Luis Felipe Brias: A Life Transformed
Translated by Kenneth Eagleton
Blessings, brothers! The Lord bless you. My name is Luis Felipe Brias. I currently congregate at the Good News Free Will Baptist Church of Chitré, Panama. This is a testimony of my life. I hope it is a blessing for all who hear.
Two years ago, I had the opportunity to meet the pastor of the Good News Church, Pastor Cirilo Mendoza. The meeting may not have been so pleasant, since I was in bad shape. I was going down a bad path. I had known the Lord, but as a result of separation and divorce from my wife, I took my eyes off the Lord Jesus Christ. This distraction made my life sink into vices, into drugs.
As a result of drugs, I lost everything: home, friends, work, car, and family. I started living in the streets. The drugs caused many side effects to my mind—paranoia, schizophrenia. I felt people wanted to hurt me, felt persecuted. I did not have peace. I suffered much because of this. I would go three or four days without eating or sleeping. I developed contempt for society, for the state in which I was. Until one day, I had the opportunity to meet Pastor Cirilo, who invited me, with all the love of God, to a new opportunity. He wanted to help me, to take me to a place where I could receive treatment for my problem and in the future, when I left treatment, I could congregate in his church.
At first, I took it as a joke. I did not believe him because of the lifestyle I was living. I was even disrespectful to the pastor and started using drugs in front of him and in front of the brothers from the church. With much love and patience, he spent hours talking to me. But I had a very rebellious attitude. God touched my life, and I began to feel convicted so I accompanied them. They took me by car to another province of my country that same day, to a center. I remember the pastor gave me a Bible and pointed me to Philippians 1:8 that speaks of God being a witness to the love He feels for me. And he did not only love in words. I saw in the life of the pastor and the brothers a genuine love.
THEY SHOWED A LOVE OF GOD AND GAVE ME AN OPPORTUNITY TO CHANGE, TO BE TRANSFORMED.
I entered the treatment center. The pastor said they would not forget me; they would visit me and bring personal hygiene supplies and food. Not only the pastor but also other members of the congregation came weekly to this place, to this treatment center where I was confined. They loved God so much they not only visited me but all the people there. That place held the world’s discards. Many destitute people, people with mental disorders, gang members, and delinquents were in that place. They were the worst of the worst. I saw the heart and attitude of the brothers from the church. They offered their attention, cleaned wounds, brought medicine, Bibles, food for everyone there, and always shared the teaching of the Word.
I said, “I want what these brothers have. I want this love. I want to live the Christian life as they live it.” I began to lift my spirits, hope, faith, and started believing in God. After two years in the rehabilitation center, I had the opportunity to go to a training seminar.
As a result of the lifestyle I had led, I had a warrant for my arrest. They detained me six months in prison. The same day I came to Chitré for training, they captured me. In that prison, where there is so much evil, so much violence, I began to apply what I learned from my brothers and won souls for the Lord Jesus Christ. They are converts, still deprived of freedom but free in spirit. They are bearing witness to what God has done. Right now three brothers are persevering. They are giving testimony, and they are helping other people.
After prison, I immediately came to visit the pastor, to greet him and sincerely tell him it was still not time to congregate in the church. I had to work on some weaknesses I knew I had. I looked for another rehabilitation center in another province and began treatment.
A door of employment opened to me. By the grace of God, I had an opportunity to work at a well-known restaurant. I earned the confidence of my boss. I managed money, and I was socializing. I worked for seven months in that restaurant. Every so often, Pastor Cirilo visited me, and we always talked on the phone. He was patient, just waiting. I also waited until God’s timing came.
The director of the center where I was being treated told me I had fulfilled my time satisfactorily.
Now, I am home and have started working in Chitré. Thank God I have a job. Two years ago, I did not have one. This congregation, this church, has been a great blessing to my life. I am very grateful for the opportunity Pastor Cirilo has given me to serve. I am already serving in what I can, helping the pastor. This is part of what the Lord has done in my life. I know He will continue to do many other things in the lives of other men like me.