Urban Report

God's Faithfulness

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript



Series Code: UBR

Program Code: UBR000270A

00:01 Have you ever been ambushed,
00:02 shot at, or struggled to survive?
00:05 Well, stay tuned to meet a man
00:07 who discovered God's faithfulness
00:09 in the midst of the storm.
00:11 My name is Yvonne Lewis Shelton
00:12 and you're watching Urban Report.
00:38 Hello, and welcome to Urban Report.
00:40 My guest today is Pastor Paul Lowe,
00:43 a man with a dynamic testimony.
00:46 Welcome to Urban Report, Pastor Lowe.
00:47 Please to be here, Sister Yvonne.
00:49 It's great to have you,
00:51 you know, you were on the parent network
00:54 on the Today program.
00:55 And I think Jason interviewed you
00:57 and he said you have a tremendous testimony.
01:00 So we always like to get our folks
01:04 who have great testimonies on to Dare to Dream,
01:07 to share with our Dare to Dream viewers as well.
01:10 So thank you so much
01:11 for being willing to share your testimony.
01:13 Thank you for allowing me to share.
01:15 Tell us about your journey, where were you born?
01:18 I was born in Guyana, South America.
01:22 And how did you end up here?
01:24 Well, my mom first migrated to the U.S.
01:26 about 1968, I was just shy of two years old,
01:31 that mass migration,
01:33 the U.S. was seeking nurses
01:34 and teachers post the Vietnam War
01:37 and the Korean War.
01:38 And so she was successful in obtaining a visa
01:42 to come to the U.S. to serve and in about 10 years later
01:46 our visas would be approved that was just about 1976, 1977,
01:51 that would migrate to Brooklyn, New York from South America.
01:54 Wow!
01:56 So what kind of difference was there for you
01:58 leaving South America and coming to Brooklyn?
02:02 'Cause I'm from New York too.
02:04 So I know there are areas of Brooklyn,
02:06 there are different areas of Brooklyn.
02:08 But coming from South America to Brooklyn,
02:11 what was that like?
02:12 Yeah, the humor that I often share is like
02:14 a transition
02:15 from the tropical jungle to the concrete jungle.
02:18 Yeah.
02:19 You know, and I had a life where in South America,
02:24 in a Christian home, grandma was a lay Adventist minister,
02:28 a church planner,
02:30 strong conservative fundamental type.
02:32 And so the "old time religion"
02:36 was reinforced quite well
02:38 when I was a child.
02:40 So you lived with your grandmother as a child?
02:41 I was raised by my grandma,
02:43 sister and I were raised by my grandma.
02:45 Beautiful jungle,
02:46 coastal area walk across the road
02:49 and I mean the river
02:51 go a little further reach the Atlantic.
02:53 You know, nice beautiful setting.
02:55 Fruit and fruit trees and all that stuff?
02:57 All the fruit trees and all of that
02:58 wonderful stuff, hot days, cool nights.
03:00 Yes. Yeah.
03:02 Just fun living even though
03:05 it may be at a poverty level considered
03:08 or in contrast to U.S. the average U.S.
03:12 middle class, but never felt poor.
03:15 Isn't it amazing how when you're growing up,
03:19 a lot of times you don't realize
03:22 that your family might not have as much as other people,
03:25 you just deal with what you have.
03:27 That is true.
03:29 You know, you don't even realize
03:30 that you're poor if you're poor.
03:31 Sometimes you do.
03:33 I mean it depends on, you know, the situation.
03:34 But you're saying that you didn't even realize
03:37 there was any poverty there.
03:39 And I bet you, the love of your grandmother
03:41 that it sounds like
03:42 that was a very enveloping kind of love.
03:46 Yeah, the support didn't really feel it so much as a child
03:51 because my grandmother as I said
03:53 was very conservative, very fundamental,
03:54 a very strict wonderful person.
03:57 I expect to and strongly confident
04:00 I'll see my grandma in heaven by God's grace.
04:03 But that grace wasn't so easily felt at that age,
04:08 you know.
04:09 Okay, so then let me backtrack then.
04:12 So she was
04:15 strict grandma.
04:18 And she wasn't that affectionate,
04:20 she was more strict than passionate.
04:21 Yes, we come from a matriarchal culture,
04:24 strong women, lineage of strong women,
04:27 strong West African women.
04:29 Grandma was no nonsense.
04:31 You know, when I came to America
04:33 and learned that children were,
04:35 you know, my peer, they were very fond of their grandmas,
04:37 you know.
04:39 So you all talk about your grandparent like,
04:40 you know, cookies and, you know,
04:42 grandma is the person that spoils.
04:44 Yes. Not my grandma.
04:46 It sounds like that's not the grandma
04:49 I kind of knew, you know.
04:50 Mine believe in,
04:52 you know, spare the rod and spoil the child.
04:54 So the rod wasn't being spared at all.
04:57 So you got some serious disappointment.
04:59 Oh, yes. Okay. Okay.
05:01 And your sister was there with you as well.
05:03 So you and your sister
05:05 were raised by your grandmother.
05:06 Yes. Yes.
05:07 How did you feel about your mother
05:09 not being there raising you,
05:11 your grandmother was raising you?
05:12 That was tough.
05:14 That was tough especially considering
05:15 I was not always comfortable
05:18 about being in that environment.
05:21 My mom would visit maybe once every three or four years
05:25 as most...
05:26 This is the story of your average Caribbean
05:30 person of that diaspora,
05:32 right, your average Caribbean migrant.
05:35 So that created,
05:37 that opportunity allowed to us by the U.S.
05:41 It was a blessing and a curse in some sense you could say,
05:44 because it took most of the women
05:48 out of the household because I said,
05:50 they were looking for nurses and teachers primarily.
05:52 So women in the thousands
05:54 throughout the Caribbean in general,
05:56 it wasn't just Guyana, it was Jamaica, Trinidad,
05:57 Grenada, you know, Barbados,
05:59 wherever started to relocate to the U.S.
06:02 because the U.S. opened its immigration ports
06:06 to receive skilled British educated individuals
06:11 who would now fill the vacancies
06:14 for the women that left the home
06:18 to work in the factories during the war, right?
06:21 So then the U.S. was experiencing a deficit
06:24 of its own civil infrastructure
06:26 as it pertained to teachers and nurses.
06:29 So the next best thing for them to do geographically,
06:33 here is the Caribbean and here you have this
06:35 large population
06:36 of British educated individuals skilled.
06:39 Yeah, they can come and they can help this nation
06:42 to be a better place as we help them
06:44 to better their own,
06:45 you know, life goals and so on and so forth.
06:46 But what that did, it removed most of the women
06:50 from our society and left the men
06:54 and that created a bit of an imbalance.
06:56 So I guess my dad didn't want to
06:59 or wasn't capable of for whatever reasons,
07:01 you know, he did not become our like a single parent,
07:06 instead we were raised by our grandma.
07:09 And that's what the model that we see repeated.
07:11 Was he still in the home, your dad?
07:12 No. Okay.
07:14 I saw my dad maybe holiday periods,
07:19 Christmas time, you know, so.
