Jesus Christ is the only one that can transform someone so completely that they become a shadow of who they used to be. Alfonso is a man that embodies that kind of transformation. Alfonso is a kind, loving husband and father, and volunteers his free time to serving God and his people, but that was not always the case. If you were to meet Alfonso today, it would be hard to believe who he used to be. It is not just that he became a nicer guy or that he started reading his Bible more. Yes, those things happened, but his transformation is so amazingly complete that is in itself a miracle.
When Alfonso told me his story, I was floored. I just could not believe that the man he was describing used to be him before Christ so I needed to get a different perspective. I asked his wife to describe Alfonso in his early years. Everything she said confirmed his account and in some ways she painted a darker picture. I realized in hearing her description that when you are at the receiving end of someone’s sin you get a more complete understanding of the perpetrator.
Before Alfonso’s acceptance of Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, life was dismal for his wife. It is the type of life no woman desires and every woman dreads. She fell in love with this man who began wooing her at the age of fourteen and then married her at seventeen. But instead of a fairytale ending, she got a drunk and an adulterer. During their first years of marriage in California, Alfonso’s wife had little to look forward to. Her existence was reduced to taking care of their kids, cleaning, and serving him with little assistance from him in return. He would be gone for most of the day and return expecting to have his alcoholic drink ready, his meal served, and his wife serving him hand and foot. There was no “thank you” and no acknowledgment of her hard work. Esther saw the family income wasted as Alfonso spent a better part of it on alcohol for himself and for his friends. Being a quiet and reserved person, she suffered in silence.
Even though Alfonso’s work day ended at three in the afternoon, he would stay after with his fellow workers and drink into the night. It was only then that he would return home. His friends and his work is what he loved. He didn’t play with his young daughters; he barely even noticed that they were there. The extent of his parenting was to teach his oldest daughter to make his favorite mixed drink and have it ready when she saw his car approaching the driveway. His language was vulgar. He was not pleasant to be around, but things were worse. He was harboring a dark secret.
When Alfonso could get away, he would travel to Mexico and cheat on his wife. Except he was not meeting up with women, he was meeting up with men. Yes, Alfonso was engaging in a homosexual lifestyle and his family did not know it. Alfonso’s confusion began when he was just five years old. He had been raped by a young man, a family member. And as young as he was, Alfonso developed a consuming hatred for his rapist and had vowed that when he grew up that he would kill him and cut him up in little pieces. And though as an adult, he had every intention to follow through with that promise to himself, somehow his plans had always been thwarted one way or another. But despite his understanding that what had been done to him was wrong, he still could not shake the desire to have sexual relations with men. At least not until the day when Alfonso was a reluctant visitor to a church.
Alfonso’s brother was the first to accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. He had done so after becoming ill and having been relegated to a wheel chair. Despite his handicap, his mission was for Alfonso to turn from his worldly ways to follow Christ. For a year he would visit Alfonso and share the gospel, but after leaving, Alfonso would only vulgarly mock him. When the one year anniversary was approaching, he paid him one last visit. He told Alfonso that there was a visiting preacher that had been teaching for two days as part of a three-day event. He had one last sermon to give and he asked Alfonso if he would join him. He told Alfonso that if he went with him to this one service that he would never bother him again. To get his brother off his back, Alfonso agreed.
True to his word, Alfonso showed up at the service and brought Esther with him. He did not bother to sit down but stood at the back of the church as the pastor moved through his sermon. However, as the sermon went on, Alfonso’s blood started to boil. The sermon seemed like it was directed at him and Alfonso just knew that his brother had told this preacher about Alfonso’s personal life. He was so upset that he had planned to punch his brother out as soon as the service ended and at point in time his rage was so intense that he did not care whether or not his brother was in a wheelchair. What Alfonso did not know is that his brother had not even met the preacher before. It was God that was inspiring this pastor.
Towards the end of the service, while the rest of the congregation was in devout worship, the pastor turned his attention to Alfonso. Alfonso and his wife were the only ones left standing so it was not hard to do. The pastor said, “Young man, come here.” Alfonso turned around to see who the pastor was pointing to, but the pastor said, “I mean you. The only thing behind you is a wall.” He asked Alfonso to come forward and in his fear, Alfonso pushed Esther to go before him. When they had reached the pastor, he kindly asked Esther to step aside. The pastor then directed himself to Alfonso. “Since the moment you came in you have done nothing but blasphemed God. However, God is going to do something special in you.” Alfonso was encouraged to kneel, and reluctantly he did. While kneeling the pastor said, “In the name of Jesus, God is going to do something great in you and the holy spirit will touch you.” Alfonso felt something unexplainable and overwhelming and remained kneeling for about 30 minutes. He knew then that God had gotten a hold of him. The pastor then offered him salvation through Jesus Christ and he gladly took it.
The next few weeks Esther saw a dramatic transformation in her husband. He had gone home and thrown out all his bottles of alcohol, up to the last drop. He no longer stayed late at work, but would be home as soon as his work shift was over. He become very loving and affectionate not only with her, but with their two daughters. He would help her with chores around the house. During that time he confessed the affairs he had had with men, and she forgave him. She knew that her husband was a different man, and that lifestyle was a thing of the past and for Alfonso it was. To this day, Alfonso and his wife are a team. They are inseparable and loving and caring towards one another and outwardly demonstrate the love of Christ towards others.
There was one last thing that Alfonso knew that he needed to do so that he could move forward with his walk with God and it was the hardest of them all. He needed to forgive the man that had raped him as a young boy. It was not easy for Alfonso and he continually asked God for help in that area, but the day finally came when Alfonso was ready to express his forgiveness to his perpetrator face-to-face. This man expressed no remorse; did not admit to having done anything wrong; and did not apologize to Alfonso. But Alfonso left that day happy because he knew then that he was free from bondage, and he was free indeed.
This kind of transformation is available to all that come to the feet of Jesus. If you are struggling, if your life is falling to pieces, reach out to us. We would love to pray with you and share with you how Jesus can set you free.