Convicted Killer Forgiven
By Tim Smith
The 700 Club
We often describe people by what they do - or for what they’ve done. We label one a gang member, another a prostitute. Or a deadbeat, or a criminal. Raul Dominguez has lived most of his life with three labels: troublemaker, drug addict, and murderer. Raul grew up in communist Cuba, and his father was an alcoholic.
“He used to drink a lot,” says Raul. “And my mother was the one who’d physically abuse my father because she would throw stuff and fight with him. I think that she took all the anger she had against my father toward me. I know she could not beat my father up, so she beat me up.”
Throughout his childhood, Raul ran away from home many times, but each time the police caught him, and took him back. He rebelled by stealing, fighting, and skipping school.
“It was so bad, that one day mother mother said, ‘I wish you’d never been born,’ and those words stayed with me.”
Raul’s mother put him in Cuba’s public reform school, but his problems got worse.
“I was doing drugs, drinking, stealing money from my parents, smoking marijuana, doing anything anyone can do to lessen pain.”
At seventeen, Raul and a few friends attacked a man, and brutally beat him.
“We took all the money, all his clothes, his shoes, everything. We left him for dead, naked, on the side of the road. And the police caught us, and we went to prison for ten to twenty.”
While Raul was in prison, the Carter administration began offering refuge to Cuban immigrants. Castro virtually opened the prison doors, and hundreds of convicts boarded boats to America.
“I looked for work, but I couldn’t find nothing (sic) because there was so many people. There was nothing. Crime was the only thing left.”
One night, after drinking and doing acid, Raul got into a fight at a party.
“One guy got killed at the fight. And everybody was like, ‘It was Raul, the Cuban guy, the one that killed him.’”
Raul was arrested, and convicted of 2nd degree murder.
“They gave me 23 years to life, at Concord State Prison. I spent 23 years in the prison, and I had a rough time. I’m lonely. No family. No nothing.”
But a woman named Lou heard about Raul at her church and visited him in prison.
“She said ‘My name is Lou. Somebody gave me your name. You don’t mind that I come to you?’ I said, ‘I don’t mind. I don’t get visitors anyway.’”
Lou came back, week after week, and month after month. Each time, she’d talk with Raul about forgiveness and having a relationship with god.
“She always prayed for me, And I went back to my room, and I got on my knee, and I said, ‘Lord, I can’t do this on my own. I need you.’ I gave my life to the Lord in 1993, and I never did look back. He changed my life completely. I started seeing solutions in my life. I used to hate people like crazy. I don’t do drugs no more. I quit. I got Jesus in my life, and God changed my completely.
In 2004, Raul was paroled and set free. He found a church and started a new job. He also met and married Manon.
“I had told a very close friend that I had made a decision to marry Raul,” says Manon. “He had asked me to marry him and I said yes.” She said, ‘Are you sure with his background and everything?’ And I said, ‘The only reason you don’t understand this is that you don’t know the God that I serve, and the transforming power that He has in people’s lives when they surrender to him. And I know that power, and I’m going to trust in that. I’m going to trust in God.’ When I look at Raul, I don’t see those things of the past. I can’t even picture it, when I hear the stories, and we talk about them often. He’s not the same person at all.”
When Raul looks back at his past, he compares himself to a pit bull.
“I love pit bulls, the dogs. In my life, I’ve felt like a pit bull. Nobody wanted to know anything about me because of my behavior with people, and how I react, and all I want to do is fight for nothing. That is the way I was raised, the way I got brought up. All I knew how to do was fight and rob and steal.
“He says come to me the way you are. Don’t try to hide anything. Just come to Me the way you are. Confess your sin, repent, and you will have eternal life, no matter where you are. If you are in prison, in the street, hiding behind drugs, or alcohol. No matter if you’ve been molested, no matter where your life has been, God always has a way to set you free.”
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