For many years I struggled with drugs and alcohol, always taking two steps forward and stumbling back three or fourâ€”never being able to succeed in anything, always feeling empty and void.
I found a twelve step program that helped me with my drug abuse. The longer I stayed clean and the more I learned about myself, the more I realized that it is no coincidence that I am still here, alive and not in jail.
One day while attending a twelve step meeting, I heard a speaker who was talking about things that I could relate to. He also spoke about a freedom that we could all experience if we just surrendered ourselves to GOD.
At that point in my life I was clean from active addiction. But I was making money illegally. I felt that drugs took so much from me that I needed to catch up. Although I was making amounts of money that I had never seen before, I still had a void and always felt lonely. I like to remember sitting in my big house,on my big couch, in front of my big TV feeling miserable.
So when I heard that speaker talking about freedom, I was all ears.
To make a long story short, for the next few months I made sure I put myself in the same places that he would be (after all, I wanted what he had), building a relationship with who I now know as Pastor Raymond Ramos.
At that point in my life because I stopped using drugs and alcohol, I actually thought I was a better person.
Soon to realize that GOD had certain standards. And by trying from my heart and doing my absolute best to live by those standards that I too could live a life beyond my wildest dreams.
So I started to build a relationship with Jesus Christ. I started gradually giving small things up and immediately I started to see positive results. Anything negative that I gave up I was blessed ten times over.
Then finally I made a decision to give up all my old ways and live for Jesus Christ.
Pastor Adam Valenzuela once asked me, “Are you in love with Jesus Christ?” Sincerely, I smiled and answered, “YES.”
I sold my home, to open up a transitional house with my partner John Shinnick for recovering addicts who are trying to make a smooth transition back into society: THE 3SIXTY HOUSE. Today we have 2 Transitional houses with a total of 54 beds.
I go to church, read the Bible, and have devoted my life to Jesus Christ.
By turning my life and my will over to GOD, I started to experience life beyond my wildest dreams – BEYOND MY WILDEST DREAMS!
My relationship with Jesus Christ is so special to me. I wish I could explain it in words, but I just can’t. (It’s the warmest thing.)
The Bible is like an instruction manual on how to live your life, how to treat people, how to treat yourself, how to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, and how to prepare for the promise land!
Today I am almost 13 years clean. I have a beautiful wife, Jessica Rivera ; a beautiful daughter, Emily Nicole Lee Rivera; My Little Man Jadon Lee Rivera,friends; and family that trust and believe in me. And to top it off, I have an amazing relationship with Jesus Christ. I am truly blessed and GRATEFUL, only through God’s Grace. What can I say? THANK YOU LORD! 1 TIMOTHY 12-14.
Raymond A. Rivera
(I wrote this testimony while on the yellow school bus with my beautiful daughter on our way to Ellis Island for a school trip.)