At a time when big red hearts and valentines of all sorts line the shelves, it’s tempting to buy into the world’s idea of love. Who doesn’t like a box of chocolates and a candle-lit dinner for two?
But God’s definition is quite different. Love isn’t found in a box of chocolates; it’s in what we do.
Lester knows what true love is. Your love kept him off the street and gave him direction, support, and grace to move forward – not once but three times! And as you’ve done for Lester, he’s now doing for others.
Because as Lester will tell you, true love produces more than warm, fuzzy feelings.
Love multiplies love.
In the early 80s, Lester was on top of the world. Ever since he was in the fourth grade, his father had conditioned him to become a professional boxer. Now 18 years old – fit, fast, and trim – all the hard work was paying off.
“I started winning fights and state championships. The Diamond Belt Tournament, the Golden Gloves… I even won a gold medal for beating teams from Canada and Puerto Rico.”
But for all the fame, Lester found he wasn’t experiencing much fortune – not in comparison to the other guys in his South Central Los Angeles neighborhood.
“They were all driving fancy cars. They had jewelry and girls on their arms. I got to thinking about the $20 I was getting for allowance every two weeks and I was like, ‘Wow.’ It put a little spell over me. I went to the dope house, and came out three days later with $800 bucks in my pocket.”
The new side hustle cost him some time and truthfulness with his father, but now Lester was getting paid. Everything was great – until he decided to sample what he was selling.
“It was just straight-up stupidity because I already knew what crack did to people.”
Before long, his boxing began to suffer. Lester started losing fights: first at the national championship, then his shot to compete in the Olympic trials went down for the count. When his father found dope baggies in Lester’s jacket, he kicked him out of the house.
But Lester had bigger problems.
“I was using more drugs than I was selling. I tried all the tricks and trades of the game, but I was just killing myself. I was living out of a broken-down car. I needed money. So I started messing around with a bunch of people who were up to no good.”
To get the quick cash he thought would finally turn his life around, he and some others tried their hand at armed robbery.
It’s a mistake that cost Lester 23 years behind bars.
“When I got out, I knew I couldn’t go back to dope, so I started drinking instead. That wasn’t too good for me either. I lasted on my own for a year before I was about to lose my apartment. Then a guy at Circle K pointed me to Gospel Rescue Mission.”
That’s when your love opened the door for Lester. The moment he stepped through, he knew he had made the right decision.
“I knew God was in this place, working, and nobody could tell me anything different. God is here and anybody who needs some help can get it.”
Recovery wasn’t easy. He had some false starts, some failures. But every time he got knocked down, the boxer in him got back up. It took him three tries through our recovery program, but God finally gave Lester’s addiction the K.O. he was looking for.
“You know what did it? I stopped thinking I could fix things. I gave myself to the Lord, and moved forward. That was the key. God was the key. And I’m still not resting. I’m still not saying I made it. I’m just taking it one day at a time.”
The measure of true love is in the fruit – and your love has inspired Lester to find ways to pay it forward.
“Last year when I found out GRM was hiring, I thought, ‘There’s a good opportunity!’ God is hanging out there and I’m sure I can touch someone’s life, too.”
Lester was hired as a custodian, and today, you can find him here Monday through Friday, hard at work making things shine for the men, women, and children we serve – and for all of us!
“When I get up in the morning, I’m not dreading going to work. I’m happy! I’m not saying I just love going in there and cleaning the toilets; that’s not it. I’m proud that God is using me to keep people moving forward. It keeps me moving forward.”
That’s God’s love, the kind that doesn’t stop at transforming lives, but then uses those lives to transform still others – and it’s what your support makes possible every day here at Gospel Rescue Mission.
“God put me here for a reason. It’s a little way of giving some love back that was given to me.”