Finding Faith

When you are lost, truly lost, he’ll find you…

Liquor, drugs, guns, violence. These are the things I grew up around. These are the things the Bronx provided. I know the Bronx. I know the game, the players, and sadly, I know the results. Dead or in jail is way more common than famous rapper or sports superstar. The Bronx consumes. So many bad choices have been made because options are less than limited. I grew up in an area where I’ve watched people make these choices time and time again. Rarely was I surprised when I got or heard bad news. Tony was someone I watched grow up, someone I watched make bad choices. At 14 he ran the streets, often breaking night. I would head upstairs around midnight and he would still be on the corner when I headed to school around 7AM the next day. He played hooky, smoked bud all day, drunk liquor, hung in the projects with goons and thugs twice his age… Tony was on a path that would’ve landed him somewhere that surprised no one. As he got older, you could see it in his face, the Bronx was taking its toll and the inevitable was just around the corner. Tony was lost. But, when you are lost, truly lost, he’ll find you…

FullSizeRender-3About 7 years ago, Tony decided to walk into a church located in Times Square. Fitting that a place that was once full of sin as Times Square was, would house the place he chose to wash his sins away. As I came outside in our neighborhood, I would see Tony less and less. He spent hours worshipping at his church, not just on Sundays but multiple days throughout the week. When I did see him, I could see the change slowly happening within. He stopped hanging on the corner, changed the way he dressed, the way he spoke. God had him now and the temptations of the Bronx had lost its hold. Tony was saved. His faith much stronger than whatever used to call him to the streets. I couldn’t believe the turnaround. Living proof of what faith can do. Tony began preaching at his church, giving sermons and telling the stories of the life he used to live. He used himself as an example to try and help change the lives of those he saw himself in.

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If you ran into Tony today, you’d never believe the kind of person he used to be. If I didn’t see it for myself, I wouldn’t have believed it either. He’s married and has a family of his own while working for the FDNY trying to save lives not just in a church, but outside of it. Awhile back, I was having a rough time. I was going through something and I needed guidance. I found myself on the phone with Tony for about an hour. He listened, prayed with me and for me, and told me above all else, “Do The Right Thing”.  Then he went above and beyond that and called me everyday for about a week to check up on me. This is the kind of man Tony has become. A child of God whose been there, done that, and made it through. They say God loves all his children, no matter the mistakes they’ve made. That he’ll never turn his back on you, and never abandon you when times are dark and things seem their most bleak. Like I said before, Tony is living proof. Proof of what it means to find faith and find God, all the while having faith and God find you.

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