Juan’s Testimony

Selected by God Himself
I am forty-one years old and from Mexico City. If you don’t know where Mexico City is, on a map of Mexico, Mexico City is right in the middle of the country. It is one of the biggest cities in the world, and one of the most populated. Twenty-one million people live there. If you think that the traffic in Chicago is bad, Mexico City’s is worse. A distance that may take twenty-five minutes to travel here, in Mexico City traffic, it can take two to three hours.
I would like to share with you how I came to the Lord, and how I came into the church life. Ephesians 1:4 is related to what I am going to share with you. “Even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blemish before Him in love.” I like the part of this verse that says we have been chosen by God. God’s choosing us is not a small thing. It is a big blessing. From among all the people in the world, He selected us. He selected us for His own satisfaction, for His own enjoyment. We are so blessed that He chose us. We are God’s people. We have been selected by God Himself.
Not Knowing God in My Young Age
When I was a young person, I did not think about this – that God chose me before the foundation of the world. I grew up in a Catholic family. I never read the Bible or prayed when I was young. I used to go to church maybe once a year. For my family, going to church or having a relationship with God was not important at all. For my family, the most important thing was baseball. I started playing baseball when I was six years old. Baseball was everything in our house. We ate, we drank, and we played baseball. So I never heard about all the riches of Christ that young people who grow up today in the church life hear. I used to be so cold and sometimes mean to people who would come to our door to give us booklets about God. My reaction would be, “Don’t even talk to me about that.” Sometimes I would even be mean, saying bad things to these people. To me, things of God were not important. But now that I see that I was chosen before the foundation of the world, I know that God started working in me even when I was a kid.
Calling on the Lord for the First Time
In 1990, when I was sixteen years old, I told my mom that I wanted to come to the United States. I had heard many wonderful things about this country. I wanted to come and visit Las Vegas, New York City, Yankee Stadium, California and all that America had. I continued to go to school, play baseball and work, but I was saving money because my goal, my dream, was to come to the United States. So when I was twenty-five, I told my mom and dad, “Let me go.” I was an adult by then, but I still wanted their blessing. One day they finally gave me their blessing to go.
I had $500. It was a lot of money at the time, but I did not have a visa to come here. I knew that if I went to the U.S. embassy and applied for a visa, the request would be denied. I was young and this is what I did. I had a number for a person who you can call to help you cross over the border of Mexico to the United States. I knew it was dangerous to cross the border illegally. But I was young. I was twenty-five. I knew how to run and how to fight. I was superman.
I took a bus from Mexico City to Juarez. Juarez is a very dangerous city. But this contact lived there and he was the only contact I had. I went there by myself. The travel time was something like thirty-two hours. When I got to the city, I found a phone and called this contact. When I arrived at the contact’s house, I did not want to be there. I was scared. He told me that he was getting ready to go out of town for the weekend and that when he came back on Monday, he would help me cross over. In his house, there were six others around my age. Monday came, and we all got into an SUV and drove to the border. When we got
out, I saw the expressway and across was El Paso, Texas. I said, “This is beautiful, the U.S. is right across on the other side. It is so close.”
We were told to run to a fence that was about 300 meters away from us. So we all ran. When we got there, we hid under some bushes. Then we were told to run another 200 meters along the fence, under the covering of the bushes, and that there would be an opening under the fence. When we were all on the other side of the fence, we were told to run down a hill and hide behind some trees. We did as we were told.
We eventually reached a tunnel and were told to run and not look back. “Don’t stop running until you reach the end of the tunnel.” After about fifteen minutes of running, the tunnel got much
smaller and I had to get on my knees to crawl. It was dark, wet, and uncomfortable. I started to panic. I wasn’t superman anymore. I had to stop. I started to think of my family. Then I said, “Lord” for the very first time. I had never asked anything of God before. I had never called on Him. I said, “Lord, if you really exist, don’t let me die here.” After I said that, I felt peace. I was not worried anymore. I felt a big release. Then I could see light at the end of the tunnel. We made it to the end.
The Lord Calling Me
I was in El Paso, Texas. From there we traveled to New Mexico, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Denver and Chicago. The Lord brought me here to Chicago. At the time, I did not think that it was the Lord.
I came to the Irving Park area and started working. I got two jobs. I was making good money and playing baseball. I forgot about that time in the tunnel when I opened my heart to the Lord. I told myself that I made it by myself. I was living my dream and I forgot about the Lord. But He didn’t forget about me. Isaiah 49:15: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she would not have compassion on the son of her womb? Even though they may forget, yet I will not forget you.” The Lord will never forget you. I forgot about the Lord, but He has never forgotten me. I had my own plans to come here and live my life. I was thinking to go to New York and visit Yankee stadium. The Lord had a different plan for me.

