Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Biography of Henry Sardina--Taking the Long Road to the Narrow Gate


chapter 1
the fight 

Enrique’s Uncle met him at the door when he came home from school. “What are you crying about?” he asked. Enrique was only 7 years old. He had not yet learned it was not smart to tell at home what went on in school. But Enrique’s uncle was persistent. Enrique told him some kid had been bullying him, calling him names and just wouldn’t let him alone.

“Do you know where he lives?” his Uncle asked.
Enrique did.
“We’re going to his house,” said his uncle.

Enrique’s family had emigrated from Cuba the previous year. After overthrowing the dictator Fulgencio Batista, Fidel Castro was bringing communism to the island. Enrique’s father had to leave in a hurry for publicly criticizing the new regime. Within two months the rest of the family followed. Enrique’s home in Cuba was a good place for a kid. He lived in a big house near the ocean with a loving father and mother, three brothers, and lots of other family close by. The small apartment where he now lived in North Miami was a place where his family hoped to move from as soon as possible. So his father worked multiple jobs and his mother became a full-time student while working a full-time job. His Uncle Alfredo was often the only adult at home. He was a leather worker and his workshop was in the apartment.

Enrique’s uncle was small and so skinny, Enrique could put his arms all the way around him. When they knocked on the bully’s door, Enrique had to translate for his uncle could not speak English. “What do I say?” a scared to death Enrique asked. His uncle commanded, “You tell him his son bullied you—tell him!”

The door was opened by a man over six feet tall who weighed about 220 pounds. Enrique told him, “My uncle made me come here because your son bullied me and called me names.” His uncle said to Enrique, “Tell him we are here because I want his son to come outside. You and he are going to fight. And if he refuses to let his son fight you, then I will fight him.”

The father called to his son and asked him if this was true. The boy was about a year older than Enrique and quite a bit bigger. He admitted to bullying Enrique and calling him names. He was delighted to comply with the uncle’s demand. Immediately he pummeled Enrique as Enrique put his arms around his face to protect himself. “Toughen up,” shouted his Uncle. “You’ve got to fight him. Bring your arms down. Now hit him.” To the boy’s surprise, Enrique was able to get in a couple of solid hits and the boy started to cry. His dad yelled at him, “What are you doing, you sissy. You can’t quit.” Enrique and the boy tussled for several minutes. Then the boy landed a blow square on Enrique’s nose. Blood ran. Tears filled his eyes. His whole face swelled up. Enrique stumbled backwards and almost passed out. Both men said, “Enough,” each in their own language. Enrique and the boy were told to shake hands. Then the boy’s father reached over to shake hands with Enrique’s uncle.

“The kid never bothered me again,” said Enrique. “And the word got out. Things cooled off. There were still incidents at school, but it taught me something about people,  and about myself and how to get on in life.”

chapter 2
heritage

Enrique’s paternal great grandfather made a fortune in real-estate. His grandfather later took over the business. The prestige of the Sardina family continued when Enrique’s father married the daughter of the chief justice of Cuba’s supreme court.

Like most families in Cuba, the Sardinas were immersed with Catholicism. Enrique's granduncle was a Jesuit priest and later became bishop. Enrique's father's first cousin was also a Jesuit priest. The Catholic Church does not accept divorce regardless of the circumstances. They would only consider annulment of a marriage. The church will not remarry a divorced person or recognize the civil legal marriage of a divorced person. When Enrique’s father decided he would divorce his wife, the family threatened to remove him from any inheritance but he would not be deterred. Enrique's sister Olguita was born during this marriage and she remained with her mother. Enrique loved and visited his sister often with his father. He felt bad for her that she did not have her dad to live in the same home with her.

His father’s second wife, Ludivina, was born into poverty. Her mother was determined her daughter would not suffer her same fate. She worked hard and long to ensure her daughter received a good education. Ludivinda graduated at a young age with a teaching degree from the University of Havana. But it was Ludivina’s beauty that brought her into prominence. It attracted a Cuban senator who married Ludivina. He went on to become president of Cuba’s Senate.

From the grip of poverty she was thrust into the lime light of Cuba’s political elite. But shortly after the birth of her first son, Juan Alberto, Ludivina discovered her husband had a mistress. Being a woman of strong principle she chose not to continue in their marriage if she had to accept this as a condition. She now faced life with a young son under the stigma of being a divorced woman in a predominantly Roman Catholic country with a very machismo culture.

Not too long after her divorce, Enrique’s father saw Ludivina. Family legend has it that the first words he spoke to her were, “I am going to marry you.” Ludivina initially thought he was crazy and disregarded what he said. But as she would explain in later years, “He was not only very tall and very handsome, he was a most persistent man.”

This second marriage was not welcomed news to some in the Sardina family. Enrique's grandmother was especially biased against this divorced woman with a child. But Enrique’s grandfather let it be known that he fully accepted Ludivina. The family gatherings were often uncomfortable for some of the relatives considered the first wife to be the real wife. Ludivina felt their discrimination.

Enrique said he respected his father for cutting his own path in life even when it cost him. “My father was a faithful husband,” said Enrique. "He was a strong and a good man, and he cared for my brother Juan Alberto as his own son. My mother was equally faithful. Both my parents loved us dearly. They made many sacrifices for us as their children. I thank God for the wonderful family that He gave me to grow up in. I knew I was loved.”

chapter 3
america

Between 1959 and 1960 over 220,000 Cubans arrived in Florida. They expected to soon return to their homeland. Many of these refugees had been hopeful when Cuba's corrupt self serving dictator Fulgencio Batista was overthrown by a band of revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro. Castro traveled to the United States and declared, “I know what the world thinks of us, that we are communists. But I am telling you very clearly that we are not, we are not communists.” Then Castro returned to Cuba and created the Ministry of the Misappropriation of Assets. Almost immediately people lost everything. All that had been theirs was confiscated and nationalized. Enrique’s grandparents were vacationing in Mexico at the time. They never returned to Cuba. Under danger of imprisonment Enrique’s father had to flee to the United States and soon the rest of the family followed.

Their world turned up-side-down when they came to Miami. They came with nothing except an overwhelming desire to return to Cuba. But while waiting for this to happen, Enrique’s parents were determined to pull the family out of their new found poverty.

His parents enrolled Enrique and his younger brother into William Jennings Bryant Elementary School. It was less than a month since they had come from Cuba. In this new school, the two children were surrounded by English which they could barely understand; and when they spoke English, they could only be understood by those who took the care to listen carefully to them. It all seemed so surreal to Enrique.

Bullying was common, and not just by the kids. One teacher insisted on demand that Enrique put his hand on his heart and say the Pledge of Allegiance. One morning this teacher gave him a shaking. In this strange new language the teacher said to him, “Let me tell you what I’m going to do to you if you don't say the Pledge of Allegiance.” When Enrique told his father, he came to the school and spoke to  the teacher and to the principal, "There will be consequences," he said, "if ever again any man here touches one of my sons." His English was good for in 1938 he had graduated from prep school in Tarrytown, New York. Despite the hardships and prejudices of this country, he would do whatever he could to see that his sons were treated with dignity.

Nevertheless when each school day ended, Enrique would look for his younger brother Septimio and race home, sneaking behind buildings so as not to get beat up. “I’ll tell you what put anger in me,” said Enrique. "It was coming upon a scene where my little brother was getting bullied. Rage would well up in me. I may have only been an eight years old child, but I could have killed at that age.”
At age 17, Enrique’s brother Juan Alberto volunteered to fight for the overthrow of Castro in a plan designed during the Eisenhower and administered by the CIA. He was one of the approximate 1300 Cubans from America who took part in the infamous Bay of Pigs invasion.* Castro’s army captured this invasion force and for nearly two years, Juan Alberto was a POW in Cuba. He had been sentenced to 30 years of incarceration. This was especially troubling Enrique and his family. Some mornings Enrique knew his mother was hiding her crying from him.

His maternal grandmother "Mima" was preparing to reunite with the family in Florida, when she read in the newspaper the names of the young men captured in the invasion. When she saw the name of her grandson, she wrote the family in America, “I will never leave this island while Juan Alberto is still here.”

After much negotiating, a ransom was paid and the captives were released. On December 24, 1962, Enrique’s brother Juan Alberto arrived at the Homestead Air Force Base in Florida. He was bussed to the awaiting family at the Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami. “Malnourishment had made him so skinny,” said Enrique, “But we all wept for joy. This was our first real sense of happiness since we had left Cuba. Everybody wanted to see Juan Alberto and everybody put their arms around him”. Enrique just held onto his leg. Finally Juan Alberto noticed Enrique and picked him up. “He was like an idol to me,” said Enrique, "I had almost forgotten what it was to be happy. I hadn't experienced happiness like that since we left Cuba."

When his grandmother Mima finally joined them, Enrique’s life took a dramatic turn for the better. His grandma had more than just time for him. “She gave us a sense of being part of the grown up's world. She would explain grown up things to us as she talked to us as real people and not just children,” said Enrique. As an example, in Enrique's childish mind all the beautiful girls were at least 10 years older than he was. They were part of Juan Alberto's circle of friends. None of the girls his age remotely possessed the beauty of those older girls. So he was terrified that none of the beautiful girls would be around when he was ready to marry. He told Grandma one day, "I must marry one of these girls now." Grandma matter of factly explained to him, "Do you understand how you will grow up into a man one day? Those ugly little girls you see all around you will grow up too. Then they will also change. When you see them then, they'll be just as beautiful for you to marry as these older ones are now." It made sense. And what a relief to Enrique!

When they had been back in Cuba, every night after work Mima would come over to their house to tuck Enrique and his siblings into bed. Now she was here in the U.S. to do it again! And even better, now she lived with them. So Enrique would now awake each day to Mima getting him ready to go off to school.

“If it hadn’t been for my grandmother’s wisdom and love,” said Enrique, “I don’t know if I would have survived.”

*Henry’s note:
President Eisenhower was concerned with the direction the Cuban government had taken causing an exodus of Cubans to the United States. Monies were allocated and by June 1960 the CIA began secretly training Cuban counter revolutionary volunteer recruits in Useppa (Island), Florida under the plan to overthrow Castro’s communist government. Following President Kennedy's election in November 1960 he agreed to proceed with the plan. In January 1961 the training moved to Guatemala and continued there after Kennedy's inauguration into April 1961. On April 17, 1961, about 1300 Cuban men in amphibious boats landed on Cuba's shore and launched the infamous Bay of Pigs Invasion. The Russians responded with accusatory and threatening rhetoric. United States Ambassador to the United Nations Adlai Stevenson's deceptive expression of moral outrage that any nation would accuse the US of involvement in the invasion denied US complicity in his speech to the UN. Kennedy had decided to forgo further US military involvement. In his lack of moral fiber he recalled the needed US air support and abandoned the defenseless volunteer invaders to dictator Castro's slaughter on their very homeland's shore. Juan Alberto survived and was captured on April 25, 1961. The now declassified archives on the Bay of Pigs Invasion can be further researched on the CIA's web sight:


chapter 4
who will pray for me?

