Tag Archives: Pacoima

‘Two strikes’ scared him, so this gang banger turned to Jesus

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Edgar Cervantes in his car. He delivers for the deli and he drives to outreaches all over to share about Jesus.

By Jasmine Cervantes and Mark Ellis

Little Edgar Cervantes shrieked with terror when the cops raided his home in Pacoima, California, hauling his mom, dad and uncle off to jail for the drugs, hot money and stolen jewelry retrieved on the property.

The tyke, then only 6, was unceremoniously dumped off with his grandmother. From a tender age, he was marred.

By the 11th grade, Edgar had fallen into a calamitous family pattern: smoking marijuana, stealing, partying and fighting. Pacoima, a poor neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley, was a gang war zone in 1990s, so Edgar, joining the fray, became part of the Pacoima Cayuga Street Locos gang.

He was tagging, handling plenty of illicit money and ditching classes. Three times he got arrested for grand theft auto. While kicking back with some “homies” one day, he got introduced to Nadia, and they started dating. After a few months, she told him she was pregnant.

Edgar “freaked out” because he was still young and lived with his parents. Nadia wanted Edgar to take responsibility and come and live at her house with her parents, who were shocked but wanted to make the best of the situation.

Edgar, who had dropped out of school, started working but maintained his drug use and gang activities. He preferred his drug trips to spending time with Nadia. After an extended time of not getting Edgar to change, Nadia got fed up and asked him to leave.”

Nadia was left alone working and raising her baby, Jasmine.

Every day Edgar woke up feeling depressed and lonely. He quit his job and turned to heavier drugs – crystal meth, for example – to numb the pain and forget about losing his girlfriend and daughter. The meth produced erratic emotional states and made him violent.

At one party, a homosexual was trying to “hit on him,” and Edgar wound up beating him so badly that he went into a coma. After weeks lingering between life and death, the victim woke up – and Edgar was spared a murder charge. Find out how Jesus saved Edgar – click here. There’s a big surprise at the ending.

Jasmine Cervantes wrote this article as an assignment for my English class at the Lighthouse Christian Academy on the Westside of Los Angeles.

Ex-Pacoima tagger turned his life around with Jesus

Junior Cervantes in Guatemala

Junior Cervantes preaching the gospel in Guatemala recently.

Born into a family beset by drugs and gangs in Pacoima, California, his future prospects seemed dim. Junior Cervantes displayed athletic promise on the soccer field, but depression dragged him down. His uncles were shot in front of the house. There were family arrests, fighting, and chaos.

Junior decided to run away from home and drop out of his beloved soccer. He opted for hanging out with friends, robbing houses, smoking marijuana and tagging.

“I was a stealer. I was a liar. I was angry. I was depressed. I was lonely. I was an outcast,” Junior recalls.

His uncle, Edgar Cervantes, kept insisting that Junior move in with him in Santa Monica – about 25 miles away — and straighten up his life. In and out of jail for most of his life, Edgar had two “strikes” under California penal law and was scared of getting the third, so he turned to Jesus to clean up his life. He worked a restaurant job in Santa Monica and preached on the Third Street Promenade every week.

It was through Edgar’s influence that Junior prayed to receive Christ as his Lord and Savior. But because of Junior’s background and some of the influences swirling around him, he faced a rocky road to maturity in Christ. Read the rest of the story.

Hometown criminal now preaches Jesus

Edgar, second from left, lunching between outreaches.

Edgar, second from left, lunching between outreaches.

Bro. Glen prays with a needy soul.

Bro. Glen prays with a needy soul.

Pacoima was the city of Edgar’s downward spiral. It was there at age 13 he was arrested, high on PCP, trying to steal a car. It was there he was in-and-out-of jail until age 26. He got “two strikes” and under California law teetered on brink of life imprisonment. When he got out of jail, the specter of succumbing to his old life in this deathtrap of a city made Edgar shudder.

On Saturday, Edgar Cervantes went back to Pacoima. He went to tell others about the wonders of Jesus. For seven years, he’s been off drugs, away from alcohol, out of crime. He has outreached for Jesus in many

Edgar's nephews were in the audience.

Edgar’s nephews were in the audience.

places, but this was different. This is where the devil had waylaid him. This time Edgar went home get revenge on the devil.

There’s a pioneer church here so small they use a park childcare center for services. (Ah the beauty of pioneering! Where just one soul turning to Christ from sin thrills the soul!)

Junior, Edgar's nephew, saved out of tagging, now raps to listeners about what God has done.

Junior, Edgar’s nephew, saved out of tagging, now raps to listeners about what God has done.

After hours of passing out flyers and knocking on doors, only two souls came. One was Edgar’s brother. Another was a lady’s cousin. I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. — Luke 15:7 NIV.

The place he feared became the place where the devil fears him. A place of defeat becomes a place of triumph. Only God can do this.