Anthony Gonzales: Prodigal Hip-Hop Son
By Rod Thomas
The 700 Club
Anthony Gonzales attended church as a teenager. But he dealt with a constant inner struggle.
“One of the very first things I learned how to do was play church. You know? Play church and-and just wear that mask to try to get by and show everybody that, ‘Yeah, I know the church lingo.’ But on the inside, you know, it was a different story,” Anthony said.
The struggle going on inside his heart soon began to show outside as well, as he and his twin brother, Andrew, got involved in the hip hop culture.
“While I was at my dad’s house, do the Christian thing. And on the weekends, trying to fit in and trying to feel accepted by friends that were in gangs; trying to feel accepted with, you know, a lot of the friends that did drugs and maybe smoked a little bit of marijuana,” Anthony said.
During this time of rebellion, Anthony’s dad prayed for wisdom.
“As they were growing up, they want to do some of the stuff of the world, which I knew I could never avoid that, but where it be talking back or being disrespectful, I would always ask God, ‘Show me how to be a better father – how to discipline them.’ And so any time they would get out of line or be disrespectful I would let them know, ‘We’re not going that far,’” Anthony’s father said.
When the boys were 16, tragedy struck their lives. Their mother contracted lupus, and later died.
“We went from seeing our mom, you know, being real young, healthy, going out, you know, and to being in a wheelchair and now being bedridden and we have to take care of her. But just watching your mom slip away in front of you is one of the hardest things that you can go through as a child,” Anthony said.
Just seven months after his mom died, Anthony received a phone call.
“It was Easter weekend. And my twin brother had called me up and was like, ‘Hey man, I want to come to Alvin, come kickin’ with you guys, we don’t have school tomorrow,’” Anthony said.
His brother never made that trip.
“That night he went out to three different keg parties. He took my cousin’s car without his permission really, and they took off to Texas City and they were drinking and driving,” Anthony said. “They were heading back here to Houston and they were on a street called Skyline Drive, and it’s on top of a hill. So when he made a right turn they fishtailed, slammed into the rail and flipped over the rail. And by the time the ambulance got there he was pronounced dead on arrival.”
Andrew was only 17-years-old. Anthony was devastated.
“We’re still trying to cope with the death of my mother, and now my twin brother dies drinking and driving seven months later. I said, ‘You know what? If this is what I get for serving the Lord, and for, for trusting in God and praying, then I don’t want it no more.’
Called up all the dudes I used to sell drugs with, gang members and stuff, and people that we knew, and I just jumped back in the game, you know. A lot of the stuff that I was selling was, first of all, you know, crack cocaine and then ecstasy pills, pounds of weed, bottles of promethazine, hydrocodeine, promethazine,” Anthony said.
He also started doing gangsta rap, and lived the life associated with it.
“If I’m going to rap about it, I’m going to say, ‘I’m going to pack a gun and I’m going to sell drugs and I’m going to hurt people,’ then I’m going to do it because I don’t want to be fake. And so I did it,” Anthony said. “And in that process came more heartache, more pain, more paranoia, more of, just stress and trying to live that lifestyle.”
He eventually became a full-fledged junkie. In fact, Anthony would not sleep for days while doing drugs.
“My drug addictions were just eating me up alive. One night we had company over and we were just partying and drinking and just, you know, just doing drugs and whatnot. I had got so coked up that I went into the restroom, shutting the door, locking it and I would get into the bathtub and I would shut the curtain and I would be in there with my gun locked and loaded, just tripping, feeling like somebody’s out to kill me,” Anthony said.
But even as Anthony’s life was crumbling, dad never gave up on him.
“Every once in a while he called just to let me know he’s okay,” Anthony’s father said. “And when he would call I would always tell him, ‘I love you.’ I didn’t try to lecture him on whatever he was going through. I just wanted to let him know that I loved him and that I always prayed for him.”
But one night, his destructive ways nearly took his life.
“It was a Friday night, September 22nd, 2006. I started looking through my phone to call up some females and whatnot, and trying to get into the Friday night thing and I started experiencing some pain in my chest,” Anthony said. “Bam, it hit me. I had a heart attack. They hooked me up to the EKGs and they were like, ‘Yeah, you’re having a heart attack.’ They threw me in the back of the ambulance and we’re heading to downtown Houston to St. Joseph hospital and I just felt like, ‘I’m going to die.’”
Anthony nearly died that night, but God had other plans for this 22-year-old.
“I was running from God for four years. And here I am in ICU room bed, strapped down and I ain’t got no other place to look but up. And it’s like God is saying, ‘Do I got your attention now?’” Anthony said.
“I called my pastor, his name is Russ Fontaine, and he came up there and he got together with him by his bed," Anthony's father said.
"And he asked me the same thing, ‘Life or death? Which one? You know? Are you going to choose life or choose death?’ And I, it was hard, cause my flesh wasn’t ready,” Anthony said.
Pastor Fontaine asked him if her were to go that day, where would he go?
Anthony made the choice.
“I’m tired of running from God.” Anthony said.
“And so he gave his life, there in front of me on the death bed, I call it,” Pastor Fontaine said.
Anthony’s heart test came back negative. When he was released, he moved home with his dad and poured himself into the word of God.
“I just put myself in boot camp - reading the scriptures, fasting, praying, seeking the Lord diligently with all my strength, you know,” Anthony said.
He later went back to the studio on a mission from God. He produced his next album which is fittingly called The Transition.
“The Lord gave me the name of The Transition. I really felt the Holy Spirit was like, ‘Call it the transition.’ You know, it’s straight up. It’s a transition, which means, to shift, to change. Cause if it was on my actions, I, I’d be in hell. You know? And the only thing that drew me out was God’s faithfulness,” Anthony said.
Anthony is now focused on becoming an instrument of God’s love to reach young people with the gospel. His performing name is Litarodi.
“The blessing about Anthony is his willingness to learn. And so I’ve had the privilege, for the past few months, to mentor him. His message is plain and simple. And that is, ‘keep God first.’”
“The prodigal son. That was so familiar because it reminds me of that father. When the son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against you and heaven.’ But to my son, as that father was, I couldn’t help but just open my arms just as wide and say, ‘You don’t have to do anything. I just want you to come home, be with Jesus,’” Anthony’s father said.
“I’m a new creature in God’s eyes. That all things of the past are washed away, even though I was unfaithful to God, even though I turned my back on him, even though I did what I wanted to do and was so full of pride, you know, God still loved me,” Anthony said.Can God change your life?
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