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Jesse abandons dark, dangerous life for spiritual happiness
Even though Jesse’s dad walked out on him and his mother when he was just 8 months old, he still reflects on a happy childhood. “I had an awesome mom,” he said. “She was my mom and my dad. She brought me up in the church. She was really an amazing mother.”
But things took a dark turn when Jesse turned 18. His mother gave him a letter revealing that the man he thought was his father, actually wasn’t. “Apparently my dad wanted a kid, but couldn’t have one (physically), so my mother met another guy to have a child with. She went out of her way to provide the child he so desperately wanted. And then he left us anyway.”
He had met his biological father—‘he was around,’ Jesse said—but the man was married and had a family. The shock shook Jesse to his core and he started down a dark path. “I became a devil worshipper,” he said. “It started with just researching and finding out different things—curiosity I guess. I think it came from me not feeling like I had a dad. I felt like he was there to comfort me. It was like he was my father. I was sacrificing, preaching to people, bringing followers to him. I prayed to him daily. I even have him tattooed on me.”
Jesse was in and out of jail. He got married, and just six months into the marriage, he was part of a home invasion that resulted in prison time. “I have a son that I don’t have contact with,” Jesse said. “I was in the gang life, and I wasn’t ready.”
After the divorce, Jesse met another woman and had two daughters. At this point he was an alcoholic, and was selling drugs to make money. “One day someone couldn’t pay me for the drugs,” he said. “He wanted to pay me in crystal. I drank and I smoked weed, but I hadn’t done that. I tried it and I fell in love with it. I took money for my kids’ diapers to buy it. I was trading my kids’ toys to get it. That was my life.”
Jesse’s relationship ended and ended up bouncing from friend’s house to friend’s house. His addiction was severe. “I gave up everything for that drug,” he said.
Jesse tried a program once but lasted one day when he saw the clients still using drugs. “I went right back to it,” he said. “I ran around another two years after that before I found this program. Then I found the Victor Valley Rescue Mission. I thank God for it.”
When he first entered the mission’s program, Jesse had a plan: to quit drugs, but not quit the devil. “He was everything to me. But (Program Manager) John Schmidt, his preaching, it hit home. It hit my heart. I told him I was an active devil worshipper, and everyone laid their hands on me. I went to the bathroom and started throwing up. I found God. It was such a blessing.”
Jesse graduated from the program three years ago and has worked at the Salvation Army Thrift Store since then. He got remarried a year and a half ago and has partial custody of his two girls. “My daughters are my everything,” he said. “And my wife treats my kids like her own.”
Jesse looks back at his time at the mission with awe. “Being there, and interacting, learning, everything—it was amazing,” he said. “I went in thinking it was like every other program, but it was different. It was awesome. The teachings and daily devotions were amazing.”
Jesse also appreciated the vocational training, especially volunteering at the thrift store. “I loved that I was able to get experience at the thrift store,” he said. “Now I’m able to work at a secondhand store—God prepared me for that, and gave me the experience. I love my job.”
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