I was raised as a good Catholic, we went to church on Easter, or Christmas, sometimes both :) I went to Catholic jr High School, St. Edwards in Corona California. I almost got expelled for getting in a fist fight with my eighth grade teacher. He hit me first, they suspended me for three days and didn't put it in my permanent records. He wasn't exactly the best teacher I ever had. I almost got in trouble for drinking a bit of the wine in the back of the church, when I was an altar boy.
Didn't really like church much, but had a pretty profound experience when I was around ten, in the Charismatic mass. My mom brought me, and this was different. I really sensed God in a way that I cannot to this day deny. But I went my own way.
At about eleven I started going down a bad path. I started hanging out with some of the rougher kids and started to get in a bit of trouble. Drank a bit. Smoked some pot. Then around thirteen I started listening to punk rock. This was when it was pretty new to So Cal. It was 1979, and bands like the Dead Kennedy's, Bad Religion, and Social Distortion were just coming out. I was kinda a poser. Left home as a clean cut kid, but changed my clothes and hairstyle as soon as I was away from mom's eyes. We got in a bit of trouble, started experimenting a bit more with drugs, but nothing too hard core. My friends, the Crown Town Punks, started getting pretty deep into it, some of them were spending longer and longer stints in juvenile detention centers.
I started going to Notre Dame high school, and there I met some friends of Portugese lineage. They turned me on to Portuguese bullfighting. This was the craziest thing I had ever seen, eight guys get in a line and catch a bull, head on, no capes, no barrels, just caught the bull. I got into it right away. I became one of the best "forcados" in the country, and was the only white guy that the portuguese would actually let their daughters date. I was also wrestling on the school team, but as one of only a few punk rockers in school I wasn't very popular.
I was heading in a bad direction and didn't care much for church, God, or anything but myself. The ego I was developing bullfighting was pretty overgrown for a very young man. My mom desperately wanted me to get into church, so I would go once and a while just to make her happy, and get a few prayers for my bullfighting. Standing in front of a charging bull makes you hedge your bets a bit. My mom organised a monthly young persons group the first few meetings were at our house. She was really just trying to get me interested, and it worked, when this hot chick came walking in the door. I figured, she is pretty good looking, maybe this church stuff isn't too bad. I asked her out and she said yes. Our second date we went to her brother in law and sisters house for a New Years Eve party. It was 84/85
I remember being amazed at how these people seemed to really care for each other. I was even more amazed at how much they seemed to care for me. At twelve midnight, they got in a big circle and just talked about what God had done in their lives the year before. It really got to me. By the time it was my turn to speak, I had given my life to Jesus. I wanted what these people had. That night my life changed, and it has never gone back.
I started my Christian walk as an insane student. I read every Christian book I could get my hand on. I read my bible like a maniac. I even once beat up my brother because he was disturbing my bible reading time, now before you get too upset, please realize that my brother is really irritating, and God made him that way, so I am completely justified. Well, lets just hope I have matured a bit. My faith has grown a lot since then. I am not as rash, or judgemental. I am much more mystical, but also much more stable.
Maybe one of the reasons I am so passionate about smaller communites of believers, living real Christian love in front of their neighbors, is because that is what attracted me to Jesus. Wasn't a cool service, it was people loving each other, and loving me. I want to pass on that legacy.
I'll talk a bit more about what happend after that later, stay tuned
*coming attractions, repossesing cars for a living, getting dumped by fiance because of prophetess vision, housing a murderer, starting a church or two, meeting my wife, cage fighting*