07:22 I would also visit the city to visit my dad's mom,
07:26 that is my...
07:27 She was an East Indian mixed lady
07:29 so I have to differentiate between the two,
07:31 I would say my black mom and my East Indian grandma.
07:35 And so I would visit her in the city at times
07:38 and I would see him at times there,
07:39 but didn't really know my dad
07:42 until I was about age 15 interactively.
07:46 It's interesting to me, like,
07:47 I know of a lot of situations
07:49 where women have left the children in the islands,
07:54 and they've come to the States to work,
07:57 and they send money back home to their kids,
08:00 but they are separated from their children.
08:03 And so I didn't realize that this was really
08:06 a cultural phenomenon in the islands,
08:09 I had put that together that's interesting.
08:12 So in essence, you lost your mom and your dad.
08:15 In essence, I actually remember one of my mom's visit
08:19 was very interesting
08:21 because we travel to the airport in the city
08:24 and waiting for my mom to embark,
08:27 you know, get off the aircraft and so on and so forth.
08:29 And I don't know what she looks like.
08:31 I don't really know who I'm looking for, you know.
08:34 But I'm standing there
08:35 with this sense of excitement and intrigue,
08:38 I'm going to see my mom today.
08:40 And a lady comes up to me
08:42 and just kisses me on my forehead and says,
08:45 you know, Paul Lowe as they, she would call me.
08:48 And, you know, I kind of looked bewildered,
08:51 looked up at her.
08:52 And she said, "I'm your mom," you know.
08:56 And then I said, "Mommy."
08:57 You know, and she just burst out in tears
09:00 'cause she realized
09:01 I didn't recognize her immediately, you know.
09:04 But, of course, immediate bonding
09:06 and I'm happy for three or four days
09:08 and then she's gone to the States.
09:10 And so at what point
09:12 were you reunited with your mom?
09:13 1977, January. January 1977, I was 10 years old.
09:18 And our visas finally came through in 1976
09:21 and then we migrated to Brooklyn.
09:23 And my mom is living in East Flatbush, Brooklyn
09:27 and living in a one bedroom apartment.
09:29 Mom was working four jobs when we came to the U.S.
09:33 to make ends meet.
09:35 And in addition to that she was in school.
09:39 So she started out,
09:40 I think her efforts initially was to pursue
09:44 as I said taught the civil infrastructure
09:45 as a teacher.
09:47 But my mom was an introvert
09:48 and she was a very quiet person.
09:50 And the Brooklyn, New York school system...
09:54 No, she couldn't handle that.
09:56 She couldn't handle that.
09:58 And so I think she quickly focused on nursing.
10:00 Because I had an aunt who was already here
10:03 from earlier in the '60s
10:05 that was a professional nurse head,
10:07 by then did an RN.
10:08 And so my mother decided to pursue that study.
10:11 But she would work, she had one job
10:13 where she worked during the day
10:14 I believe as a caretaker for a family,
10:17 then she had another job in the evening at a...
10:20 It's kind of like a sweatshop, a place that made clothing.
10:25 Then she had another job on the weekend, you know.
10:28 And so I would see my mom
10:33 sometimes maybe three or four times for the week.
10:36 We were both latchkey kids at that time.
10:40 Wake up in the morning 6.30-7 o'clock,
10:43 breakfast is on the table, a bowl of cereal, some milk,
10:45 you know toast, whatever have you.
10:47 Sister and I would have our breakfast
10:49 and then we'd leave for school.
10:51 There school for the day, come home in the afternoon,
10:53 sit down, do my homework whatever it is,
10:55 you know, I'd be out on the street,
10:57 you know, come inside by whatever time my mom said
11:01 try to be inside that was 8 pm, 9 pm whatever.
11:05 And my sister and I take food out of refrigerator,
11:08 you know, before my sister started cooking also
11:11 we would eat, and then we go to bed.
11:14 And I would recall at times briefly, briefly,
11:18 feel a cold fingers on my neck and my face,
11:21 a kiss on my forehead, open my eyes look up,
11:24 and that would be about 1 am or 2 am,
11:26 my mom just getting in from work.
11:28 And then I slept in the living room
11:31 on a pull out bed,
11:32 my mom would go to bed,
11:34 and then my mom would be gone by maybe 5 am, 6 am.
11:39 And so when I would wake up,
11:41 I wouldn't see her except maybe on the weekends
11:44 if it was a weekend that she was at home.
11:46 This is before she became an Adventist.
11:47 I was just going to ask
11:49 were she was an Adventist or church goer?
11:51 She later became an Adventist.
11:52 She was always a God fearing person.
11:54 But at the time we relocated to the U.S.
11:57 my mom was not church going, she was just work going.
12:00 Right. Right. Study going.
12:02 And I'm sitting here listening to you
12:03 and I know that there are so many children
12:06 who are latchkey kids
12:10 who because their parents
12:12 usually is a single mom in many cases.
12:16 They have to make ends meet, so they work all these jobs.
12:21 But then in the meantime
12:22 the children are left without a parent.
12:25 So essentially you and your sister
12:27 were kind of raising yourselves
12:29 because she wasn't there
12:32 because she couldn't be there 'cause she had all those jobs.
12:36 And it's a catch 22, I guess
12:38 because you have to stay afloat so.
12:39 Yes.
12:41 So what did you get into as a result 'cause you're 10,
12:46 you came over here at 10.
12:48 You came from being totally supervised by grandma
12:53 to having essentially no supervision.
12:56 Your sister older or younger? Sister was older.
12:59 So was she kind of babysitting you
13:02 or were you kind of on your own.
13:04 Not really, we both,
13:06 let's take the good and the bad.
13:08 That nurture from my grandma that as I said
13:11 was not pleasant at the time,
13:14 it really was beneficial
13:15 because my grandma helped us both
13:17 to be very independent at an early age.
13:19 My sister knew how to cook, wash clothing.
13:22 And I knew how to cook basic things, you know.
13:23 But then as I said
13:25 you still have the matriarchal culture
13:27 and a culture that's kind of let men get away with stuff.
13:32 I didn't have to be as concerned about cooking
13:34 and all of that at that time.
13:36 But I had the skills, you know.
13:38 I'm a great cook today because of...
13:39 All right. That's good.
13:42 So 10 years old, you guys, are basically,
13:46 you're latchkey kids and doing your homework,
13:51 but you're also out at night.
13:53 Yes. Right?
13:54 What did you get into?
13:56 Yeah, making friends
13:59 before I even started attending school.
14:01 We got here in the middle of a real bad blizzard,
14:04 the blizzard of '77 if you can remember.
14:05 Oh, from the tropics to a blizzard.
14:08 Right smacked into that blizzard.
14:11 And so it took about a month and a half
14:13 before I was actually in school
14:15 because that delayed the whole process.
14:17 So I had a lot of time to look out the window.
14:20 Many of the days we were just there and my mom,
14:23 she did caution us well.
14:25 "Do not go outside, do not open the door,
14:28 do not this, do not, you know, so and so on."
14:30 So she know all the rules.
14:32 And so I would look out the window,
14:34 the window was to a back alley
14:37 because we were in the rear of that apartment complex.
