“The happiest place on Earth.” I know what you’re thinking that’s the slogan for Disneyland but over 35 years ago when my family and I moved to Anaheim that became my slogan. I fell in love with Anaheim the moment we moved here from Norwalk. My 3 brothers and 3 sisters grew up happy and loved even though our environment was turbulent. I guess I thought living in chaos, or without food was normal because through all of our trials we had fun. When you grow up with nothing you learn to “make” your own fun. I think growing up with a big family and with little made me appreciate everything. My mom, Irma Garcia, was instrumental in keeping our family happy and shielded from the realization that we were struggling. My mom was also the one who introduced me to the man, who would save my life many years Jesus later, Jesus. I still remember the day she came home and said, “Starting today we can pray directly to Jesus.” Little did I know that her life and mine would forever change because of that one small sentence.
I wish I could say I broke the cycle of chaos as an adult but unfortunately I think I only compounded it with alcohol and promiscuity. I became a father at the age of 19, to my beautiful daughter Jacquelyn. I had no clue how to be a father to this little baby all I knew was that I had to do everything I could to provide for this precious life. Since I can remember my dream was to play professional football, I was groomed for it, I lived and breathed football, I exceled in it but I chose to give it up to become a father. I know now that if I had to do it all again I would choose the same path. Justine, Esteban and Elias came shortly after. I drank heavily and failed at many jobs but my one joy, my one success was my children. I wasn’t a father they deserved but they loved me. My one joy soon became my deepest sorrow when I was no longer able to play, kiss or hug my children anymore. For 3 years I lived with a picture and only memories. The pain of my loss and what had become of my life became unbearable I felt like I was losing everything, this was my low. I found myself drunk and depressed with no hope, which led me on top of a building ready to jump. Jesus remembered the words of the little boy who had given his heart to Him so many years ago and He sent my brother Temo to pull me off the ledge.
My life was about to change. My Anaheim High School Coach had become a Pastor at Calvary Chapel Open Door, he was sent by the Holy Spirit to bring me back to Anaheim. I returned to Anaheim a different man than I had left, I was broken and hopeless. I literally had nothing. My restoration began through Roger Stalhut he taught me and loved me back to Jesus. Two years later I rented a home in Anaheim off of Broadway and Anaheim Blvd. with 3 other men from church. The Yellow House of Prayer began with a single man named Harold Pilgrim, he knocked on the door of the home with nowhere to go, I knew I couldn’t turn him away. We began prayer at the little, yellow house on Broadway every night at 7 p.m. Our home became known as “The Yellow House of Prayer.” We began accepting the lost, the homeless, and the rejected men that had no hope and through this our little home grew. Families began to attend our prayer and bible studies. Somehow, some way through all of this was a mother who had vision beyond The Yellow House of Prayer and beyond the struggling son. My mom knew through prayer that the home would become a church and the son would become a Pastor.
It’s been 19 years since the founding of The Yellow House of Prayer. Today we are Agape House of Prayer in Anaheim, California. First John 3:16 states by this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. This is the scripture the Lord gave me when I opened the door to Harold Pilgrim and it remains the scripture of our church. I know by grace I am here preaching and leading the Church, I know by grace I was given a second chance with my children, I know by grace I am happily married with 3 more children and I know by grace I will continue to stand for those who are without hope until Jesus comes back!!