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CBN.com "I basically shut down and wouldn’t talk to her [wife Barbara], wouldn’t even acknowledge her," says Manny Rodriguez. "My family didn’t matter to me and my kids didn’t matter to me anymore. I didn’t want to talk to anybody."
Adds Barbara Rodriguez, "He was pulling away from everybody that he could."
Border Patrol agent Manny Rodriguez never meant for his life to end up in a shambles, but five years ago, selfishness and addictions to porn and alcohol had made him a slave – and he was taking it out on his family. His 10-year marriage to Barbara was on the rocks, and he didn’t even care.
"I grew up violent. I grew up angry. I grew up trapped in pornography. All of these things, combined in me, overflowed," says Manny. "I tried to suppress it for so long that it eventually blew over. I couldn’t contain it; I couldn’t control it. It was killing me, and at the same time, it was killing my marriage."
As Barbara reveals, Manny was most upset with her commitment to the Lord.
"Especially when I would pray," she explains, "I would see him get so upset, so angry. He could not comprehend that I would even put God before him."
They were married in 1989 while Manny was stationed in Germany with the U.S. Army. But it wasn’t long before Barbara saw a side of Manny that she hadn’t known while they were dating.
"I was 19 years old, in another country. It was a whole new world to me. My weekends were filled with partying and drinking, and I basically just did what I wanted to do," Manny admits.
Although Barbara grew up in a Christian home, Manny did not, so when their marriage collapsed, he had nothing to fall back on.
"In 1994 my wife and I lost a son. What little faith I did have went down the drain," says Manny. "Then in 2000, my dad died. This was the man who had all the answers for me, everything that I needed to know. I hated God for that. So after that happened, I started hanging out more with the guys, started getting angrier, even worse. I got trapped in pornography – that was very hard for her because I started looking for other outlets. But inside I was dying. I knew I was dying. I didn’t want to live anymore."
After leaving the Army, Manny became an agent with the U.S. Border Patrol. Though the job was exciting and important, the long hours only made matters worse at home. Things finally came to a head over the holidays.
"My wife and I were back home in New Mexico. I had drawn so far away from her that when we went home, she stayed with her parents and I stayed with my mom," Manny explains. "One night I was there at my mother's house sleeping in one of the guest bedrooms, and I remember hearing in the middle of the night, 'Everything that you’ve done is going to come to light tomorrow.' I woke up in a panic. I don’t know what it was I heard. I thought it was a dream. At that time I didn’t believe in God, so I thought maybe my dad had come back as a ghost or something. It totally freaked me out."
Manny had carefully hidden his addictions for years. But sure enough, the next day someone in whom he had confided decided it would be best to tell the truth. When the news came to Barbara, she had had enough.
"I called her up, and she said, 'That’s it. I don’t want you anymore.' I had hurt the only person who truly loved me all these years, with all the things she put up with, and I finally drove her away," says Manny. "Many people thought we were the perfect couple, but inside I was killing my marriage and killing myself, and I just wanted to end it all. I just wanted to get it over with. So I got down on my knees and I prayed. I said, 'Lord, if You’re real, save my marriage, save my life, and I’ll serve You.' Unbeknownst to me, my wife was already praying, and the Lord was already working."
"I continued praying because I knew that God would answer me, and I would pray until God answered," Barbara reveals. "That was the only hope that I could grab onto. Then the Lord asked me, 'Will you go back to Eagle Pass? If you do, I will meet you there.' "
Meanwhile, Manny decided to call Barbara the following morning. What Manny discovered amazed him.
"She told me she was going to come home with me, that the Lord had spoken to her,' he recalls Barbara saying over the phone. "I said, 'God, you’re real! You’re real! I don’t know You, but I want to know You.'
"Barbara was putting things away. I went to the living room and turned on the television set. Usually I would watch MTV, but The 700 Club was on. At that time I didn’t really know what it was, but I saw a man on there who was saying, 'Please give us a call. ' I knew I needed to know the Lord. I knew. Of course, my wife was so angry with me that I don’t think she was going to witness to me at all, so I picked up the phone and I dialed the number. This woman answered the phone. And I told her everything that I had done." This woman told me, in the sweetest voice, 'It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. Jesus wants to forgive you.' Inside, I knew that He did. I said, 'I want to know Him. I want to be forgiven. She prayed a prayer with me. Right then and there, I knew it was all going to be OK. He was going to make it work. I almost cost my children heaven."
Barbara was thrilled to see her husband's life transformed and, as she puts it, "to see somebody that the enemy had such a grip on now serving the Almighty God."
In the two years since Manny gave his life to Christ, not only has his marriage and family been restored, but he has become a chaplain with the Border Patrol.
"Now I get paid to minister! he says. "Before, I would take risks and not care if I lived or died, which was ironic because I was totally afraid of death. Now, I’m not afraid."
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