Growing up was rough. I grew up in an environment that would encourage the use of drugs. Since I was very young, there would be people selling pounds and pounds of marijuana right next door from me. I would always hear them shouting and I remember even waking up to the smells of marijuana.
It wasn’t too long afterward that I began selling it myself and using it, that was when I became addicted. I was addicted to Marijuana and alcohol. I remember there was a time that I got so drunk at a party that I passed out and my friends had to help me to come home. I knew that something was wrong because after the high from the weed and the buzz from the alcohol wore off, I felt empty like I was missing something.
One day, a girl that I was seeing introduced me to the church, although, I was coming high, I knew it was for me. Attending the church meetings, doing my Chain of Prayers, I got free from all my addictions! And that woman who invited me became my wife. Through coming to the church and putting into practice what I learned, my life has changed completely!
My last resort was the Universal Church and I was ready to listen and learn.
I was taught how to fight against my problems and use my faith. After years of suffering, I was able to turn my life completely around. When I learned how to be faithful to God, I understood that if God had set me free from misery, so He would bless me with this opportunity to become financially stable. I made my vow and God answered, through my faith and action I was able to open my own cosmetology school. Shortly after the opening, my school doubled in size and in enrollments. I acquired the best cosmetology equipment for my school and my business has continued prospering even during the financial crisis. Since I turned to God, He has caused me to grow each day: spiritually and financially, inside of me, there is plenty of ambition left to achieve more.
Yes, we believe in miracles! And how could we not? We’ve seen thousands of people have their lives transformed through their faith in the Living God. From incurable diseases to total healing. From bankruptcy to successful entrepreneurship. From brokenhearted to happily married. From drug addiction to total deliverance. We’ve seen it all, but we know this is only the beginning of what’s to come! Here are a few stories that only scratch the surface of the transformation we’ve seen. We want YOUR testimony to be NEXT!
I was very rebellious, addicted to weed, cursed a lot and cared less about school. I would get into fights and got suspended from school a lot. My grades were horrible, to the point that I was almost unable to graduate high school. The boys in my neighborhood would trust me with their guns, and I would hide their guns at home. I got into many fights; no matter whom it was with or where it was. I was a part of a gang and sold marijuana for money.
My mother didn’t give me the attention I needed. In her eyes, I was a disappointment.
My brother found out about the church and I was introduced to the YPG. After I became a part of the YPG and started taking God seriously, I saw my entire life change. I stopped smoking and before I could even notice, I stopped cursing. My whole character changed and everyone saw it. Today the people that I did not get along with before coming to the YPG tell me that they see the difference in me. I do not get into fights anymore and I graduated on time. My mother and I get along so much better; I can see that I am the daughter that she always knew I could be.
I used to be just one more person in this world! Limited vision, a closed mind, I only lived for myself. What I turned into in the world was all in vain, because I was unhappy. I was totally empty, hollow; I had no hope whatsoever. I had terrible nightmares every night, “ghosts” would scare me and would whisper things in my ears, always right before I went to bed.
I felt insecure—had a serious inferiority complex. All I wanted to do was die, but my suicide attempts were failures. The path I was following led to nothing. I slept around, was addicted to alcohol, and was approaching the end of my life.
People gave me advice, but I never listened, and always did what was wrong—to punish myself for all this I would cut my body. The emptiness, depression, the world, my friends, the problems, the voices—all this made me worse day by day, with a greater urge to just die.
This was how I arrived at the Força Jovem Universal (youth group in Brazil)—lost, discouraged, unhappy, and destroyed both inside and out. In the youth group, people around me believed in me and offered me help, but I didn’t know what to do—I had a lot if questions. What did letting go of sin entail? …or abandoning what is wrong and following Jesus? What was an encounter with God? …or baptism in the Holy Spirit? I didn’t know… but I wanted them. I wanted to change my life; I wanted to know this God that everyone talked about. I wanted this and I overcame. Letting go of sins was by biggest obstacle because many times I had to say “no”, and it hurt. But I did it; people helped and so did God.
I was all worth it and today I am a new person, and brand new young lady. The big difference was when the Holy Spirit came over me. The emptiness that brought sadness, the desire to die, my friends, the drinking, the sleeping around, were all replaced with the love and mercy of God. Today I am baptized in the Holy Spirit and have been raised as an Assistant. I remember everything that I went through, the hole that God pulled me out of, and I am ready to help people who are going through the same thing, and to tell them: “It’s not worth it!”
False happiness comes to all if us. I thought I was happy until I found Jesus. We all know what’s going on inside of us; we know whether or not we are truly happy. Look inside and be honest with yourself… Something was missing inside of me—in truth, everything was missing. Jesus calls us every day, but the choice is up to each one of us.
My name is Isabelle Natal, I am seventeen, and my life changed when I found Jesus at the Universal Church.
I grew up in a dysfunctional family, where my parents were alcoholics. There was violence, lots of arguing and abuse, because whenever my father got drunk, he beat my mother. Until the day he moved out and abandoned us. The pain of a broken family and financial problems marked my childhood.
At the age of 8, I began to practice witchcraft and became rebellious. At the age of 12, I started smoking and drinking. At 14, I started getting high off pills. And at 16, I started using harder drugs, such as cocaine and crack.