14:40 But I would see stuff
14:42 just looking out the back alley,
14:44 I could see through the alley
14:45 to another street, I see fights,
14:47 you know, every afternoon
14:49 the kids are coming home from school.
14:50 I saw an unfortunate incident of a young lady
14:53 being sexually assaulted right below our living window,
14:58 in that back alley at 10 years old.
15:01 You know, and I'm learning the harsh realities
15:03 of what that environment is like,
15:06 so I'm kind of preparing myself.
15:09 Then I start school finally, and I'm making friends,
15:13 I'm bonding with peers
15:15 with all the children of our Caribbean background
15:17 because teacher could not understand me.
15:21 And I could barely understand some of the other students
15:23 and the teacher.
15:25 So I had a friend, he was from Jamaica.
15:27 And he became my good buddy in my trance
15:29 and he'd tell the teacher what I said.
15:30 And he would explain to me what the teacher was saying
15:32 'cause I couldn't barely understand
15:35 to the best of my ability.
15:37 And I do remember
15:40 one day even though we came in a blizzard as I said,
15:45 deep snow and all of that
15:46 I had never really seen snowfall.
15:51 I came when there was snow on the ground.
15:54 Okay, so then one day the teacher says to me,
15:56 "Paul," just calls me randomly. "Yes, Sir."
15:58 As I would, you know, "Yes, Sir."
16:00 And he said,
16:01 "Have you ever seen snow falling?"
16:03 I said, "No."
16:04 And he says, "Look out the window."
16:06 And I turn and I see, "Oh."
16:09 You know like
16:11 what I saw was
16:13 the little ornaments that we had,
16:15 you shake it up the water in the middle.
16:18 Yeah, it's a little globe thing,
16:20 you see snow falling here and there.
16:22 I ran to the window, I was so fascinated.
16:25 And I actually lifted the window up.
16:28 Teacher was like, "No, no, no.
16:29 Close the window."
16:31 It was this culture shock,
16:32 all this culture shock and fascination.
16:34 And then the other
16:35 is the general challenge of dealing with violence.
16:40 You know, kids are fighting every day,
16:43 you know.
16:46 The whole psychology of survival was so prevalent.
16:51 And you had to master it at this very early age.
16:55 Let's talk about
16:57 because one of the things that I see
17:00 in our urban centers like New York and Chicago,
17:03 I mean, children are really in battle zones.
17:08 You don't even know if you're going to be
17:09 able to go from home to school
17:12 and back without being confronted
17:16 by some kind of violence.
17:18 That's not normal. Yeah.
17:20 It's the norm in that environment,
17:24 but it's not normal.
17:25 You can't...
17:28 We're asking our children to do things
17:31 that we train soldiers to do.
17:33 Yeah, pretty much.
17:35 I mean, it's just.
17:36 So how did you...
17:38 Let's talk about what was going on
17:40 in that neighborhood
17:41 and what you had to do to survive?
17:44 Yeah.
17:45 We're talking East Flatbush, Brooklyn,
17:49 Clarkson 52nd Street Rutland,
17:51 people are familiar with Brooklyn, Remsen Avenue,
17:54 that old picture right there.
17:56 And as I said starting out really wasn't that bad.
17:59 Friends are looking out for me.
18:01 Now one thing different I had not as yet
18:05 been able to register for school lunch,
18:07 you know, the school provides lunch,
18:09 that's a process so we weren't cleared for that.
18:12 So I would walk home for lunch.
18:15 My first casualty if I would say, first incident,
18:19 I get out and kids stay at school for lunch,
18:21 I have permission to go home for lunch and I leave.
18:24 Now my mom as I mentioned,
18:25 she worked for a wealthy family,
18:27 one of her jobs working for a wealthy family.
18:29 This family was kind enough, family in Long Island,
18:32 when they learned that we were migrating
18:34 and they're like, we're going to help you
18:36 get things ready for you and your kids.
18:38 So they bought winter clothing for my sister and I.
18:42 And I guess because this family was well off,
18:44 they bought a good quality coat.
18:47 I know nothing about status symbols
18:50 and, you know, this kind of stuff.
18:51 So they buy well meaning a corduroy coat
18:55 that was called a quarter field, right?
18:58 This was a coat that was made of corduroy and mink,
19:01 the collar was mink, the coat was corduroy.
19:04 In the hood.
19:05 And the body of the coat had down filing.
19:08 So I'm 10 years old so I have this nice,
19:12 for me it's just a coat, you know, what I'm saying.
19:14 It's just a coat.
19:16 It was this green quarter field coat.
19:17 I remember with the brown mink collar and all.
19:21 One day just walking home, you know.
19:23 Actually, the friend that used to translate for me,
19:28 the first day I wore the coat to the class,
19:30 came in the class, said "Whoa!"
19:34 Yo, you know the kids were like, "Yo, that's you."
19:37 You know, I don't know what they're talking about.
19:40 You wearing that coat in the hood.
19:42 What do you mean, that's me. Yo, that's you.
19:44 I'm like, "Whatever Mate, you know, go, sit down."
19:48 And then the friend said to me, he leaned over and he said,
19:50 "You strap?"
19:52 I don't even know what that meant?
19:54 Like what? So you strap in?
19:56 They wanted to make sure do you have a belt on?
19:58 Yeah. What do you mean I'm strapping.
20:00 So, yo, you got a gun, you got a knife?
20:03 I'm like, "No, I'm fifth grade."
20:05 This is fifth grade.
20:06 Fifth grade and they're asking you
20:08 do you have a weapon.
20:09 That's right.
20:10 And he said to me, he answered me, yo,
20:12 I hope you know how to throw your hands,
20:13 I hope you know how to fight, shorty as they nicknamed me.
20:16 Yeah. And I thought nothing of it.
20:18 So I'm walking home and I passed three guys
20:22 leaning up on a car, smoking, you know, smoking weed,
20:25 that is reef as we called it back then, they smell it.
20:29 And how old are they? Are they older or teenagers?
20:31 They're teenagers. Okay.
20:32 Yeah. The youngest may be 16.
20:34 So these are guys from the high school
20:36 they come in, or a junior high school,
20:37 they come and hang out.
20:39 And so one guy kind of steps off,
20:41 he said, "You know, Shorty, come here."
20:43 You know, just calls to me.
20:45 "Me?" "Yeah, you come in, Man."
20:47 So I turn around
20:49 and start walking back to the guy,
20:51 guy takes the joint out of his mouth and he said,
20:54 "What you want to do for that coat?"
20:56 I don't understand what that means at that time.
21:00 "What do you mean what I want to do for my coat?"
21:02 I said to him.
21:03 I said, "What do you mean what I want to do for my coat?"
21:05 Said, "What do you want to do for that coat?"
21:08 And that's basically saying get ready to defend yourself
21:11 'cause I'm going to take your possession.
21:13 So I wouldn't even know what that meant either,
21:16 I mean I would have been like what do you mean
21:18 what am I going to do for that coat, it's my coat.
21:20 Like what? Exactly.
21:22 So what did you think he was saying to you?
21:25 I had no idea, man.
21:27 But the guy didn't waste any time.
21:29 The guy step forward and grabbed me.
