My parents divorced when my sister and I were too young to understand anything. Listening to my dad’s stories about the past helped me to see, understand, and remember how broken our family and lives were. Me, being me, I was always a goofy kid; I loved joking around, making people laugh, and being different. I have a “weird” personality, but growing up I always wanted to fit in and be “cool” and my definition of being cool was doing what everyone else is doing and being “tough”. I always wanted people to fear me because I was scared to be one of the kids to get picked on at school or in the streets. I always cared about what other people thought of me, so I would put up a front and act like someone I’m not. In the eighth grade that’s when I had my first experience with marijuana, but it didn’t turn into a habit then.
My first year in high school, I went to a school where I didn’t know anyone because everyone from my middle school went to a different high school. I took it as an opportunity to make a new image for myself. I quickly fell into the wrong crowed during my high school years. I started experimenting with drugs, skipping school eventually turned into a habit, and doing all types of bad things. I always thought to myself that I should experience all the bad things so it would make me into a wiser man in the future. I started stealing cars, getting into fights, robbing houses, and doing everything I can to get my name out there so people will know who Dennis Yem is. I knew deep down inside this is not who I am, but I grew into the type of person I wanted to be and it became part of personality. I’ve been arrested multiple times as a juvenile and causing stress on my family everyday. I have seven younger siblings who look up to me. I knew what I’ve been doing was wrong and it was affecting everyone’s lives, but it never stopped me. I always felt like I had to please my friends and be down for them in whatever they do. One of my best friends always quoted “If one falls, we all fall together” and I lived up to that throughout my teenage life. After I turned eighteen, that’s when I finally stopped with the crimes. Everything that went wrong in my life I always blamed it on my family. I always blamed it on my parent’s divorce. I always blamed my step-mom. I always denied their love for me and that my friends are the only ones I have. I ended up graduating on time because I felt like I had to accomplish something for my dad. I always knew I was capable of doing it, but I was always inconsistent. I thought after graduating high school things would get better in my life and my relationship with my family would get better. But instead it got worst. I started to party more every day. I fell into drugs and drinking habits. I got into more fights and hurting more people and continued on disrespecting my family more.
On December twelve, two thousand-nine, I turned nineteen and things were still the same, but worst. I was out doing the same thing I was doing as a teenager. I’m pretty sure more than half of my teen life I was high. I fell into addiction, but I always denied it. I always hated being alone, because I was so angry and upset with everything in my life. I was consumed by my pessimistic thoughts. I was pretty much depressed, though I hid it from the world. My dad always helped me and did the best he can even though I treated him like garbage. I was always confused about my life. I was confused about who I really am and who are actually there for me. Is it the guys who I call friends or is it my family? I knew what I needed to change and what I needed to fix but I didn’t know how. I’ve thought about it for many years about making a change, but I was still lost and blind. One night during the month of November two thousand-ten, my crew and I went to meet up another group to fight. I had a really bad feeling about it in my gut, but I just ignored it because I felt like I had to be down for my friends no matter what. We got to the location and another group of guys walked up to us and started shooting into our crowd. I remember running and watching the guys shoot at everyone. When I turned around, I saw my best friend on the ground lying on his stomach in his own blood. I ran and dropped to my knees crying and praying to God and my grandma who had passed away a couple years ago. At the time I always knew there was a God, but at the same time I was unsure. I remember seeing police officers grabbing everyone out of the way, but me. The whole time I was on my knees praying. Later that night at the hospital, we found out miraculous news, the bullet that pierced through his body flew right through between his organs and spine missing any major part of his body. Doctors were amazed on how lucky my friend was. I knew that was a miracle and I knew God was there with us. This was an eye opener for me, not about God, but about the scene I was in. My friends and I have been shot at many times, but this time someone was actually hit.
