Growing up in South Los Angeles and being an African American/Latino male, I was faced with risk factors, which created many challenges in my life. It wasn’t when I graduate or when I go to college, but if I graduate or if I even make it to see another day. I was taken in, loved and supported by a mother that was a God-fearing woman. My mom did her best to raise me right and to instill good values in me. There were many days of joy but just as many days of hard times, and not-so-great decisions followed. Being surrounded by gang activity, drugs, negative influences, sex culture, bad experiences with law enforcement, and so much more, is all of what I had to influence me. In school my dyslexia made it difficult to engage and participate in the classroom. I always felt inadequate and feared being made fun of. In my early teens I began living in a rebellious state, feeling confused, empty, and worthless. I literally found myself gravitating to all sorts of people, places, and things that were not good for me.
During my mid-teens I started using drugs, skipping school, not coming home, and hanging around in the streets. At the age of 16 I was arrested and sent to juvenile hall. Juvenile hall definitely slowed me down and allowed me to become more conscious of my actions. But it did not help out with the emptiness I felt. Ultimately, I was lacking divine direction and harboring feelings of worthlessness and loneliness. I walked a broken road.
Throughout my lifestyle of rebellion I had many encounters that led me to experiencing God. These experiences came from reading certain Scriptures, conversations with people, dangerous life-threatening events, etc. Each of these experiences played an important part in me seeking after Christ, seeking out a better life than what I was living. At the age of 17 my close friend from school was shot and killed which left me heart broken. A couple months later my cousin was also killed. These two deaths made me realize how much evil is in this world. I wanted nothing to do with evil and having no part in bringing hurt and pain on earth.
At the age of 18 one night in my bedroom, filled with a heavy heart, I cried out to God with an urgency, confessing all that I had done, confessing my lack of belief that I had, confessing that I wasn’t worthy of His love, confessing that I was broken and that I couldn’t continue to live life on my own. I reached a point where I was able to put my pride aside and admit that I was in need of a Savior. I needed Christ to come in my life. At the moment God made himself real to me. His presence filled me up with warmth. I didn’t only feel loved at that moment; my entire being was filled up with love! It was as if God wrapped his arms around me and held me like a baby, where I felt safe in His arms, God spoke, “Brandon I love you and have always loved you, before you were even born. Brandon my son you are not a mistake!” He told me that I never have to cry anymore only tears of joy; I never have to feel alone because He would always be here for me. He affirmed that I was special and that He has great plans for my life. From that moment on my life was changed in the way I lived, in the way I cared for others, and how I viewed living.