Enrique was nine years old when he knew something was seriously wrong. “The Lord gives each of us a sense of authority", said Enrique, “We also know when there is abuse of that authority.” One of those abuses is when those in authority teach as truth what even a child can see is foolishness. 
His family had moved into a home in the suburbs and Enrique and his brothers were sent to the Catholic Parish School. When Kennedy got shot, the nuns were weeping. The next day at school each of the students received indulgence cards with Kennedy’s face on one side and an image of the Virgin Mary on the other. The cards' instructions said something to the effect that if one prayed 10 “Hail Marys” and 10 “Our Fathers” it would take 200 years off purgatory for Kennedy. From everything he had heard at the school, President Kennedy was a saint. The nuns had talked with great pride about their first Catholic president. “At school I heard what a good man he was,” said Henry. “But I knew I was not good. And I knew that all over the world people were praying for President Kennedy. And I thought, ‘Who will pray for me?’”
Enrique was taught that Purgatory was for all those who would one day enter heaven. Hell was reserved for the utterly wicked, not for the majority of the people who basically tried to do the right thing. But though the suffering in Purgatory was the same as the suffering in Hell, the suffering was not eternal. It was for the punishment needed to cleanse and purge the soul. Things did not add up for Enrique: Why would God sentence a great, wonderful person like Kennedy to thousands upon thousands of years in Purgatory? How could it be that even school children could so dramatically reduce this sentence? And if such a good man like Kennedy needed hundreds of years off of his time, how long would he have to be in Purgatory?

Adding to Enrique’s questioning was that within the Cuban community, Kennedy’s assassination was seen as not necessarily a bad thing. Kennedy's politics seemed to make it less likely they would soon return to their homeland. And they hated communism. (It had made many of them paupers and refugees.) They could not understand how a United States president could allow a communist regime only 90 miles from the border. Surely the next US president would do better.

Every day the Cuban community was looking to when they could return to Cuba, so when at home Enrique understood he should speak Spanish and not English. He was encouraged to keep with his Cuban culture, for he was a Cuban and not an American.Soon their trials would all be over for they would be back home again.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis everyone in America was scared. A nuclear holocaust was one push of the button away. Like school students all across America, Enrique’s school added air raid drills to their fire drills. For fire drills, all the students practiced leaving the school building as fast as possible. That made sense. One needs to get away from a building that was on fire. But for air raid drills, the students were instructed to crouch underneath their little school desks. And just as this made no sense to every student all across America, it made no sense to Enrique either. But Enrique lived less than 100 miles from where the Russian nuclear missiles would be launched. 
Two and a half months after the Kennedy assassination, the Beatles came to America. They played on the Ed Sullivan Show and were seen by 73 million viewers. At that time it was the largest television audience on record. On the radio station, it seemed every third song was a Beatle song. At school the music teacher, a priest, railed against the Beatles. “It’s not music. It’s just banging. Just hitting guitars,” he said. But Enrique thought it was the nicest music he had ever heard. The priest explained the popularity of the Beatles with their having made a pact with the Devil. “The Devil is real,” said the Priest. “Like many others, the Beatles have sold their soul to the Devil for popularity, and for wealth, and for power.” 
Nightmares and day terrors plunged Enrique into desperation. Would he make such a pact? His family was in such pain. They lived in a nice house in a nice neighborhood now. But his father was always working, always fretting about bills. At night his mother was up until 3 a.m. studying to be an American teacher. Then she would be up at 6 to go to her day job. Enrique knew they could not afford to buy him new clothes, so Enrique stole a shirt. He took money out of the poor box at his church. "I'm poor," he reasoned.  He started stealing other things he needed, and things that he wanted.

Enrique wondered, could he be loyal to God, or would he end up making the Devil’s pact? His grandmother had come from Cuba and was there every day. He talked with her about everything, but this was not something he could talk to anyone about.

chapter 5
saved!
Without anyone knowing about it, all on his own, ten year old Enrique went to mass the first Friday of every month for nine consecutive months. He believed in God. He had a feeling something was wrong with what he was taught in the Catholic Church but at the same time, he was drawn to the Church because he thought there was where he would find God. It was a time of deep spiritual oppression and he was desperate to be relieved of it. Every night when he got into bed, it seemed like the Devil was offering him a deal. And every morning he would think, “What should I do today?” He knew he could not live by his understanding of the golden rule. He couldn’t be a goody-two-shoes. He didn’t want to be a goody-two-shoes. But he could not believe he was so bad that he wasn’t actually a good kid. He saw a lot of other kids who were worse than him. At least he showed respect to those in authority, unlike some of his American classmates who would be defiant and verbally disrespectful to their teachers.

Bigotry and prejudice were openly displayed against Cubans in Enrique’s neighborhood and sometimes at his school. Some Cubans rejected their culture to fully embrace Americanism. They were known as ‘Un cubano arrepentido,’ (a repentant Cuban). Enrique responded defiantly by embracing his Cuban identity all the more.

After Enrique's experience with Kennedy's assassination and his confusion and uncertainty about ever making it to heaven, he wondered if there was any use in even trying. As a teenager, Enrique lost heart on trying to achieve respect and success as an American. He gave up even trying to live righteously in the way prescribed by the Catholic Church. “I just want to have fun,” he thought to himself.

His parents were making every sacrifice for the survival and support of their children. This meant they were away at work, and the daily job of child training was pretty much left to his grandmother. But Enrique was a big, good looking teenager. He was confident and gregarious. He was a smooth talker, and got by in school by cheating and getting girlfriends to do his homework for him. He loved to joke and party. At age 12 he gambled and he started drinking. He soon learned where to find the physical pleasures he desired, but he stayed away from the drug crowd. They were too closely associated with the hippies. Hippies were against Vietnam, which to Enrique meant they were not against communism and the Castro regime. He also was still concerned about the influence he might have on his two younger brothers.

When Enrique was 15, a neighbor moved in next door. He was a 21 year old white American student attending Florida Bible College. Enrique had never seen anyone so clean cut. But Enrique liked him. This neighbor was friendly and athletic and they played street ball together. He had been recently converted to Christ. When he heard how Enrique talked and he saw the kids he hung around with, he knew Enrique was someone who needed to be reached with the saving gospel of Christ. One afternoon he shared it with him.

He asked Enrique, “How many sins did Adam have to commit for God to cast him out of the Garden of Eden?” Enrique knew the answer, it was just one sin. Then he asked Enrique, “Do you think it would have mattered if for the next 900 plus years of his life Adam never sinned again, do you think God would have let him back into the Garden?” Enrique didn’t think so. “He shouldn’t have sinned in the first place,” Enrique said. “God told Adam what would happen.” The neighbor explained to Enrique that God knew that we couldn't save ourselves. God knew that if we were going to be saved then He would have to do it Himself. He did this by sending His Son to die for our sins, for only by death of a sinless one could the penalty for our sins be paid.

It made sense to Enrique. He knew everyone was a sinner. He knew he couldn't save himself.

The neighbor he asked Enrique, “If Jesus Christ paid the penalty for all your sins, then how many sins do you have to pay for?”

“None,” said Enrique.

“That’s right. It’s a gift. It’s absolutely free. And it is yours to receive simply by believing!”

Enrique had never heard such reasoning before. It was different than all that he had ever been taught and beyond anything he had ever imagined. He had always believed in God and that Jesus was His Son. Now he heard there was nothing he needed to do, for Jesus did it all. Securing his own salvation was not up to him, it was all God’s initiative. It made sense to Enrique.

Henry’s note: Regardless of the good or bad influence of the Catholic Church, the Lord used it to teach me certain essential truths:
1. God was the Creator
2. There was judgment to come for sins
3. There is one God in three persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
4. The Bible is God’s Word and thus it is the truth

Imagine witnessing to a typical secular person or to a Moslem and telling him, "The Bible says that Jesus is the eternal Son of God." That person would look at you with bewilderment and amusement. “Now why is it that I am suppose to care about what the Bible says?” he would say to you.

So when the neighbor opened up the Bible Enrique, he believed what it said. Though he had never read the Bible and had hardly even seen a Bible, he did know he could accept that what the Bible said was from God. He had learned that in his catechism classes.

His neighbor read to him John 3:16 and explained that the only condition for salvation was to believe. Then he read Ephesians 2:8 & 9: “It’s never by works. Salvation has nothing to do with what we can do to deserve it or earn it. It’s because of what Jesus Christ did when He died for our sins.” 

Enrique thought, “I've always believed in Jesus Christ. And I believe in sin and God's judgment for sin." So he said, "I believe that. I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins.”

His neighbor exclaimed, “Then God’s Word says you’re saved.”

“I am?” said Enrique in surprise.

His neighbor read 1 John 5: 9 - 11: “...Whoever does not believe God has made Him a liar because he has not believed in the testimony that God gave concerning His Son...”

“I believe,” said Enrique. “I would never call God a liar.”

“Then you’re saved!” pronounced his neighbor.

Enrique was overjoyed. “This is tremendous,” Enrique thought. “I can go on living exactly the way I want to live and I can stop worrying about guilt and about judgment. Since Jesus paid for all my sins, I’m going to heaven. I don't have to worry about hell.” To him it was like a credit card that one can use and use, but the bill never comes due. It had all been paid for.

chapter 6
Bible Bob
Enrique became angry toward the Catholic Church when he understood that the Bible taught salvation was totally unmerited; that it was given through Jesus Christ as a free gift to be received by those who believed.

He mockingly said to the priests, "Now I know why you don't want Catholics reading the Bible. If they do, they'll find out they don't need you anymore.”

Enrique had read I Tim 2:5, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” He understood its implications. “People get saved by coming directly to Jesus Christ. They don’t need any other mediator because Jesus is the only mediator,” he told the priest in his classroom. “People don’t need the Church to bring them to God. “If people started reading their Bibles, you wouldn’t be able to get their money from them!"

This was when Enrique was in ninth grade. It was also Enrique's last year in Jesuit school.

As he lost respect for the priests’ theology, he also lost respect for their authority. His behavior deteriorated. He was called into the principal’s office repeatedly. Despite his family’s connections, his parents were told Enrique would not be permitted to continue in Catholic school.

