Life is a Gift from God
My name is Jose and I’m 24 years old. I am Mexican/American and I am doing a 35 year sentence for shooting a man and stabbing 4 others. I gave my life to God 2 years ago, but it was not until 5 months ago, when I made a total surrender and rededication from the depths of my heart unto God, and surrendered my life and will unto His.
First I would like to start out by saying this, I’ve seen a lot of death, that wasn’t justified in any way. I thought it was, but God has opened my eyes to the truth. I am going to share my experiences with you in order to open your eyes to truth today. To circumstances, to what waits you if you do not stop, and listen to one who was in the fast lane, the quick life, the fast buck. I am an ex-drug trafficker, drug dealer, I had it all, I thought, money, cars, clothes, ect. And I lost it all when I came to prison.
Last year while I was in another institution a man disrespected me and I stabbed him in the chow line 5 times. I was sent to the hole and given a 2 year lock-up. My dear wife had finally had enough. She felt like she was wasting her time on me. She was! Why should she wait when I acted like I didn’t want out of prison. I don’t blame her, but it hurt me so bad. I lost so much because of that incident in the chow line. My family and friends had given up on me. While in the hole, I forget about God. I worshiped another god. I was into modern day witchcraft. When I was transferred to this institution I didn’t believe anything that was going on. I thought she was just mad right now, and that she would stop the divorce after she cooled off. But she was serious. I couldn’t stop her, and I couldn’t take life anymore. I thought to myself, “what kind of man was I, if I failed my own wife?” I wanted to die! I turned back to the Lord, and asked for His help. I tried making deals with Him like, “God if you stop the divorce I’ll do this and that for you!” But God doesn’t work like that. I felt so much pain in my heart and I just wanted it to end. So I decided on suicide. I slit my wrist with a razor. I bled a lot but the guards found me. I received stitches and that was it. I tried making deals with God again, but it was failing. I began to write letters to many big ministries around the states, for I figured maybe God couldn’t hear me, but He would hear their prayers. So I sent them my prayer requests for God to stop the divorce and restore my marriage. Nothing worked!! I was lonely and hurt. I began to stop caring about myself. I stopped eating and sleeping and I even let my hair grow long. I wouldn’t comb it. I hated my life. I hated myself. I hated all that I was going through. I couldn’t take it anymore. I felt as if God didn’t want me. So I decided suicide was the only way out.
One night I took 80 Tylenols and 10 anti-depressant drugs. I figured I would go to sleep and never wake up again.
The guards found me on the floor. They tried to wake me, but couldn’t. I was just about dead. They rushed me to the prison hospital. I was so far gone that they couldn’t help me. They transferred me to the county hospital where the doctors there were able to do something. They pumped my stomach, and had all kinds of machines on me, I.V’s and stuff. They had me transferred to the University Hospital 2 hours away. I was placed on the critical condition list. In my mind I knew I should of died. I wished at that time I did. I was so mad that those doctors had helped me. In my mind I felt like this, “if I want to die, I have the right, so why did all those people interfere? They didn’t know the pain. Why didn’t they just leave me alone?” I remember one doctor telling me, “you should be happy, you have a second chance.” I got so mad and told him, “I didn’t want a second chance, I just wanted to die,” After a few days at the University Hospital, I was transferred to the prison hospital. I was there 3 weeks. The institution then decided to send me to Iowa Medical Center for evaluation and treatment for my deep depression. The day I left I found out the divorce was final. I was so upset; I was mad at God for allowing it! I felt disappointed and let down. I started to feel more and more like God didn’t want me. I didn’t know at that time, but my life would change.
I was at the Medical Center for about 90 days and during that time so much happened that changed in my life. When I first arrived there I didn’t want to participate in any of the groups. I just wanted to be left alone. I still had suicide on my mind, and I thought seriously about trying again.
One day when I was sitting in the smoking area among some other patients some of them tried to get me into church. I decided I would go, but every time I went, I would walk out. They started preaching about God’s love for us, but I didn’t any longer believe it. But I still kept on going, but I always walked, I was scared, I was scared of church, and what I might hear there, and I was scared of God. I thought God wanted to hurt me. But, that all changed in late December.
At this hospital were all kinds of people; drug addicts, child molesters, rapists, violent people, suicidal, and people who had broke down like me.
There was a man there whom I met, he was an ex-clergyman. He had preached in Minn. He was there for a nervous breakdown. He was the one who tried to encourage me, and he prayed for me, but I was kind of scared of him, well because he was a preacher. One day we were still sitting around talking. He came and sat with us for a while. After a while he got up and went into the bathroom. We weren’t really paying any attention to him. Well another patient got up and went into the bathroom. After a few minutes, he came running out and yelling, “get staff, this guy hung himself.” It was the preacher. We ran into the bathroom, and he was in the end stall. Me and another guy tried to get him down. We couldn’t, he was too heavy, so others came to our help, and helped us lift, while another unhooked the belt. As I lifted him down I realized the man was not breathing. We then lay him on the floor and I took the belt off from his neck. I was going to walk away, but something inside me wouldn’t let me. It was good that God wouldn’t let me walk away. Maybe He let me walk away from church and maybe He let me be mad at Him, but He was not going to let me walk away from that man.
At that moment I forgot about my suicide tendencies, and how I felt about a person who wanted to die. God didn’t care how I felt, He was not going to let me walk away.
I then yelled out, “I have to give this man CPR,” and I proceeded. One of the staff told me I couldn’t do it, (because of disease, I guess they use a special tube) I didn’t care, I was going to try. He then grabbed me, I pulled away. “Leave me alone I yelled at the staff.” I tried CPR 1 time, then 2 times, by this time the bathroom was filled with about 10 guards and staff. They cleared the bathroom, but they weren’t going to get me off that man for anything (God didn’t let them). After the third time, I felt the man start breathing. I had saved that man’s life. I then got up and walked out dazed. Everyone was looking at me, congratulating me, but I felt so weird inside. I then went and sat down. I started crying. I didn’t understand anything. Why did I save that man’s life when I wanted to die so bad? I guess because when I saw the man hanging there, I saw myself. I know I had been full of anger and bitterness because God had allowed the divorce, but He showed me that day that He loves me, and He needs me, like I needed Him. I really thought God hated me, but He showed me that He didn’t hate me, He showed me that He loved me and could and would use me.
Shortly after that, I started doing good in the program. I then surrendered my life to God, and now because of the love of God, I am going to do His will. I am going to save lives for the Lord. Every time I help to lead a person to the Lord, I am saving a life, and that means a lot to me.
I pray that my story will reach a lot of you. I had second thoughts about writing this testimony, but I felt that I had to, if I want to save people’s lives, for life is a gift of God.
Jose A. Ochoa