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.
Edgar, second from left, lunching between outreaches.
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.
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.
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.
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