Though he did not understand it at the time, the Jesuits had taught him that he was responsible to figure out for himself what was real and what was false. Part of the Jesuit mission is to teach people to use their reasoning. As an example, a priest asked the students in Enrique’s class if it was right to smoke a cigarette while praying? The kids were aghast. “No!” they exclaimed. The priest continued: “So what if someone is smoking out on the beach and he sees a beautiful sunset. And that person prays, ‘Dear God, thank you for such a beautiful sunset.' Is it okay that he prays while he is smoking?"

Enrique did not understand at that time that though his mind was filled with the truth of the gospel, his heart had not yet been converted to the person of the Lord Jesus. His love for sin only increased as he had lost his fear of a coming judgment.

Yet his new understanding of a ‘works free’ salvation had become part of his psyche. Because he felt so unlike any of his friends, his emotions were dark. Anyone critical of anything in others would fill him with sadness. Life around him seemed to have so many problems. He looked for anything to drown out his feelings and his fears.

He went to a Christian youth outreach called The Ranch. There they had many activities. They sang and talked about the Bible. But Enrique couldn’t make a connection with the kids. They were too different from him.

At age 17, against his earlier principles, he began using marijuana with his friends. He had never so enjoyed himself, or had such a wonderful escape from his troubled feelings.

When Enrique started community college he decided to buckle down. Without any help from a girlfriend, he did well. He chose his course of studies and he stayed focused. But Enrique knew where to find a good time, and gradually his motivation diminished and his good grades declined.

While in school, he found a job as an installer/repairman for Southern Bell. He dreamed of becoming a millionaire. His happiness consisted of doing whatever was out there to have fun. He gambled, fished, caroused and he liked women. All those things needed money.

His foreman at Southern Bell was a man everyone called BB. His name was Bob Beers, but his employees understood BB to stand for Bible Bob. The other men warned Enrique about him. But one day BB got Enrique by himself and began to witness to him.

“I know Jesus died for my sins,” Enrique told him. “I’m a Christian.”

“You!?” said BB. “You’re a Christian?” He could hardly contain his astonishment.

Enrique had hair past his shoulders. He dressed good. He swore even better. “I am,” said Enrique. “I know Jesus died for all my sins.”

“If you’re a Christian,” asked BB, “then why don’t you act like a Christian?”

“What are you talking about?” asked Enrique.

“If you’re a Christian, why do you hang around with the crowd you do? Why do you talk the way you talk? Why do you go with the boys to the bars after work?”

Enrique was confused. Bob Beers quoted I Peter 1:16 and Ephesians 2:10. “Be holy for I am holy.” “We are created in Christ Jesus to do good works." 

He asked Enrique, “Don’t you know that Jesus did not die for our sins so we could just keep on sinning?”

Enrique listened. It seemed to make sense what Bob was saying. He thought he understood. So he said to himself, “Okay, I’m a Christian, and if Christians don’t smoke, I need to quit smoking. If Christians don’t cuss, I need to quit cussing.”

He cut his hair. He stopped smoking marijuana and he stopped drinking. He ended his promiscuousness.

He did not yet understand that Christians behave like Christians because they are Christians.

But Enrique listened to everything Bob told him. He got baptized. He read his Bible. He went to Bob’s church. His church was different! The building was a simple structure. No one there had any special titles. He heard their expressions of prayer and listened to their teaching and observed their breaking of bread. There wasn’t even someone presiding as the person in charge. He saw a difference in the roles between men and women, and he observed there was not a chafing between the genders there. It was just a small gathering of plain people who believed that Christ was in their midst. Enrique was deeply moved. “Surely God Himself is among these people,” he thought.*

He became a regular part of this fellowship. He liked these people. Bob opened his home to Enrique. There he enjoyed many meals and many good conversations. He became good friends with Bob's four sons.
A fellow worker in BB‘s crew at Southern Bell, Bob Bowers, also befriended Enrique. He and Enrique spent much time together, and they often talked over the Scriptures.

But sometimes Enrique wondered if maybe these people were not just a little too simple. He respected them. He believed they had the truth. And they were perfectly happy with their singing, their prayers, and their beliefs. But still he wondered. “There has to be something more,” he thought to himself. He missed his old circle of friends.

During this time, he met a beautiful young girl. She came from a good home. She had good morals (very different to him from the other women he had once found so attractive.) Even better, she was willing to come with him to this church fellowship. “Maybe,” he thought. “Maybe this girl is this missing part. Maybe she is what I’ve needed.”

*1 Corinthians 14: 24-25

chapter 7
lisa

Enrique became angry toward the Catholic Church when he understood that the Bible taught salvation was totally unmerited; that it was given through Jesus Christ as a free gift to be received by those who believed.

He mockingly said to the priests, "Now I know why you don't want Catholics reading the Bible. If they do, they'll find out they don't need you anymore.”

Enrique had read I Tim 2:5, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” He understood its implications. “People get saved by coming directly to Jesus Christ. They don’t need any other mediator because Jesus is the only mediator,” he told the priest in his classroom. “People don’t need the Church to bring them to God. “If people started reading their Bibles, you wouldn’t be able to get their money from them!"

This was when Enrique was in ninth grade. It was also Enrique's last year in Jesuit school.

As he lost respect for the priests’ theology, he also lost respect for their authority. His behavior deteriorated. He was called into the principal’s office repeatedly. Despite his family’s connections, his parents were told Enrique would not be permitted to continue in Catholic school.

Though he did not understand it at the time, the Jesuits had taught him that he was responsible to figure out for himself what was real and what was false. Part of the Jesuit mission is to teach people to use their reasoning. As an example, a priest asked the students in Enrique’s class if it was right to smoke a cigarette while praying? The kids were aghast. “No!” they exclaimed. The priest continued: “So what if someone is smoking out on the beach and he sees a beautiful sunset. And that person prays, ‘Dear God, thank you for such a beautiful sunset.' Is it okay that he prays while he is smoking?"

Enrique did not understand at that time that though his mind was filled with the truth of the gospel, his heart had not yet been converted to the person of the Lord Jesus. His love for sin only increased as he had lost his fear of a coming judgment.

Yet his new understanding of a ‘works free’ salvation had become part of his psyche. Because he felt so unlike any of his friends, his emotions were dark. Anyone critical of anything in others would fill him with sadness. Life around him seemed to have so many problems. He looked for anything to drown out his feelings and his fears.

He went to a Christian youth outreach called The Ranch. There they had many activities. They sang and talked about the Bible. But Enrique couldn’t make a connection with the kids. They were too different from him.

At age 17, against his earlier principles, he began using marijuana with his friends. He had never so enjoyed himself, or had such a wonderful escape from his troubled feelings.

When Enrique started community college he decided to buckle down. Without any help from a girlfriend, he did well. He chose his course of studies and he stayed focused. But Enrique knew where to find a good time, and gradually his motivation diminished and his good grades declined.

While in school, he found a job as an installer/repairman for Southern Bell. He dreamed of becoming a millionaire. His happiness consisted of doing whatever was out there to have fun. He gambled, fished, caroused and he liked women. All those things needed money.

His foreman at Southern Bell was a man everyone called BB. His name was Bob Beers, but his employees understood BB to stand for Bible Bob. The other men warned Enrique about him. But one day BB got Enrique by himself and began to witness to him.

“I know Jesus died for my sins,” Enrique told him. “I’m a Christian.”

“You!?” said BB. “You’re a Christian?” He could hardly contain his astonishment.

Enrique had hair past his shoulders. He dressed good. He swore even better. “I am,” said Enrique. “I know Jesus died for all my sins.”

“If you’re a Christian,” asked BB, “then why don’t you act like a Christian?”

“What are you talking about?” asked Enrique.

“If you’re a Christian, why do you hang around with the crowd you do? Why do you talk the way you talk? Why do you go with the boys to the bars after work?”

Enrique was confused. Bob Beers quoted I Peter 1:16 and Ephesians 2:10. “Be holy for I am holy.” “We are created in Christ Jesus to do good works." 

He asked Enrique, “Don’t you know that Jesus did not die for our sins so we could just keep on sinning?”

Enrique listened. It seemed to make sense what Bob was saying. He thought he understood. So he said to himself, “Okay, I’m a Christian, and if Christians don’t smoke, I need to quit smoking. If Christians don’t cuss, I need to quit cussing.”

He cut his hair. He stopped smoking marijuana and he stopped drinking. He ended his promiscuousness.

He did not yet understand that Christians behave like Christians because they are Christians.

But Enrique listened to everything Bob told him. He got baptized. He read his Bible. He went to Bob’s church. His church was different! The building was a simple structure. No one there had any special titles. He heard their expressions of prayer and listened to their teaching and observed their breaking of bread. There wasn’t even someone presiding as the person in charge. He saw a difference in the roles between men and women, and he observed there was not a chafing between the genders there. It was just a small gathering of plain people who believed that Christ was in their midst. Enrique was deeply moved. “Surely God Himself is among these people,” he thought.*

He became a regular part of this fellowship. He liked these people. Bob opened his home to Enrique. There he enjoyed many meals and many good conversations. He became good friends with Bob's four sons.
A fellow worker in BB‘s crew at Southern Bell, Bob Bowers, also befriended Enrique. He and Enrique spent much time together, and they often talked over the Scriptures.

But sometimes Enrique wondered if maybe these people were not just a little too simple. He respected them. He believed they had the truth. And they were perfectly happy with their singing, their prayers, and their beliefs. But still he wondered. “There has to be something more,” he thought to himself. He missed his old circle of friends.

During this time, he met a beautiful young girl. She came from a good home. She had good morals (very different to him from the other women he had once found so attractive.) Even better, she was willing to come with him to this church fellowship. “Maybe,” he thought. “Maybe this girl is this missing part. Maybe she is what I’ve needed.”

*1Corinthians 14: 24-25

chapter 8
Juan

Juan Oro was married to Enrique’s aunt Tia Fela. He was a Spaniard who had come to America from Cuba. He was a hard worker in the migrant fields. When he was in his late 60’s he took sick with cancer. Enrique went to visit him in their apartment in ‘Little Havana’ in Miami. Juan liked Enrique.

Part of the Cuban culture is the older men and the younger men form a certain bond. Both groups learn from each other. There is not the disconnect between the generations. Juan talked with Enrique man to man. “Listen, before this cancer takes all the dignity out of my manhood...” Juan reached over to a drawer and showed Enrique a gun, "I'm going to take care of my own business." Juan feared his cancer was going to incapacitate him. He wasn’t going to be a burden to his wife.