As the days passed, I told myself I was done and that I’m going to quit this scene, but I was still not there yet. I turned twenty years old in the month of December, two thousand-ten. I’m finally out of my teens, but I’m still in the same hole. For some reason I started thinking about going to church one day. I’ve thought about it and talked about it to my best friend for months. He said to me one day “Dennis, this is crazy because Arnold turned Christian and he’s all about God now and it really changed him.” Arnold was an ex-drug dealer, he used to party a lot, and he was always drinking and doing drugs. One night in the month of January, two thousand-eleven at my friend’s Buddhism blessing, my friend’s families and his friends were there to support him. We were all drinking and hanging out in the garage. Later that night Arnold walks in and I haven’t seen Arnold since the shooting and he looked more of a peaceful person now, so I was curious. I walked up to him and pulled him to the side and asked him about his experience with God. We walked away from everyone and the first thing he says to me is that God changed his life and how he’s not the same person anymore. Then he asked me if I knew what Hell is and I told him that Hell is where bad people go and that’s it. I never really thought about Hell. Arnold was telling me that people these days don’t understand the severity of eternal life in Hell. He told me about a video he watched about a man’s experience in Hell called twenty-three minutes in Hell, this man had a real life-like vision in Hell and with God. And at the end of the video, Arnold repeated a prayer in his head and instantly he felt the Holy Spirit break his heart and he started crying. He couldn’t explain why he was crying, but he just was. He wanted me to come to church with him sometime and I told him I would and I was really curious about what he was telling me.
It wasn’t until a couple weeks later on a Sunday I decided to watch the video. I Called up Arnold to go over his house and watch the video. After watching the video I started thinking a lot to myself about the after life. I always thought about death a lot before, so I always wondered about where we would go. I always knew there had to be more to life than just birth, time, and death. Arnold offered me to go to church with him since it was a Sunday and I told him next time, but he talked me into it so I decided to go. I’ve gone to church before but when we walked into the church I felt something different. I felt like I was at the right place at the time right with the right people. I started to cry a little during worship for some reason. At the end of the service they were asking for first timers who want to come up and accept Christ. I was nervous to go up, but something was telling me to just go up. When I was at the front of the stage I was next to an elderly woman and behind me were Arnold and a bunch of people getting ready to pray for us. Right before the prayer, the lady next to me was crying and she held my hand through the prayer. In my mind I was thinking to myself that this lady is old and she’s just now receiving Christ. After we were done everyone clapped and cried and hugged us. I’ve never felt anything so positive in my life before.
When I got home afterwards I told my dad and he told me that a few weeks ago he was praying to God that I would find my place. I was still unsure about how things were going to go in my life, but my passion for Jesus Christ was burning. The next day my dad and I got into a big argument and he kicked me out of the house. I started to question myself about God. I thought things would get better in my life right away. I went to stay at a friend’s house, but something was telling me that I should go stay with my friend Arnold. I felt by being around Arnold I would learn more about God and get closer to God. So I went and stayed with Arnold. He taught me a lot about him; we went to church; we listened to sermons; watched videos and even prayed every night. Every time when I went to church when I was homeless I prayed very passionately for the first time and each time for things to get better in my life. I cried every service during prayers. I was just crying out to God for him to heal my life.
It was on January thirtieth, two thousand-eleven, was the day I got baptized. I wanted to live a life without anger, pain, drugs, and just everything that was wrong in my life. After I got out of that water, I felt like a new person, I felt like all the weight on my shoulders was lifted off. I felt like I had a new start. I begin to start realizing that I have no urge anymore to do any of my bad habits I was doing. My urge for drugs went away. I started seeing things from a new perspective. I felt like I was given new eyes. I started to clearly realize and see the things I was doing to my family and myself. I saw how selfish I was towards them for the first time. One night I asked God to just tell me when the right time is for me to go talk with my dad. A few days later I got that feeling and I went and talked to him. I told my dad everything that went on in my life since I was kicked out and I realize everything wrong that I was doing to the family. I knew right then he knew that there was something different and new about me. He accepted me back and we hugged like father and son for the first time. As the days went by God was just healing our family. For the first time my house didn’t have this negative energy anymore. The negative energy was removed out of our bodies and home. My family and I became more positive and happy. We were all getting along like never before. Instantly our lives did a complete one-eighty. I finally got my own car and I finally got the money I needed to get into school. All these good things were happening at one time. I thank God for everything. I’ve taken many steps to try to get myself ahead in life and almost all of them only pushed me back. It was the first step to faith that changed everything in my life. It was that first step to faith that gave me the change I’ve always wanted. It was that first step to faith that led me to true happiness.