Moved by Compassion: A Heart for World Missions
How does one transform from a homeless drug-user to a follower of Christ involved in ministry? For Bruno, it has been a painful, 20-year journey.
A Life Transformed
by Michelle Forlines
Bruno grew up in a troubled neighborhood, amidst fights and gangs. A Catholic priest in his neighborhood took care of delinquent children and, at times, Bruno ran there for safety. Although Bruno hoped God existed, he could not understand how evil and good could exist together and why evil always seemed to win.
About 20 years ago, Bruno was living out of his car, using drugs, and feeling hopeless. He had hit rock bottom. Transformation began ever so slightly. First, Bruno found employment at a surf shop. Eventually, he became owner of the small company. This gave him the opportunity for the life he thought he wanted, but he still felt empty and lifeless inside. Bruno was in the right spot to hear God’s voice.
Flirting with women was a normal part of Bruno’s lifestyle, and a pretty young woman named Julie worked next door to the surf shop. A Christian, Julie took every opportunity to share about Jesus when Bruno came to see her. Although initially Julie was simply a pretty lady to flirt with, Bruno soon knew that somehow Julie held his chance at life. Bruno was receptive to the message of Jesus, felt conviction of his sins, and made the choice to follow Christ. Bruno never envisioned himself as a family man. Then the unthinkable happened. Julie and Bruno fell in love, married, and began their life together.
Bruno found his new Christian life was good, but painful. He brought up question after question, and Julie gently pointed him to Jesus each time. Bruno said he literally felt like his skin was being torn off as his old self and old life were ripped away to reveal a new creation. He was being liberated from his past. He was born again, entering the world as a follower of Christ. But it was a slow, excruciating process. It was two years before Bruno and Julie could pray together. It took time for Bruno to be anything but a spectator at church. God slowly worked in Bruno’s heart, changing him from the inside out.
After many years of following Jesus, Bruno came to yet another turning point in his life. Bruno wanted to be a man after God’s own heart. He began to feel a burning desire for others to know the same grace he had experienced. He wanted to see the walls of comfort and protection people built for themselves dissolve. He believed these walls prevented relationships with other people, as well as hindering relationships with God. He wanted people to feel as the Samaritan woman did when she met Jesus. Jesus met the woman where she was. He gave her true life and confidence, and she left joyful.
An opportunity to extend his ability to share with others came during church one Sunday. Bruno’s pastor, Free Will Baptist missionary Jerry Gibbs, asked if some in the congregation were interested in helping to lead and preach. It seemed his burning desire to serve God and share Him with others had just had hot coals heaped upon it. Bruno knew God was calling him in the direction of leadership and ministry.
Today, God is using Bruno in his church in St. Nazaire, France. He knows God has brought him to this place. The man who thought he never would be a family man is happily married and has two children. The man who was so far from God is now teaching, studying God’s Word, and seeking God’s Kingdom. The man who embraced a self-destructive lifestyle is now full of musical creativity, cooking, and building. Bruno is currently working at nearby hotel, renovating their house, and working in his church. He is praying for God’s direction for future plans and the possibility of ministerial training. Bruno is thankful that God is faithfully, continually sanctifying and changing him.
About the Writer: Michelle Forlines works as a nurse on a mobile unit in inner-city Memphis, TN. Bruno and Julie tell their story on IMpulse 6.1. Watch All Things New at fwbgo.com/impulse.