“I hear you, man,” said Enrique.
“Don't tell anyone.”
Enrique nodded.
Juan had not told anybody about the gun. He had to tell someone, so he told Enrique.

Months went by and Juan kept getting worse. Enrique couldn’t get Juan’s gun out of his mind. He called his mom. “I’m going to tell you something that Juan told me when he found out he had cancer. He said when the time came when he couldn’t take care of himself, he had a gun.”

“A gun?” asked his mom. “What do you mean?”

“He’s going to shoot himself.”

“How do you know this?” she asked.

“He told me,” said Enrique. “He pulled open a drawer to show me the gun he's going to use on himself.”

Enrique’s mom took action. She called Juan’s wife and others in the family. They searched the apartment, found the gun and made sure Juan would never again get access to another one.

Enrique had betrayed his uncle’s trust. How could he face him again? He stayed away. But as time went on and Juan grew worse his mother kept at Henry. “You need to go see your uncle! You're ungrateful. Where's your sense of loyalty to your family? He likes you. Don’t say you’re too busy.”

There was no way Enrique was going to see him. But then, Juan got really bad. He was at the hospital in intensive care. Enrique’s mom was livid. Enrique knew he had to see him, but he was ashamed.

Enrique shared the story of his uncle at the Bible study at Bob Beer's house. “I’m so burdened for him,” said Enrique. Here I know the gospel and I know he’s never heard it.” “Let’s pray for him, and we will pray for you” said Bob. He strongly encouraged Enrique to see Juan.

So the next day with a bit of help from a couple of beers and a marijuana joint, Enrique walked into the ICU ward. His uncle was awake, but he was so hooked up with tubes he couldn’t talk. He looked up at Enrique.

“What’s he thinking about,” thought Enrique. “Is he thinking that he’s where he is at, just lying there like a rag, because I ratted him out?”

Enrique started talking. He was very emotional. “Please forgive me,” he said. “What could I do? I knew I was the only one you told about the gun. If you killed yourself…but what could I do? I’m sorry I sold you out. I am so embarrassed. That’s why I didn’t come to see you. I couldn’t. I’ll tell you what. I’ll bring you another gun. You can shoot me first before you shoot yourself.”

Juan just stared and listened.

Enrique kept talking. “I got to tell you about something, Juan. You’re close to death. You’ve got to face it. You know Juan, they lied to us. Our whole religious system, it’s a sham. The only thing it's for is to keep people under its bondage, and to take our money.”

“But Juan, this is the truth. God does love us. And He knows we’re sinners. He knows we can’t save ourselves. He knew none of us could ever be good enough. God loves us so much He sent His Son Jesus into the world. He knew we were helpless. So Jesus Christ died for my sins, Juan. He died for your sins. It was He, the One who never sinned that could alone pay for our sins by dying for them."

“So God gives us forgiveness and salvation as a gift. It had to be a gift Juan. There’s no way we could pay for it. It was way too costly. You know we couldn’t earn it. He had to do it Himself. And He had to give it to us for free."
“The Bible says that the one condition is, we have to believe it and take it as a gift.”

Tears started coming out of Juan. “Oh my goodness,” thought Enrique. “He is so ticked off. He would love to totally kick me, but he can’t do it because he’s stuck in bed.”

Then it began to dawn on Enrique. “Could it be that he is crying because he actually believes what I just told him?” He thought, “Can it be? Nah, it ain’t like that.”

Enrique said to Juan. “You okay? You’ve got to let me know. Is the reason you’re crying because you believe what I just told you? If it is, squeeze my hand.”

Juan didn’t just squeeze his hand. He pumped it, and he pumped it for as long as Enrique held his hand there. Juan was crying for joy. He believed. He knew the Lord Jesus was His Savior, his own personal Savior. God had saved him! Enrique left Juan overwhelmed. He had never had an experience like that. He wondered if he personally had ever had experienced what Juan just had.

Enrique told the Christians at his church. They rejoiced.

In less than a week, Juan was dead. All Cubans appear to be good Catholics when they die because the family always gives them a big Catholic burial. But Juan never went to church. He had left his religion behind a long time ago. Enrique told his mother, “It's a farce if you give Juan a Roman Catholic burial! He didn’t believe it.” He said to his mom, “Juan got saved when I visited him at the hospital. I was with him when he received the Lord Jesus as his Savior. If you give Juan a Catholic funeral, it will be like slapping him in the face.”

His mom listened. She talked with the family. In the Cuban culture, people tend to accept others for who they are. Juan’s widow agreed that when Juan was alive he would have nothing to do with religion, so she asked Enrique’s mom, “If we don’t go with a Catholic funeral, what are we going to do?”

His mom talked to Enrique. “Don't tell me your going to be like those hippies that find fault with everything but don't do anything about it. Why don’t you say something at the funeral? You opened your mouth, so put your money where your mouth is.”

Enrique hadn't thought anyone would listen to him. Now what?

He called Bob Beers. What should he say at the funeral?
“Tell them exactly what happened with Juan,” said Bob.

So Enrique preached his first gospel message. He told the people at the funeral how Juan came to know the Lord Jesus. He explained why they weren’t doing a big Catholic funeral. He expounded on Christ raising Lazarus in John 11, and he preached on the believer’s hope in the Resurrection.
It was a good message. Perhaps hearts were touched. They certainly wondered at it. Many had never heard such things before. But Enrique still felt like something was not quite right. Lisa’s parents were convinced something was not quite right. They let her know she needed to get away from him.

chapter 9
honeymoon

Henry was good with the way his life was going. He was back in school working on his education degree. He had gotten a good scholarship. He was getting paid for his work as a teacher’s aide. He liked his church. He liked his night life too. He and Lisa would have their arguments, sometimes about marriage. He kept telling her they would get married, but he never did anything about it. He preferred things the way they were.

But Lisa’s parents got into the mix. They thought it was time for Lisa to move on. They couldn’t understand why she stuck with Henry. Lisa was smart and artistic. She had always been interested in fashion. Her parents suggested she go to Paris for a year. There was a fashion school there. Paris was the epicenter of fashion, so how could she lose? Her mom told her they would pay for everything. Lisa hadn’t said anything to Henry about this. She knew what his reaction would be. But the more Henry dragged his feet, the more she thought about it.

Finally she told him. “It will just be for a year,” she said.

This sent a shock wave through Henry. He started thinking real hard about his relationship with Lisa. She was beautiful and so much fun. He was sure he'd lose her if she went. "And if I lose this girl," he thought, "I'll never find another one as good as her--to marry a scoundrel like me."

He asked her to marry him and the wedding took place at the Central Gospel Chapel in Miami on July 17, 1976. Henry had his brother Juan Alberto as his best man. They took off on a five week honeymoon. They went through the Smokey Mountains and then up to Toronto where they stayed with David and Agnes Adams. The Adams had been missionaries to Cuba. When Castro came into power, the Adams had to return to their home in Canada. Henry admired David. He was an excellent Bible teacher. David asked Henry to lead the singing at their church fellowship. Henry also shared at their meeting.

But Henry was a smoker. A couple times a day he would make an excuse to get out of the house because he had to have his cigarettes. He was careful. He would only smoke while driving in his car because if he smoked when he walked, a neighbor friend of the Adams might see him.

Late one evening it was raining, so Henry could only crack open the car window while he smoked. He heard a weird sound coming from the engine. He got back pretty late. He meant to open his car windows before he went to bed, but it was still raining.

The next morning Henry heard the sound of a chainsaw. He went outside and saw David cutting trees from his yard. While Henry was helping him with the wood, he told David about the strange noise coming from his car. David said to him, “Well I'm ready for a break! Let’s take it for a ride.” When they opened the car doors, the smell of cigarette smoke came out at them.

“Who smokes?” asked David.

Henry thought for a bit. He knew he was in trouble. "What should I say?" He worried for a moment. Then he was mad. He looked David right in the face. “I do,” he said.

“You know it’s a dangerous thing for a Christian to go back to something that God has delivered him from,” David said to him.

Later Agnes Adams talked to Henry. “I don’t know if you understand what the people at the chapel would say about David if they found out about your smoking.”

Henry didn’t say anything. He was angry before, now he was angrier. “Why is this guy talking to his wife about my smoking?” he thought.

Henry kept thinking about it. Henry respected David. He wanted David to think well of him. But something inside him snapped. He thought to himself, "I don't care what any of these people think about me. Why should I care? I'm tired of it."

They took off the next day to a place near Worcester, Massachusetts to stay with Myles Beers, Bob Beer's older brother. They stayed for several days and went on to reunite with the Adams' for the last two weeks of their honeymoon at the Adam’s cabin in the Smokey Mountains.

They came home to Miami at the end of August 1976. Henry got back to work and back to school. The Christians at the church were happy to see them. But something had changed inside Henry.

Bob Beers was commended to the Lord's work and moved to Holiday, Florida. With Bob gone, it got harder for Henry to appreciate the others at the assembly. Some of them got under his skin. Henry showed up at the assembly less and less. Finally he just quit going. This was tough on Lisa. These people and the way they worshiped were a big part of her life. She tried to continue to go by herself but it was hard.

One night out of the blue, John Quentin, an elder, along with another brother from the church, drove out to the Sardiña house. Both Henry and Lisa saw them as they came up to the door. Lisa was nervous. She let them in and they sat down. She asked if she could get anything for them. Henry was mad. He thought, “I’ll make this real quick.” He went to his bar, pulled out a bottle of Scotch, filled a glass with ice and poured in whiskey. He came back with the glass in his hand and the bottle in the other. "Can I pour you men a drink?" he asked.

They didn’t stay long. They couldn’t think of much to say.

When they left, Henry said to Lisa, “What a bunch of hypocrites!” Now for sure he was never going back to the assembly.

*Henry's note - To this day Henry is eternally grateful and thanks God for each and every Christian mentioned in this chapter for what they tried to do for Henry's benefit, because of the love of Christ. None of their labors or zeal was wasted. God later brought their teaching and testimony forcefully to Henry's recollection and used it to shape Henry's, doctrine, work ethic and zeal for the Lord Jesus. "Therefore my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."

Chapter 10
Out of control

Henry now gave his full attention to getting a hold of the almighty dollar. An education degree wasn't going to cut it. His brother Juan Alberto was selling life insurance to foreign nationals overseas. Enrique’s eyes about popped out of his head when he found out how much money Juan was pulling in. "I gotta find a way," he said. 

He got hired to be a salesperson for Equitable Life Insurance. His idea was to get licensed and trained in the insurance business from Equitable Life. Then he would switch to another insurance company that sold to foreign nationals overseas.

