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Search for Acceptance Leads to All the Wrong Places

“I felt like I didn't fit in.” Jaime recalled, “The kids would start laughing at me.  And the more they laughed the more I got angrier.”

As a mixed race child, Jaime was often the target of ridicule. His mother was white and unmarried. His father was a Puerto Rican whom he never met.

He said, “My father deceived my mom.  He already had a family and it just crushed-crushed my momma. And we ended up in the south Bronx.”

His troubles increased when his mom married and had other children.

“There was a difference between them being white and me dark-skinned.” Jaime recalls, “I started hanging out with people who accepted me.  Well, those people they were – they were affiliated with gangs. And I loved them because they were just like me.   I felt like, ‘Man, this is really what I've been looking for.  I fit in.’ They asked me to do whatever and because I longed for their approval I longed to fit in, I did whatever it took to earn their love”   

Jaime’s zeal often got him into trouble so when he was 14, his mom sent him to Puerto Rico to meet his real dad.

“For the first time I felt like, ‘Wow.’  I feel like I had an identity.  I belong to him.” Then Jaime found out, “Come to find out my dad was a drug dealer in Puerto Rico and the next thing I know, I started working with my dad. I became addicted to-to smoking weed and then the cocaine and then you look to subside that pain and the rejection because I felt even though I was in Puerto Rico and with my real dad I still felt rejected from him… I just didn't fit in.  And the only time I-I felt a little bit good was when I was high.”  

Jaime eventually moved back to the states. He kicked his drug habit but stayed in the drug trade.

He said, “I got hooked up with some Cubans and Columbians. I was getting kilos from Columbia, You know I got involved with a crew that was real strong. Money was my god.  The more money and drugs I had, the more people acknowledged me. ‘You my man!’  And I loved that. I had to go get that money by all means necessary I didn’t care what it took.”

Throughout his 20s Jaime’s drug business grew, which put him on the FBI’s radar.

“So they built a case and then they arrested me. They were trying to give me a life sentence.” He remembers, “I was scared to be honest with you, I was scared like a little kid. I knew that I was going to spend the rest of my life in prison and die there.”

While awaiting his trial, Jaime met Gene Lawson.  For a man in prison, he was unusually happy.

“But here I am, I can't sleep at night.  I'm worried sick.  I'm afraid.  And here this man been sentenced to 25 years and he's walking like he don't have a care in the world.” He said, “And deep down – I didn’t tell him -- but I wanted what he had. He had a peace.  And I longed for that.”   

Over the next few weeks gene talked about the peace that comes from faith in Jesus, no matter where you are. But Jaime resisted…  afraid it would make him appear weak. Until one Sunday he found himself outside the prison chapel.

Jaime said, “And I went in and I sat all the way in the back ‘cause I’m still conscious I don’t want my home boys to see me. And next thing I know this man started speaking.  It seemed like everything he was saying was directly at me. It was something that I was living, it was piercing my heart, it was like he was in my thoughts, it was like this man was in my heart. I felt this great urge to cry. I ran out that chapel.   And I ran hard to my cell.  I started crying.  I cried hard.  I never cried – it was a different kind of cry.  And I said, ‘God, if you're real, give me what Gene has.’  I wanted what Gene has.  And then I went to sleep.”  

A couple hours later Jaime woke up and went looking for gene. He found him in the cafeteria and told Gene about his encounter with God.

“And he asked me a question: He said, ‘Do you want to feel this peace forever?’ And I said, ‘Yes, sir.’  He opened that little black book and he went to Romans chapter 10.  And he shared with the Gospel, the plan.  We got on our knees and I did the sinner's prayer, I repented of my sin, and I received in the Lord in my heart. I felt a weight come off me.” He said, “You would think that in prison it meant for you to lose your freedom, but actually I found my freedom in prison.  And then my journey started with Jesus.”

Jaime lost his case and was sentenced to 25 years.  But having found peace and acceptance through Christ, prison didn’t scare him anymore.  He used the time inside to share Christ with others.

He said, “The 700 Club would come in the morning, and boy, I would get inspired.  And that 's what God used to start my first Bible study in jail. God used me as a missionary in prison. And everywhere I went I started a Bible study.”

Later, a nonprofit picked up his case and fought for a mistrial.  They won, and after serving only 10 years, Jaime was set free.

“Today, by the grace of God I go all around the country and tell people of a great God who's able to redeem, save.” He said, “I don't care what your past looks like, it can be the worst of worst, and he loves you unconditionally and he has a future for you.  Please, just trust him.  Just cry out to him. He loves you with everything in him.”

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