In a large empty parking lot in front of a church, I was staring at the cross. It was past 12 am, and I didn’t want to go home. My wife had been trying to call me frantically all evening, but I couldn’t pick up my phone. I didn’t know how to tell her that we had just lost everything. My former employee had stolen six business checks, all of my credit card numbers, and over a two-week period, had gambled away all my money in a casino. I had no idea all this was happening. I was busy running a martial arts studio with 15 instructors and over 350 members in a 7,000 square foot contemporary training center with stadium style seating. I was also a part-time pastor and founder of Church Builders International (CBI), building churches in third world countries. Twenty-five churches were built through this ministry, and all the funding for CBI came directly from ten percent of the business gross income. Furthermore, all of the staff members had accepted Christ through the business since the inception, except for one. The one person that I thought I could trust the most had a gambling addiction. Within two weeks close to $100,000 went up in smoke through forged checks, money transfers, and credit card purchases. All this time I thought he was simply taking a vacation. His addiction caused destruction to his life and his own family along with mine.

I kept staring at the cross, crying and yelling at God. “I just don’t understand you God! How can you let this happen to me? What wrong have I done! What wrong has my family done to deserve such heartache? I evangelize and bring people to your feet! I preach the gospel every Sunday with passion! I build churches for you through the business that you allowed me to have! Everything was going well, so why now?”

When I started to think about my children, I cried even more, realizing I didn’t have any money to get groceries. I was going to lose the business, the house, the car – literally everything. I couldn’t go home to tell my wife that we were totally broke. I felt like a failure. I felt as if I had failed as a father and as a husband. It seemed like God had abandoned me. All of my pleading and cries for help fell on deaf ears. I needed Him desperately, but He was nowhere to be found.

This was the turning point of my life. I had to make a decision. Do I trust God during my troubles, or do I turn away from Him and figure this problem out on my own? As I contemplated this issue, I kept hearing a small voice, “Do you trust me?” I kept ignoring it, but it just kept coming back. “Do you trust me with ALL your heart? Will you still call out my name if you lose yours? When you lose ALL your possessions, will you hold onto me? If you lose your love for others, will you still love me?” The more I ignored these questions, the louder they got. I preached on trusting God before, but now I was challenged to live it out and truly believe that He was real and sovereign over all my troubles. Do I really believe in what God tells me in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

I couldn’t take it anymore, so I cried out, “Lord, I know that you’re real! I know that you truly do have a plan for me and not to harm me. I will trust you! But, please help me to see some hope out of this mess.” That night I went home and in faith told my wife everything. I thought she would be distraught over our situation, but that night I saw a true woman of faith. With tears in her eyes she said, “Even if the five of us have to move into a cheap one-bedroom apartment, our family will stick together and we will get through this. I will support you however I can.” She didn’t throw the Bible at me or use Scripture to condemn me, but used words that I desperately needed to hear from her. At the lowest point in my life God used my wife to encourage me so I would put my faith in Jesus even more. As a family, we decided to follow Jesus, and there was no turning back.

[Due to the length of the testimony please continue to read Real People Real Suffering Real Victory in Christian book stores near you or at Amazon.com]