Juan Varela Álvarez
CMA España

The end of the seventies was the last stage of hippie philosophy: "Make love and not war", "LSD and marijuana will set you free", etc. All that environment of communes and young people living in "freedom" bewitched me, and that's how I started smoking the first joints: it was something different, and at that time the drug was disguised as a hedonistic and at the same time rebellious philosophy that had not yet He showed his toughest facet. That's why my first experiences with drugs were not the result of a broken family, or unemployment, or lack of future and motivations ... No, my first experiences associated the drug with a lifestyle; but the dreams of "a happy world", little by little they were dissipating and the drug began to show me its teeth; Then came cocaine and heroin. It was like falling suddenly into a well, all very fast ...




That disenchanted youth that life had deceived came home every night, his appearance was hard, and his clothing aggressive, but when he took off his leather jacket and boots, his true identity appeared: he was just a scared boy with a great need for love and understanding. I remember nights where the loneliness became so real that I could almost touch it, desperate nights of not believing that life was just that. Sometimes I dreamed and in my dreams I saw a beautiful valley where everything was in order and I was at peace with myself, enjoying myself. When I woke up and checked that my reality was still lying, stealing, suffering for carrying that kind of life; Then I would cry. My situation was really desperate. It was a dark time, now remembered with sadness for the lost years, but also with nostalgia, because not everything was negative. In the end, I had the courage to take off my leather jacket and look inside.



It was in the summer of 1988 when it happened. They came from a small country in northern Europe, and without my knowing it, they were going to be instruments used by God to bring freedom to my life. My cousins ​​studied theology and belonged to that branch of Catholic renegades who called themselves Protestants. I was not happy with it, because the idea that I had of Christ was mixed in my mind with the teaching of the catechism and the Catholic atmosphere in which I had grown up. I had been inculcated with a distorted image, so I associated everything related to religion and Christ with prohibitions and penances, with silence and darkness, with the smell of incense and rosary beatas. The God who had sold me was distant and severe, I feared him.

It was a hot summer that of 1988, even for Asturias, my land. I remember my cousin coming to the farm drenched in sweat to talk to me about "his" Christ. The farm was on the mountain; It belonged to my brother, and at that time I was his only inhabitant. He was there for the purpose of leaving the drug once more (he had tried many times, but to no avail). When he came to tell me about the gospel, his words had something magical, they calmed me down and were like a balm to my wounds. The God they were presenting to me was very different from the one I thought I knew, this Christ was someone close and kind, someone familiar who extended my hand to take me home.



Then I was twenty-six years old. During that week they explained the gospel to me in detail, I drank every word and I realized that Christ was the freedom that I so desperately sought in other ways. But the gospel has an end, and then demands a commitment; You can not remain indifferent, or you embrace it or reject it, but you must take sides. I remember that I was very afraid, because although I knew that the truth was there, I did not feel up to what was demanded of me, I was afraid of failing, I did not have confidence in myself and I believed that I had only my own strength. So I told my cousin to leave me time to make a decision, that it was something very important and I could not act lightly ... it was really just an excuse to buy time, because I did not want to make a decision, I was terrified of the commitment.

But God had other plans for me, my cousin told me that I had to make a determination that same night, he was going to Belgium and he did not want to leave me without knowing which way I had decided to direct my life. No doubt that night was very long.



It was hot that summer of 1988, even there, under the stars in that hidden mountain farm. I was sweating, sometimes it trembles with fear, but I was sweating and not only because of the temperature of the night, what if it's all a lie? What if you go back to the drug once they leave? questions and doubts hammered my head insistently, I did not want to commit, I was afraid, I did not feel capable, why did I have to define myself?

Time passed slowly, also he seemed tired, the movie of my life went through my mind, my memories of childhood, my fantasies, the harsh reality of my adolescence and youth ... Then I did something, something decisive that helped me put things in place, I imagined a balance of those with two dishes on each side; in one I put everything that I had received from the world in twenty six years of life, and I verified that it had to do with loneliness and frustration; in the other dish I put only a week of what I had heard about the gospel; it had to do with company and hope. Then I saw it clearly, because with only a week knowing Christ and his love the balance was tilted in his favor, against twenty-six years of life without Him.

That night, on September 8, 1988, I gave my life to Christ with full awareness of the step I took and the commitment I was taking. I had the courage to ask him to guide my life and the courage to renounce the life he had led up to that moment. Then I could not even imagine what God was going to do with me! A few months later, I was baptized and they gave me a picture embroidered with the verse of 2 Corinthians 5,17 that I still remember as a key verse in my life: "He who lives in Christ is a new creature, the old has passed and a new reality is present. "