I was born in Chile, and during my childhood I lived with my father, my mother, my oldest brother Raül and Luis, the youngest of the family, who had health problems. He was very weak, and my mother had to care for him constantly. My father was an alcoholic and would beat us violently. We were terrified of him. My head and body still bear the scars of his beatings. Every night when I heard him coming home, I would experience intense fear and run to hide under the bed.
The situation was more than my mother could endure, so she left, taking little Luis with her. But I stayed behind with my father, who used to vent all his anger and frustration on me. As a five-year-old child, I was powerless, and so I ran to my grandparents and then to my uncles for help, but they all rejected me. So I decided to run away. For the next four years, the streets became my home. Hungry and cold, eating what I could get, I would sleep on trains or in parks. After a while, tired of living this way, I decided to go back to my father, but it was too late - he had died of cirrhosis. It seemed like too many hardships for a nine-year-old. I decided to see my grand-parents and uncles once more, but I was rejected again. They didn't want to take care of me. They convinced me to go to a "good place," where, ac-cording to what they said, I would receive an education and be helped to become a good man. My hopes were raised, not really knowing what awaited me there. When I arrived at that place, I was informed that there were no vacancies left, so they took me to a prison that operated as an orphanage. It was horrible! Violence, torture and screams at night asking for mercy tormented my ears and weighed down my soul. I was so scared I couldn't sleep. I was raped twice. No, definitely this wasn't what they had promised me it would be!
When I turned thirteen, I ran away with three other boys. I walked aimlessly for twenty days. I was totally lost... I was only a boy, but my life wasn't a normal life. My innocence was lost; I had no home; my whole life was painful; and I couldn't understand why.
One day as I was walking through a dark alley, I saw a woman walking towards me... It was my mom! I was dirty, my clothes were ragged and I was eight years older than when she left. But she recognized me and took me with her. I went to live with her and with my stepfather and stepsister. Finally I had a home!
But I started having health problems. They were the cruel effects of my terrible childhood, of being cold, hungry, sleepless and beaten. My health was seriously affected, especially my spine. I was all bent and could barely walk. By then, I lived in Argentina, where I had surgery. I spent a year and a half in the Rivadavia Hospital suffering with incredible pain.
Gradually I started to get better and tried to lead a normal life. Just when I finally thought things were getting better, I became terribly depressed. I often thought of killing myself. I actually tried to do it three times.
In those days, my mother and stepfather came to know the Lord, and my mother started to tell me about God's love. Inexplicably, the love I felt for my mom became hatred and resentment. "Don't talk to me about love after abandoning me for so many years," I said.
Around that time I met Clara, who would later become my wife. She could understand me because she also came from a broken home. Her mom had left her, and her grandmother had raised her. She didn't see her mother for years, and so her feelings of abandonment also ran deep.
After Clara and I were married, my mother took me to an evangelistic crusade by Pastor Claudio Freidzon in Plaza Noruega. There the Lord healed my spinal problems which had become much worse. I accepted Christ a year later, and a miracle took place. How can I explain it? I felt God's love running through my whole life - past and present. Changes started to occur. A burden was lifted from my shoulders. I was able to forgive my mom with all my heart. I could look into her eyes as if nothing had happened between us. I learned to love her and to understand her. After all, I wasn't the only one who had suffered.
It was a real challenge to visit my grandparents and uncles, but after much praying I went to see them. I asked their forgiveness for my resentment, and I offered to forget it all. The impact of the change in me was so great that they surrendered to Jesus and confessed Him as Lord and Saviour.
During this trip, God gave me another gift. After thirty years, I met my oldest brother Raül again. It was beautiful to hug him and tell him about God's love.
Also, Clara, my wife, had the joy of bringing the message of forgiveness and salvation to her whole family. All that the devil had tried to destroy forever, the Lord, in His mercy, had restored!
[This testimony was taken from the book "Jars of Clay" 1999 by Rev. Claudio Freidzon www.christian-faith.com]