Antonio Lorenzo: No Longer Neglected
By Christine Wilson
The 700 Club
In the words of Antonio Lorenzo:
“I was brought up wrong. I was taught wrong by the world. I was taught wrong by people that perceived to love me, but really didn’t care about me.”
Antonio Lorenzo never had a close relationship with his father, even though they lived in the same home.
“Most of the time he was drinking and shooting up drugs.”
Antonio’s bond with his mother wasn’t much better. She was a drug addict too. Antonio was still young when his parents left his life completely.
“My dad contracted AIDS and gave it to my mom. When I was 13, both of them passed away. I never had a male figure tell me what to do, so I grew up rebellious and doing everything I wanted to do. A lot of the rejection and fear of rejection, the hurt, abandonment, not being accepted - all of that stuff was hidden under pride.”
After his parents died, Antonio went to live with his grandmother. Then, an uncle picked up where his father left off. He introduced him to selling drugs.
“After messing around with cocaine and marijuana, he started to show me how to sell the cocaine. He’d give me a certain amount and say, this is what you put in a 20.”
Before long the 15-year-old businessman was making $1,000 a week. He dropped out of school and partied with his clients at local bars. He also found a new rush -- stealing cars.
“I thought it was fun. You know, getting arrested and sort of that rebellious attitude was real fun to me. You know, it was almost like a high.”
Antonio’s dangerous lifestyle didn’t take him high enough, so at age 16, he began snorting cocaine. His aunt was worried about him, so she took him to a Christian concert hoping it would change his life.
“I heard what I wanted to hear. And I heard that Jesus forgave my sins. I heard that he had died for my sins and that I was going to Heaven now. So, my first impression was, well why give up my sin if I’m going to Heaven now?"
Antonio’s half-hearted commitment didn’t last. Then, his grandmother died later that year, and he felt abandoned -- again.
“I said to God, ‘Well if this is how you are, I don’t want to serve you.’”
He even considered taking his own life.
“No matter how many cigarettes I smoked, the thoughts wouldn’t go away. And I just said, ‘Well, I can’t go to sleep. I’m aggravated. I’m frustrated. I’m just going to commit suicide.’”
He stopped selling drugs and made ties with the mafia. But life with the mob was even more dangerous than selling drugs.
“It’s full of fear, full of terror. If you said the wrong thing or did the wrong thing, you would be killed. That’s the code we live by.”
Antonio was afraid he would be next.
“I was afraid of dying. Fear gripped me worse that I ever thought was possible. So, I called my aunt. I said, ‘does Jesus love me?’ And she said, ‘yeah.’ I said, ‘does He really love me?’ And she said, ‘yeah, He never left you. You left Him.’”
Antonio took a chance he had been unwilling to take before.
“I said to God, I said, ‘God if you’re real and you give me a new life, I’ll give you mine, in Jesus’ name.’”
A few weeks later, Antonio was arrested and put in jail. He says it was the best thing that could have happened to him. He spent his time in jail reading the Bible. He says that’s when he gave his heart to Jesus Christ.
“I prayed the sinner’s prayer out of there. I started to cry. I knew that God was real, and that He gave me a new life. I knew that I was saved."
Prison walls kept Antonio safe from the mob for two years. But he couldn’t hide forever.
“I was real scared because I was getting out of jail soon. I wasn’t sure what my future was like. I heard God call my name for the first time, in an audible voice. It’s like He was standing right behind me. And His presence came on me and He began to tell me how He was going to take care of me and I had nothing to worry about.”
When Antonio got out of jail, his life changed completely.
“Since I’ve been out of jail, I don’t think that I have ever feared ever getting killed again. God has proven Himself in so many ways that there’s nothing a man could do that God can’t save me from.”
He also finished high school, and he didn’t stop there.
“I got my medical assistant degree and I also got my master’s degree in psychology from the Bible college. In my furtherest of dreams, I couldn’t imagine that God was going to do everything He’s been doing and showing me everything He’s been showing me. Everybody is accepted in God’s eyes. But He only favors those who come to him through Jesus Christ. And you can’t meet God without Jesus.”Can God change your life?
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