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Kenji’s Story,
I was raised in San Diego my whole life. I grew up with an older brother and with both parents. During my elementary and junior high years I made good grades and was active in sports year around. My parents were also very active and supportive in all that I did. I never went without and was loved.
As a youngster, I seemed to always be a little mischievous, never afraid to try new things. I started to steal things, probably just for the rush. So with that rush came better ones. I first got drunk with my older brother when I was in junior high. I liked the feeling and soon moved on to smoking weed with some of my friends. High school came around and that’s when the progression got worse. I tried meth and was hooked. Everything from slipping grades to problems at home due to my using occurred. The crowd I was hanging with was a wicked one and and I felt I knew what was best for me. I soon got locked up and started my higher learning in the California Department of Corrections. My drug use became all that I lived for. I started to inject the drugs and also picked up heroin as another drug of choice. My lifestyle took me on a 15 year trip of incarceration and heartbreak. The pain I caused my family and the shame I felt was the fuel that kept me in bondage.
I had such a distorted way of looking at life. I was never sober. I didn’t care about myself or my family. All that mattered was my next fix. My drug use was so bad that I put my life at risk and overdosed three times, I was a mess. I entered a drug rehab in early 2009. I was tired of living like that. I knew that there was a better way to live and love myself. This program would help me build a foundation and start my life over. My parents were getting older and I didn’t want them to see me like this forever and the fact that I had a son that needed a father.
Before entering this program, I had only a few experiences with God. I knew he was real, but I never truly accepted Him. All the while He has always been there, watching over me.
At the program, I met someone that was very different. She was so nice and always smiling. I had to know what it was that made her this way. I asked her to tell me why she was the way she was and she simply said that it was God. That day changed my life. I know that at the time I didn’t have what she had, but I knew I wanted it. God was so visible when I was around this woman. To make a long story short, a few months later I married her. Still not saved, I was struggling to do right. But God had plans for me. In October, I was arrested. No charges were filed, but being on parole I had to do a 5 month violation. That day in jail I cried out to God and gave myself to Him. It was so simple, but I made it difficult. God knew that I had to be there to finally drop to my knees and be saved.
Many things changed for me immediately. I felt a peace inside that I never knew existed. My thoughts were of other things and my reactions were that of a new person. I now understood what my wife meant. I was on fire and deep into the word, understanding it and realizing that it all made sense now. I read and understood about being born again and becoming a new creation. So in March when I was released, I got baptized. It was important to me that I was forgiven of my past. My wife and I are now involved in the prison ministry at our church and are leaders of a ministry that reaches out to those who have incarcerated family members.
Life today is good. God has brought people into my life to encourage and walk beside me. I look forward to all the things God has planned. I know now that through all the heartache and times of hopelessness, God was there. There was a time that I thought I would never change and many people believed that. So today, I give all the glory to God, because only He could turn me into a miracle.
San Diego, California