“Get Manuel. He’ll do it right. His footprints will lead to someone else… It will go well if we give him the job.”
Manuel was a contract killer for an array of Mexican criminal organizations. It was a risky business, but he loved danger, and he was exceptional at his craft. He liked the attention, he liked the rewards, and he ignored the possibilities of capture, prosecution, and death.
He developed a complicated mental cocktail of coping skills during his rough childhood in Mexico. Fear, guilt, and remorse—they just didn’t exist for him. At age 16 he ran away from home to join the Mexican army, eventually joining the special forces as a sniper. He was trained to kill with utmost efficiency.
When he left the army, he realized he could make a good living by selling his expertise. He got into organized crime, then contract killing, and finally drug running. As a drug kingpin he ran a large underground operation from Mexico into the U.S. Bodyguards surrounded him constantly. Life was satisfying—until he became addicted to the drugs he was selling.
Crisis and redemption
In the 1990s, Manuel was dying from his addiction. So he sought help from the only person he could trust—Pastor Juan.
Pastor Juan was saved in the late 1970s through an ANM partner ministry in Mexico called Seedtime and Harvest. Manuel and Pastor Juan crossed paths several times throughout the 1980s; each time there was a special connection. When Manuel discovered his pastor friend needed money to purchase land for a church building, he quickly offered the money. Now, as Manuel’s life was ebbing away, he stumbled to this pastor’s doorstep, hoping Juan could help.
Juan called his friends at Seedtime and Harvest. They had started operating a residential Christian rehab center a few years earlier, and Juan asked if Manuel could come to the center. They agreed.
Two years later and free from drugs, Manuel announced, “I’m going back home to evangelize my people.” Within months he returned, dejected.
“I can’t do it!” he told them. “My life is in danger and drugs are everywhere. I just can’t do it. Can I try again? Let me live with you. Let me go to your Bible school. Let me do something, anything!”
The ministry took him in. He studied hard and completed Bible school. Then God opened the door for him to become a pastor. During the last 10 years of his life he planted a church, taught and discipled his flock, and built a place of worship. The people loved him!
A new legacy
Manuel never fully escaped the consequences of his former life: his kidneys failed and he died in 2006.
However, God had declared, “Get Manuel, he’ll do it right. His footprints will lead to someone else. It will go well if we give him the job.”
Manuel did do it right, his footsteps led to Jesus, and he finished his job well. Today his wife and his four children serve God. His grandchildren are pastors. His estranged son returned home and reconciled with Manuel before he died. This son now works with Seedtime and Harvest, the ministry that offered Manuel a path to new life.
Photo by Seedtime and Harvest Ministries (2008)