Angry Boxer Tired Of Fighting God

“I had an assault with a deadly weapon charge. It wasn’t because I grabbed a gun or something,” Juan recalls. “That was a fit of rage. The poor kid did nothing to me.”

Juan was 15 when he nearly killed another teenager with his bare hands. His anger began when he was a young boy, and in the most unlikely place – the church where his father and grandfather were pastors. “It felt like, every single time I went to church, I was walking into a courtroom. Why would I want to go through that?”

Juan stopped going to church.

“The source of that anger was never feeling good enough for God,” Juan says. “And if I’m not gonna feel the love, or if I’m gonna be judged, then I’m gonna act out. I took it out in fights. I took it out in just breaking stuff.”

After the assault charge, his father persuaded Juan – already a skilled baseball player – to take up boxing as a way to channel his anger. It worked. “Every person that made me mad at school, or a teacher, I took it out in the boxing gym.”

Juan’s boxing coach was a Christian, and every workout came with a bible lesson. One day, Juan took a blow to the head.” I remember, I told my dad my leg felt funny,” Juan says. “I blacked out at that point. From then on, I don't remember much."

Juan suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage—a brain bleed, and was rushed to a hospital where he underwent emergency surgery. The doctor told his parents he may never wake up, and if he did, he had only a 30 percent chance of living a normal life.

Johnny, Juan’s dad recalls, “He said, ‘I’m gonna give your son 12 hours. After 12 hours, I’m gonna give him three days. After three days, we’re gonna have to see what you want us to do.’ I couldn't comprehend it. I couldn’t think. I was kind of in shock myself.  When he told us that, my wife looked at me and she said, ‘You need to pray.’ So that’s when I went into the extended waiting room, and I just cried out to the Lord.”

Johnny and his wife Helen stayed at their son’s bedside, praying through the night. “Right now, we were not going by what the doctors tell us; we're going by what God says,” Johnny remembers. “I started playing nothing but worship music inside his room during the nighttime.”

The very next morning, Juan woke up. “At that time, it was like God was just assuring us that everything was going to be OK,” Johnny says. “After the first week, I saw the turnaround. On the sixth day, he started telling me he wanted to walk.  I think, that’s when I knew that everything was going to be OK, that God’s hand was in it.”

The path back for Juan wasn’t easy. “We had to teach him how to eat again, and we had to teach him how to drink again,” Johnny says. “We had to teach him how to use a straw, how to read, how to spell his name. But I knew that God’s hand was in it because he did so good.”

Juan regained most of his brain function within a matter of weeks--but instead of being grateful to be alive, he was angry.  “That day they told me I can’t box; I can't play baseball,” Juan says. “When it got real to me, I hated God, because I felt like He took everything away from me.”

As Juan’s body continued to heal, his father prayed that god would heal his heart as well. One evening, he talked Juan into going to hear an evangelist at a youth camp service. “I was just praying, ‘Lord, please speak to my son, because he’s not listening to me anymore,” Johnny remembers. “I had my eyes closed and I was still praying. When I saw him get up, I got up and followed him. They prayed for him and it was like, the Lord just took over.”

“I was so mad at God and all He was trying to do was give me a hug,” Juan says. “That’s when I gave up. I said, ‘I’m done fighting. I’m not gonna win.’ I couldn't move. I felt paralyzed. They prayed for me, and all of a sudden, I felt peace. I really feel like I had a spirit of anger in me. That night, I felt like it came out. And that’s when I knew that God loved me.”

Juan surrendered his life to Christ that night.

“If you ever fish for bass, they fight and fight, and your job is to keep them on the line until they get tired,” Juan says. “That’s like God, He let me fight, he let me hate Him, but I always stayed on his line, and now I feel like he’s reeled me in. “ He adds, “The accident—I don't see it as God taking stuff away, because it gave me an opportunity to touch more lives than I could ever do.”

Today Juan has returned to both the boxing ring and the baseball field, but most importantly, he sees god in a brand new light. “I don't see God as a judging God. I see God as a merciful. Loving God,” he says. “I see God as a father who wants His kids to be safe. He doesn't walk away from us; we walk away from Him, but He’s waiting there. God loves you, and He’s just waiting for you to come back home.”

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