Henry became good friends with a successful older Cuban attorney. This man liked Henry. Henry was young, smart and fun. Henry was hungry for money, and this attorney thought Henry just might have the savvy to figure out how to make it come in his direction. The attorney saw a lot of himself in Henry.

Henry asked the attorney to introduce him to some of his overseas clients. He told him he would give him a finder’s fee for any client with whom he could make an insurance sale. The attorney was reluctant but Henry was persistent. Whenever they were out together, Henry kept after him. Finally he introduced Henry to a Palestinian business man who owned a paper company in Honduras. The man was amused. “You’ve got big dreams, young man. I’ll tell you what,” he said, “you come and see me in my office in Honduras and we’ll talk.” 

So now he needed enough money to get to Honduras. In addition to his insurance job, he did construction and roofing work. He soon saved up enough to pay for both the round trip plane ticket and a three week stay. The man was good to his word. He received Henry into his office and Henry made a $5000 commission on his first overseas sale. The man then introduced Henry to one of his senior salesmen, Jacobito Hilsaca. Jacobito thought Henry was the funniest person he ever met. Henry recruited him to find him clients and he paid Jacobito a good commission. When Henry returned and told the attorney about his Honduras trip, he was impressed. He introduced Henry to more clients.

Henry gave up his construction job. His next trip to Honduras was even more profitable. Again he stayed for three weeks. This time he came back with almost ten thousand dollars in commissions.

In five years, Henry and Lisa had four children - Nicolas, Alfredo, Enrique and Erica. When his first son was born, Henry was determined to provide a good life for his family.

Lisa was impressed with what Henry had done. They bought a nice house in Coral Gables, Florida.

Each time Henry went to Honduras he would make five to fifteen grand. But instead of dedicating himself to the business, he decided to enjoy life. He bought Lisa whatever she needed to take care of the family but with all the rest of the money, he had a good time. Between trips he had a lot of time to play.

But Henry's practice of working only when the money ran out, made life a roller coaster. He did a lot of gambling and even more drinking. He won big, sometimes. But in the long run, like most gamblers, he would lose more than he would win. Lisa became increasingly frustrated with Henry. He lived as if he were single.

Lisa was stuck at home with four small children. She was struggling.She wondered if things could get any worse. 

Then one night Henry discovered cocaine. It was like nothing he had ever experienced. Henry had been under the influence of one substance or another, on and off, for a long time. He had always felt he had control, that whatever he used served his purposes. But with cocaine, Henry watched his life spiral downward. He observed his digression as a husband and a father. He saw his ambition to work hard to make money losing ground to his need to be high. Expenses piled up. Now his business was going bust.

Henry's note: Do you remember the day your parents gave you your own bike? It was your first real taste of freedom! You could get further and further away until you couldn't hear your parent's voice calling for you to come home. Your bike served you well. It took you where you wanted to go and to places you'd never been to before. When you got your first car, remember the sense of freedom that gave you? But with cocaine, it was if suddenly I was driving along in my car and I’d turned the wheel to the right, but the car didn’t turn. I’d hit the brakes, then I’d stomp on the brakes, but the car didn’t stop. I’d try to cut the engine, but it only revved up higher. It took me where it wanted to go! I tried to kick out the windshield. I wanted out. But I was trapped, and the car only kept going. I didn't own it, it owned me.

chapter 11
she couldn’t stop weeping

Lisa had been embarrassed when Henry offered the visiting elders from their assembly a glass of Scotch, but she kept going to church. She was a Believer. She loved the Lord and she loved being with the Lord's people. But Sunday after Sunday people kept asking her about Henry. Where was he? What was he doing?

What could she say to them? He wasn’t there because he was high? Or because he had been out carousing all night?

Lisa went back to the Episcopal church where nobody asked her anything. No one had any idea whether she was single, or widowed, or divorced. 

A couple of ladies from their old assembly would always send Lisa cards on her birthday. On holidays they would send a note  letting her know they were praying for her.

Lisa still read the Scriptures, especially during particularly hard times. Verses she had memorized would come to mind. She remembered Hebrews 13:15, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” When anxiety would flood over her, she would calm herself with Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Fourteen months after marrying they had a boy they named Nicolas. Alfredo and "Fafo" followed soon after. Then came their first daughter, Erica. They had four children within five years. Henry was making serious money. They had a beautiful home in a private neighborhood. Once a week a maid and a gardener came to their house. They even had a man who would come in to clean their cars.

The birth of Nicolas had made an impact on Henry. He loved Nick. He took a few steps back out of the fast lane to be with his son. He vowed he was going to be a good father, a good example to him. But that didn’t last. Henry was soon back to where he was. He did what he wanted and was beholden to no one, certainly not to his wife.

When their second son Alfredo was born, Lisa’s mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. She was told she would be dead in a week. Lisa’s dad thought that they needed to get Alfredo in the hospital quickly so that his grandmother could meet him before she died. He helped Lisa sneak both Nicky and Fredo into her hospital room. She was so pleased to be able to hold her new grandson and to give little Nicky one last hug. But several weeks later she was out of the hospital. For eighteen more months, Lisa had her mother. Though her mother had little physical strength to help Lisa with the babies, she provided her with much needed emotional and moral support.

Before her mother died, and in spite of his lifestyle, Henry shared the gospel with her. He gave her a book called “The Fight,” by John White, and also one by C.S. Lewis called “Mere Christianity.” She read the books and discussed with Lisa what she had read. These books gave her a spiritual and a practical understanding of the gospel. Lisa prayed with her. “She may have accepted the Lord as her Savior,” said Lisa. “It’s certainly my hope that she did.”

Five months after her mother’s death, Lisa got sick. She couldn’t keep food down and she was losing weight. Henry was gone much of the time, sometimes on business, sometimes with other things. Lisa ended up in the hospital. They did numerous tests on her and could find nothing physically wrong with her. Her doctor concluded she was having a nervous breakdown. He put her on medications.

Then Lisa’s best friend Gail was murdered by her husband. He crushed her skull with a hammer. Later, during an argument with Henry, Lisa threatened to leave him. Henry grew red with rage. “If you ever leave me,” he said, “just remember what happened to Gail.” Lisa was terrified, much too terrified to talk to anyone about it.

The more that alcohol and cocaine got a grip on Henry, the more difficult it became for Henry to bring in money. He was losing salesmanship charisma. He continued to fly down to Honduras for three weeks and then fly home for three weeks, but he didn’t have the discipline to work his Honduran clients or to bring in new clients. To make up for the decline in insurance commissions, Henry expanded into drug trafficking. He made sure he had enough money to pay for his cocaine addiction, but often there was no money for the family. Lisa took a job as a teacher’s aide at a private children’s school. It only paid $100 a week but it also included tuition for three of her children. The school gave Lisa a place to go every day. The people she worked with were good people. Lisa still had her sense of humor. Her life could be so normal at the school.

When there was no money for food, she would show up at dinner time at a friend’s house or at a family member’s house with four kids in tow. Lisa would discard whatever bills that came in the mail without  opening them. She soon learned which bills were most urgent when the electricity or the telephone would get shut off.  

But worse than the bills, Lisa never knew when Henry might show up. She never knew what state he might be in. Henry was good with the kids. They adored their father. He played with them. He teased them. He sang Cuban songs with them. But every evening when the kids went to bed, Henry would go out. “I don’t know where he went,” said Lisa. “He just went out.” Sometimes he would be home around midnight. Sometimes it would not be until daybreak. Sometimes not at all, for days. When he showed up at daybreak, Lisa had to make sure the kids kept quiet so Henry could sleep. She would take the kids for long walks. They had to go some place, any place, but to their own home. 

Lisa remembers one good day when she had money in her wallet. She had enough money to purchase everything she needed to make a nice meal.  She can’t remember what set Henry off, but suddenly the spaghetti sauce that was on the stove went flying in every direction. It splattered the ceiling, the walls, and covered the floor. While Henry raged, Lisa slipped quietly into the closet and rolled herself up into a tight ball. After he left, she came out, comforted the kids, and cleaned up the mess.

One evening when Lisa took the two pills that had been prescribed for her anxiety, she thought, “I love my children, but I just can’t take this anymore.” So she took two more pills. And then more pills. The bottle was almost empty when her stomach rebelled. She started throwing up.

The kitchen door opened and in came Henry. “What are you doing?” he demanded. She told him. Then she threw up some more. Henry brought her into the car and turned the air conditioning on full blast to keep her awake. The kids were at home asleep so they kept driving around the block. After an hour or two with Lisa showing no serious physical symptoms, they returned home.

Henry showed compassion for Lisa, for about a week. But after he left one evening, Lisa went to take a shower before she went to bed. The water felt good against her face, but something was wrong. She found she was still fully clothed.

 One evening Henry took off, and didn’t come back. Not that day or the next day or the next. Lisa started thinking, “When he does come home, then what? I have to do something. I must do something. But what? What can I possibly do?”

“I have to go,” she told herself. She was able to round up about $200. “I’ll just take off. I’ll take the kids and go as far north as I can.” She couldn’t tell her father. When Henry found her gone, he would blame him, threaten him. She had to leave her father out of it. But who could she tell?

Before she left, she decided to see Henry’s parents. They needed to know why she had left. It wasn’t right that they should think badly of her for leaving. She would tell them what had been going on. She would tell them exactly what Henry was like.

When she came to their door, Henry’s mother was on the phone. She was crying. She was talking to Henry. She looked at Lisa and then handed her the phone. When Lisa heard Henry’s voice, she started to weep. She couldn’t stop weeping.  

chapter 12
cry for help

Henry came home, just as he had done for the past several years, in the middle of the night. He quietly opened the door of his children’s bedroom. They were so beautiful, so peaceful. The euphoria of cocaine was spiraling out of his system. But through the spiral, he could see much too clearly. “My children are cursed,” he cried inside of himself. “They are cursed! In this evil world in which they live in, nothing could be worse than having me as their father.”

It's true," he thought. Then he said it aloud, “it's true."
He shut their door. He couldn't stand to look at them.

He turned and went into his bedroom. There was Lisa, faithful Lisa sleeping in his bed.  “Oh God,” Henry cried out. “Oh God, if you're real, why won’t you stop me? Why do you let me so hurt the ones that I love?”

But sin's grip was so strong that when he woke up the next morning, he went about his life exactly as he had the day before. But God, in His infinite mercy, had heard Henry’s cry. 

Just a few weeks later, a drug smuggling plane was flying over Hispaniola in the middle of the night with 550 kilos of cocaine en route to the United States from Colombia. On board were the pilot, the co-pilot, and a Columbian national named Belteshazzar, who supervised the operation. The plane developed engine trouble and had to make an emergency landing on a remote runway on the Bahamian island of Great Inagua. The police heard the plane fly into Bahamian air space without authorization. They raced to the small island runway expecting drug involvement.

