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Hope Came When He Didn't Want to Live Anymore

Caleb Wood - 700 Club Producer

“And I found a lighter, and I got the lighter and I started striking the clothes in the closet,” said the man. “And I went down a couple of blocks and turned around and I was getting excited for seeing the house burning.”

Roland was only 8 when he set fire to his parents’ home.

“Did it out of anger, and I wanted them to feel some kind of pain,” the 55-year-old said plainly.

His heroine-addicted father beat him regularly. The abuse, mixed with drug-infested neighborhood in Houston, made it hard for Roland to imagine a happy life.

“And I would get whooped,” he remembered. “My dad would tell me that I would never amount to anything. I just felt so much hatred at that young age.”

Roland’s only safe place was with his Christian grandmother.

“When I was with my grandma I felt important.” Roland continued, “I felt like I was somebody ‘cause I was treated like somebody.”

She also took him to church, and at times, even anointed him with oil. But the abuse at home overshadowed any godly influence his grandmother had.

On the streets and alone by 14, Roland would spend much of his life bitter and angry.

“Seeing how life was at that time, it just hardened my heart,” Roland admitted. “If I couldn’t be happy, I didn’t want nobody else to be happy.”

Theft, forgery, DUI’s and drug possession would fill his rap sheet for the next two decades. In that time, he married three times, had five kids, and was an enforcer for a notorious crime syndicate.

“Getting high, drinking, stealing - their hands were up in the air while I was robbing them and going and taking from them.” Roland explained, “I thought that was power. I thought that's what a man was.”

Even then, Roland still visited his grandmother – his only reminder that there was some reason to have hope.

“No matter what I did she always loved me. She goes ‘I'm praying for you, mijo.’ That means son.” Roland paused, then continued saying, “When she passed away. I didn’t go to the funeral. Didn't want to face the fact that the only positive person in my life was gone. There was nobody to turn to no more.”

Alone more now than ever, Roland was homeless, jobless and hopeless.

“I felt worthless! I felt at that time, that that's what I was put on earth for, to suffer,” he said. “Nobody knew that I ate out of a dumpster, that I slept in abandoned cars. I was tired of living; I was tired of just who I was. And I felt that there was nowhere else to go so I slashed my wrist in my upper arm.”

His self-inflicted wounds healed. Then in 2006 after a high-speed chase, Roland would again land in prison for resisting arrest.

As prisoner 0-1-1-6-0-7-8-9, Roland was known as the Enforcer for a violent, Latino gang.

“I was a part of an organization. ‘If you weren't brown, you weren't going to be around,’” he recited. “My job, I felt was to lame or cripple or eliminate every white man, black man, red, yellow, polka dot, stripe, it didn't matter.”

While lying in his cell at end of his year long sentence, Roland heard a Voice ask him a question…

“Told me, ‘Why was I persecuting my brothers?’ And when I heard that voice, I fell off the bunk,” Roland said bewildered. “I couldn't see. They checked me. There was nothing wrong with my eyes. Three days later my sight came back. (And) I just felt I was to study the word of God.”

Roland quit the gang immediately. In response, four men ambushed, beat and stabbed him. In the midst of the attack, Roland heard that Voice, again.

“I thought I was going to die in there because they were coming against me,” Roland said thinking back. “When I heard that voice that said, ‘When you get out of here, I want you to minister to the homeless, to those that are hungry, those in addiction and those that are coming out of incarceration. I knew, that I was gonna get out of prison. That's when I knew God was real.”

Roland escaped with minor injuries, and the very next week, gave his life to Christ – and a radical transformation began.

“I could talk to another man of another race, and not have hatred in my heart. To be friends with the ones that I was against,” he smiled.

Upon his release in 2007, Roland would continue learning to put others, and Christ first in his life. Today, he runs a ministry focused on helping poverty-stricken and formerly-imprisoned individuals, and in 2019 was named Bastrop Texas’ ‘Man of the Year.’

He’s back on the streets, but with a very different mission in mind.

“Today I'm not robbing nobody. Today my hands are up in the air,” he said raising his hands, “cause I'm praising God. That anger's gone. I am worth something and I am somebody. Now to me, a man is one who follows the Lord and has Jesus in his heart. I think my grandmother would be very pleased.”

For more information on Roland and his outreach, check the links below!




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