From Gang Member to Project Worker

From Gang Member to Project Worker

  |   Posted: July 19, 2002

Choosing Christ From This Moment On

Gualberto Gabriel Gonzalez Franco was registered into Compassion International's program in Esmeraldas, Ecuador, at the age of 10. Through his sponsorship, he received many benefits and learned about the saving love of Jesus. But by his teenage years, he was making decisions that kept him trapped in emotional and spiritual poverty. At age 14, Gualberto joined a gang, and involved himself in alcohol, drugs, theft, fighting in the streets, and other unhealthy behaviors.

In June 1999, when Gualberto was 18, he noticed two new Bibles lying on the desk of Compassion Project Director Mercy Olaya. Gualberto thought that if he convinced Mercy to give him one of the Bibles, he could sell it and use the money to purchase alcohol for an upcoming party.

When Gualberto asked for the Bible, Mercy told him that those new Bibles were gifts for two young people in the project. Instead, she gave him her personal Bible, adding one condition--that he attend church on the coming Sunday. Gualberto agreed, thinking that once he fulfilled his promise, he'd sell the Bible and still attend the party that evening.

On Sunday, as Gualberto looked for an opportunity to leave during the pastor's invitation at the end of the service, a woman suggested to him that this might be his last chance to accept Christ as his Savior. Suddenly, Gualberto "felt like his life was in danger, and he needed to make a decision in that very moment." But fighting the feeling, he left the church quickly and returned home.

Back in his bedroom, Gualberto fell asleep--and missed the party. Later that evening, his cousin rushed into his home and reported that one of Gualberto's friends had been murdered at the party. Gualberto then understood that "God is always protecting us." With this realization, Gualberto dropped to his knees by his bed and asked Christ to come into his heart and life. "I fully accepted that God was real," he says, "and promised to serve Him from that moment on."

During Gualberto's years in the gang, his relationship with his parents had become quite strained. When he first announced that he had become a Christian, they were extremely skeptical, and his mother even called him loco--crazy. But just six months later, struck by the transformation in her son, Gualberto's mother accepted Christ. After one more year, Gualberto's father followed his son and wife in their decisions for Christ.

Today, Gualberto, who turned 21 in April, is a vital member of the community around Compassion Ecuador's Mizpa Student Center (EC-356). He continues to meet with Project Director Mercy for discipleship training. He currently sings and plays guitar with the music ministry team at his church and is a co-leader of the church's youth group. In addition, Gualberto is a full-time tutor at the student center and teaches Christian education classes. He is a young man completely committed to serving God.

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