Breaking Free

Breaking Free

Sometimes God lets you hit rock bottom so that you will discover He is the Rock at the bottom.” – Tony Evans

Josh Garcia never felt the need for God. When his fiancé became pregnant, he got a well-paying job with the City of Fairfield to support his growing family. Life was good. But it didn’t take long before the foundation he built started crumbling. His newborn son was born deaf and two months later, Garcia was struck by a tractor on the job site. 

Garcia was put on prescription pain pills to help with recovery but over time became addicted to them. He eventually lost his job and lost all control of his life. “I had no idea you could get hooked on those things. I was completely addicted, depressed, and all my relationships broke apart,” said Garcia. He entered rehab but immediately relapsed when he got out.

Over time, prescription drugs turned into illegal drugs and Garcia became addicted to heroin. “I took anything that could shut my mind down from working in overdrive,” said Garcia. “All you’re trying to do is shut your mind down so you can get some peace. You can’t reconcile. You can’t fix everything that you’ve screwed up to that point. You feel like it’s all you.” 

Garcia had always been a generous person. So in the midst of his struggles, he opened his home to the wrong group of people. They took advantage of his generosity and ravaged everything, taking his food and his money. Angry and demoralized, Garcia sought revenge. He brutally attacked a man who owed him money and was arrested. 

He was placed in the Solano County jail and given six years behind bars. Garcia was at rock bottom. He had no hope for anything of value coming from his life. But then something miraculous happened. By the grace of God, his accuser admitted he owed him money and placed the blame on himself. Although he was still deemed a threat, Garcia’s sentence was reduced to six months with the majority of the time in an isolation cell. “You have to face yourself and look at everything,” said Garcia. Out of sheer boredom, he picked up a worn-out Bible and started reading it. “I couldn’t believe it. Words were popping out, telling me about my life story – past, present, promises, freedom,” said Garcia. “I submitted to God but I didn’t know how to have a relationship.” 

After his release, Garcia still felt hopeless and immediately relapsed. Thankfully, his grandparents agreed to let him stay in their home and help him get sober. “11-11-17 is the day that stands out to me. It was the day I heard God say, ‘I’m ready to use you.’ I started laughing,” said Garcia. “I wasn’t functioning to society’s standards so what was God going to use me for? But God told me, ‘You’re done using. Go back to Vacaville so I can use you.’”

Garcia obeyed. His life was never the same again. He turned himself back in because he had violated parole and went back to jail for two more months. “I was ready this time. I was completely broke. Defeated. Hopeless. My family had given up,” said Garcia. “I lost everything but it was exactly where God needed me.” He began reading the Bible again and participating in Bible studies with other inmates. God continued to work on Garcia’s heart after he was released. He gave him the power to forgive, the courage to show grace, and most importantly, freedom from the chains that bound him for so many years.

Garcia joined Crossroads Christian Church in Vacaville, California and began meeting regularly with his pastor. With his pastor’s support and encouragement, he gave his testimony on Easter Sunday.  He later enrolled as a Theology major at Jessup. “The biggest reason I signed up at Jessup was because there’s a need for discipleship out there,” said Garcia. “God showed me that I can help bring people from those hard places. I can engage with them. I want to get them discipleship because nobody discipled me.” 

Through his theology and biblical studies classes, Garcia is gaining the wisdom and knowledge he needs to disciple others. He loves that Jessup’s professors have personal viewpoints but allow students to form their own understanding. They are led by the Spirit, have a well-rounded view of the Bible, and teach students how to live as disciples of Jesus. “They are showing me how God’s kingdom is not just for the future. It’s not just heavenly hope, but it’s also earthly reality,” said Garcia. “That perspective is huge. That we’re able to stand in God’s presence and peace right now rather than waiting for the future.”

Garcia experiences God’s presence daily at Jessup and he’s learning how to carry that same presence into the world so others can experience it too. “Even if they aren’t Christians, they’re able to see that peace in us and want what we have. We’re able to point them to God,” said Garcia. With the encouragement of his mentors and professors, he now confidently shares the gospel everywhere he goes. “I know I’m capable of spreading the Word and spreading hope.”

Garcia is passionate about caring for the hurt and reaching out to the needy, forgotten, and neglected. “There’s a lot of people willing to talk about God from the pulpit but there’s a need for people to go back to hard places and get people from dark areas and bring them to the church and connect them,” said Garcia. “There are not enough people willing to go back. I’m not afraid of going back. I go to drug houses and engage with people I knew from my past, people who knew me before. I know they see hope. I was even able to reconcile with the guy I did time for and show him there’s a new way. I invited him to church.” 

After graduation, Garcia hopes to become a chaplain, disciple prisoners, and connect former convicts to pastors and churches. God has given Josh Garcia new purpose and meaning in his life. “Over the past five years, I’ve come in contact with a huge number of people who were praying for me throughout this situation,” said Garcia. He doesn’t lament about his journey or wish the road had been easier. This path has led him to freedom and he wants everyone to know this freedom. He has also reconnected with his six-year-old son who knows Jesus saved his dad. 

The world is now Garcia’s mission field and Jessup is equipping him to enter the world with confidence in his faith and deeper wisdom in his heart. Whether he’s sharing his faith at the gym or on the streets, Josh Garcia is ready and willing to do whatever God tells him to do. So, the next time you’re in Vacaville, look for Josh. He’ll be the one on the side of the road, visiting with the hopeless, bringing them food, and telling them how he broke free from the bondage of sin and found his freedom through Jesus.