“At 26, I had everything. A huge house, a solid salary and career as a youth pastor. I had a wife, thousands of friends, and a lot of influence. By the time I was 30, I had lost it all. I was divorced, my career was over, all the influence I had was gone and I had moved back home into my little sister’s bedroom.
Everyone’s story is important and here at Hill City we want to celebrate people, where they’ve come from and what they’ve been through. This is Andrew’s story.
I moved to Richmond over 12 years ago to be apart of a growing ministry that quickly grew into a mega church. We were doing some really big things for God. We became a model church and taught others how do outreach like we did. But somewhere along the way, I lost sight of what was important. I felt like since I was doing all this good, God wouldn’t be mad about the sin I did behind closed doors.
After a time of living a double life in the ministry I finally “saw the light”. I went to the Board and confessed all my sins – sins which disqualified me from being a pastor. They allowed me to step down from my position.
I was crushed. I’d spent 10 years of my life loving the sinners around me, forgiving them when they messed up and giving them chance after chance. I helped countless men get off drugs and gave many of them a place to stay when they got out of jail. But just like that, I felt like I was the one on the outside looking in. It was a really difficult time for me. I had lost people I was close to, lost my community, lost my role pouring into youth.
I came to a point where I felt like I was left with nothing, and no choice but to move back home with my family in Miami.
The whole experience made me hate people, hate ministry, hate church. I felt like I hated God also. But if I was honest with myself, I really just hated myself. I had ruined the best thing that ever happened to me. I had reached every goal I ever had by 26 and lost it all. Everything I’d worked for, gone.
Back in Miami, it seemed like God had “reset” my life. He put me back to before I moved to Richmond, back to the same apartment I was in before I left, back to the same job. Back to when I was first saved and had a passion for God. I remember walking by this lake behind my apartment with some good Cuban coffee and my bible. I would spend hours there with God. I’d even stand up and preach a sermon to the ducks that came close looking for food. It was as if God said, “Ok, Drew, let’s start over and get it right this time.”
I later started to go back to church. Not looking for a position or even wanting to serve, I just wanted to be healed and poured into. I reached out to pastors. There were a handful of them that grabbed hold of me and loved me back to life. I’ll never forget this one pastor that I met with weekly. He would sit there and just listen. He knew I was trying to be tough through all of it. Once he put his hand on my knee and said, “It’s ok Drew. It’s ok to cry.” Dude, I lost it. I can’t remember the last time I cried uncontrollably like I did right then. These men taught me to forgive myself. They taught me that my story wasn’t over. They told me I was still in the fight. The love they showed me ignited a fire in my heart that had gotten blown out.
Out of all the advice I was given, the best was from my dad. It was short and to the point and it answered all the questions of what I should do next. He just said, “Hey, remember – Delgado’s don’t run”. I had to go back to Richmond to “return to the scene of the crime” and make things right, THEN I could begin to move forward. So I did.
I still have scars from this experience. I’m still scared about dealing with people in church. I’m scared to get burned again. I don’t have family here, so I view my church as my family. No one wants to lose family. I’m still learning how to grow in connection with people and not shy away when people get close. I try not to let that fear stop me, but sometimes it wins.
I have been slowly growing in connection here at Hill City. I love how the people are genuine. They know me as Drew and I have nothing to offer them but myself and they love me just like that. I have never felt like an outsider here. There is no “in crowd” here. Just one big, happy, crazy, fun and loving family. I never want a sinner to feel like they are a sinner. I don’t want anyone to feel like they don’t fit in and Hill City makes all that really clear. YOU DO FIT IN!
Since I’ve been here, I’ve made some of the best friends I have ever had. I’ve laughed the hardest working in the kids a ministry and am now starting to help out with the coming youth group. I felt like I went through the hardest time of my life alone. My goal is to make sure that not one of these teens ever has to go through anything alone. I’m going to be there for them. They all need Jesus. But first they need a real-life person to show them Jesus. Life is gonna throw some hard balls at them and I hope to spend my life preparing them for when that comes.
To sum up my life right now, I’d use this verse in Jonah 3:1 (modified a bit) “And the Word of the Lord came to Drew a SECOND time, ARISE and GO.”