On the Brink, God Speaks
By David DiCicco
The 700 Club
“My life had been so transient, moving from place to place that I was pretty much lost. I realized I was gonna end up dead or in jail.” Violence, alcohol and infidelity consumed Phil Hernandez’s parent’s home in Spanish Harlem. They separated when he was ten years old. “There was never any real stability. By the age of twelve, thirteen I’m already associating with gangs, committing petty crimes and doing drugs.”
at sixteen, Phil and two other friends held up a gas station. Two weeks later, police arrested him for suspicion of murder. “The two gentlemen that we had committed the armed robbery with, they go and commit another armed robbery, and this armed robbery, the man resisted and they stabbed him and killed him.”
The police connected the two robberies. Phil confessed to the one he had committed and a later investigation proved his innocence in the murder. “For cooperation they dropped the felony to a misdemeanor, and as a result I was able to not have to face long term jail.”
But his lawlessness continued. Phil got into drugs. His wife Yvonne explains. “It was good for the first few months. The partying got bigger and the drugs start coming in more.”
Phil continues. “Before you know it I’m buying five hundred dollars and I’m buying a thousand dollars a week and before you know it I’m in the full drug dealing mode, you know, purchasing three and a half ounces of pure cocaine, cutting it, bagging it, and distributing it. I’m doing just as much as I’m selling, and with that comes all the other stuff.”
Yvonne adds. “That’s where things got really bad.”
Phil describes those times. “I’m not faithful to her. I’m verbally and physically abusing my wife. And it all comes to a head. I go off and become very violent and really hurt my wife really bad.”
And that all took a toll on Yvonne, “I couldn’t take it. I couldn’t take it anymore.”
“That’s the separation of my marriage. That was kind of like the beginning of the end. I was miserable. I’ve lost my marriage. The drugs aren’t making it. They’re not doing it. The money isn’t doing it. I’m just as bitter and angry and miserable as I’ve ever been.”
At three in the morning Phil considered jumping off the thirty-third floor of his brother’s apartment. “I concluded that if I killed myself, the hell I would face may be greater than the hell I’m in. When I think that I said these words out loud, I went, ‘I need a psychiatrist.’ A very audible voice says, ‘No who you need is Me.’ And I respond to the voice, ‘Who are you?’ And the voice responds to me, ‘It is I, Jesus. Come back to Me.’”
“I’m on the sofa, I fall to the ground and I just begin to weep like a baby.”
Phil found Yvonne the next morning and shared his experience. “I say, ‘The old Phil is dead, I’m a different person.’”
That was difficult for Yvonne to believe. “To me it was a joke. I never heard God speak to anybody. But there was something about those moments, I knew he was a different Phil. I knew there was something happening but I wasn’t sure what it was.”
Phil said to her, ‘”Listen, words are not going to make a difference. You will see that I’m different.’”
As Phil worked with Yvonne to restore their marriage, he says the Holy Spirit spoke to him. “’Move to Lancaster. Work with teenagers. Show them the love I’ve shown you. And preach My Gospel around the world.’”
“Two weeks later with fifty dollars in our pocket, not knowing where we were gonna live, not knowing where we were gonna work, nothing, we drove to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.”
Doors began to open and Phil found work in the juvenile justice system. Yvonne could see his change was real. “To see Phil’s change - I wanted to be where he’s at, where he was going.”
Yvonne accepted Jesus. Now a pastor and local community figure, Phil has a place he can call home. “There’s a deep sense of appreciation, of gratitude, of loyalty. I turned my back on Him. I chose and yet He still reached out and rescued me. And if you would fall in love with Him so that He reveals His nature to you in such a way, you’ll never hunger or thirst for what the world offers, because He’ll satisfy every thirst, every hunger, every need you have.”
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