the acceptance and get Sabbath off
45:11 talk to our Viewers about that,
45:14 what took place when you tried to go to your
45:18 superiors to get Sabbath off.
45:19 Yeah, so I had moved from Lackland Air force Base
45:22 to Keesler Air force Base in Mississippi
45:25 and then to Holloman Air force Base
45:27 Alamogordo, New Mexico,
45:29 and it was in New Mexico, kind of like a desert,
45:32 I was there and I began to really plead with God
45:34 because I was working every Sabbath,
45:36 and now, this was 2010 now in New Mexico,
45:38 and I had to work every Friday nights,
45:41 every Saturday morning, all Saturday,
45:45 and I realized that the Bible was simple and clear
45:48 that on Sabbath I was to cease from all work,
45:52 and I began to ask God, "What is it that I can do?"
45:55 I am under military authority
45:57 I can't just ask and get Sabbath off and...
46:00 "Oh sure," that doesn't happen that way,
46:02 so I didn't know what to do
46:04 so I went to my authorities, I planned a meeting with them,
46:06 I was working for a certain squadron on the base,
46:12 in New Mexico and I...
46:13 talking to my colonels and my authorities,
46:16 I asked them at this meeting if I could have Saturday off
46:21 and I communicated that in a certain way
46:23 like in a military way,
46:24 "I need this time off for these purposes,
46:26 this, this, this, that... " and they said,
46:28 "No, the mission comes first, you are Government property,
46:32 so everything that you just said about your
46:35 'so called' Sabbath,
46:36 what you believe about not coming to work... "
46:39 they said, "No, you need to be here on Saturday,
46:41 so, your religion, your spirituality,
46:45 that comes after the mission is complete and successful,"
46:47 so I left that meeting very perplexed,
46:52 very perplexed, and I called my mother
46:56 who prayed for me to be converted
47:00 I called her in a time of trial
47:03 and I asked her if she could give me some insight
47:07 as to how I could move through this...
47:09 how I can get Sabbaths off or what was her spiritual advice
47:13 and it was in 2010 where I was becoming more convicted
47:17 on the truths of the Bible, that she was falling away,
47:21 and when I called her she said,
47:23 "Chris, I have gone back to become an Atheist"
47:27 she said, "Chris, I strongly encourage you
47:30 to leave everything, everything I prayed for you for,
47:35 everything I encouraged you to do, go back,"
47:38 it wasn't about the church specifically,
47:41 it was about her personal experience
47:43 and she said, "You know Chris,
47:45 I've given up on God, I've given up on everything,
47:48 I'm going back" and she encouraged me to go back
47:51 and... in fact...
47:53 communicated that to my whole family
47:54 and so, when my entire family found out
47:56 that I was trying to keep the Sabbath
47:58 and wrestling with these issues,
48:01 my whole family agreed
48:03 that if I had continued to be a Christian,
48:07 that they wanted absolutely nothing to do with me
48:11 as a person, and as a member of the family,
48:14 in fact, I was told, by my own grandfather,
48:16 "I never want to see you until the day I die,"
48:19 and so it was pretty tough. Hmmm...
48:21 So you had the Air force, you were in a crisis,
48:24 in the midst of a crisis with the military,
48:27 and then you had your family that essentially said,
48:31 "We want nothing to do with you... "
48:33 and so, how did you feel,
48:36 were you just feeling totally abandoned, where were you?
48:41 I felt totally abandoned, totally ostracized,
48:44 I didn't know what to do and I found a church nearby
48:50 and I talked to some friends who were around my age group
48:55 and now that I look back I know that they were kind of
48:59 nominal Christians,
49:01 but I asked them, "What should I do?"
49:03 and they told me, "Chris, if you're going to be
49:05 a Christian, if you're going to be an Adventist,
49:06 it shouldn't be that difficult,
49:08 in order to be an Adventist,
49:09 you must learn to compromise your faith. "
49:13 Oh my! they gave even worse advice.
49:17 That's horrible advice.
49:18 So not having family support, not even having...
49:21 being a young person, being a new Christian,
49:24 I'm taking anything they tell me as truth,
49:27 "Okay, maybe they're right,
49:28 in the military, what they said is right,"
49:30 but I began to read the Bible more for myself,
49:33 and with serious intensity,
49:35 and I began to really plead for God to give me
49:39 some encouragement, and so, I had a dream,
49:43 and the Military is a very tight system
49:48 so there's not much you can do to maneuver through it,
49:49 I think, in that light, I had a dream
49:52 and in this dream, it was revealed to me
49:55 specifically how to maneuver through the Military System
50:00 to get Sabbaths off, and without going in detail
50:06 I understood, through the dream,
50:09 things that were going on in the System
50:12 that would put me in a bad place in the last days,
50:15 and so, it was a very intense dream
50:19 that I had that even... I'll never forget to this day
50:24 but because of the dream,
50:26 I knew that I had to study the Bible,
50:28 and inspired writings as much as possible,
50:34 in order to understand how to get out of the Military
50:37 because something was coming,
50:39 and so I scheduled another meeting with my authorities,
50:43 and having read in the Bible,
50:46 having asked God for encouragement
50:48 I was asking God,
50:50 "What moves do I make what do I do,
50:53 facing this opposition from the Military authorities,"
50:56 and I read in Acts 5:29,
50:59 where I saw what Peter and the Apostles did
51:03 when they were faced with opposition in their time as well
51:06 and Peter and the Apostles told the Authorities,
51:08 "We ought to obey God, rather than men"
51:10 Hmmm... hmmm... Yeah...