When the plane touched down, Belteshazzar jumped out and ran into the brush. The plane came to a stop and police surrounded the plane with automatic rifles. They motioned for the pilot and the co-pilot to come out of the plane. They had not seen Belteshazzar. As the pilot and co-pilot climbed down, the police punched and frisked them, and put them into one of their police cars. The police then went into the plane where they found the cocaine. When most of the cocaine had been loaded into their paddy wagon, the police changed their course. With the next bag, they went into the brush.

 Belteshazzar couldn’t hear what they were saying, but he quietly followed to see where they were going. They pulled some branches and leaves from beside a stump, and went back and forth from the plane several times. They tore apart the plane looking for more cocaine, but when there was no more to be found, they went back to the stump and covered everything over with dirt and leaves. Then they drove away.
Belteshazzar found the stump. When he pulled away the leaves and the dirt, he couldn’t believe it—they had managed to hide 150 kilos (about 330 pounds)! It took him a while, but he dug out another hiding place several hundred meters away. He moved everything and covered it well. He set up markers for himself. There was no way he was not going to be able to find this spot again.  Eventually he made his way to an island hotel and called his contacts in the United States. He needed to get out of the Bahamas, but he had only a counterfeit passport and no explanation as to how he got there, or what he was doing.

Some of Henry’s buddies were involved in this operation. They needed someone to fly down to the Bahamas and bring Belteshazzar back to Miami. Henry had worked with Belteshazar before. He also had several good contacts in the Bahamas. They all talked it over and made Henry an offer. It was an offer he was not going to refuse.

The next morning Henry made arrangements with a pilot who used to fly for him. Henry rented a plane (one that had previously been used for drug smuggling) and they headed for the Bahamas.

On September 9, 1984 Henry located Belteshazzar in Great Inagua. His mind went into high gear when Belteshazzar told him about the 150 kilos of cocaine that nobody knew anything about. Henry convinced Belteshazzar that since they had the plane, the pilot and a boat to smuggle him into Miami waiting in Bimini, they would be fools not to smuggle in the cocaine as well. The wholesale value of this cocaine just as it was, was over 6 million dollars. Henry had contacts in Bimini who would give them passage to the awaiting boat to smuggle Belteshazzar and the cocaine to Miami--for the right price. With so much cocaine, price was no object.

Before dawn Belteshazzar left the hotel to find the cocaine he had hidden. The plan was for Belteshazzar to move the cocaine down to the end of the runway. (He left about 40 kilos behind for another day in case this operation failed.) Then Belteshazzar hid in the brush at the end of the runway and waited for Henry and the plane to turn around right before take off.

Henry and the pilot checked out  of customs and boarded the plane. They taxied down the runway, and as they turned around, Henry jumped out and helped Belteshazzar throw in the cocaine. Belteshazzar scrambled onto the plane and Henry followed. The flight back to Bimini was a celebration. With the thought of so much money to be made from the cocaine, and with some additional help from snorting cocaine and drinking alcohol—Henry had never been so high.

As they were about to land, the pilot noticed another plane not far off. Had it been following them? Henry was not concerned. This was his day. So he ignored what he would have never before ignored in his dangerous life as a drug smuggler.

At Henry's insistence, they touched down and taxied down the runway. When they came to a stop and opened the plane’s door, their vision was filled with the sight of heavily armed soldiers with their weapons drawn racing towards them.  “Don’t move! Freeze or you die!”

Then everything became a blur. Henry thinks it was six (but maybe it was only four) soldiers that had come out of two helicopters. One of the Bahamian soldiers was ready to beat Henry bad, but American advisers from Reagan's anti-drug task force were with the group so he was restrained. Henry hoped they would lock them up in Bimini. He could bribe himself out from there. “I'll be out by morning,” he thought to himself. 

Then one of the soldiers said, “It’s early enough in the day, we can fly them in our military craft to a secure prison in Nassau.” So immediately Henry was in the air again heading for Nassau.

Henry was no longer celebrating. He was not yet able to realize that God was answering his cry for help.  

chapter 13
jail

The three prisoners were loaded onto a Huey military helicopter. On either side of Henry were soldiers. The pilot and the co-pilot were in front. Several other soldiers were in the back with two other prisoners. It was a beautiful clear day. The doors were open during the flight. Henry figured if he was quick enough, he could jump out. His head was spinning. In all the shame, it would be a glorious ending. News headlines would be, “Enrique Sardina, drug smuggler, would not let himself be taken.”

Instead he discovered he did not have the courage. He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t even generate enough will to lift his rear end off the seat. An overwhelming sense of despair came over him. He had nothing left. He hated his life. He knew it had all been his own doing. He would rather die than live. But he couldn’t even take his own life.

As he jumped down from the helicopter onto the runway in Nassau, it was like the weight of the universe was on his shoulders. Heat rose up from the tarmac. He thought, “My heart is so heavy. I needed a wheelbarrow to carry it.”

Henry was put into a holding cell. The stench was vile. Several of the prisoners were hollering. It was a concrete cell six feet by nine feet. Eleven men were already in there. Most were drunks. None of them had been fed. After 48 hours, one of the guards came for Henry. Henry had some money hidden on him and he took $50 of it and gave to the guard. “I need to make a phone call,” he said. The guard brought him to a phone. “You don’t have much time,” he told Henry.

He tried to call one of his friends in Miami. Nobody answered. He tried calling his parents. His mother answered. He told her what was happening. Then he heard Lisa’s voice on the phone. When Henry heard her voice, it was glorious. Henry told her what had happened. He said she had to get a hold of one of his business associates. “Tell him he’s got to get me out of here. He’s got to get me back to Miami.” Spewing profanities, he let her know how urgent it was that she do this immediately.

He didn’t know how long he had been talking when he heard weeping on the other end of the line. He thought, “She loves me.” He was overwhelmed. How could she be such a forgiving person?

He remembered back to a Bible study he and Lisa had been in together. They were looking at the passage where Jesus had said that in the Resurrection there was not marriage but that the people there would be like the angels. Lisa had cried after they left the Bible study. She said to him then, “If you and I aren’t going to be married in heaven, then I’m not sure I want to go there.” Henry kept thinking, “How can she still love me? How can anyone love me, much less this woman who really knows me--this woman I have hurt so deeply.”

Henry was taken back to the cell. This call had a powerful effect on him. While he had been in his cell, Henry had cried out, “God, I can’t take this anymore.” But after he heard Lisa’s weeping, he reawakened to what a wealthy man that he had been. He was amazed at himself that he had fallen into such darkness. He had loving parents. And his children. They were such beautiful children. “What is wrong with me?” he wondered. “What is this lust in me that could never be satisfied? Why did I insist on filling my life with so much vice? How could I have wasted everything?”

Once again he vowed to reform himself. “If I ever get out of here, I will never never again go back to what I’ve been. If I ever get out of here, Lisa will have a man for a husband. My children will be blessed with a good father, a loving father, a father who takes care of them.” Hope began to creep back into Henry’s heart.

All this was going on with Henry while he was standing in a stinking crowded cell in Nassau. He would watch as prisoners were taken out of the cell and then he would hear cries, “Don’t hit. Please stop. Don’t hit me.” The guards didn’t hit Henry. He was an American. A drug smuggler.

Lisa had also been praying out to God. Her prayer was equally desperate—she also couldn’t take it anymore. When she heard Henry tell her what had happened, she wept because she believed her prayer had been answered. At least for now her nightmare with Henry was finally over. There would be no appearances of Henry in the middle of the night. At least for now she wouldn’t be seeing him —maybe for a long long time. Maybe never!

chapter 14
undone
But a tiny shaft of hope found its way into Henry’s thinking. That hope made him want to change. “Who are you kidding?” Henry asked himself. “You’ve never changed. You never could change. Problem is you could never do what was right because you never wanted to do what was right. Never! If you make it out of here, you might be different for a week, or a month. But sooner or later you will be right back where you started, right back to where you’ve always been. You’re a prisoner. No, you’re less than a prisoner, you’re a slave.”
When he got out of this prison…but did it make any difference? He’d still be who he was.
Henry thought about Bible Bob. He hadn’t thought about him for years. Bible Bob. That guy was a trip. Henry wondered if Bible Bob knew what had happened to him. Had he known anything about what Henry had been doing?  Bible Bob was in his own little bubble, with all his little Bible friends.
Then he thought, “I sure would like to see him again.”
He remembered when Bob’s son Brian had gotten killed on that hay ride and how Bob had preached at his funeral.  He remembered how Bob had thanked the Lord for giving him this gift of Brian for 16 years. “And I’ll have him with me for all eternity as we worship our Lord together.”  Did Bob really believe that?  
“That guy was a trip man,” Henry said it aloud. He looked around to see if his cellmates had heard him.
Bible Bob’s Bible verses came back to him: “For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”  “Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.” “For by grace are ye saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.” Hadn’t he gotten saved through that verse? Bible Bob hadn’t believed Henry was a saved man when he first met him. But back then Henry had turned his life around. For a while. For a while he had climbed right into the same Bible bubble as Bible Bob.
“I gotta change, man. If I get out of here, I gotta change.” Maybe there was some hospital, some program, some rehab.
“Nah,” he said to himself. “There’s no way, man. There is no life-line out there that I can grab ahold of. There’s nothing gonna help you.”
“Why don’t you try God?”
Where did that thought come from?
 “Why don’t you try God?”
“God? God! You hypocrite. You vile man. You never ever obeyed God.
But then, at that moment, Henry understood something. God was holy and God was perfect. The perfection of holiness.
Within that moment he also understood something else. From the deepest depth of his heart came a cry, “I am undone. Utterly undone.”
Before, Henry would pray at even the worst of moments: with bad debts, schemes gone awry, in the midst of a smuggling operation, “God, you gotta help me on this one. And if it works out, God, I promise, I’ll give part of what I make to charity.”
Now, something was different. Now he was filled with revulsion at himself. “How dare you? How dare you use those filthy lips to even utter His name? You have no right to ask God for ANYTHING!
Then another thought came: The words of Jesus, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The gospel Henry had heard for so many years--that seed had finally sprouted. At that darkest moment, light flooded his mind and his heart. What he had heard dozens of times before, he heard for the first time. The Lord Jesus was saying to him “I died for you. I was crucified for you. So that you could come to God.”
He had believed that before. He had believed that Jesus had died for him. He believed he needed a Savior. That’s what he thought he had believed. But he had also believed that, somewhere deep inside there was a good person. That Jesus died for him because he, Henry, was worth His trouble. He was the seeker whom God had rewarded, showing Himself to him. Yea, he had made mistakes. Who doesn’t? He may have been a diamond in the rough, but he was still a diamond.
“Wait a minute Lord,” Henry thought. “I am the one NO PERSON could love.
A light went on. .
His thoughts continued. “Oh Lord Jesus, You know me. More than anybody on this earth, more than my associates, more than my family, more than Lisa, You know me. You know everything about me, everything I’ve done. You know ALL my sin. Yet in knowing me, You love me. You gave your life as payment of my all my sin, all my sins.”
For the very first time, he understood. And he believed.
“But what was this?
Could it be that this is what the gospel is?
Could it be that God, knowing the cost, would send His Son for me? To die for me? Me? One so ungodly? This me that's in this miserable place which is the exact place where I deserves to be? 
“Yes, yes, YES!”
Henry got on his knees with the prisoners all around him, watching him. He was oblivious to everyone as he cried aloud, “Oh Lord Jesus, I never realized. I never understood. Oh Lord Jesus, I believe. If you will have me Lord, I don’t want to live another moment of my life without You as my Savior.”
Had he been born again? Was Henry Sardina born again?
He loved the Lord, for the Lord first loved him. Salvation was not a formula. It was a person. “Oh Lord Jesus, I want to be saved. Oh Lord Jesus,” he cried out.

