LTAAT‎ > ‎RSS Feed‎ > ‎

The Testimony of Carlos Garcia

posted Sep 29, 2011, 8:45 AM by C G   [ updated Jun 24, 2014, 9:27 AM ]

All Christian walks begin with a testimony. We should not be ashamed of where we come from, but  rather thankful for what Christ has done in our life. 

As a child, I grew up in church. My father was one of the head deacons. The church was Charismatic, so we spoke in tongues a lot. Things were well until the pastor became hostile toward my parents. Eventually, the pastor resigned and the church fell apart. From my perspective (at the time), we were just looking for a new church. What had really happened was that my father discovered that the pastor was embezzling money from the tithe. When my father approached him on it, he lashed out from the pulpit and at any chance he could to discredit my father. After a friend of the family spoke with the pastor, he relented and stepped down. This incident put a thorn in the side of my family in regards to churches. We became casual attendees of random churches, but never committed like we had before. 

I hit the teen years and still looked forward to the weekends where we'd go to church. The church we were at had no sense of community and (therefore) less demands. My dad dropped us off at youth group on Wednesday nights. I made one friend there, but everyone else seemed into themselves. Even the counselors didn't seem to care about me. I was mostly ignored. With no reason to go to youth group, my parents and I agreed that I would stop going. I continued to read my bible on a semi-regular basis during this time. 

High school came and so did my driver's license. At times, I would drive myself to church (trying to do what I was raised to). In school, I attended student-led bible studies. At one point, the leaders were making out in a stairwell. I approached them on the subject and said that it didn't send the right message to others who saw them as leaders. The image still stuck with me, though, I never saw them doing it afterward. As I continued in high school, I picked up a job at the local Mc Donald's. I made manager within a year. Life seemed normal, and my drive for capitalism pushed my drive for Christ out. In high school, I did date like everyone else. My first girlfriend later turned out to be a drinker (from what i discovered later). This relationship lasted three months, which is epicly long for a high schooler. My second relationship was with a girl who had substance abuse issues. This was three weeks at best. Third alluded to devil worship or something like that. Fourth was into Wicca. Fifth was a prostitute (though, I thought I could change her). My sense of self worth was going down hill and so were some of my choices. 

Things came to a head when girlfriend 5 nearly got a coworker killed. I went crying to God over it. I called a friend, Denna, who led me through a prayer of repentance. My life started to turn around. Girlfriend 5 was fired by the general manager and I started reading my Bible again. 

It was in May of 1998 that I met my first wife. She was young and beautiful, but I was more interested in her friend. I found out that her friend was a tough nut to crack. They were both Christian, but the friend was uber-conservative on a number of issues. So much to the point where we debated whether it was sinful to watch Disney's Jungle Book. Her point was that the people of India practice pagan religions. After her friend fell asleep, my first wife and I began talking. Two hours later, we realized we had a bit in common. We began dating shortly after. We were married after six months of knowing each other. 

Within the first year of marriage, we had a number of issues that shook the marriage, leading up to the birth of our first daughter. With little money, we somehow made it. We eventually went back to church after some on-again and off-again issues. Another daughter was born a few years later. We were getting sick of church at this point because the church we went to seemed very superficial. We ended up in a smaller church. This smaller church had an odd feeling to it. While it was closer nit, the pastor seemed to have control over the lives of the college kids. Since we didn't seem to fit in, we eventually left. 

During the time at the smaller church, a son was born to us. He had a number of issues that would be resolved through numerous doctor visits and ultimately surgery. This was a trying time for any parent. To this day, he lives a normal life, but still has scars from the surgery.

We moved to a city north of the metropolitan area. My (then) father-in-law arranged for us to live in a house so we could raise our children. After a year and a half, life started to fall apart. My wife and I began to fight more and more often. She once told me, "I look in your eyes and I see no life there." I laughed at her. Shortly after Father's Day (2006), she kicked me out. I stayed at a co-worker's place for a while on a hard wood floor. At that point, I had lost my marriage and family. My life seemed as if there was no hope for me. I was severely depressed. 

It was when I was hopeless enough to consider suicide that God intervened. I heard His voice telling me, "I'm not done with you." It was calming and soothing. I said to God that He'd better show me that He was real or I would do something. The next day, I left work early (still laden with depression). I went to this church that was on the way home (to my ex-wife's place). I had driven past there every day I worked and felt God calling me, but never answered. I went in the office an emotional mess. The secretary (Erica) told me that the pastors had all left for the day. Flustered and unsure what to do, she noticed the counselling team had an unscheduled meeting in the sanctuary. I went with the counselling team to the home of one of the elders (where they often held counselling sessions). At that point, I committed myself to God (Father, Son, & Holy Spirit). Now, I have hope. 

I was baptized in August 2006 and chose to become a youth mentor. During this time, the marriage was still falling apart. This first marriage, which I had made an idol of, ended. The process was long and dragged out. I racked up more money than I could pay for with child support obligations. It was by the grace of God that I maintained any standard of living. 

In December 2006, I lived with my friends Luther and John. Eventually, additional tenants occupied the house and I was given special permission to occupy the basement. This was to give me privacy when I got visitation. In August of 2007, my sister helped me find a cheap, 1-bedroom apartment. Living alone sucked, but it forced me to get out more. When I wasn't with my kids, I spent as much time as I could in youth ministry. Life was hard, but what God had given me, I made the best I could with. 

In September 2008, I met a woman named Bethany. She was highly intelligent and came from a missionary family. While doing youth ministry, I would spend the next two years working with her off and on. It was on a mission trip to Mexico that we really got to know one another. While everyone was discussing superficial things, we talked Bible and life. She was the only person around that seemed to have an interest in theology or more than bodily sounds and jokes about them.  The rest of our circle of friends just couldn't measure up. My mentor (at the time) would often advise me not to date her. I spent these two years trying to avoid thinking about dating her, but having dreams that I should. I had gotten used to life being just Jesus and I. Still, Bethany and I were friends all this time. We talked throughout this two year span. June 2010, my mentor started a church. Bethany and I left Jubilee to be with this church. August 13th, I asked her to date. August 19th, I asked her to marry me.  

We are now married and back at Jubilee Worship Center. Surprisingly, my ex-wife gets along so well with Bethany that it seems as if they are the best of friends. It's scary, but I thank God for this. My ex-wife and I were on bad terms for quite a while. It was God's grace that things turned around.

Reading this, I don't want you to think that God just gives you what you want. I had made an idol out of marriage and sex. God allowed that to be taken away from me so He could build a relationship with me. When I was ready, He provided a wife. I think God does this with us in general. I know people who have been divorced and are still looking for a spouse, but haven't found one. While it is not mine to judge the condition of their heart, what I will propose is why do you need something when God is the one who can fully satisfy the deep longings of your soul. He knows what you need and what will stop you from growing. Life will be hard (in seasons), but rewarding.