Albert is one of those multi-talented men we often have as students at Hope: an exceptional artist, a master barber, an engaging conversationalist and an energetic worker. Although his wife’s ‘tough love’ is what got him to come to Hope, the gracious love of Christ is what kept him. An eager and capable student, Albert exhibited when he graduated from Hope that the gospel was not simply in his head; it had transformed his heart. He has been faithful as a family man and church leader.
Jack Roberts, Director of Hope Christian Center
My name is Albert Gonzalez and I entered Hope Christian Center in July of 2005. The reason I admitted myself was because of a drug addiction which had me bound. My drugs of choice were cocaine and alcohol. This combination destroyed every aspect of my life, my family, my career and, eventually, me. I was deteriorating. Being a drug addict drove me to lie and steal, and eventually I became homeless because of this addiction. My wife showed me tough love and told me I had to leave our home. This is when reality began to settle in and I grew tired of my lifestyle. I found myself by myself; in other words I had no one at this point to run to and no place to go.
When I first arrived at Hope it was in the late afternoon and David (assistant director) told me to come the next day to begin the process. I stood outside across the street the entire night until I saw David walk into Hope the next morning. As I walked up the steps to enter Hope Center, my heart cried out to God and I said, “I’m putting my life in your hands.” At first, when I saw the environment at Hope, I wanted to leave so badly, but I knew I had nowhere to go. So I gave Hope a try. As a drug addict, I thought, “I have three hots and a cot,” but little did I know God had a plan for me. On the first day, I began to read the Bible that David gave me upon entering the program. As I read it, from the very beginning of Genesis, God began to speak to me through his Word. In Genesis 4:7 God says, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” This verse was the very first time I knew God was talking to me. Before Hope Center, I never knew God. I didn’t know how to pray, let alone read a Bible. But this was only the beginning of my journey.
At Hope my journey became a spiritual journey in which I learned how to pray. Through all of the Bible studies from Hope staff, the classes from men who came from other churches, and from volunteering at Times Square Church, there was created a spiritual foundation in Christ for my life. I needed this foundation, which is a real relationship with Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. My journey at Hope Center was where God restored me as a man again and, for the first time in my life, I felt free. However, during this journey I lost my family. They meant the world to me, and I really thought I had lost them for good, but God was able to even restore my relationship with my family. He is an Awesome God! The Bible says, “For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37).
Now, 10 years later, I’m still serving the Lord at Grace International Church in the Bronx. I’m still married to my wife, Rebecca, and my daughter Eliana (eleven years old) loves God with all her heart. We live upstate now and I am employed at a great barbershop. I am a barber and I love what I do. Not only do I provide great haircuts, but I am able to share my faith with people every day and I can never stop telling people how good God is!
I thank Jesus Christ for having a place like Hope Christian Center and for giving me a second chance at life. I also thank Hope Christian Center for having its doors open for me when I didn’t have anywhere to go. I especially thank Jack Roberts and his family for showing me how a Christian family sticks together, loves, prays, worships and cares for each other.
I also thank David Mapes for showing me how to be humble and accept constructive criticism. To Willie Vega (may he rest in peace) for showing me how to apply the Bible to any situation that enters my life; his favorite saying was “Let’s see what the Bible says.” Lastly I would like to thank Alcides for being there with words of wisdom when I wanted to give up.
Thank you, Hope Center,