21:31 He grabbed on to the collar of the coat
21:33 and started to pull the coat open.
21:35 I was quiet, I was timid.
21:37 But even then I would fight to defend myself.
21:41 So I started to resist.
21:43 I held on to his hands, and we got into a struggle,
21:45 started to punch me in my head
21:48 and my face repeatedly trying to get me
21:50 to let go of his hands and let go off the coat,
21:52 I would not.
21:53 Now the other two gentlemen...
21:55 The three of them could easily overpowered me.
21:58 But the other two guys, they were kind of amused
22:02 by the fact that I was fighting back.
22:05 And he couldn't get the coat away from me
22:06 so then they just became audience.
22:09 And the two of us are going
22:10 and eventually we fell to the ground.
22:12 And when we fell to the ground,
22:14 I managed to get wrestle myself away from him,
22:17 got up and I started to run,
22:18 and the three of them started to chase me.
22:20 I slipped between two parked cars and he fell.
22:24 So I got more distance and when he got up,
22:26 his friends were laughing at him.
22:27 I guess he's more upset now.
22:29 All three of them which is now get about
22:31 maybe a distance of two blocks.
22:32 And I'm right on the corner of the block where I live.
22:36 And by then because I'm smaller they caught up with me.
22:39 And I just felt this heavy thump in my back,
22:43 you know, like he punched me in my back real hard
22:45 to knock me to the ground, stumbled a little,
22:48 gain my balance, continued running.
22:49 And when I turned around,
22:51 I just saw the three of them standing there.
22:52 They stopped chasing me.
22:54 And so I ran, walked, ran, got to my building.
22:58 You know ran through the door, ran upstairs, of course,
23:01 shaking, sat there, look through a window
23:03 and all of that.
23:04 I don't even think,
23:06 I waited about an hour
23:07 and then went back to school following a different route.
23:12 Get back to school and I'm late.
23:14 I get back maybe half an hour late.
23:17 Class is already in session.
23:18 So I walk in, everybody is looking at me.
23:20 The rule then you have to put your coat in the closet.
23:24 You couldn't sit in the classroom
23:25 with your coat.
23:27 So I forgot, I sat down.
23:30 So, Paul, "Can you please get up
23:32 and put your coat in the closet."
23:34 "Yes, Sir."
23:36 And I stood up and started to take the coat off,
23:37 and the friend behind me said, another expert,
23:40 "Whoa. Dude, yo, look at your coat, bro."
23:45 And then I'm like what happened to my coat?
23:47 And he said, "Look at your coat."
23:49 So I took the coat, laid it flat on the desk,
23:52 and the coat had about a foot long gash in the back,
23:57 with all the down feathers hanging out
24:00 right down to the last layer to the nylon layer.
24:04 So that oomph that I felt wasn't a punch, the guy cut me,
24:08 he tried to cut me.
24:09 He's basically trying to...
24:11 He would have stabbed you.
24:12 Trying to stab me, trying to slice something out,
24:14 cut the coat completely open.
24:16 Oh, my...
24:17 You know, I just stood there like looking at my life,
24:22 you know.
24:23 So then...
24:25 That's why they were standing there looking at you.
24:28 Waiting to see what happens because I don't know
24:30 if he was questioning, well, did I hit him
24:33 or did I not hit him, did I cut him
24:35 or did I not cut him, maybe enough damage is felt.
24:37 You know, in his frustration I think he just slashed at me.
24:41 But he reinforced this sense of,
24:46 you better do something to survive.
24:48 You're not going to survive this place daily just,
24:51 you know, without being proactive
24:54 about having a plan of action.
24:56 So I would fast forward a few years,
24:58 you know, about I would say I started to react to violence
25:03 with violence like about age 13, 14,
25:07 by that time I had stopped going to church.
25:10 Woke up on my 13th birthday and told my mom
25:12 who by then was church going, became an Adventist
25:14 after seeing us get baptized by a Dr. Clifford Jones.
25:19 Oh, yes. Yes.
25:21 Our home church was Brooklyn Faith.
25:23 And interestingly we were,
25:25 my sister and I were part of the original eight members
25:30 of Brooklyn Faith that met in a basement
25:32 on 52nd Street at Sister Taylor's home, right?
25:36 So we are charter members of Brooklyn Faith
25:38 you would say.
25:40 Out of that little eight people,
25:41 you have Brooklyn Faith that exists today.
25:44 So I tell my mom
25:48 on my 13th birthday
25:50 which happened to be on a Sabbath,
25:52 I'm not going to church.
25:53 Mom says, "Why, son?
25:54 It's your birthday.
25:56 Better reason to give God praise"
25:57 I said," You told me, I keep asking
25:59 when I'm going to be allowed to make my own choices."
26:02 And you said, I'll be allowed to make my own choices
26:05 when I start to become a teenager,
26:06 you know, getting of my manhood so to speak.
26:10 Well, I'm 13, I don't want to go to church.
26:13 That was it. I stopped going to church.
26:16 Mom said, "I'll see you at divine hour."
26:18 As she was pulling the bed, I said, "No, you won't"
26:21 because I had made my mind though,
26:23 it's like, I told my mom all this stuff,
26:27 you know, pathfinders and walking with that uniform
26:30 and walking on a street with a Bible.
26:33 If you value my life, you know,
26:36 you'll understand what's going on out there.
26:39 So stopped going to church.
26:42 Were you being ridiculed for being a church boy
26:45 or anything like that?
26:47 Not really ridiculed.
26:48 But you definitely are recognized as someone
26:52 who is not ready to cope, you know, with street life.
26:55 Soft.
26:56 Soft, you know, whatever else other adjectives
26:59 they would put there.
27:00 Right.
27:02 So I had a baby face,
27:03 still kind of have a baby face on all of this grey hair.
27:06 And I was short, but I was bold,
27:12 you know, always as a kid never afraid to try things.
27:15 So older friends in the neighborhood
27:18 realized that and then I would be the guy
27:21 that would carry a pistol
27:22 when we go to block parties
27:24 or if they were going to do a break in,
27:27 going to break into a store or something like that,
27:30 or at home I would stand,
27:32 I'd be the person standing outside with a pistol.
27:36 As I said it was a house party or a street party
27:38 because the police wouldn't check me
27:40 if police showed up or someone older
27:42 'cause I am then 14, 15,
27:44 but I look like 12, 11.
27:48 And once, you know,
27:50 things would get to the point of some need for violence,
27:53 then they would find me
27:55 and just start ripping my clothes apart
27:58 to get the pistol, you know, say,
27:59 give me the tool, and I'd give them the pistol.
28:02 Were you part of a gang or was this...?
28:04 You know, we didn't have gangs in the official definition.
28:08 It was more what we call the posse, you know.
28:11 And so the difference between a gang
28:13 and a posse is a posse comes together for a part
28:17 just like in the West,
28:18 just like in Eastwood movies and so.
28:20 The sheriff or whoever calls up the posse,
28:22 they come together
28:23 for the purpose of getting some bad guy.
28:26 And then it's disassembled.
28:27 So the neighborhood,
28:28 we moved in groups called posses,
28:31 you know, and this is the Caribbean cultural
28:34 from the killer.
