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Finding Purpose After Gang Life

Growing up, Abraham longed for acceptance. Abused as a kid, he dropped out of high school and turned to drugs and joined a gang, but something was still missing. Read Transcript


ABRAHAM BELANGER: I was at the top of our wooden steps,

and I remember looking down the steps

and seeing my dad with his hands around my mom's neck, my mom

basically fighting for her life.

NARRATOR: Growing up, Abraham Belanger

lived in constant fear and chaos.

His father was an abusive addict,

and his mother suffered the consequences.

They divorced when Abraham was six,

forcing his mom to take on three jobs

to provide for him and his sister.

My mom was working all the time.

My dad's not present.

I was just so afraid.

I was alone.

I didn't feel like I had anybody I could turn to.

NARRATOR: At school, Abraham was bullied for being poor,

which made him feel even more isolated and alone.

ABRAHAM BELANGER: I started developing anger issues,

felt like it was me against the world.

I started stealing, starting fights, trying to be

this big, mean, strong man.

Really inside I was struggling.

I was just this little boy that was

fearful of not belonging, feeling temporary,

and like I had no lasting purpose.

NARRATOR: He was in middle school

when his mother remarried, but his step father

was cold and verbally abusive.

Under his roof, Abraham grew more desperate to find a place

to fit in and to protect himself from anyone

who tried to hurt him.

It was then he found a gang.

ABRAHAM BELANGER: I started finding crowds

that I could hang around where I felt protected.

They had this big reputation of don't mess with this guy,

or he's going to get you.

So I started trying to fit in with that crowd.

I wanted to be that guy.

That, hey, you don't mess with Abraham,

or he's going to get you.

When in reality, I was scared.

NARRATOR: By 15, he had dropped out

of school, was running with a gang, and dealing drugs.

While it gave him a sense of security and belonging,

another fear emerged.

ABRAHAM BELANGER: I had a great fear

that I just would kind of float through and live and die,

you know, and that's it.

I felt like I was just there, but I wasn't.

There was really no meaning in my life.

NARRATOR: When he was 18, Abraham

was arrested on possession charges.

Someone else took the rap, and he got off

with just one year of probation.

Afterwards, he attempted to get his life straight.

ABRAHAM BELANGER: As much as I wanted to change,

I couldn't change myself.

I had all of this fear, all this hurt, all this anger, all

of this sense of wanting to belong and fit in,

but everything I tried, nothing worked.

Nothing worked.

So I figure well, I'll try and sell a little bit more drugs.

NARRATOR: One Saturday, Abraham was walking the streets looking

to make a score.

He had just passed by a church, when an older

woman approached him and invited him to the Sunday church

service.

Abraham was taken by her kindness and said,

yes, hoping he might make a new friend.

The next day, when he went into the church,

he experienced something he never had before.

ABRAHAM BELANGER: I'm walking in right at time of prayer.

As many people as were in there, I felt alone.

But I'm feeling a sense of lightness,

like oh, this is pretty nice.

Now I'm hearing this message.

There is purpose.

There is hope.

And I'm like, he's speaking to me.

It was the thing that I was hungering for and thirsting

for all these years.

I was like, oh, my goodness.

This is it.

Like, I have to come back.

NARRATOR: That night, he returned

for the evening service.

ABRAHAM BELANGER: God, himself, came to me right there

and let me know, I'm who you've been searching for.

I'm the belonging you need.

He showed me that he was there with me the whole time.

He took my loneliness, and he filled it with his love.

He filled it with his grace, and I like, all right, Lord.

This is it.

Like, I want you.

I don't want anything else.

NARRATOR: At that moment, Abraham

found where he belonged, in the arms of his Heavenly Father.

In the following years, he realized his purpose

and became a preacher.

He even founded a church, which continues to grow.

These days, he keeps pretty busy as a husband and father

of five, and he credits God for all of it.

Jesus Christ literally came into my life

and spoke life into me.

He stepped in and showed me, I was here the whole time.

I have a purpose for you.

I have a destiny for you.

It was nothing anyone else could have done.

Only God can do it.

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