***FOR THOSE WHO ARE REALLY GOING AND WENT THROUGH IT***
Growing up in a Catholic home, I went to church every now and then, My parents were trying to get me to participate in various things such as putting my brother and I as alter boys but I never fully grasped what it was I was doing or really knew anything about the church itself. So to me, I knew about Jesus but never knew Jesus and as a result, I began to get rebellious.
Meanwhile, on Maitland Ave, 2 doors down, a man I hold close to my heart began to have bible studies inside his house preaching the word of God, but what sparked my attention the most was this man's transformation once he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. See, this guy was known to use drugs, sell drugs, and party hard! He also just happens to be the father of Noah "Wuv" Bernardo, drummer of the band Payable On Death- P.O.D., and uncle to Sonny Sandoval, lead singer of P.O.D. who are also some of my closest friends since diapers!
After seeing what Noah's new life was I felt that the Jesus he talked about was different and seemed real! I wanted to know who that Jesus was that turned that party animal wild man into a a Jesus loving wild man!
Attending Noah's bible study I learned more about God and his word then I did at the church my mom was trying to get me to go to. But in the neighborhood we grew up in, We would still get caught up in the mishaps of our environment. Most of the people we grew up with were involved with selling drugs and other criminal activity which included some members in my own family. I wouldn't call myself a drug dealer but I was surrounded by those that moved serious weight. I would help my older brother and some of my friends wrap and stash, and send out.. but I always knew that this was not the life I wanted to live.
We all loved to party, smoke, drink, and sleep around! To this day I can't count how many people I smoked out for the first time. I corrupted so many people. We were the popular kids, We had our own clique, they called us THE LOCS. We weren't a gang, just a crew, a family of guys that all bonded as close as brothers by growing up on Maitland. We weren't to be messed with either, plus we had back up. And with the love of the Hustle, Some of us started to grow deeper into the drug game and some grew deeper into the entertainment industry.
So at the end of 1994, I finally had it!.. I no longer wanted to live that life anymore or travel State to State with suitcases full of drugs... For my friends or my brother. I wanted to do better with my life, make a difference. I always felt that God had something better for me. I wanted to make my mother proud instead of make her cry. She knew when I was straying off, she knew when I was high. I wanted to stop disappointing her. So I went to one of Wuv's bible studies, literally cried out and said my plea. They laid hands on me and began to pray. I felt that wasn't enough so then I got really high, and I ended up going to this church event during Christmas time, "The Greatest Story Ever Told," and I felt as if God really softened up my heart at that time and I gave my life to the Lord that day and trying to turn from the madness that I was getting involved with.
I went back to the people I was helping "move" stuff for and told them that I needed to get out and no longer wanted to be involved anymore... That I was gonna be a Christian, I got laughed at! Then with my love for music,I wanted to keep doing music but for The Lord. I got into Christian rap and became an artist myself working with Wuv's father at Rescue Records, the same label P.O.D. was originally signed to back in the days. With them, I got involved with several ministry events, outreaches, basically, doing Kingdom work which would bring more people to the cross.
In 1996, a short time after I had gotten saved, I was really on fire for the Lord. With my brother being involved in what he did and his power and influence grew, he suddenly disappeared and it was a big deal to us all. His disappearance and not having any closure because a body was never found really took a toll on my mom and less than a year later, she ended up dying of a broken heart. People really don't think that it is possible, but, with a severe loss like this without closure could really take a toll to one's heart and emotions. Within a year I lost 2 of the closest people to me, my mom and my brother. It later took a long term affect on me, and God continues to heal those wounds.
As I got deeper involved in the industry my distractions turned to backsliding and rebellion. I tended to stray away. I moved to Los Angeles and it was a lot easier to party and get involved with that "Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll" lifestyle, really straying away from God and... stuff happens. It cost me my marriage! But God, he could never forget about me...
Isaiah, 49:15-16 says, "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me."
God has us in the palms of his hands... I was never alone. I returned to San Diego and realized the influence and the power of being involved with that industry. I used my influence in the wrong way. Jesus was always in my heart although my actions sometimes said things a lot different. I worked on many ventures that did nothing but puff up my own name instead of the name of Jesus. I was blinded by a little bit of spotlight and a whole lot of pride. Everything began to feel so fake as my name began to grow, and I began to grow farther from God. But still, I never strayed too far from The Lord .
By the end of 2013, I realized I no longer wanted to be the man that I thought I wanted to be, instead I wanted to become the man that God designed me to be! I fell on my face and asked God what he wants me to do, somehow I felt Gods voice telling me to go get my family back and to move to Modesto! ...I did! Went north, God brought me a mentor named Bo Herroz and planted me in a great church. Stayed where God sent me for about a year. Grew in The Lord and sent back to SD!
God was pulling me in still so I decided to use my influence the right way and bring others closer to the Lord especially as of recently. I no longer wanted to have one foot in the door and the other foot out. I had to fully submit myself to Him and said, "Lord, do as you will with me!" and just like that God started renewing things within my life and brought me closer to Him.
As of 2014 I got back involved with church, ministries, outreaches, I prayed that God would bring my own family back together and as of recently, God helped me restore my marriage and I am now in the process of remarrying my wife and mother of my 3 kids!
Although we tend to be unfaithful and walk away from the Lord, he is still faithful, walking beside us just as a loving father would. I'm not the best example in anyway shape or form, and at times even dont feel worthy of calling myself a Christian, but I am definitely not the same man I use to be and I am truly thankful for that. Now God is using me to do speaking engagements at various places such as juvenile halls, schools, from here to Modesto, prisons, I'm currently helping Dennis Martinez at the Training Center in Spring Valley, he has me involved with Savior Watches which is a great watch company and a great tool to help people get educated in God's word, who He is, and how He could work miracles in people's lives... I just can't wait to see what else God has in store for me in my life. I am personally a walking miracle especially with things I have been through in the past, God kept me around for a reason. I've been in car accidents which should have taken my life, I've been shot at, in severe fights, lucky I did not get caught with the illegal activity I was doing... yet here today so I could share my story of what God has done in my life and tell you what God could do in your life... all you have to do is submit your life. He turns nobodies into somebodies, and you are nobody without Jesus Christ!
I've been involved in some awesome things in my life including music, performing, writing, producing, A&R, touring, video/film, working with a ton of celebs, produced events, hosted radio and video shows, owned a clothing company, got me a few platinum plaques, was in a few music videos, lots of epic stories, and bragging rights dating back to 1991 and built myself into a brand. But my biggest accomplishment to date is running back to Christ!
In your life, just be encouraged because I know first hand the wonders he could do. I know what it is like to feel pain, to see death in full color, the pain of losing someone close... so going through all of that including the pain of divorce, I channel it all into a voice, that somewhere, somehow and someway, my experiences will help someone going through what I went through. Im just a kid from the "Southtown" that was given an opportunity to turn some negatives into a positive and I hope my story could influence and give hope to others saying "Hey man, if this guy could do it, we could all do it!" I have had success and I have had failures but no matter what, you have to keep moving forward and give everything to Jesus... let him take control. I pray and hope to turn my mess into a message and my test into a testimony... all while building my relationship with The Lord. .. I'm known as the Connected guy..,but it's not that "I'm" connected, it's "who" I'm CONNECTED to!