David Kitani shares about his friend Angel's powerful story of change amidst traumatic circumstances
SP Lincoln Heights staff David Kitani shares about his friend Angel's story.
Angel’s life had traumatic beginnings. His father struggled with alcohol and died from being struck by a car while Angel was still in his mother’s womb. Angel was then born to his single mother, who, overwhelmed with her sudden loss and the need to raise two boys on her own, turned to drugs to cope. Even as a child, Angel was left to fend for himself. But he nevertheless persevered and learned to be responsible for others from an early age.
When Angel became an adult, he followed the pathway of alcohol modeled to him. He found steady work as a tow truck driver and father of two young boys, but continued to seek alcohol as the only way of dealing with his emotions.
One night, under the influence of alcohol, Angel cheated on the mother of his children. His actions broke their family apart, and he realized that he would lose them if he didn’t change. His mother, who had since been sober from drug addiction for years, invited him to come with her to a 12-step group. He began to faithfully attend recovery groups.
Angel knew about Jesus through SP staff and New Life Community Church pastor Chris Rattay’s ministry as a football coach at his high school, and Angel started attending the church. He started to give himself to God. Many of the church members have been through addictions, and God spoke to Angel through them. Angel was learning to feel, deal, and express his emotions with others.
And in 2019, I had the privilege of baptizing Angel. He’s been sober from alcohol for a few years now, breaking the cycle passed on to him from his father and grandfather before him. His family and friends notice his transformation; in Angel, they realize that change is possible.
“I’ve grown in many ways, and Jesus has a lot to do with that,” Angel said. “In a few months, it’ll be 3 years since I stopped drinking and also decided to start attending church. I can truly say that it has been one of the best choices that I made.”
I started to mentor Angel last winter, and he is now in our Discipleship School. He’s been growing, expressing his needs to God and others through prayer–something he’s had to learn, after being self-reliant for many years. And we are seeing God answer so many of his prayers! His cousins are coming to church regularly, and God is doing deep, inner healing in Angel.
“D-School is a seven-month training and discipleship program,” Angel described. “We get deep into the Word, breaking down passages, highlighting things that stick out to us, and also taking notes about what we are learning. There’s space to talk about how our week has been, the struggles we’re facing, and victories of overcoming.”
Angel is a natural leader, and we sense a calling on his life to be a spiritual leader to many young men who have felt lost. In June, Angel and our D-School group went on a missions trip to the Dominican Republic, to minister alongside our longtime partners at Iglesia Comunidad Multicultural. Soon after arriving, Angel suddenly collapsed in the bathroom from a loss of blood, from an aggravated pre-existing condition, and had to be taken to the emergency room of a nearby hospital!
After six days in the hospital, with excellent care and a loving team around him, Angel came out and was able to participate fully in the remainder of the trip. He summed his experience up as, “Jesus is turning our tests into testimonies.”
Please join me in praying for Angel and the other D-School members as they take steps of faith into their callings.