28:37 What were you thinking spiritually
28:39 the less you went to church...
28:44 Where were you?
28:45 Where was your head
28:47 after you stopped going to church and all that?
28:48 Where you feeling any kind of pull?
28:50 I felt liberated initially.
28:53 I felt liberated.
28:54 I was always seeking.
28:56 I was always seeking God.
28:57 So once I stopped
28:59 going to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
29:00 Then I think by age 15, 16,
29:05 I started to familiarize myself with Islam
29:07 and I became a Five Percenter.
29:10 So the Five Percenter movement was very prevalent in Brooklyn.
29:12 Very popular.
29:14 That the two, if you're talking gangs,
29:16 two largest gangs
29:18 was the Five Percenters and Zulu Nation.
29:24 Five Percenters and Zulu Nation.
29:26 Zulu Nation was for the Bronx and Manhattan
29:29 and the Five Percenters were more
29:30 in Queens and Brooklyn.
29:32 They eventually took over all the boroughs,
29:33 but that's how it kind of started out.
29:36 And so I became a Five Percenter.
29:37 And when that did not satisfy my search,
29:41 the Caribbean migration began to increase
29:43 more and more,
29:44 Caribbean people are settling in Brooklyn,
29:47 the neighborhood is becoming more and more Guyanese,
29:49 Jamaican, Haitian etc, etc.
29:51 And so I started to familiarize myself
29:54 with my roots, I start become Rastafarian,
29:56 started to twist my hair, I smoke weed,
29:59 you know, the whole dance culture
30:02 and all that kind of stuff.
30:03 So I was always searching.
30:05 And when that did not satisfy my search
30:07 and I just started to float,
30:08 you know, started to basically worship me, you know.
30:12 With the Five Percenters, I mean that whole idea of,
30:16 you know, they call each other God.
30:17 Correct.
30:19 Because the idea is that you are God, and you are God,
30:23 and you are God.
30:24 Yes.
30:25 The men, the male, we were God,
30:27 the females were earth.
30:29 Oh, the females were earth.
30:31 Females were earth and we the males were God.
30:34 So, okay, step all over earth.
30:35 Is that how are we.
30:37 Well, that how it work? Okay.
30:39 It was the Islamic cult.
30:43 So the Five Percenters are an offshoot of Islam?
30:47 It's actually an offshoot of the Nation of Islam
30:51 which is an offshoot of Islam.
30:53 And the Five Percenters were actually,
30:55 Louis Farrakhan had a lot to do with the starting of it.
30:57 He wasn't the person that started
30:58 but he had a lot to do with its embryonic stage.
31:01 And they were the militant right arm
31:03 of the Nation of Islam.
31:05 And the Five Percenters believe that form of black supremacy,
31:10 but also black survival.
31:13 And that we should do everything that we can do
31:16 to protect our families and ourselves.
31:18 There were some positive virtues.
31:21 But then the whole hate of every other group
31:25 and the violence, you know,
31:27 react with everything was addressed,
31:29 responded to or addressed with great violence.
31:33 Isn't it interesting how Satan, he can mix some good,
31:39 you know, give you a little bit of ethnic pride
31:41 so that you feel comfortable with who you are.
31:43 But it goes beyond that, it goes into superiority,
31:48 it goes into hatred.
31:51 You know, he can take you,
31:54 to me there's nothing wrong with feeling comfortable,
31:56 in fact, you should be comfortable
31:58 with who you are,
31:59 whether you're black, white, whatever you are.
32:01 Be comfortable in your own skin.
32:03 But he wants to take you further than that.
32:06 And have you despise people who aren't the same as you.
32:10 Absolutely.
32:11 And so is very interesting how and we talk about this
32:14 on Dare to Dream a lot and on Urban Report.
32:17 How Satan's plan is to just take you
32:19 in this downward spiral until you're destroyed,
32:24 your character...
32:26 Everything. Everything is just destroyed.
32:29 But God wants to give you the abundant life.
32:32 So as you were doing all this searching,
32:37 each thing, the Five Percenters,
32:40 Islam and all that,
32:41 none of it was giving you what you needed to get.
32:45 Where were you? Correct, correct.
32:47 I still didn't have the sense of security that I was seeking
32:52 in terms of who is God, why am I here,
32:56 what is my purpose.
32:57 And, you know, what I want to share with you
32:59 is or anyone listening is God's faithfulness.
33:03 Because starting all of this,
33:05 you know, God did start a good work if I can see
33:07 even through my grandma and even through the suffering
33:10 that I experienced in home,
33:12 in the nurture or the rearing of my grandma.
33:16 Christ was there, He showed up a lot.
33:18 You know, I met Christ at the very early age
33:21 as a child outside of religious or indoctrination.
33:26 Because as I said, I was always seeking,
33:28 I was always seeking
33:29 based on the hurt, and the pain,
33:32 and the suffering that I was experiencing
33:34 as a child.
33:35 So now one day I stumbled,
33:38 I was looking through some stuff maybe 10 years ago,
33:42 and I found a license.
33:45 One of my driver's license from New York.
33:49 And, you know, it serves no purpose anymore
33:52 so I was going to throw away this.
33:54 You know what?
33:55 I stared at that license,
33:57 I said, "Man, this is what I used to be.
33:59 This is exactly what I used to look like. "
34:01 Were you high
34:02 'cause you look little high on in the picture?
34:04 Yeah, the morning I was.
34:05 Because it was customary early in the morning,
34:07 we'd be on the street corner, we drink,
34:09 we smoke before we go into class.
34:12 And so that morning,
34:14 now I wasn't in high school then,
34:16 I had finished high school.
34:18 But, you know, still in the same surroundings.
34:21 And so I contrast that license
34:25 to my passport picture
34:28 which really gives an image of how I looked as a child,
34:33 the sweet, innocent, tender, you know, trustworthy,
34:36 harmless, you know, da-da-da.
34:39 So God remained faithful through all of that.
34:42 And as you were saying,
34:44 the devil pulls you
34:46 as deep as he can until you're like
34:48 at a point of no recovery.
34:50 And then when you yourself realize
34:51 that you don't even want to be recovered.
34:53 You know, you just feel that down here
34:56 is where you belong,
34:57 you know, I've messed up so much, I've wronged so much.
34:59 I've done so much that is wrong,
35:02 surely God can't love me after this.
35:05 People can't love me and God can't love me,
35:07 you know.
35:08 And through all of that,
35:10 God would reveal Himself repeatedly
35:13 reminding me in some way or another
35:15 that He did.
35:17 Give us an example?
35:18 Yeah, I tell folks some of my greatest prayers.
35:20 And I prayed today and I pray earnestly.
35:25 But I got to confess
35:26 some of my most earnest prayers occurred
35:29 when I really didn't have that abiding faith so to speak.
35:34 And they were often in the middle of shootouts.
35:39 There are more, I was involved in more shootouts
35:42 than I can share with you.
35:44 So people would say something like,
35:46 so tell me about something miraculous that happened.
35:47 I can't, it's too many.
35:49 We'll be here or till I don't know when.
35:52 There are so many miracles that I experienced.