At a factory where I was working, there was a brother there. His name was Jose. During our lunch break, he would read the Bible with another sister. One day, it was raining hard so I couldn’t eat my lunch outside and had to go into the lunchroom to eat. I heard this brother talking to the sister, telling her that she needed to exercise her spirit to touch the Lord. That was the first

time I heard something that attracted me. “You need to exercise your spirit, and touch your spirit. When you touch your spirit, you are going to feel like you are in another dimension, in another sphere. But you need to touch your spirit, not just read the Bible.” When I heard this, I asked myself, “How could this be possible?” After that, I stopped going outside to eat my lunch. I would sit in the lunchroom so I could hear more of their conversations about God. Eventually I started sitting with them. The way he spoke attracted me. One day, this brother invited me to a church meeting and gave me the address of the meeting hall. I put the address in my wallet, but I continued to do my own thing and play baseball.
Soon after, I started working a late shift at a restaurant. I did not have a car so I would walk to work and back home. My manager, Dora, offered to give me a ride back home. Every time, while she was driving me back home, she would talk to me about God and the Bible. She also invited me to come to a church meeting and wrote down the address.
On my days off, I would always go to the park and play baseball. The people I played baseball with offered me a job in construction. I left the factory job and the restaurant for this job and for playing baseball. I was living my dream. I had a good job, I was making money, and I was playing baseball. But I felt empty. I wanted to hear more about God.
Finding the Lord
One Sunday, I was so hungry for God. I did not have a Bible so I decided to take my car and drive to the church address that Jose had given me. It was the meeting hall of the church in Chicago in the Irving Park neighborhood. I parked at the corner and waited to see if Jose would come. I did not see him so I left. The next time I came, I waited again. I was wondering if I was in the right place, because the building didn’t even look like a church. Again, I went back home. I told myself that, next Sunday, I’ll go again and this time I will walk in and sit in the back.
So the following Sunday, I walked in. I saw how the chairs were arranged. They were not all facing the front but were arranged to face the middle of the room. I asked myself, “What is this?” I thank God that brother Jose was there. He saw me and gave me a seat. I was listening, and to me everything was weird. There was not a priest or a pastor, but everybody seemed to have the
right to speak and they spoke. While I was sitting, I saw sister Dora, the lady who worked at the restaurant who had given me rides home from my restaurant job. I did not know that Jose and Dora were meeting at the same place but this was God’s plan. After the meeting, a couple of brothers came to me and I received the Lord that day. This changed my life. That little prayer that I made down in that hole, crawling in that tunnel, changed my whole life. It “wrecked” my whole life. But Amen! Amen that I am here! Now I can testify that there is no better place than this. I thank the Lord that He chose me. Even when I was little and doing crazy things, He was watching over me and working in me. He chose me even before the foundation of the world. This is amazing and is so sweet.
My Encouragement
Dear young people, sometimes it may feel like you are forced to come to the church meetings, that you are forced to go to the special young people’s meeting. But your parents know that there is no better place for you than this place. If you decide one day to go away from your family and the church and live your own life, I have to tell you, you are going to suffer. But if you decide to consecrate yourselves to the Lord and stay here with the church, you are going to suffer even more. For He deals with those whom He loves, that we may gain Him and He may gain us. It is much better to stay here, suffering with the saints and for your salvation.
~Juan

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