Over the course of your life you have the privilege of learning about the life of people and God’s transforming power within their hearts and revival of their souls. For some of them, you have been able to encounter them for a brief time, while others for years on end. Well, in the most condensed form, here is my story.
Around the age of 3.5 years (Summer 1979), I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (Childhood Cancer). In my hometown of Laredo, TX, there was no treatment or hope available at that time. After contacting different relatives, my parents chose to have me admitted into M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX (Fall 1979). Although the center was considered among the best at that time, the doctors still pronounce me with 6 weeks to 6 months of life.
During this time, my sister was 2.75 years old, and baby brother was 3 months old. My grandmother, (from my father's side) took care of both of them. My father would work as a teacher and travel often between Houston and Laredo, usually over the weekend. While I was in Houston, my mom would always be with me. Sometimes we would stay at the hospital and other times at different housing places while I was undergoing treatment. I also had an uncle who lived in the Galveston area; both him and his family helped my family and I for many years. Additionally, my father learned to surrender my life-spirit to God early on. My mother learned what it meant to be a Christian and became one; she also became a good family role model of the Christian faith. Extended family members and people close to my family grew in their personal relationship with God as well.
As for me, from the age of 3.5 to about 13.5 years, I was not a happy person. I was the worst person one could ever encounter. You see, I was deeply angry with God. I was bitter with people, especially Christians; they prayed for healing and restoration, but "God did not heal me, and I am still sick!", or so I would shout out to them. I avoided making close relationships with people because I did not want to hurt them if I died. I also did not want to be hurt by others who died, like other child cancer patients. I was angry at the world and frustrated with school life. I faced many learning challenges due to the effects of radiation therapy to my brain; it was not easy.
From the age of 13 to 18 years, I lived a better life; at times happy. I now had occasional check-ups in Houston and they were mostly limited to one full-day of exams. It was somewhat easier to learn some things at school because radiation treatment had ceased. I also learned to play the trumpet, which in turn helped strengthen my lung capacity, heart muscles, and oxygen circulation to all parts of my body; especially my brain. Oh, and amazingly enough, I also graduated from high school with honors! The negative side of it all was that my character became arrogant and full of pride over my academic achievements. In addition, I had not surrendered my life to Christ Jesus at this time.
After my high school graduation (Spring 1994), I spent the summer thinking over what to study in college. When the fall semester arrived, I began my role as a college student at a local community college, (age of 18 -– 20 years). During these years, I began to arrive early to the college campus, and read a little from a small Bible I carried with me; right before my morning classes started. I also began to attend luncheon meetings with other Christians on campus, at least once a week. Consequently, I began to do better in my studies, but I was still proud over my academic achievements at this time.
At the age of 21 (Fall 1996), I completed, what I believed to be my last semester in Laredo and at the community college. Come the Spring semester of 1997, my transfer was completed, and I began taking classes at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX. My declared major was in Bio-Engineering. However, for the first six months, both the lectures and assignments were too hard for me, and I was failing most of the classes. Internally, I was an emotional mess and coped with the emotions of homesickness, loneliness and depression (at times suicide). Cognitively, well, all the academic knowledge and understanding that I once held in Laredo was now ripped-out of me. I did not understand what was happening to me. There was nothing left for me to do, but to turn to God by reading my Bible and praying to Him. For the most part, both my Bible reading and praying time was a time of crying out to God for both help and for some form of explanation for what was happening to me. At this time, I only knew two Bible scriptures by heart: “Jesus said, 'I am the way, truth, and life; no one comes to my Father, but through me.'” (John 14:6); and “I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13). Although these scriptures helped me much in my time of need, it was not until several years later that I came to grasp the fullness of the message that lies within them. Oh, and God did hear my prayer, He responded by sending me invitations to several Bible study groups from different Christian organizations, plus a couple of good Christians who went on to become my friends. However, I was only a Christian by title at this time.
Towards the end of the first six months, I reached a turning point. Within the summer of 1997, between later June and the beginning of July, I began some research work on end-times; more specific, what is known as the rapture and tribulation within the Christian community. I read several books and watched several movies; a series that stood out was known as "A Thief in the Night" (four parts). When a pastor preached on the topic with the church I would congregate with, I surrendered my life to Christ Jesus and allowed Him to become my Savior and Lord. God had answered my prayer and confirmed it with signs and wonders; which is something I had asked for as a confirmation that my salvation was real! Since I don’t know the real date of my surrender, I celebrate it on July 4, my “Independence Day” from the bonds of sin.
In the months that followed, God would hear my cry and would respond to it. He would also send me more Christians to help me through my challenging times but also to help me grow spiritually. In addition, He connected me with four Christian organizations that helped me in this area of my life as well. God helped me settle into a good church congregation and helped me learn how to play the trumpet for Him.