35:54 But I do recall, you know, calling,
35:57 putting myself in a fatal position,
36:00 and hearing the bullets,
36:02 you know, getting louder and louder,
36:03 closer and closer
36:05 in this one incident in the club.
36:08 And when the smoke cleared so to speak,
36:12 the friend right next to me was hit.
36:15 I had a debris from his tissue stuck on my clothing,
36:20 in my hair.
36:21 You know, I came home with my clothes
36:25 spotted with his blood.
36:27 And incidents like that over and over,
36:30 you know, where I'm praying,
36:32 "God, please get me out of this situation
36:33 and if you do I will.
36:35 You're making all these quit pro co-contracts with God
36:38 and some of us do.
36:40 And, of course, I broke them
36:41 as soon as I got out of that place.
36:43 And I was, you know, well on my feet again,
36:46 you know, it was back to the same.
36:47 I also had a lot of close calls as far as accidents.
36:51 I rode motorcycles, you know, that I love riding,
36:54 racing bikes, you know, Ninjas and Honda CBRs and Hurricanes
37:00 and all these real fast powerful street bikes
37:03 that we rode back then and raced on the street
37:05 and I had accidents.
37:07 I raced, I drag race also for recreation cars.
37:11 And, you know, these popular venues
37:14 we would go block off the street,
37:16 they'd steal cars and then because the car was stolen,
37:19 you don't really care what you do with it
37:21 so you go race all out for title, or for money,
37:25 or for whatever have you.
37:26 And I had accidents racing.
37:29 But I always ended up being able to walk away
37:32 from a lot of those incidents, a lot of those challenges.
37:35 And did you recognize at that point that,
37:40 "Hey, why is it that
37:42 I'm the one that still surviving?
37:44 Why is it that I'm the one that's walking away
37:47 from these accidents?"
37:48 Did you realize that God must have a plan?
37:50 Yes, yes.
37:51 There's something else going on here.
37:53 You know, Yvonne, today I rejoice
37:57 in every miracle that God did.
37:59 But it was also bittersweet because there were times
38:02 that I lost friends that clearly
38:05 if we're measuring by virtue, and integrity,
38:08 and so forth, "a good person, "
38:11 they were a much better person than I.
38:14 And I questioned often at their funeral looking down
38:17 in that casket, "God, why him?"
38:20 You know, because some of those friends
38:21 that I lost they were,
38:23 you know, be careful how you look at street kids,
38:26 you know, because we're all wearing the same uniform.
38:28 And, of course, this is the general challenge
38:30 for law enforcement also.
38:32 We're all wearing the same uniform.
38:33 And so it's easy to look and say that one
38:36 is an absolute such and such.
38:38 But there are some kids who are in the uniform
38:40 but their heart real good.
38:42 They really don't have a violent spirit,
38:44 they don't steal, they don't rob,
38:46 they don't do any of that stuff,
38:47 but they look just like all of their peer
38:50 that are doing or are involved in some degree of deviance
38:54 or whatever have you.
38:56 And some of those friends got caught up
38:57 and they became victims for whatever reason,
39:00 I will only know when I get to heaven.
39:02 You know, why God allowed them and not me.
39:05 So for some time I'm in trouble and I'm grateful,
39:07 I'm grateful for all those incidents
39:09 that I did survive.
39:11 But yeah, you know.
39:14 So how did God finally reach you?
39:17 What happened?
39:19 What was the pivotal event that turned your life around?
39:24 I would say finally, I had matured,
39:27 I got off the street, and I never was the kind,
39:31 I never had an interest in standing on a street corner
39:33 with a loaded nine millimeter, selling marijuana or coke.
39:37 That just wasn't me.
39:39 Though I got involved indirectly
39:42 in that type of lifestyle also.
39:45 But I got for myself mixed up more in,
39:51 I don't know how to say it like white collar stuff,
39:53 you know.
39:54 And stuff, illicit practice
39:59 that didn't have me directly involved
40:02 in face to face conflict, right?
40:04 And dealing as a middle person often connecting two people
40:08 for something that needed to be done
40:11 and then I get a cut in this kind of stuff,
40:12 you know, right?
40:14 So I started a career in aviation,
40:18 back up a little bit.
40:20 I was involved in a shooting at one point,
40:22 lead to the death of a person.
40:23 I did not kill the person but I was a primary suspect.
40:27 Person killed a friend of mine and we were retaliating.
40:29 And then that person was lost in that incident.
40:32 And so the police were questioning me
40:35 and the friends of the individual
40:37 that died wanted to kill me.
40:40 And so my mom got together,
40:43 you know, aunty this, uncle that, cousin that,
40:45 typical Caribbean practice,
40:47 this person put five bucks, this person put 10, 20, or 100
40:50 whatever you to bought a ticket like within three days
40:53 they told me, "I was going to Florida for a funeral
40:55 'cause a relative had died."
40:57 When I got to Kennedy Airport and I was questioning
40:59 why my cousin, older cousin, and one of my mom's friend
41:03 had to travel in the cab sandwiching me in the middle.
41:07 Get out there and we're at the ticket counter
41:08 and I see my mom take up my passport.
41:10 "Why you have my passport? Just going to Florida."
41:12 "Son, you're not going to Florida,
41:14 you're going back to Guyana."
41:15 Put me on the plane and sent me back to South America.
41:17 She got you out of there before they killed you.
41:20 Right, so I was in South America
41:22 for almost a year.
41:25 With your grandmother?
41:26 She had already passed. Okay.
41:28 Yeah, so I'm there and I'm just living the life,
41:32 I'm actually in practice and doing worse
41:35 than I was doing in Brooklyn.
41:37 Oh my word
41:38 'cause you're bringing those values back into...
41:41 Yeah, yeah, U.S. culture
41:42 in terms of intoxication
41:44 and the other stuff, you know.
41:46 I'm not doing well, got Rastafarian cousins
41:48 and I'm doing what Rastafarians do.
41:50 Rastars, yeah.
41:52 In the morning smoking and all this kind of stuff.
41:54 But something happened that did help me
41:57 to have a different focus while I was there
42:01 because I had a cousin who then in conversation
42:03 just started pouring her heart out to me.
42:05 And she was saying like I said, "Why are you crying?"
42:08 And she said, "If I could only have the opportunity
42:11 that you have had to go to the U.S.,"
42:13 because she was brilliant, she had three scholarships,
42:15 one to Russia, I think one to Romania
42:17 and maybe China somewhere else I think to study law.
42:22 And she didn't see it as any value.
42:25 And she wanted to come to the U.S. and study.
42:27 And so she was depressed, she said,
42:29 "In my life I'm sick of people telling me how smart I am
42:32 while I'm sitting here in this nation
42:36 that's sort of communism, I have no future,"
42:39 you know and so on and so forth.
42:41 And I'm listening, listening, listening.
42:42 And I said, "Wow."
42:44 Here I am in my concern right now
42:48 when I get back to Brooklyn
42:50 is where I'm going to find bullets.
42:53 'Cause a gun without bullets serves no purpose
42:57 or where I'm going to find a bigger gun
42:59 and for a while I used to sell guns.
