For some reason I've always believed in GOD, speaking to him regularly throughout my life. Especially, when I was in trouble or needed something.
For many years I struggled with drugs and alcohol. Always taking two steps forward, then stumbling back three or four, never being able to succeed in anything. I was always left feeling empty and void. I knew there was something missing.
It wasn't until I found a twelve step program, geared toward helping those with drug abuse, that things started to become clear. The longer I stayed clean, the more I learned about myself. I realized then, there was no coincidence that I was still alive not dead or in jail.
Then, one day while attending a twelve step meeting, I heard a speaker, touch on topics and issues that were relatable to me. Most importantly, he spoke about the freedom, a freedom we all could experience if we surrendered ourselves to GOD. During that point in my life, I was clean from my active addiction, but I was making money illegally. The drug abuse took so much out of me, I felt like that was my only way of catching up. I was making large amounts of money that I never seen before but I still felt empty. I could recall sitting in my huge house, on my huge couch, watching my huge TV feeling miserable. I wanted the Freedom the speaker spoke of.
For the next few months, I found myself at every possible place that speaker was. After all, I wanted what he had. Today, I'm fortunate to say he and I were able build a great relationship . I now know him as Pastor Raymond Ramos, my good friend.
Soon to realize that GOD had certain standards and I fell short of them all. My works and greatest efforts to meet those standard by myself were impossible. But if I really trusted him in my heart with my life, maybe I could live a life beyond my wildest dreams. It was then that I started to build a relationship with Jesus Christ. My change was gradual. I began giving up small things and immediately started to see positive results. I was blessed ten times over by the negativity I released. Finally, I made a decision to jump all in, turn from my compromising ways and live solely for Jesus Christ. New York Pastor, Adam Valenzuela once asked me, "Are you in love with Jesus Christ?" Sincerely , I smiled answering, "YES."
Shortly after the change, I sold my home. Then along with my business partner John Shinnick, I opened, THE 3SIXTY HOUSE : A transitional house for recovering addicts trying to transition back into society. Today, we have 2 Transitional houses with a total of 54 beds.
Since giving my life to God, I’ve experienced a life beyond my wildest dreams. I mean BEYOND MY WILDEST DREAMS! I go to church, read the Bible, and have devoted my life to Jesus Christ. My relationship with Jesus is special to me. The Bible has become the instruction manual on how to live my life, love my family and peers, and prepare for the promised land. I am almost 13 years clean. I have a beautiful wife, Jessica Rivera ; a beautiful daughter, Emily Nicole Lee Rivera; My Little Man Jadon Anthony Rivera. Friends and family that trust and believe in me. And more importantly I have an amazing relationship with Jesus Christ. I am truly blessed and GRATEFUL, It’s only through God's Grace. What can I say? THANK YOU LORD!
1 TIMOTHY 1214. God Bless, Raymond A. Rivera
(I wrote this testimony while on the yellow school bus with my beautiful daughter on our way to Ellis Island for a school trip.)