Pastor Herman Mendoza who prior to repentance was a drug dealer and gang member has shared testimony of how God transformed his life in prison.
In a May 26 episode of Delafé Testimonies, Pastor Mendoza, the lead pastor of Iglesia Promesa Internacional, a Spanish-speaking church in New York City narrated how he turned from gang-related activities and the impropriety lifestyle he engaged in at 12 to a devoted Christian pastor.
In the video, Mendoza recalled observing an emerging trend in Queens, New York, where he grew up. His subsequent desire to fit in the trend pushed him into identifying with gang members who led him into alcohol.
“I wanted to kind of fit in and be a part of that culture during the time. So I got involved with some young people in the community, which were local gang members, and I was introduced to marijuana, basically [at] 12 years of age.”
“We started to consume marijuana and alcohol. And that really caused a lot of problems because my parents were somewhat noticing my behavior. They noticed that I was really changing in my attitude towards them, towards school,” Mendoza narrated.
Mendoza recalled thinking an incident that led to his friend being shot to death would change him, but unfortunately, it didn’t. He instead was addicted to drugs and started selling small portions of cocaine in the neighborhood
“I thought that was going to shake my core, right? It was going to change my behavior, but it didn’t. I continued to be involved in his gang and consume drugs and smoke weed. And then eventually, that led me to use cocaine.”
His drug habit progressively worsened, leading to his confinement in a detention center where his brother who lived the same lifestyle as him was detained. While in detention, Mendoza recalled he experienced a constant feeling of sadness and a strong desire for inner peace.
God manifested his transforming power on him when he attended the detention center chapel service his brother invited him to. During the service, an inmate that ministered made statements that aligned with his frequent thought and feeling.
The Inmate said, ‘There’s a gentleman here … amongst 55 inmates here, [who] has been chasing after things, and those things have led him down the road of destruction. And he is seeking after peace.’ ‘There’s someone that’s been telling God that He wants peace.’… ‘The peace that God can give you surpasses all of your understanding. You know who you are. God can change your life,’ he recollected.
Hearing the pastor, Mendoza recalled those were the exact words he had been saying to God. He realized then that it was him the pastor was referring to and at the moment he “just felt this peace come on me. And I knew it was for me. I was like, ‘Man, how does this inmate know my story?” Mendoza recall he said.
After the sermon, the pastor invited him to the stage, the point where he gave his life to Christ. Afterward, he dedicated himself to studying the Bible and theology. He later assumed the role of head pastor at the detention center chapel.
Miraculously, Mendoza’s sentence of 18 years was lifted to five years and six months. Throughout his detention, he preached the word of God to the inmates. Many inmates gave their lives to Christ.
“As I was released, I was crossing that bridge from the island of Rikers Island, which is an island where 10 jails are located. And as I went over, and I was physically free, I got on my knees and said, ‘God, thank you. Lord, thank you for giving me freedom,” Mendoza said.