Former Gangster Flees Seedy Side of Life
By Rod Thomas
The 700 Club
CBN.com -“I had a goal that by the time that I was 25 years old, I would acquire $360,000.” But hard work wasn’t in Ivan Horton’s plan to make his riches. He sold drugs to get rich. “It just seemed like it was taking candy from a baby. It just was easy and it was profitable.”
That wasn’t how Ivan was raised. His parents were pastors of a church and Ivan learned about God at an early age. “I was singing. I was stomping my feet and praising in the choir. My mother made us pray. My father made us pray. So we were doing it as a duty,” Ivan remembers.
His parents divorced when he was a teenager. With his dad out of the home, he found role models on the streets. “I grew up on the west side of Chicago. People were dealing drugs. Everywhere you turned, it was money. People had good clothes on. People had good cars.”
Ivan and his friends started selling drugs and the money poured in. He was now able to buy the things he once only dreamed of. His family noticed the change in his life. “I kept increasing in it and the family, they knew about it and they began to pray for my deliverance.”
One afternoon, he got into a car with a friend who was on the run from a rival gang. As they tried to get away, they ran right into their enemies and had no way to escape. “The car went out of gas; and when the car went out of gas right in front of these men that jumped out of the van and they began to shoot machine guns.” They sprayed the car with bullets. His friend was shot 19 times and killed. Ivan was hit seven times. “I got shot in my chest. I got shot in my back. I got shot in my stomach multiple times.”
Even nearly getting killed wasn’t enough for Ivan to get out of the drug game. “That showed me ‘are you willing to die for this?’ And as a young man, I thought it would be honorable to die for it. You’re glorified for sacrificing your life for the streets, or for your neighborhood.”
While Ivan got in deeper, some of his friends had found a way out and had become Christians. One was his barber, who helped Ivan see that there was another way to live. “He was on the streets with us, but then he changed his life. And when he changed his life, he’d was at peace with himself; and so I would listen to him.”
Even so, Ivan still believed his peace would come with financial security, and nothing was going to stop him. “I set goals to get into the $100,000 level, and then I set goals to get to the $200,000 level. And I came into the place of, ‘I got my goal and I have everything to protect myself.’”
Ivan felt invincible, until one day, he and his brother were ambushed in an alley by six men. “They hit me 9 times. And when I saw my brother got shot, it just shook me. I felt the presence of death. I felt like I would not make it out of this alley. At that moment, I really thanked God, right there. I was still a sinner, but I knew that it was only by God that I was still alive.” His brother also survived the attack.
Ivan finally realized that money would never provide him the security he wanted. “It was hard to break that belief. I thought that I would just die in the streets. My parents were telling me about the Lord. My father was working with me in faith. He was showing me different scriptures and talking to me.”
His sister gave him a videotape of Bishop T.D. Jakes. “He started talking about how we try to manipulate our lives, and how we try to provide our own security for our lives, and all these things that I was doing. It seemed like he was just talking to me. And I heard the Holy Spirit say, ‘You need to let it go.’ I accepted Christ. I began to feel peace. It felt like I was being cleansed from the years of bitterness, the years of anger.”
He cut ties with his gang. “I called everyone who I was involved with, other leaders, and I told them, ‘It’s over for me.’ I told them that they could take the drugs and they could take the money.”
Ivan eventually moved to live with his dad in California and begin a new life. “The love of God is so amazing. It’s so amazing. I didn’t deserve it at all, but I received it. When He chose me, it’s just a testament to His grace. Whoever will allow Him to come into their heart, He will do great things for them.”
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