Allen is a friendly, honest and earnest man now but when he came to Hope he was a troubled young man running from trouble. He got more than he bargained for when he came to Hope: he found the Lord. Even through the stresses of life as a husband and father, Allen has proven himself to be a man after God’s own heart.
Jack Roberts, Director of Hope Christian Center
I want to say that if it wasn’t for Christ and Hope Christian Center, this would have not been written by me, probably by someone else. Before Hope Christian Center, there was no hope, no life, no direction. There was a lot of drugs, a lot of stealing, lying, prison and the evidence of death at every turn. 1998 or 1999 was the year that God had enough of watching another one of his creations about to die with no salvation for his soul. I had been on the run from my parole officer for about six months, and my mom, who had divorced my dad for the same lifestyle, had changed the locks on her door. I was utterly exhausted to the point of death.
The day before Hope Christian Center became a home, a place of refuge, there was the projects’ hallway, maybe a crack house, but there was always jail. Street money has a way of doing just that, keeping you on the street. It provides a false sense of accomplishment, false friends and a false hope; although deep down I knew it, I couldn’t break the chains. I was bound!
The day I entered Hope, I was exhausted so I asked David Mapes if I could go to sleep, only to wake up the next morning to the ringing of bells. After breakfast we went into the chapel, where a staff member said, “Let’s stand up and praise the Lord!” I said, “What did I get myself into?” There was something that said inside of me that this was no ordinary therapeutic program, and so the journey began.
Mind you, I just wanted my situation to change so I could live my life. As the days went by, from being in the chapel, to refinishing wood furniture, to fasting on Wednesdays and praying for the large percent of the world that has not heard the gospel of Jesus Christ (like me), I started to really question how real God was. I mean they would talk as if He, Christ, would sit at their dining room table at home and have a conversation with them. You got to understand that when you’re on drugs and running around like an untrained animal, you don’t listen to anything or anyone; you’re too busy running, trying to get yours at the expense of others.
As the months passed and the Word was becoming more of a comfort, rather than just a set of thoughts written by these different guys in the Bible, there was a reflection of the Word in the lives of those who were teaching/sharing it with us/me. Confirmation started taking the place of just ‘coincidence’–like when I was escorted back to my parole officer and she said “God must truly be on your side.”
Hope Christian Center, on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays would take us 15 men to different churches to see the impact of the Gospel in and on people’s lives. Some would be totally Spanish with an interpreter, some would be large theaters, others would be no bigger than a grocery store, but all in all, the presence of God would be there. On Sunday mornings, we would have church at Hope and other families would come and pray, sing, share and fellowship with us. It wasn’t always comfortable for me in the beginning because I knew that they knew my life was messed up, but they loved me through my embarrassments, my past and my failures. They spoke words of hope and promise through Jesus Christ and His loving kindness wrapped in forgiveness.
Hope Christian Center not only gave me the Word of God, it gave me structure, taught me to get up and have a productive day, to work side by side with your fellow man to accomplish the task at hand and to thank and honor God in all that you do. I should add that I didn’t do everything right while I was there. An inner war was still taking place; it was the war of bondage and freedom, of life and death, of love and hate. Learning to hate the things that you love is an inward change and I needed to have God change that. I failed when I tried to do it on my own.
One evening a man came in to share; his name was Hector. After the evening service he sat across from me and said, “You look familiar.” In my mind I said, “Great, another person who wants to be a friend.” This guy knew the people I hung out with, the block I was on, and the activities that surrounded it. He had me pinned, and I was stripped of whatever protective shield I had. We later became very close, as God had planned. He shared something with me before he passed. As I visited him in the hospital, with another friend, Steve, Hector was still under the anesthesia. I asked, “How are you? Do you need anything?” He said to me, “The only thing I want is that when Jesus looks in my heart, He sees a reflection of Himself.” Hector passed sometime after, but God used him mightily to show how He can pull us out of the streets, jails and family crisis and restore us to a new life. That statement has stayed with me to this day!
Almost 17 years later God has filled my life with a wife, whom I met in the choir at our church (TSC). and two kids, who are now almost teenagers. My background resume says that I should not have this, that I don’t have the social, moral and mental capacity to raise a family. But Christ is a giver of good things for those whom He has purposed for His glory.
And Hope Christian Center is the proof of living a life of faith and answered prayer from a loving, redeeming and protecting God who has a plan for you. You can trust the people at Hope with your life, your problems and your family, for they trust a God who died for you and me. He rose on the third day so that we may rise out of our own death sentences and be restored, along with what the locust has taken.
I’m very proud to be a part of this great ministry. It was and is truly a David facing my Goliath. And it can be that for you. Thank you, Jesus Christ, for your unmerited grace and favor!
“Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-39).