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        Christian Claudio's Testimony

My name is Christian Claudio. I am a 30 year old Hispanic male serving a prison sentence of 20˝ - 40 years.

I was raised in Spanish Harlem by strict Roman Catholic parents. My mother was also a spiritualist and my father was a member of the Rosicrucian cult. I am the oldest of three brothers in my family. We were all very religious, but none of us knew God.

My life started taking a turn for the worse during my college years. It was a time when doing cocaine was the "in" thing. Using and selling the drug, I was part of the "in" crowd and was considered "cool." At the same time I became more entangled in the spiritualist world and got deeply involved in witchcraft, Santoria, and spiritualism.

During my senior year of college, I decided to stop using cocaine and instead to concentrate on selling it. As a result, I dropped out of college just one year short of obtaining my degree. Two years later, I began distributing the drug and started living like a king. I thought I had it all: money, power, houses, jewelry, women. But even with all that, something was missing.

As a result of my criminal activity, I was eventually jailed. In prison my heart grew bitter and cold. I hated everyone, including myself. I blamed the world for how my life had turned out. The blow that rocked me came from my fianceé. I had been with her for nine years, and she left me for another man. I truly had loved her. When she left me, nothing mattered anymore. I felt alone and very distressed. These feelings grew worse from day to day. I couldn't bear the lack of love and loneliness and decided to take my life. However, God didn't allow me to kill myself because He had a divine plan for me.

While still looking for love, acceptance and friendship, I joined the prison gang known as the Latin Kings. Eventually, I was promoted to a First Crown (a top-ranking leader) in the facility I was in.

Not long after my promotion, I got thrown in S.H.U. (the box). While in the box, I had a chance to think — really think — like never before in my life. I asked myself many questions concerning the nature and existence of love. "What is love really all about? How does anyone find true love in this world? Is love a fading sensation like all the other emotions and feelings I have experienced in my life?"

Before my trial, my codefendant accepted Jesus into his life and became saved. He was a totally new creation and his "walk" touched my heart. I wanted to experience the same transformation that he had. On July 20, 1992 in C-73, in 6 Main, on the A side in 5 Cell at 11:25 p.m., I found Jesus Christ myself and accepted Him into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior. It was at that moment that I experienced the greatest quality of love in my life. His love flooded my soul and profoundly impacted my life as no other event ever had.

God's love and mercy has transformed me. I am no longer the ice-cold-hearted person I once was. Now I love and forgive people who have done the unforgivable to me. I even love the enemies I used to hate deeply. I am a new creature in Christ.

As a result of much prayer, fasting, and supplication to the Lord; my stepfather, mother, and both of my brothers have become saved and are living for God. God has given them a zeal to serve Him and to build up His kingdom on earth. God kept the promise of saving my family, too. He is a faithful and just God.

Today, I find myself wanting to do more and more for my Lord simply out of gratitude for His immeasurable love expressed toward me. He has redeemed me from the pitfalls of hell and destruction. I am overwhelmed by the reality that Jesus Christ died on the cross in my place to pay the penalty for all my sins. God is truly love, and I'm so honored to have Him residing in my heart.