Vu, March 2021

My family and I came here from Vietnam when I was 9. I struggled with English, fitting in, and was bullied most of my childhood. At 12, I started using crack cocaine and alcohol. Feeling so disconnected from myself as a teenager that drugs, gangs and women became my daily reality and end-goal. In a gang, I finally felt like I belonged and was protected. I was in and out of “juvi” for 6 years; completely dedicated to gangs and drugs, no matter the cost. I picked dope and women over my own daughter and my parents. Long story short, I was facing 25 to life, but ended up serving 9 years in prison after committing strong-arm robbery. I was so paranoid and crazed by the drugs I was using in prison, that one day I lashed out at a random inmate, which resulted in a stabbing. The violent encounters I was involved in while incarcerated are something I have absolutely no pride in now. 

…Still drugged out and hopeless after I got out, but wanting to change for the first time in my life. God forgave me time after time, but I continued to fall short, not keep my word, and do all the terrible things I was familiar with. Criminal activity continued, landing me 2 years at a rehab program with little success. After Dream Center discharged me, I went to Safe Refuge in Long Beach. This was the turning point for me – I prayed: “God, whatever you do, do not let me forget you again.” Through Safe Refuge, I met NorthEast of the Well. Man, I haven’t missed any of their Monday, Wednesday OR Friday Zoom gatherings since May. I send their Zoom to everyone I know - even people from other states are now joining from my links. This lights me up! I am so inspired by NorthEast and how they love God wholeheartedly. I support them all the way. They have truly helped me become the man I know I should be. I am so proud to now say: I was the outcast who became the witness.

I have been sober for 3 years and recently got a great job! I live for God now; He gets me through every day. I know I will always fall back into a hole without the Lord. He has restored my family, specifically my relationship with my 21 year old daughter. I see her as much as I can now; and somehow, she has forgiven me. I graduate from Safe Refuge in May and will be back with my family, prepared to make up for all I have done. I am completing school this year to be a drug and alcohol counselor. An old criminal, gangster and drug addict now getting a 3.1 in college and crying out to God every single day. From jail to a job - I cannot believe it. I am so thankful for NorthEast and the Lord.