chapter 15
freedom
Ten days after his arrest, Henry was transferred from the Central Police Station to Her Majesty’s Prison at Foxhill in Nassau. After several days, Henry received an orientation at the prison. He met the warden and was given a simple medical examination. He got to talking with one of the guards in the infirmary who gave him some medicine for his ear. He seemed like a nice guy. “What can you do to help me?” Henry asked him. “I need to have contact with my family.”
Henry wrote letters on pieces of paper bags. He gave the letters to the guard with the address of his parents. The guard mailed the letters in which Henry instructed his family to send money to the guard at his home address. He gave his family the guard’s phone number. “If he calls you collect, you take his call,” he told them. With the money that was sent to him, the guard would bring him Kentucky Fried Chicken. He also brought him cold medicine.
Now he shared a cement cell with just the two men with whom he was arrested.  A five gallon metal bucket with a bit of disinfectant water was their latrine. Twice a day food trays were slid under the cell bars. The menu consisted of slop, nasty fish and some unidentifiable meat that smelled like canned dog food. Water came from the desalination plant. The taste was horrible. Word was it tore through the kidneys. Each prisoner was given two wool blankets. But there was no bed, just a concrete slab (cold would seep into your bones). And no pillow. Rats. Mice. Mosquitoes. Showers were never regular. Once it was 16 days between showers. The shower room had eight shower heads. As many as 40 men showered at once. Water was only on for a few minutes. Henry could still be covered with soap when the water would be shut off.
Due to some peculiar interpretation of Bahamian law, every ten days Henry went shackled in a bus crammed with other prisoners back to the Central Police Station. Then at 6 pm, they would all be returned to the prison. This was Henry’s tiny window to the outside world. He was sent money; and because he had money, the guards would bring Kentucky Fried Chicken and mail his letters and let him make a phone call. They would also get him writing paper that he would smuggle back to Foxhill.
Henry sat on his cement slab.  He had a lot of people who owed him. They owed him big time.  His Bahamian lawyer had connections. His lawyer knew people in high places; This lawyer knew how to get money to these people to make thing happen.

As the days went by, doubts came into Henry’s mind. “Henry, you’ve done this before. You’ve believed all this. Why do you think this is any different?”
In prison, cigarettes are money. There were no drugs and no alcohol, The cigarettes calmed Henry down. He didn’t feel good about smoking, but he justified it by determining that when he got out of prison, he’d quit, for good. The guy in the cell next to him was a tough guy. He would ask Henry for a cigarette. Occasionally, and always reluctantly, Henry would give him one.
Nights were the worst time in prison. Sleeping on the slab with no pillow. And the lights were on 24 hours a day. Henry would stay awake as late as he could with the hope that when he did fall asleep, he wouldn’t wake up until daylight. To open his eyes and find it was still night was so depressing.
One night Henry heard a pounding on the wall. It wouldn’t quit. “Yea,” Henry finally yelled.
“Give me a smoke,” said the tough guy in the cell next to him. Before they had gone to bed that night, Henry had given him a cigarette, as a kindness, out of the precious few cigarettes he had. And now this guy was waking up Henry, taking away his precious sleep.
That morning, when his cell door was opened so someone from his cell could take their bucket and empty it, there was the guy, just standing there. Henry grabbed the bucket. In all his rage, the rage that had been developing and growing in Henry for so many years, Henry began to lunge at the guy.  But he stopped. A strange new attitude had taken charge him.
“What are you doing? You piece of crap.”
Out of Henry’s mouth came the words, “I can’t hit you man. I can’t hit you. I’m a Christian.”
Henry went back to his cell. He got down on his knees. “Oh Lord,” he prayed. “This is real. Something’s happened here that has never happened before.” He felt power, life, joy, RELIEF. “I am saved!” Henry about exploded with thankfulness to God. He knew, and he knew for sure that the Lord was truly within him.
The guy never bothered Henry again, and all over the cell block Henry heard prisoners talking to each other. “That Cuban, he got saved. He really got saved, man. He wasn’t lying, man.
Henry wept. “Lord, you saved me. But what it took to save me.”
Henry made contact with the American consulate at the embassy. “Is there any way I can get a mattress?”
No, was the answer.
“How about a pillow?”
No.
But now there was something Henry wanted so much more. He wanted a Bible. One of the guards, the guard who had become Henry’s friend, contacted Henry’s lawyer and the two of them managed to get Henry a Bible. There are no secrets in a cell block. The other prisoners knew he had a Bible. “You read us some of that Bible,” one of the prisoners demanded. So every day at 2 pm, Henry read to them for 30 minutes to an hour. If one of the prisoners started getting rowdy, the other prisoners would threaten him.
Henry read, and Henry preached. He had insights into the Scriptures he never had before. All the teaching he had heard and all his reading from years before came back to him—like a safety deposit box full of valuable treasure.
One morning after he woke up, he thought. “You’re dreaming. You’re afraid to open your eyes. You’ll never go home. You’ll never see your family again. You stupid fool. God has you right where He wants you. He’s using you here. And because He’s using you here, He’s never going to let you out.”
Henry tossed his Bible against the wall.
The next day at two Henry didn’t read. One of the prisoners called over to him, “Hey man, what’s happening? Why aren’t you reading? Another prisoner answered, “He ain’t doing well. Let him alone.”
Henry felt like he was suffocating. He was filled with confusion and guilt.
He had written Lisa a letter: “I don’t deserve your forgiveness. But something happened to me that has never happened before. I want to be the husband to you that I think I can be now. I want to be a father, a good father to our children. But I know I can’t expect you to be willing to accept me back into your life. I understand if you never want to see me again. But I hope I can prove to you that I’m not the same person.”
Then that kid began to sing. The kid who was in for murder. He had a horrible voice. But Henry loved to hear him: “In the cross, in the cross. Be my glory ever. Till my raptured soul shall find, rest beyond the river. Near the cross a trembling soul. Love and mercy found me. There the bright and morning star, sheds its beams around me. In the cross, in the cross. Be my glory ever...”
Henry cried out, “Lord, Lord, Lord Lord. I am sorry. But I know you saved me. I’ve asked you for my life and my family. You saved my soul. All the stuff you allowed me to do, all the things that have happened to me, all to save me. So as much as I want to get out of here, even if I have to stay here for the rest of my life, I never ever want to go back to the way I was. Lord, I’ll trust you. Whatever happens, I’m going to trust you.”
Slowly Henry started reading his Bible again. Each day at 2 o’clock, he read to his cell block again. And he preached.
Then, miracle of miracles, Lisa came to see him. That was a wonderful moment. His dad came too. Henry cried and his dad took ahold of him and hugged him. “You don’t need to cry, son,” he said.
“I’m not sad,” Henry told his dad. “It’s just beautiful to see you.”
A lawyer had come over from the States. Henry put him in touch with his Bahamian lawyer who had been working with Henry in his smuggling operation.
And then the guard came with his cold medicine. “You’re going home soon,” he said to him.
Henry’s arrest had been big news. It had been all over the front page of newspapers in the Bahamas and in Miami. His bail had been set at $100,000. His passport had been confiscated. It wasn’t possible.
But good things had been happening for Henry. God had been answering his prayers. How could it be that here he was in that Bahamian prison cell with a pen, and writing paper, and a Bible? He even had a cushion from a chair.
Henry tried to imagine his release. It was like thinking about the Rapture. All of a sudden, there would be that shout. “Hurry up Henry. Get out. You’re going home!
Henry prayed and he prayed believing, a Believer’s prayer. “God, help me today to get out of this place.”
Around 10 that morning he heard footsteps coming up the cell block. “Get your stuff. You’re leaving.
His brother was there to meet him. He brought an old passport of Henry’s. It had been stamped “EXPIRED” and a hole had been punched through it. Henry was confident. “The Lord’s got that covered.”
When they got to the check-in counter, Henry put his passport down. The customs agent picked it up and opened it. All she saw was that the picture on the passport matched the face of Henry standing in front of her. Several men were with Henry. They couldn’t believe what they just saw. One of them smiled and said to Henry, “You know what that means, don’t you? The FBI and the DEA, they’re at the Miami Airport right now, just waiting for you.”
All that believing faith Henry had fell apart. His whole body shook, the whole 40 minute flight.
He stepped off the plane. It was like he was just like all the other passengers. He blushed with shame. “How could I be so unbelieving?” he wondered.
His brother picked him up at the airport and took him to his parents’ house. His brother said to his father, “Now you tell him. You tell him the conditions we agreed to if we got him out of prison.”
Henry had one week. Then he would be put on a Greyhound bus. He’d be given $500. Then he had to get as far away from them as he could go.
“You,” said Henry, “You may have made this agreement, but I didn’t agree to this. You’re telling me I gotta leave?”
“You got one week.” said his brother.
Henry hadn’t seen Lisa yet. She was living with her father for she had lost both her home and her car. Henry’s father loaned him a car.
Henry prayed, “God, you can’t have brought me out this far for this. Please Lord, give me the opportunity to be a father to my children and to be a good husband.”
He thought, “Maybe when I reestablish myself, maybe Lisa will commit to coming with me.”
He drove to her father’s house. Their reunion was cordial, formal. But that night she did let Henry stay at her father’s house.
He returned to his parents’ house the next day. He told his dad that unless Lisa agreed to this plan of his brother’s, he wasn’t going anywhere. His dad didn’t argue. He understood.
This was the week before Christmas. Henry laid low. He wasn’t going to contact any of his old associates, but he did talk to one of his classmates from college who was now in the FBI. He told Henry that both the United States and the Bahamas might choose to prosecute him for the same crime. But he told Henry not to worry. “They’re after the bigger guys, not you.”
Henry thought about Joe, his old boss. The one for whom he had sold insurance. Joe had to sever business ties with Henry because his company was not interested in underwriting the thug clientele that Henry was bringing in to them. But still Joe had been willing to write a letter of recommendation for Henry. His letter extolled Henry’s ability as a salesperson and that, though Henry had made some serious mistakes, he would vouch for Henry. “He has a good heart,” the letter said.
Henry hadn’t talked to him for three years. “When you’re down, everyone kicks you,” thought Henry. But he decided to call him anyway.
Immediately Joe picked up the phone. “Where are you at?” Joe asked.
“Here, in Miami,” Henry told him.
“That’s wonderful, said Joe.
Henry thanked him for the letter of recommendation Joe had written him. Henry said, “You didn’t need to do that. I wanted you to know the gratitude I feel for your faithful friendship.”
“It was my pleasure,” said Joe.
As they were about to hang up, Joe said, “Is there anything I could do for you?”
“Well,” said Henry, “I could use a job.”
Joe thought for a bit. There had been some changes made by one of his insurance companies. He thought he saw an opportunity where Henry could be a good fit. The next day he called Henry, “Be here tomorrow at 9 am for an interview.”
Henry called his dad. “I got a job interview, but I don’t even have a pair of pants to wear for the interview.”
Henry had lost 60 pounds in prison. His dad bought him a suit, shoes and a belt. Henry was there at 9 am. Before the interview was over, he knew he had the job. Two days later he was called. “Can you start the first of the year? Come in so we can talk details.”
The details were good. Good base salary. A generous commission. Full benefits.
When Henry got back to his dad, he said, “Let’s call my brother”
When his brother got on the phone Henry said, “I’m not leaving Miami. I got a job.”
His brother was amused and amazed, “How crazy is that?”
“It’s not crazy,” said Henry. “I got the living God in my life now.”
His mom and his brother were skeptical. They were sure Henry would get right back where he had been. Soon.