51:12 and even though my authorities told me that
51:13 the mission comes first,
51:14 Matthew 6:24 says, and 33 says,
51:16 that "The kingdom of God comes first"
51:18 and that "No man can serve two masters"
51:21 so I knew to go to my Authorities this time
51:24 and to ask more firmly for Saturdays off,
51:28 and tell them that I was convicted upon the Bible,
51:31 and so they said, "No" again, they said,
51:34 "In fact, if you want to keep your Saturday that bad,
51:39 if you do not come to work on Saturday,
51:42 we're going to send you to prison for two years,"
51:44 Wow! so what did you do?
51:47 And so, they gave me two weeks, they said,
51:52 "We'll give you two weeks to think and recant your faith,
51:55 to think, reevaluate everything you've said,
51:58 everything you've come across, everything you believe,
52:00 and go back
52:02 to why you're here,
52:04 why you're here for the mission,
52:06 if you don't come to work on Saturday,
52:10 and you want to follow through with this belief,
52:13 we'll let you keep the Sabbath behind prison bars. "
52:16 Hmmm... And so for two weeks,
52:18 it got really intense,
52:20 I actually had to illegally escape the base
52:24 because my immediate supervisor
52:28 would come to my apartment on the base
52:31 almost knocking my door down looking for me on the Sabbath,
52:34 because I had to be at work for emergency purposes,
52:37 for serving on the mission.
52:39 Where would you go, when you escaped,
52:41 where did you go to?
52:43 I actually escaped the base and I went to a friend's house
52:50 some friends who I met
52:52 in the Adventist Church nearby in New Mexico,
52:55 and they offered their home to me to come and stay
52:57 if I had any emergency situations which... that was one
53:01 leaving the base so they couldn't find me on Sabbath
53:04 or they'll pull me into work in handcuffs.
53:07 So, how did it work out, what happened?
53:10 Because of the threats
53:13 and because I knew how tight the communication system was
53:15 on the base, I had to hide from Security Forces
53:21 in the mountains of New Mexico for several Sabbaths,
53:27 all Saturday afternoon having escaped the base
53:34 going into the mountains and hiding from all Air force police.
53:38 But then you'd go back on Monday?
53:40 I'd go back on Sunday with more ramifications
53:46 and what happened those two weeks,
53:49 because of my illegal move,
53:54 I disobeyed military authority by not showing up to work,
53:58 because of the move that I made to follow God
54:02 and do what God had said, they gave me something called,
54:08 a "Mental Evaluation"
54:10 because they knew that in training,
54:12 the training is so intense,
54:14 so that you don't have these moments
54:17 nothing shakes you, nothing moves you,
54:19 you don't get caught up in some
54:21 emotional thing or some religious thing,
54:24 and so, because of what happened to me,
54:26 they thought I had some mental problem
54:30 and so they planned to hospitalize me
54:33 by giving me a mental evaluation,
54:35 they put me in a small room
54:37 and they gave me a 650-question Test
54:41 with two IQ tests, timed,
54:44 with authorities standing on both sides
54:46 watching me the entire time
54:48 and it was to... the questions were geared
54:51 to give me the answer in such a way
54:54 that would encourage me,
54:57 that would encourage them to... by the end result,
55:01 put me in the hospital, PTSD or some mental issue,
55:05 and a few days later
55:08 they gave me a nine-hour interrogation
55:09 with an Air force Lawyer,
55:11 where they questioned me for nine hours straight,
55:14 on everything I believed and why.
55:17 Wow! Wow... I can't believe our time
55:20 is coming to a close, tell us how did it end,
55:23 what happened, what was the resolution of it?
55:26 How it ended? The immediate supervisor
55:30 who was over my Prison Sentence,
55:32 24 hours before my Prison Sentence began,
55:37 the guy in charge of it all
55:39 was sent to Iraq out of an emergency
55:42 which happens all the time,
55:44 and the only other person in my entire Unit,
55:47 who took his position, was a Christian,
55:50 took his place,
55:51 and I was delivered from all Military imprisonment.
55:54 The day before you were to go into prison!
56:00 Yes. Look at God,
56:01 look at how God saved you from that!
56:06 That's amazing, so what are you doing now,
56:09 tell us what you're doing now.
56:11 So now I'm going to Andrews University,
56:13 I'm doing a double major in Spanish and Theology.
56:15 Oh! that's awesome, what do you hope to do?
56:20 I'm not exactly sure yet
56:24 I just hope to help pastors, help churches finish the work.
56:28 I really have a passion to help train the laity
56:32 to do the work for themselves.
56:34 That is tremendous, so if you had 30 seconds
56:38 to talk to a young man who is battling with
56:42 some of the same issues that you had,
56:44 either Atheism or Agnosticism, what would you say,
56:48 look into that camera and tell a young man
56:51 in about 30 seconds, what he should do.
56:56 I would say to the Atheist, I would say,
57:01 "Give it a shot because to an Atheist, you have nothing,
57:06 to you eternal life is a possibility,
57:10 Christ is a possibility, or impossibility
57:14 on both sides, you have nothing,"
57:16 to the Agnostic,
57:17 for the one that's in between,
57:19 I would say, "Take a step,
57:20 because you never know what can actually happen,
57:23 the Bible is explicitly clear and through Biblical history,
57:28 and archeology, and prophecy,
57:30 that's how I've experienced
57:32 and that's how I know that God does exist"
57:34 and I'll say to the Christian,
57:36 "Give your life to God fully again. "
57:39 Thank you so much, that was wonderful
57:42 and we're so blessed that God has delivered you
57:46 from Atheism, thank you Jason.
57:49 You're welcome.
57:51 Yeah, yeah, and thank you for joining us
57:54 join us next time because you know what?
57:56 We really want you to know,
57:59 it just wouldn't be the same, without you.


Revised 2016-01-14