43:01 So that was one of the things that I started to do.
43:04 In Guyana? No, no, in Brooklyn.
43:05 Oh, in the States.
43:06 So I'm sitting there
43:08 and I'm scheming as we would say,
43:11 "When I get back to New York what I could find
43:15 as the most lucrative,
43:18 deviant, safe practice."
43:22 I try to put those three together.
43:23 Right. Right.
43:24 You don't want to be too out there,
43:27 but yet you want a lot of money.
43:29 Yeah, and I want to live. And you want to live, right?
43:31 And you don't want to go to jail.
43:33 There you go. All of the above, right?
43:35 And that's my pride.
43:36 I'm saying, "This is what I'm thinking about.
43:39 And this is what I'm doing
43:41 with the opportunity that I've had
43:43 to be in this nation
43:44 and with my mom and make something of my life."
43:46 That started my transition.
43:48 So I returned. I'm motivated.
43:50 I was a bright kid, I was a bright kid.
43:52 I would go to school, my last two years,
43:55 I was hardly in school.
43:56 I would only go to take the state exams.
43:59 And then often I would hang out with friends in the park
44:02 and they would rob other kids,
44:04 and we'd smoke and drink, and all of this thing,
44:06 do silly things.
44:08 And then I had an accident, and broke my leg,
44:12 and I was out of school for the last year for a while.
44:15 And so, but I managed to get into college.
44:20 And my first degree
44:22 I received was in aeronautical engineering.
44:26 Couldn't find work in that field
44:27 because I wasn't the citizen at the time.
44:29 So I went back to school
44:31 after interviewing with Grumman,
44:32 and McDonnell Douglas, and Fairchild, and the Boeing,
44:35 these other companies can't get hired.
44:38 Returned and received a degree in Aviation Management.
44:42 And worked in the field of aviation for about 11 years.
44:45 But that brought challenges also.
44:48 So then I finally start to hear God's call
44:52 when I was transferred,
44:54 I accept a transfer from New York to Miami
44:57 because of what I was involved in.
45:00 So to keep myself safe because one friend
45:03 had been shot in both knees,
45:05 just caught him in the parking lot one night,
45:07 put him on the ground, and shot him in both knees.
45:10 And then while he was in the hospital
45:12 on a bed warrant
45:13 because the police is investigating the shooting,
45:15 they get warrant, raid his house
45:17 and they find money and narcotics.
45:20 And so another friend flees the country and then calls
45:24 and tells me your time is limited.
45:30 I'm out of the country now.
45:31 And I would advise you to do the same.
45:33 Well, I couldn't leave the country at that time,
45:36 accept the transfer and relocated to Florida,
45:39 started over.
45:40 That's where God finally started to speak to me
45:43 and I ended up befriending a gentleman
45:45 who used to work at a bar,
45:47 he would always invite me to church,
45:49 I would always tell him, "No, but pray for me."
45:51 And then at this one point where now I am a manager,
45:56 I'm an aviation manager, operations manager
46:00 and the stress of that job was just consuming me.
46:04 I was 26
46:06 and the next youngest manager was 57.
46:10 So which I guess lends
46:13 to how God had blessed me career wise and so on.
46:17 But the job was extremely stressful.
46:19 All my managerial peer
46:21 were on some form of substance abuse
46:23 who wasn't sniffing cocaine, was using some kind of speed,
46:27 and who wasn't doing that was an alcoholic, etc, etc.
46:30 And so I literally felt myself dying from the stress.
46:36 And realize I needed something different,
46:38 started reaching out to my mom, opening my heart to her.
46:41 My mom would pray with me on the phone.
46:44 And little, by little, by little,
46:46 I remember this friend's invitation
46:48 and then one day, I said,
46:49 listen, would you invite me to your church.
46:52 Yeah. I'm ready to go.
46:55 And I went, and at that time
46:56 the church was having a revival.
46:58 And experienced that revival
47:01 and eventually gave my heart to the Lord.
47:04 Now once I came into the church,
47:06 you know, you go from one extreme to the other.
47:09 So now because
47:11 I'm being arrested by my own guilt
47:12 of all the things I did in those early years
47:15 that I could not replace.
47:17 This is what I tell kids today when I talk to them,
47:19 I say while they're out there, I say, "Look, man,
47:21 while you're out here and you're surviving.
47:24 You probably got a plan to come back.
47:26 But know this,
47:28 when you come back, when you do,
47:29 if you do there are things that you cannot undo."
47:34 And there are things that I still struggle with
47:36 in terms of remorse and guilt.
47:38 I know God has forgiven me.
47:40 But the fact that I can't put those things
47:42 back in those people lives,
47:44 you know, that I may have been responsible for directly
47:47 or indirectly, you know.
47:49 So it's a great consequence.
47:52 So I go from one extreme to the other.
47:56 And I happen to be part of a church in Salt Florida
47:59 that was extremely fundamental, extremely conservative.
48:01 So like my grandma's environment,
48:03 I got a lot of the old time religion.
48:05 I got a lot of what I need to do to be saved.
48:09 I got a lot of salvation by works,
48:11 but I really yet have not met Christ.
48:14 Right?
48:16 It wasn't until years later I had already been a pastor
48:19 maybe six years I would say,
48:22 until I finally stumbled upon
48:24 what an abiding relationship in Christ is like, you know.
48:30 And tell us how that has impacted your life.
48:33 Oh, tremendously because
48:34 then as I said this is about God's faithfulness.
48:37 And what I never had through all of this experience
48:40 even though God remained faithful,
48:42 God ransomed me, God rescued me.
48:45 I didn't have this sense of assurance.
48:48 It just wasn't there.
48:49 And the reason why that sort of assurance
48:51 wasn't there is because
48:52 I was always seeing myself as the saving agent.
48:56 So Christ died to save my life that I could save myself.
49:01 And that was my formula.
49:03 And there are a lot of us
49:05 still living like that as Christians.
49:06 Yes.
49:07 This is so important,
49:09 this is the righteousness by faith concept,
49:12 is it not?
49:14 The faith element.
49:15 There's a quote that I can share with you
49:17 that made a significant difference
49:20 if I can share and this is from a W. W. Prescott
49:25 is the name of the author.
49:28 And I want to just read it to you as it is.
49:32 You know what?
49:33 And I'd like for you to read it to our viewers
49:36 because I want them to know,
49:39 you know, you've been through a lot
49:41 and you have found the Lord,
49:43 but you hadn't found
49:45 this whole idea of righteousness by faith.
49:46 Yes.
49:48 My assurance was in being a vegetarian.
49:50 Yeah.
49:51 My assurance was in strictly observing the Sabbath.
49:54 My assurance was understanding the prophecies of scripture
49:57 or of the church,
49:59 understanding the fundamental teachings of the church,
50:01 addressing a certain way,
50:02 you know, decorum and lifestyle became my assurance.
50:06 Is what you could do. Yeah. Yeah.
50:08 Not what Christ had done.
50:10 Yeah, let's hear it.
50:12 His confession is this, "For a long time,
50:16 I tried to gain the victory over sin, but I failed.
50:21 I have since learned the reason instead of doing the part
50:25 which God expects me to do and which I can do.
