The Hopelessness of Gabriel's Gangland
By Tim Smith
The 700 Club
“My mom would tell me she loved me, and the next minute she’s beating me over the head with bamboo, with one of my dad’s karate sticks, and I just felt like, ‘If that’s what love is all about, I really don’t want no part of it.’”
Both of Gabriel Makinano’s parents were alcoholics, and they both abused him throughout his childhood. “It was like chaos inside that house. When they would leave us in the house, I would pray that they would never come back.”
Gabriel started drinking when he was only 7 years old. He started smoking marijuana when he was 8. “Once it got into my body, my system, it’s like I stepped out of reality and into my own world.”
When he got older, Gabriel escaped his volatile home for an even more dangerous place - a gang. And Gabriel loved to fight. “I became really, really good at fighting. I got more praise at beating people up when I got home. It felt good. I would go get drunk, and we would end up in a fight, so my friends always loved coming to the house. ‘Come on. Let’s go out. We’re going to go wherever.’ Every time we’d go out we’d end up in a fight.”
He was soon selling drugs, and Gabriel got addicted to cocaine and meth. Drug abuse, DUIs, burglary, and vandalism became a way of life for Gabriel. He was in and out of jail for 12 years. “When I was running the streets, or with my friends, if I beat up one of my friends it was because I loved you. So I had a twisted way of what love was all about.”
Gabriel met Kim in 1993 and they got married a few years later. They had two sons, but Gabriel’s own kids were afraid of him. “What hurt me the most is my kids didn’t want to get in the car with me, or go anywhere. Because they knew dad was always in trouble. And that when we got pulled over, dad went in the police car, and they went somewhere else.”
Gabriel got in a brutal fight with his brother, who was also on drugs and drinking. His brother ended up in the hospital. “My brothers and sister and mom ended up going over there too, to go see him. He was pretty banged up. And they were calling me from over there, and asking me how I could do something like that.”
“I said, ‘You guys don’t know what I’ve been through my whole life, and I had to deal with him, and to think that after this, he might want to come back and whoop on me again, and I wasn’t going to have it.”
“I went to the golf course out here. There was a spot where there was a dirt area with some trees where no one could see me when I’m there. I had a 6-pack of beer and I had just smoked some meth, and I put my gun in my mouth, and it didn’t go off. And I was mad.”
After his failed suicide attempt, Gabriel went back to his old ways – drugs, violence - and jail. “I was in the cell by myself, and I was so mad at God. I cursed at Him. I said, ‘You are nothing. You’re nobody.’ And I got to the point where I was done and I felt His Presence in my room, in my cell.”
“I kid you not, He was like this in my room, and He asked me if I was finished. And I took a deep breath and said, ‘Man, I’m so done. You got to show me that You’re real because I keep going back to the same things and You’re not showing me nothing.’”
After his release, Gabriel made a decision. “The first thing I did was go to a meeting, and raise my hand. I said, ‘Man, I need help because if I don’t get help today, I said I’m going to go leave this room and do something stupid.’”
A friend helped him get on the right track. “This guy took me under his wing and really started showing me what life can be like and who God was.”
Gabriel’s search continued, until the day he was flipping through the channels, watching TV. “I was watching The 700 Club one day. I was watching Pat Robertson, and I followed that prayer that he says toward the end of the show. He does the sinner’s prayer and I followed the prayer. Man, I felt something different about me, and I started attending church regularly and started really working on myself to do something different about who I was.”
But Gabriel had a problem… “I didn’t know how to be anything else, other than the person I used to be.”
So he started reading his Bible. “In so many ways, it was showing me what I needed to do for Him, and in turn, what He was going to do for me, and it would be for His glory.”
“And it gave me a different meaning of what my life was all about. And that was to serve Him, and to show other people what He does within me. Because all I know to be is an angry, deceitful, unworthy individual, but guided by the Holy Spirit, I get to talk, I get to share with others about who God is.”
Gabriel has been clean for 8 years, and he loves to talk with kids about the dangers of gangs and how to avoid them.
“It’s a passion, not a job. It’s an opportunity to do something that God wants me to do. Just learning to be obedient to what he wants for me, and knowing that these kids need a lot of help.”
“He’s shown me what unconditional love is. There’s no strings attached to love. It’s just love, no matter what. All it takes is some words, saying, ‘God, I want to know you’. And no matter where you’re at, He will grab you, and hold you, and tell you that it’s going to be ok.”
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