Leaving the Gang Life and Finding a Higher Purpose — 2020

Excerpts from an article on cbn.com

After Diaz’s initiation into the gang, the leader took the 11-year-old Diaz to a rival gang where they jumped a rival gang member and stabbed him with a screwdriver. Diaz quickly found himself in and out of juvenile hall. By age 16, Diaz was arrested and convicted for a gang-related murder.

When Diaz turned 18, he was transferred to state prison where he spent three years in solitary confinement. On his third year of solitary, a woman from a bible study fellowship began stopping by his cell once a month.

The two would only speak for two to four minutes. However, the woman always left him with one phrase.

“I’m still praying for you, and Jesus is going to use you,” Diaz remembers the woman telling him.

After a year and a half, Diaz found Jesus Christ in his cell by himself. The religious moment of clarity was undeniable for Diaz, and it brought him to his knees. He repented for his sins, and he stepped down from his leadership position in the gang.

On July 3, 1995 Diaz was released at age 24. Eventually, he found a gentlemen in a barbershop who led him to his church. Soon after that, Diaz began working two minimum wage jobs and attending every available bible study.

After serving as a youth pastor for eight and a half years, Diaz left that church. He had started to see that church had become more theatrical and entertaining instead of religious, and started and became the pastor of his own church in 2007. In February 2017, he merged his church with a Foursquare church.

Part of his responsibilities as a pastor includes counseling parents on how to keep their children out of the gang culture. He gets to know the kids one on one, and becomes a mentor instead of coming at them as an authority figure.

Diaz believes there is so much talent in our youth, and he hopes to help kids find it and use it for good. Diaz has recently published a book entitled “The Shot Caller,” which recounts his life and transformation. He is also now married and the father of three children.

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