This was when I was introduced to the Dark movement. I liked to dress in black, wear rings and necklaces with nails, and use makeup that made me look pale. I listened to music that had vulgar and sadistic lyrics; wrote poetry that spoke of hatred, death and pain. Because I didn’t believe in anything, my life was empty and meaningless.
I was an aggressive and bipolar person. I tried to kill myself several times and almost died from an overdose. I got involved with someone, but he was physically and verbally abusive. On one occasion, we got into an argument and I tried to stab him in the neck with a broken glass bottle. We lived like this for years, until he raped me and I reported him to the police.
In the meantime, my father, who was an addict, was introduced to the work of the Universal Church. He was delivered and turned his life around. He prayed for our family and before long, after witnessing his conversion, my mother began going too. My family was restored. My parents invited me, during a whole year, to go with them to Church, but I resisted.
After suffering from the separation and abuse, I began sleeping around with men I didn’t even know, just so I could endure the loneliness and marks that were left by my previous relationship. One day, I went out with five men at once. At that moment, I understood that I had hit rock bottom and needed help. This was when I remembered my parents’ invitation and agreed to go with them to Church. It was the best decision of my life!
I surrendered my life completely and had an encounter with God. I was delivered from the drugs, the addictions, the bipolar disorder and the depression. My interior changed and my exterior reflected this change. Now, I am a happy and fulfilled woman. Someone believed in me, and now I strive to bring the same light of the Lord Jesus to other people who, like me, are lost in darkness.
Everything started when I was 12 years old and was raised up as an assistant. Yes, I was very young, and the pastor had doubts about raising me up because of my age, but he ended up doing it anyways since I showed a certain level of maturity. I remained as an assistant until the age of 14, but when I went back to school, I hardly put on my uniform anymore. My communion with God was practically inexistent, but I thought that I was fine. I even started dating an assistant at the time.
For years, I lived in deceit. I helped out at Church, but my heart was no longer on the altar. I began to listen to the voice of my heart. I had thoughts such as: “Why do you want to be an assistant if you don’t even put on your uniform? You barely go to Church. It’s better to just be a saved member, than to be an assistant and go to hell…”
I thought my relationship with God solely depended on the things that pertained to the physical Church, what a big mistake.
I decided to quit everything, went back to the world, ended my relationship with the assistant I was dating at the time and handed in my uniform. The pastor tried to talk me out of making that mistake: “Assistant, think about this, don’t let the devil deceive you” – he said. But I was set on wanting to give back my uniform. Actually, I was giving up my salvation.
Involuntarily and without realizing, it wasn’t long before I fell away from the Church. I didn’t even remain a member. The desire to know the world was bigger than anything else, my heart was deceived by the devil’s voice. I started sleeping around with men, drinking, smoking cigarettes, but it was not enough, I needed more. So I started sleeping with women. This was when I began drinking more; I drank to the point where I stumbled around in the streets, not remembering the way home, smoking until I ran out of air, using all kinds of drugs: marijuana, cocaine, inhalants, ecstasy, I almost had an overdose. I slept with whoever I wanted, whenever I wanted; I turned into a man. I slept with more than 80 women. I made some fall away from other churches, and even slept with an ex-assistant.
There was a great void in me; I would ask God for forgiveness every night before going to bed, asking Him to forgive everything I had done. Except, I did not know where to begin changing my life because I was already 18 years old and saw no chances for change. Then came the depression, fear and grief. I began to reap the rewards of what I had planted, but I hadn’t hit rock bottom yet. I had to suffer a bit more to come back. One night, I was feeling restless, my heart was racing, my mouth was dry and my hands were cold. I thought my blood pressure had dropped, so I asked my mother to take me to the doctor. When we got there, to my surprise, he said: “There is nothing wrong with you. You’re in perfect health. You need to go see a psychiatrist, because it’s as if your brain is telling your body that it’s sick, but there’s nothing wrong with you. It’s all in your mind.”
At that moment, I knew that I needed God. My soul was sick because it was far from His presence. The next day, Wednesday, I was determined to run back into my Father’s arms, but as soon as I woke up I was overcome with a very strong desire to kill myself and put an end to it all. I knelt down in front of the toilet and said, “GOD, IF YOU TRULY EXIST, HELP ME START OVER”. At that moment, strength came over me and I went to the Universal Church with my ex-girlfriend and another friend. The following Sunday, I was baptized and broke up with her. I never wanted to go back to that lifestyle.
Today, I am filled of the Holy Spirit and free from the addictions, emptiness, sadness and homosexual tendencies. I have inner peace and true joy. I’m in college, I have been an assistant for 1 year, I am dating an assistant my Church and together, we help other youths that have a similar past as ours.
Overall, my life has been truly transformed from the inside out. The Holy Spirit has made me a new, happy and fulfilled woman.
Today, those who attend meetings held by pastor Alexandre Barreto, do not imagine that in the past, the former MC loved the night life, was promiscuous, had addictions, was constantly involved in fights and suffered greatly.
However, through an invitation from a friend who belonged to the VYG, and also due to many prayers and chains of prayer carried out by his mother-in-law at the Universal Church, he decided to change his life. He surrendered his life completely to God, and there, he found the family he never had anywhere else.
Today, he is responsible for all the Universal Churches in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul – Brazil. He has been married to Lilia Marques for thirteen years, and oversees many pastors and assistants. His life was transformed.
In the past, he led thousands of people to parties, addictions and destruction, but today, his satisfaction is leading thousands of people to the Kingdom of God.