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A Promise to God Changes Everything?

“He dragged her into the kitchen by her hair and he threw her next to me, and he looks at her and he says, ‘Tell him the truth,'” Michael Ford remembers. “He pulled out the gun and he put it to her head, and he cocked it, and he said, ‘Tell him the truth.’ She looks at me and she says, ‘He's not your father, you're not his son.’”

Michael Ford spent much of his youth fearing the man he thought was his father. “He used to verbally abuse me as much as he did physically,” Michael says. “He would tell me that, you know, nobody loves me, nobody wants me. I'd be better off dead. I'd be better off running away. He would always tell her, you know, ‘What about that SOB that shouldn't be here right now? He shouldn't be in my house!’ You grow up as a kid, regardless of your parents' flaws, your parents are your heroes, you know? But when you find out that this man isn't your father, then who are you as a person?”

His parents were both alcoholics.  She would, you know, get drunk and cry, lock herself in her room and just cry. My dad was the violent alcoholic. He would get drunk and smash things and shoot his guns off and beat up on me and my mom.”

When Michael was 15, his mother went to prison when she killed two people while driving drunk. “It broke me. My mom was the best person I knew, regardless of the flaws that she did have. And for them to throw the book at her like that: it took my hope.”

Michael went to live with relatives until he finished high school. then they told him he was on his own.  They tell me, ‘Look, you know, you graduated high school now, we did what we had to do, we got you through whatever you needed to go through. Get a job, do something, you know, don't come back home,” he says. “Once again being rejected, neglected by somebody else. Eventually I ended up at the homeless shelter here in San Antonio. And I remember my first night there, man, I cried. And the only thought that was going through my head was – ‘Where is everybody?’ There I was, alone, by myself, homeless. And I decided then, ‘It's just me. Whatever I got to do for me, that's what I got to do.’”

He turned to gangs for protection and survival. “Gang life was glorified,” he recalls. “I wasn't accepted at school, I wasn't accepted by my dad, but if I joined this, I could be accepted by something.”

Michael also started stealing. “There’s a lot of people who get Social Security checks, welfare checks in the beginning of the month. They'd go to cash out these checks and be walking around with all that money on them. And we would beat them up and we'd take the cash and live off of that.”

Eventually Michael was arrested.   “So I had the thought that I was going to get out of jail, and I was going to get a job, I was going to, you know, go back to school or whatever.”

Shortly after that, however, Michael’s best friend’s girlfriend was robbed. the two of them set out to settle the score. “He gives me a knife, really big knife. Mind you, at the same time I have like $120-worth of crack on me,” says Michael. “We see cops going up and down the street. We see a cop driving towards us so we decided to cut through the nearest parking lot. I guess that was enough initiative for him, He kind of swerved around us and cut us off. Boom, he threw me across the hood, checked me, and I had the crack on me, and I had the knife on me.”

Michael began to envision life in prison.

“The very first thought that came to my mind was like, ‘They threw the book at your mom. She had never been in trouble with the law before and they threw the book at her. So imagine what they're going to do to you. You've got a record.’ Something in my spirit said, ‘Pray.’ So I prayed. And I said, ‘God, God, please, if you get me out of this situation, I'll give my life to you.’

But he was shocked at what happened next. “He was like, ‘You're way too young to be getting in all this trouble." He said, ‘Well, what do you want to do with your life?’ I go, ’Oh, well, I want to go to school.’ I’m just being honest. I started saying the best stuff I could say to give this man a good impression about me. I started telling him all types of stuff. I said, ‘Oh yeah, I’m going to go to college.’ Finally he just said, "Look, man, this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to let you go, but if I ever see you on this block again, it doesn't matter if you're going to the store to get a bag of chips,"’ he said, ‘I'm going to lock you up for possession charges."

The next night, Michael met a young man doing street evangelism. “He's like, ‘I'm from the Joshua House.’ He’s like, ‘We’re out here to let people know that Jesus love you, and there's nothing you could ever do to separate yourself from God's love. It doesn't matter what kind of life you're living right now, Jesus loves you just the way you are,” Michael recalls. “You come just as you are, And I just heard the voice of God, and He said, ‘You told me you were going to give me your life. Stop what you're doing. Go with these people, because this is where I want you to be.’  As soon as I heard that, I looked at him and I said, ‘Let's do it. Let's go. I'm ready, let's go.’"

Michael began attending a church in San Antonio and entered a group home where he was cared for and discipled. “What really threw me was the love, the love. People I had never met before hugging me and, you know, telling me that they loved me, Jesus loves me,” he says. “It was the first time in my life that I had felt peace, that I felt hope. It was the first time in my life that I have actually felt like I had a home. I learned what it means to love God, to serve God. I haven't looked back since.”

Today, Michael is married to Maria and shares his musical gifts at church and in the streets of San Antonio. he is also the director of the same group home that he attended. “If somebody hadn't loved me when I wasn't worthy of love, then I wouldn't be who I am today.

"God has called me to go and show others of His love,” Michael says. “My purpose in life is to worship God, period. In 1 Peter Chapter 2, it says, ‘You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, God's special possession, in which you have been called out of the depths of darkness into His glorious light to declare His praise.’ Our job as Christians is to lift up the name of Jesus Christ in everything that we do. With all of our mind, with all of our strength, with all of our hope."

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