Chapter 16
Contacts
It had been almost a decade since Henry had seen Bible Bob, or his friend Johnathan Brower. All three of them had worked at Southwestern Bell together. All three had prayed and studied and fellowshipped together at that little church in Miami. Henry found the telephone number of Jonathan and called him. “This is Henry,” he said over the phone.

There was a long pause. “How have you been?” asked Jonathan.

Henry told him his story. Jonathan said to him, “I’m leading a Bible study up in Hollywood (Florida). Can I come and get you? We’ll ride up together.” The study was in a home of an elderly woman. About 25 people were there—men, women, teenagers, kids. Jonathan introduced the group to Henry and then, to Henry’s surprise said, “Henry, would you be willing to share your testimony with us tonight?”
A few days later there was a knock on the door. It was a police officer, just checking up on him. Henry wondered how they knew where to locate him.
The next day there was another knock. This time it was the hit-man for the drug smugglers with whom Henry had worked. Henry was in the back yard when he saw him coming up the sidewalk to the house. Lisa answered the door.
“Lisa,” the man said. “I just came by to bring you money so you can buy Christmas gifts for your kids.”
Henry was terrified. What should he do? Something inside of him told him to tell the man to come outside.
Henry prayed, “Father, thank you for saving my soul. And thank you for saving me out of this wickedness.”
When the man saw Henry, the man’s eyes got huge. He had no idea Henry had gotten out.
Henry told the man that he never ever was going back with them. “Did you hear that?” Henry shouted. “Did you get that, man?”
“Cool it,” said the man. “Calm down. Yea I got it. Now get up.”
Henry got out of his chair and the man gave him a huge hug, “I’m happy for you. I’m so happy you’re here. Anything I can do, I’ll do it for you man. We’ve been friends. You know that. Any trouble, any time, I’m here for you.”
Henry was amazed. This was the one person he was most concerned about. Henry was sure there would be a back stabbing. They had to be upset that the scheme Henry had planned hadn’t worked out.
“I could use a favor,” Henry said to him. “I need to know if I need to cover my back. I need to know if I’m in danger. And if I am in danger, I need to know if it is such and such a person. Because if he is out to get me, I’m going to get him first. Talk to people. Tell everyone you saw me. Tell them I want nothing to do with anything anymore.”
Three days later the man came again with his wife and little baby. He brought gifts for all the kids. He asked Henry to go outside with him. “You got nothing to worry about. Nobody wants to get you. Are you sure you want to come back with us? Just remember, if you ever need anything, I’m here for you.”
Henry and the man hugged. Then he and his wife said goodbye to Henry and Lisa.

Chapter 17
work

The new job was a nice promotion from his last insurance job. Now instead of selling to individuals, Henry was a broker. He marketed various insurance products like annuities, retirement pension plans and life and health insurance to agents. There was no training period for him. One of his first jobs was setting up a telemarketing team to call agents and agencies. Their company had less stringent underwriting concerns. His company would work with agents to help them figure out how they could provide insurance to someone who did not fit within their insurance company’s parameters.

On his first day, Henry was ushered into his new office, a beautiful corporate office in a beautiful corporate office building. Henry looked around. He prayed, “Lord, this is unbelievable. If these people here could see where I had been only 3 weeks ago in that Foxhill Prison hell hole. Lord, here I am with my family with me; working honestly with a great salary and great career potential.”

Henry managed and trained a group of part-time telemarketers who were recent graduates from high school. They soon were racking up new agents to sell for the company. To the executives of the company, Henry could walk on water.

He shared his story and his faith with everyone, though he was careful not to do it on company time
People listened. And people responded.

But about ninety percent of the top brass of the company were Jewish. An assistant to the CEO complained. He told the boss that Henry was using his professional authority to coerce these young telemarketers to attend church services and Bible studies. The vice president called Henry into his office. He explained to Henry that he should understand that what he was doing was obviously offensive to the Jewish people. He told Henry that it was corporate policy that management was not allowed to talk religion to the employees.

Henry had no patience for this accusation. “I’m a company man,” Henry told the VP, “From 9 am to 7 pm. You know how much I give to the company. From 9 to 7, at the office, I speak for the company. But when I leave the office, I’m going to do what I’m going to do. There will be no alteration. Two days ago,” he told the VP, “I came to the parking lot and the secretary in the office next to mine had a flat tire. I was able to switch out the tire for her. She started asking me questions and I told her what God had done for me. I told her of Christ who had met my needs when I was so desperate. If you think for the sake of this job, or for the sake of anything, that I will give up my liberty, my personal life, you’re crazy.”

That was not the answer the VP wanted to hear and Henry knew this man would be out to get him so Henry kept watch. Each week he would be in the VP’s office, looking around. Friends who cleaned the office made photocopies of plans made to get Henry terminated. Nothing legitimate could be found against Henry, but an accusation was made. Henry had worked for them for a year and a half. They gave him six weeks severance pay. He was about to file a lawsuit against them but the Holy Spirit convicted him. “When has God not taken care of you?” he asked himself. “Hasn’t He done a whole lot better job of defending you than you ever could do for yourself?”
He promised himself and he promised the Lord that he would not engage in any personal attack against the people of this company.

Two days after he was fired, a health insurance company owned by a Cuban offered him a job. “You’ll have to wait a few weeks,” Henry told them. He was going to use his six weeks severance to study the Scriptures and preach.

His new job was training agents from Central and South America. The company would fly them in to teach them for a one week seminar where Henry would teach them everything they needed to know about the company’s life and health insurances. The health care was for treatment in the United States. When Henry was an insurance agent, he had sold some of their products. He had been one of their top producers.

The owner of the company was concerned they had given Henry such a lucrative contract. He sat in on one of Henry’s meetings with an Argentinian agent who had lots of objections. “He figured out real quick,” said Henry, “that he couldn’t handle the agent half as good himself.”

The following week the owner was very excited about an arrangement he had made with a company that provided an investment aspect to their life insurance policies (a product called universal life insurance). As the owner was explaining how the commission for this product worked, Henry figured out that their company’s commission was a fraction of what it would be for a traditional life insurance policy. “Bud,” he said to his boss, “You have no idea what you are getting into.”

His boss exploded at him, “What do you know?”
The next day though, Henry was called into his office. Expletives filled the air as Henry showed him the math. This product had a commission that was only 20% of what his boss was expecting.
“You’re coming with me to Pennsylvania tomorrow,” he told Henry. “Your coming with me to their headquarters.”
Henry had never seen such a place. The office of their CEO was a mansion in itself. “Tell him what you told me,” his boss demanded. Henry did. The CEO admitted Henry’s calculations were correct. He was so angry, but he was impressed. “Where did you pick up this expletive?” the CEO asked Henry’s boss. Henry answered him by sharing his testimony; about his time in prison and how the Lord had saved him.
“Remarkable,” said the CEO. He then reworked the commission scale with Henry’s boss, saving his boss hundreds of thousands of dollars.

As they walked out of the office, Henry’s boss turned to him red faced, “Don’t you ever do that again, Don’t you ever bring up that religious stuff.”
“Take it or leave it,” said Henry. “There is no way that I ain’t going to not talk about it to nobody.”

His previous company, the one with the Jewish ownership had called Henry. They wanted him back. Since Henry had left them a year ago, their sales had tanked. They offered him a 50% raise in salary plus a higher commission rate. Henry declined.
Henry had been spending more and more time in Christian ministry. “You need should consider going full-time into the Lord’s work,” said his Christian colleague Ray Zander. The thought scared him. He had a great burden for the Lord’s work and a great passion for it. But he had a wife and four kids, plus a debt the IRS with $80,000 still left to pay. He went to his boss. “I’m willing to work either two days a week or three half days a week.” His boss told him there was no way he would give him such a schedule. “The alternative,” said Henry, “is I’m putting in my resignation.” So his boss agreed. He even started going to Henry’s church. Every Sunday morning at 11 am he would pull up to the Bible Truth Assembly with his wife and in his big black Mercedes Benz.

Despite his reduced work load at the insurance company, Henry finally decided that time had come to give himself fully to the Lord’s work. At his send-off at the insurance company, his boss gave him a hug and put something in his hand. “I never did pay you what you were worth,” he told Henry. It was a $1000 check. Then every month another $1000 check would come in the mail from him.

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