Manuel is the type of person who lights up a room. When you pair his infectious smile with his beaming excitement for sharing the good news of Christ, it’s hard not to be smiling along with him. Recently he and the group of young men he mentors visited our station for a tour. Manuel told us that he wanted so badly to show his students “the place God used to change my life.” As we sat down with him to hear his story, we learned that he was not always the man we excitedly welcomed at our door.
Manuel was quite literally born into the Los Angeles gang culture. Raised by parents who were heavily involved with a gang, he grew up in an environment where violence, theft, and drugs were part of every day life. As time moved on, he described to us how stints in juvenile facilities evolved into bids in adult penitentiaries. The “madness,” he said, was all around him.
After being released from prison, he moved to Arkansas in an attempt at getting away from the life he had lived in California. He quickly realized, however, that relocating was not going to fix everything. The “madness” had followed.
Manuel continued in his old ways in Northwest Arkansas until one day, God’s message broke through while he was reading the Bible. “He was able to confirm to me how much He loved me,” he said, “I just gave Him my life. And ever since then, everything’s been different. Redeemed.”
Starting a new life with Christ was a revolutionary experience for Manuel. He was not an active church member when he surrendered his life, but he wanted to surround himself with the gospel any way he could. Before finding a church to call his own, Manuel and his wife relied on Christian music, specifically Christian radio, for hope. “We had it on all day. Full blast. Preaching, music, everything.”
God’s message for Manuel was finally being received: “No mistake about it, I could just be thinking about something and [KLRC] would play a song and it would go according to my thought. I was having my personal interaction [with God] there.” Through your support, God was able to reach Manuel as he was taking those crucial first steps in faith.
Today, Manuel leads a team at Youth Matters, a local non-profit with a mission of providing at-risk youth with mentors and constructive activities. His new chapter in life is one of hope, and a powerful example of how God can work in incredible, unexpected ways.
A former gang member, a mentor, and now a KLRC supporter. Manuel is many things. Above all, he is a disciple of Christ in our community, and God used your support of KLRC to reach Manuel when he needed it most.