Since my last post I’ve been asked more about Douglas so here’s the full testimony about his life. I wish everyone could meet him in person. He’s truly a joy to be around. His smile goes from ear to ear and the fact that he finds joy in the simplest things that most of us take for granted makes him a blessing to be around.
So… Here it is.
Here he is with Pastor Genaro
Douglas is 18 years old and has had a difficult life. He’s the 4th child in a family of 8 and was born unwanted like many of his siblings. He’s never known his Dad and his Mother barely speaks to him. The day he was born his mother left the hospital without him. She ended up sending one of his older brothers to get him from the hospital later. This is how life began for him. For some reason he was more unwanted than the others and he felt it. He grew up feeling sad, rejected and lonely.
One Christmas a young woman, in her early 20s and from their neighborhood, stopped by their house. She noticed that the family was sitting together eating, everyone except for Douglas. She asked, “why is he all by himself?“ His mom simply stated, “cuz he’s not apart of this family“. He was 5 years old at the time and still remembers that comment like it was yesterday. That comment and many more afterwards fed into all the depression and suicidal thoughts he would experience later on in life.
The young woman’s name was Emanuela and that day she told his mom, “Well, if you’re not gonna take care of him, I will.” Douglas’ mother just shrugged and continued eating. Day after day Emanuela would stop by and check on Douglas. She’d bring him food, snacks, and anything else he needed. For the first time in his life he felt like someone cared about him. One day she made him promise to be a good boy and never to get into a life of crime or drugs.
Years later, when Douglas was 9 years old, Emanuela surprised him with a trip to the movies. He was elated with joy at the experience and felt extremely blessed. While heading home after the movie that night, some men opened the passenger side door of her car at a traffic light. They pulled Douglas out and started beating him. Emanuela ran to him and tried to stop the men but one of them shot her in the stomach 3 times and got away with the car. She was left there to die in Douglas’ arms and needless to say, that moment scarred him and he’s never truly gotten over it.
At the age of 10 he felt so broken and depressed that he began cutting. He had promised Emanuela that he wouldn’t do drugs or break the law and he kept that promise. However, He turned to cutting as an outlet for the pain he felt inside. It helped him to deal with the fact that no one loved him and he didn’t love himself either. That same year was the first time he tried to commit suicide and he tried many times after that, never succeeding.
Life at home got worse as well. One brother is often violent with him, hitting him and putting a gun to his head, his mother has become more distant and now there are other mouths to feed and never enough food to include Douglas. He is used to going days without food. He’s also excluded from celebrating holidays with his family, never even celebrating a birthday.
Fast forward a few years and a friend of his has introduced him to the dark internet game called ‘The Blue Whale Challenge’. The game has different steps that present a new challenge each time that an administrator gives you. You must send a picture to prove that you completed the challenge before you find out what your next challenge will be. The last challenge is always suicide.
While on his 30th challenge, he was walking and a police officer stopped him because she thought it was odd that he was wearing long sleeves on such a hot day. He always wore long sleeves to hide his cuts. She began to probe into his life after seeing the scars on his arm when she grabbed his arm as he was trying to walk away from her. She took his phone and began to look through it. She came across his text messages about the Blue Whale Challenge and proceeded to give him a pep talk and he’s convinced she began to track him somehow because she’d often just “show up” where he was and check on him.
Eventually, he arrived at the last challenge which was suicide. He’s plan was to jump from a bridge to complete it. As he stood on the edge of the ledge looking down, he took the final step off the bridge and felt a tug backwards. Someone had caught him by his collar and was pulling him back! It was the same police officer. She twisted his ear and gave him a massive scolding. Making him promise to change and find something to live for.
After that, he was still cutting and thinking of suicide. A friend of his that was a Satanist, began hanging out with him more and even took him to a satanic gathering in the woods. He felt frightened at what he saw; chanting, black robes, etc. He told Douglas, I’m going to help you kill yourself. I can provide a room and a weapon when your ready. That gave Douglas a lot to think about.
A couple days later his friend said he was meeting a girl in the park and for Douglas to go with him. When arriving at the park his friend said, “let’s find her and leave, this park feels ugly with those Christians here”. Douglas didn’t know he was about to be confronted with the gospel.
He went to check out the concert going on, while his friend begged him to leave; but he says he felt drawn to it. A guy name Marcilio from church approached him and began witnessing to him about Jesus Christ. He didn’t get saved at that moment but he felt intrigued by what he was saying and wanted to know more. He decided he was going to go to the church the next week. His friend mercilessly tried to talk him out of it, to no avail. He went home and threw a few razor blades away that he had, hoping for a change.
During the altar call, the next morning at church someone approached him to see if he wanted to repent and ask Jesus into his life and he did. He said he felt a huge weight lifted off his shoulders after that. Milito then asked him if he had anything on him to harm himself and he threw away a cutting kit he kept with him in his backpack, then later at home he threw away the rest.
He hasn’t been the same since. His situation at home is the same, but he isn’t. Instead of fighting back when things get heated with his family, he just walks away. Everyone notices a difference in him. Even his posture has changed and he smiles constantly now. He no longer wears long sleeve shirts to hide his scars. Instead he’ll tell people what Jesus has done in his life when asked about them.
A week after praying a prayer of salvation he was at our church music outreach, except this time he was witnessing. He ran into some people he knew and they said, “Wow, you look so different. What happened?“ to which he replied, “Jesus happened! “
Now, Douglas is surrounded by people who care about him. The church threw him his first birthday party with cake and some gifts and he’ll be celebrating Christmas for the first time soon as well. He says God has given him a new family that cares for him. He is so appreciative of even the simplest things in life. God has already opened many doors for him and he says he’s called to preach.
At his first men’s discipleship he received a word that God was going to bless him with a family of his own one day. His life is a miracle and his greatest joy is going out and sharing that miracle with the world.
Recently, he wore a tie to church for the first time! He’s a serious man now.
Well, I hope you enjoyed reading about his life as much as I’ve enjoyed writing about it. Pray for Douglas and that our fellowship would continue to send and make impact all over the world.
God Bless – and for my American friends, Have a Happy Thanksgiving!