50:29 I was trying to do God's part
50:31 which He does not expect me to do
50:34 and which I cannot do.
50:37 Primarily,
50:38 my part is not to win the victory.
50:43 But to receive the victory
50:45 which has already been won for me by Jesus Christ.
50:51 My difficulty was due to this
50:53 that I did not give heed to the fact
50:56 that victory is a gift.
51:00 Already won
51:02 and all ready to bestowed upon all
51:06 who are willing to receive it.
51:08 I assume the responsibility of trying to win
51:12 what Christ had already won for me.
51:15 This led to my failure."
51:19 That is rich.
51:21 When I realize that,
51:24 it helped to solidify
51:27 God's promise in Jeremiah 29:11,
51:30 "For I know the plans that I have for you."
51:33 You know, not plans to harm you,
51:35 but for an expected future.
51:37 Because you see, in all that meandering,
51:40 I actually thought God had forgotten about me,
51:43 in all the suffering as a child and I did not have.
51:46 I painted a nice picture for you.
51:48 I did not have a pleasant childhood.
51:50 I'm talking age 10 backwards.
51:52 It was painful.
51:53 And so even in that, I kind of thought God had,
51:57 you know, like a deist experience,
51:59 God has just distanced.
52:01 Yes, I believe in God
52:02 but He doesn't really care about me,
52:04 you know.
52:06 And so God would reveal Himself repeatedly
52:08 as I would say throughout.
52:10 He would show me in all those shootouts,
52:12 I've been stabbed, and shot out,
52:13 I've shot at people,
52:14 all this kind of stuff, so many.
52:16 I had two friends die in my arms,
52:19 you know.
52:20 And fortunately, as far as the law
52:23 I was fortunate that
52:25 I was arrested on many occasions,
52:26 I was jailed, but I was never,
52:28 I never faced prison, I never went to prison.
52:31 So I was never detained
52:32 for more than two days or such, you know.
52:34 And all of these things
52:36 and the times when I did have a case,
52:38 ended up being exonerated.
52:39 And so, you know,
52:41 just God's amazing grace through all of that.
52:44 Yes.
52:45 But I then began to see
52:47 that God really never abandoned me
52:51 in spite of...
52:52 Even when as you were saying
52:54 the devil had pulled me down to the point
52:56 that I was so low
52:57 that I didn't want to come back up.
52:59 God still did not abandon me.
53:02 He was still there. Yes.
53:04 Yes. He loves you relentlessly.
53:07 Faithful. He's a faithful.
53:09 A faithful God.
53:11 I was reading something today in my devotional time
53:13 that said,
53:15 "Love and faithfulness equals loyalty."
53:19 Yes. And that's who God is.
53:22 He is love and He is faithful.
53:26 And He wants that from us
53:28 to love others and to be faithful,
53:30 to be loyal to Him.
53:33 So you found out
53:37 that you couldn't be your own god,
53:40 that you couldn't save yourself.
53:42 First lesson.
53:43 You know, you can't save it.
53:45 Well, a lot of times we try to be the Holy Spirit,
53:47 we try to be God for ourselves but other people,
53:50 tell them what to do and all that.
53:51 It's one thing to share something with others,
53:55 it's another to try to force them into our beliefs.
54:01 And we can't convict people, the Holy Spirit does that.
54:06 So you finally came to a place where you could say,
54:09 Lord Jesus, thank You.
54:11 Yes.
54:12 And now my joy is sharing
54:14 that assurance with everybody else
54:16 especially youth, so, you know,
54:17 I pastor in four congregations in Chicago,
54:23 prayerfully, hopefully soon five.
54:25 And I have a lot of interaction with youth.
54:28 You know, what's going on in Chicago today?
54:30 Yes.
54:31 How are you addressing
54:33 some of what's going on the violence?
54:35 One youth at a time. One youth at a time.
54:39 But ensuring also
54:40 that our churches are actively involved
54:43 in our communities to the best of our ability.
54:46 But I want to say this,
54:47 my story is duplicated a thousand times
54:51 over in Brooklyn, in Chicago, in Miami, in LA,
54:55 in any and most of our urban communities
54:58 where we have Adventist churches.
54:59 You will find thousands of adults
55:03 out of that environment
55:04 with a similar or even more dramatic testimony.
55:08 And you'll find children right now.
55:10 And I want that single mother, you know, that single mother,
55:15 that single grandma that has been raising,
55:17 you know, Joey or whoever,
55:20 or Paul, or Tony, or whatever his name is.
55:22 And you're like, you know,
55:23 what is up with this kid,
55:25 you know, dear God, have mercy,
55:28 you know, I don't know what else to do.
55:30 I want that parent or that guardian
55:33 to know that there is still hope.
55:35 And for the youth,
55:37 for that kid I want you to know
55:39 no matter how far you think you have gone,
55:43 God, you are not beyond God's reach,
55:46 you're not beyond His reach.
55:47 He can still reach you. He still loves you.
55:50 He's still faithful to His call to save you, you know.
55:55 So we shouldn't be ignorant
56:00 that there are other youth in our church environments
56:03 that have struggled with the same thing.
56:05 I knew many of them.
56:06 So basically I was this kid they had two lifestyles, right?
56:11 I had the Adventist lifestyle
56:13 and then I had my street life style
56:16 until it got to the point
56:17 where my own righteous indignation,
56:20 my own sense of pride said,
56:21 "I can't continue doing both
56:24 and I pull myself out of the church, you know."
56:27 But we have to pray for our kids
56:29 because some of them in my case,
56:33 I felt I didn't have a choice.
56:35 And I know many of them it's a quest for survival,
56:38 it's not that they're bad, it's not that they're evil,
56:41 it's not that they want to gang bang
56:43 and all this kind of stuff.
56:44 It's what they see as a choice they have to make to survive.
56:48 Right?
56:50 So we have to help them
56:51 to have that assurance for them to understand
56:53 who they are in Christ.
56:55 For them to understand
56:56 that God is faithful that He does have a plan,
56:59 and He does have a plan for them to prosper,
57:03 because He is helping me to prosper today.
57:04 Praise God. Praise the Lord.
57:06 This is such a beautiful testimony
57:09 because you can work with these young people
57:11 because you've been there.
57:13 You understand what it's like
57:15 to go through those streets every day,
57:17 just to go to school.
57:18 Just to go to school. Just to go to school.
57:20 I mean, my heart just aches
57:23 for our young people in the inner city
57:26 because I know it's just so difficult.
57:29 But thank you so much. God is amazing.
57:31 Thank you so much for being with us,
57:33 and for being so transparent in sharing your journey.
57:37 Thank you. God bless you.
57:38 And I wish you well with your churches,
57:41 and your congregations, and your young people.
57:43 And just know that, you know, our viewers will pray for you.
57:46 Thank you. God bless you.
57:48 Yes. God bless you.
57:49 Thank you so much for joining us.
57:51 I can't believe we reached the end of another program.
57:55 We appreciate you and we love you.
57:58 And we know that God's got a plan for you.
58:01 Tune in next time
58:02 'cause it just wouldn't be the same without you.


Revised 2018-10-15