“I used to sleep in church”

“I used to sleep in church”

My name is Danilo; I am 18 years old, from central Guatemala City. And this is my story.

I used to sleep in church. My mum would take me to church when I was young and I remember I didn’t want to be there.

My first impressions of hearing about Jesus weren’t very good.

Growing up, I was a very angry person. I had a terrible attitude, I didn’t listen to people. My whole world was going to work with my mother at a large local rubbish dump. When I got a bit older I started smoking, drinking, stealing from people so I could buy drugs. I didn’t like being around my mum. I didn’t want to work.

“I realised God was the only one who could help me change my life.”

I saw no purpose to my life. I was just existing. It’s not like I had any hopes or dreams; I was just living for the moment. I didn’t think about tomorrow. I wasn’t making good decisions. Nothing really mattered. Then one day I came to Street Kids Direct (SKD) and I met a guy called Jonathan, who listened to me talk about my life and he encouraged me to get closer to God.

The best decision I ever made

I hadn’t realised how much I needed someone to talk to, and it was good to learn that I could also talk to God. I realised God was the only one who could help me change my life. God was the best person I could have ever met. I decided to follow Jesus.

Danilo chats to mission partner Azaria Spencer
Danilo hadn’t realised how much he needed someone to talk to

Things didn’t change for me overnight. It took years. My friends tried to respect my decision and the fact that I wasn’t doing the same things I used to, but a distance grew between us, and this was difficult. My family saw good changes happening in me, but it has taken my mum a long time to get used to the idea that I had changed. We are still on that journey together to be honest. But I still think it’s the best decision I ever made.

“I think the best thing I can do is listen to other people’s stories and share my story. Because I know what it’s like to feel alone…”

Because the thing is, God never abandons you. There have been times when I have been distracted from faith, or I’ve struggled to understand, or I doubt. I think we all do. But sooner or later, you always find the light in the dark.

The most important lesson I’ve learned from God is forgiveness. God is the perfect example of forgiveness and I have had to learn to forgive, to let go of some things from the past and move forward. To not let things build up.

Azaria and Danilo and colleague walking the back streets
Mission partner Azaria Spencer walks alongside at-risk children and young adults in Guatemala City

When things are tough, I pray and I talk to the people God has put in my path. The people around me like Duncan (SKD’s leader) and Azaria (a CMS mission partner) have helped me think differently, to see life differently. They know life can be difficult and thanks to them and God, I think I have changed a lot. I feel God has done a lot for me in my life and I try to reflect that. I am not a millionaire so I cannot pay them back for what they have done for me, but I thank them for not giving up on me. You can’t give up on people or assume they will never change. You have to give them a chance to be different.

I know what it’s like

I want other people to know that following God’s way is the best option. I think the best thing I can do is listen to other people’s stories and share my story. Because I know what it’s like to feel alone, to feel empty and angry at the same time. I know what it’s like to always feel like you need something more, but you don’t know what so you look for quick fixes to make you feel better. I know what it’s like to be outside of God’s things, to not know where to turn. But I want them to know it’s never too late. You can be happy.

“Because the thing is, God never abandons you.”

That’s the thing. I do feel happy. It’s hard to describe, really, but I feel like a different person. It’s difficult to put into words, but it’s something that God has given me and it can’t be compared. It’s a love I feel and I feel good in myself. And I think the most important thing is just to keep going, with the help of God and others.

Give now

Many people might have ignored or given up on Danilo, but God never left him and neither did the people in mission who continue to walk alongside him. Please give to help more people like Danilo become disciples of Jesus.

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