Did you have a good Christmas? I had a great Christmas! I felt so happy and it had nothing to with gifts. I really sensed the true meaning of Christmas and it brings great joy for the future. Of course, the calls and kind words from so many of you were very encouraging. You want me to write forever well, I'll do my best. What really gets me is when people tell me I make a difference. I encourage people. Then I know this column is fulfilling my purpose.
This time, right after Christmas and before New Year's, is a very precious time. We're still thinking positive and thinking about having a better life. And then New Year's is on the way and that's the time we think about giving our lives new directions and we make new resolutions. Our minds and hearts are open. I figured this was a perfect time to get my friend Sixto to tell us the story about how his life changed. If it happened to him, it could happen to anyone. Here's his story in his own words:
"I was a troubled teen; I never really felt loved so I turned to drinking, selling drugs and also I used drugs. I never feared death and hated God. I may have been a troublemaker but the truth was I was hurting inside so I tried to commit suicide. I just wanted to end my life because I was lonely. I hated my mother and my stepdad, my life was so messed up, I needed help. I can remember my grandfather telling me one day with tears in his eyes, he said 'Sixto, you need to change your life.' I thought how am I going to do that? Then it hit me when my aunt began taking me to church. Then Nancy invited me to church and I took her up on her invitation. Her father is a pastor and that is where I first heard a clear gospel message. I said 'It is time to surrender' and I did. I accepted Christ as my personal savior but not at church, but in the restroom as I cried to myself saying 'God I surrender, I am sorry for everything I have done in my life' and I asked God to come into my heart and my life. It's been about 15 years since I did this and now I have a new beginning, a new life and a second chance. Nancy and I ended up getting married and with my in-laws and children we work together to reach troubled teens through The Bridge Mission ministry. We have sports programs called The Bridge Ministry/FCA and through this program we reach teens; you see this new beginning is not about losing weight or New Year's resolution. It's about bringing hope, love and relationships through Christ. This is what we do. II Corinthians 5:17."
I'm going to embellish Sixto's story. He points out that being in the teens is a dangerous time in life, especially if you don't feel any love in your life. There's an emptiness in your life that needs to be filled, and if it isn't you look for substitutes. It's so easy to turn to drinking and drugs. Just think if Sixto had gone to prison for selling drugs. His whole life could have taken a wrong turn!
Could you imagine a young man hurting so much for the lack of good relationships that he tried to commit suicide? This should open our eyes and we should realize how vital it is to be loved and we're just as responsible to give love! That's a lesson we all need to learn. The beauty part of it is, it's so rewarding! And you don't have to study for it. You don't need a diploma. The more you give, the more you receive. There's nobody measuring it out and saying you can only have so much.
I smiled when I came to the part of Sixto's story when Nancy came into his life. So many times somebody who is a believer is the one to reach a lost person. I also smile when I think that Sixto is about 6'1'' and his wife Nancy is 4'7'', but she's dynamite!
Then I smiled again when Sixto wrote he was saved in a restroom, because I surrendered in my bathroom. But that's OK - anywhere will do!
Now I'm going to tell you about the Bridge Ministry. This fall they brought in 70 youngsters off the streets of Dunkirk, and a couple of weeks ago they met in a local gym and there were 95 kids! Unbelievable! God has gifted Sixto. Young people are drawn to him and he changes their lives through his gift!
If you know of young boys who need direction in their lives keep Sixto in mind. Also, if you are a young adult, you can get involved. You should see how these young boys have already changed. Their language has changed, their manners have changed and the younger children are respecting them. It is so exciting to see these changes!
This summer I had two lawn sales to raise money for Sixto and his program. If you think it's a good program, you can come up with your own ideas to help him and the kids he helps.
You can call Sixto at 467-5574; or 366-6634, the First Baptist Church; or you can call me at 679-4772.
Happy New Year!
Margaret Valone is a Fredonia resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.