After my day of salvation, my academic grades continued to decline in some areas, but not all. Yet, my spiritual growth increased exponentially. The Spirit of God would bring prior scripture knowledge into remembrance and would increase my understanding of it. God continued to send me disciple-makers, young adults who had a longer time of holding a personal relationship with God through Christ Jesus. However, at the end of the Fall semester of 1997, I had reached my end at College Station, and returned to Laredo.
When I arrived in Laredo, Spring 1998, I brought back within the depth of the my heart a spiritual fire. I strongly sought to be a part of a local church congregation that shared a similar fire. It took much work to find one, but I did find one. I also continued college classes, this time majoring in Spanish, and then majoring in Psychology (minor in Sociology). I was hesitant to do so, and fought with God about it, but I still did so. As a result I learned how to integrate my faith into my studies, in particularly Sociology. I learned a lot about cultures and people of different backgrounds. My sociology courses helped me to better do my work in missions and vice versa. As for Psychology, I began to believe I could integrate the things of God with those of Psychology; I felt more comfortable about studying it as well.
Within the next 2.5 years I worked within some ministries, as a lay person. I worked with college students and young adults for the college and university that exist in Laredo. I also worked with teenagers from my local church congregation, as well as played the trumpet and disciple some people as God led me to do so. Most impacting of all, I had the honor of working with a missionary family for close to three years. I learned much from them about God, and the work involved in ministry. Hence, when they were called to serve in a different place, I was properly trained to continue work with short-term missions teams that would go into the border towns of both Texas and Mexico.
Up-To-Speed ... To Today. I now hold a High School Diploma (with Honors), an Associate of Arts degree, B.A. degree in Psychology (minor in Sociology), and a M.A. degree in Counseling Psychology. Regarding Counseling Psychology, God revealed to me through the course of research papers, and presentations that integration of the things of God with the things of Psychology was not of Him. His sufficiency could be found in the scriptures, Christ Jesus, and work of the Holy Spirit within a person’s life. This led me to find a program that focused on these authorities; Biblical Counseling. Additionally, I have acquired two Certificates of Completion in Small Business Management as well as a Biblical Counseling Certificate of Completion. Yet, I don't use them, per sae, in a traditional manner of a career job. God has a different plan about how He has chosen for me to use all of this education. As for my ministry work, at this time, it is mostly personal as God leads me to do so. I presently write small messages and post them on my website and mini-messages that I post on Facebook. Additionally, I assist many people with diverse facets of their own personal ministry. In brief, God's present role for my life is in the Armory Department, equipping frontline workers for their service to God. Sometimes the “equipping” may be with finding books, music, or movies that encourage the faith of others. Other times it could be sitting down with them, hearing their story, and encouraging them with a heart-felt spirit ... And a shower of prayer. Yet other times, it is by putting my hands to work with the many capacities God has equipped me.
I am far from perfect, yet I seek refinement from God for His work. I am a firm believer that what we learn in the scriptures is not limited to the time of the scriptures. God has called us to be of service to others both in spirit as well as with our hands. It is not only a calling but a duty that we serve Him with both our God-given talents, but also those that are literally present through the work of the Holy Spirit. One of the greatest lessons that I have shared with others within the last year or so is, ““Don’t limit the work of God with your mind, instead, let Him work through you, by means of His Spirit”. I have spoken with many people who have set their minds to do many programs and ideas to expand the kingdom of God. However, only those who have consulted with God and have received both the “ok” and guidance from Him, have been able to witness them flourish.
Simple Prayer. Lord God, You who are great and grand. I want to thank you for the opportunity to share this testimony of your transforming power within my life to my brethren. I pray that it may be a blessing to their heart. Lord, I ask that you continue to work in both their life and family as they continue to serve you in ministry. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
R. A. Gomez
July 4, 2018 ...
Today I celebrate twenty-one years of having remained in Christ Jesus. I have served God in many areas and with many capacities, but most importantly through the help of the Holy Spirit. I have served both in the visible and behind the scenes arena. Yet, as much "fun" as I had with the first, I have really learned to treasure the later; especially one-to-one counsel and discipleship. There is something special about conversing or working with someone on a one-to-one basis and watching the Holy Spirit work in and through them. In these past years, I have read many books about the facets of the life of a believer and watched many faith-based movies and videos as well. I have also shared many of the things that I have learned through diverse forms of communication. Yet when all has been said and done, it has been the continual work of the Holy Spirit within me that has brought internal peace to my being and spiritual filling to my soul. It has been the work of the Holy Spirit that has given me the empowered drive to keep pressing forward through Christ Jesus; no matter how dire my circumstances and surroundings may be.
Simple Prayer: Lord God, thank you for your patience and continual work within my being. It is my desire to continue to remain in Christ Jesus and to work with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Please help me to fulfill this desire until the return of Christ Jesus or Your calling of my being into Your holy presence. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
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R. A. Gómez