By Aaron Chagoya

I am so very thankful to my Heavenly Father for where I have been, where I am now and where he is guiding me. I have been in a relationship with the God of the Bible for a little over six years. There have been countless times where I have needed to actively rely on him and his provision through all of the trials and suffering that life in a broken world brings. Whenever I have trouble seeing how it is possible to move forward, I reflect on how God has provided and will continue to establish my steps.

When I was ten, my family moved into the house of a family friend because we had been evicted from our apartment. The woman we stayed with offered us one room for my parents and five other siblings to use at the time. It wasn’t much, but we made the most of what we had at the time. Over time though, this woman caused conflict between my parents and their marriage. My parents divorced during that time, and my mom had to leave home. She wasn’t allowed to see my siblings, and I didn’t understand why. After she left, the home environment became increasingly worse. This woman we stayed with was verbally abusive and would constantly remind my dad and siblings that without her we would be homeless and on the street. My dad tolerated the verbal abuse as he was still looking for a job so that we could find a place of our own.

Verbal abuse escalated to physical abuse quickly, and soon I couldn’t go to school for days at a time to hide my injuries. I did everything that I could to try to make the best out of the situation, but the resources of a 10-year-old are limited. The month before the police came I was sitting in the bedroom that my siblings and I shared and prayed for the first time. It was a short prayer but sincere as I asked, “God, if you are real, please save my family and me, because it hurts being here.” I prayed to God at 14 which is when CPS and the police department came and arrested the woman after numerous tips were filed to get my siblings and I out of the house. I was placed in a foster home away from my siblings without knowing if I would see them again.

My foster parents played a significant role in my faith as they are both Christians and invited me to go with them to the church they attended. The first sermon I heard while at church was on the topic of forgiveness and what it means and what it doesn’t—that forgiveness is being able to let go of the of the hurt and not let it consume me anymore. That I can trust in God to deliver justice for me and those that have sinned against me. I stayed with my foster parents for a year which was the most impactful year of my life to date. It was January 29th, 2012 that I prayed that God would enter my life and I could feel something different about me that night—I was a new person. No longer weak but made strong in Christ. The church community surrounded me in support and my faith stuck with me when I returned home with my Mom and siblings.

I think I can relate to Joseph in Genesis where there is a long series of events and unmistakable evil done to him in his life. Yet, God redeems him and those around him which Joseph acknowledges by saying “What you intended for evil, God used for good.” I am confident that the Lord God is using my experience to help those around me find hope in a Heavenly Father that loves them perfectly. That the love of God is shown through the atonement of Jesus on the cross and that by that we are able to move forward in hope.

Since then, God has continued to show me more of his grace in my life throughout different life seasons. Most recently I have been learning what it means to abide or be connected to Jesus as “He is the true vine” (John 15). I have also been challenged and encouraged by others to think on Micah 6:8 and ask the question, “What does the Lord require of me?” The events in my past may help explain me but do not define me. I can walk forward in a positive trajectory because of Christ and know that he hears my prayers. Whenever I reflect on my past, I have the confidence to move forward, knowing fully well that the work that he started in me will continue until I see Christ face to face.