Wade Wants to Fight for His Joy

Growing up in a tough part of Oxnard, the gang life was all around Wade. “I was only 13 when I got into it,” he said. “They go after the little kids and manipulate them. In my mind, I thought of it as a righteous cause. As you grow up, you realize, this isn’t right. This isn’t cool.”

For 10 years, Wade partook in that lifestyle. “I’m not going to sugarcoat it,” he said. “I was an active gang member. There was a lot of criminal activity. I lived that life for a very, very long time.”

In 2008, when Wade had his first son, he started yearning for change. “I slowed down, but I was still doing things I shouldn’t have been doing.” A couple years later, when his daughter came along, Wade says he really “pumped the brakes. I felt like God was giving me another chance. I chose to disassociate myself (from the gang), and focus on doing good and raising a family. But I was still struggling with my addiction. That was my downfall.”

In 2013, Wade’s mom died. “I relapsed, went to jail, lost my kids to the system—everything spiraled out of control when she died.” Wade continued to battle his addiction off and on for years. “I was feeling so hopeless. I didn’t want to do anything. I gave up. I wasn’t putting God first because I wasn’t fully transformed. … But last year, something sparked inside of me. I wanted to fight for my joy and my happiness, which for me, are my kids.”

Wade is now three months into the program. “I made the decision to give myself over to Christ. I didn’t want to keep lying to myself and suppressing my problems with drugs. … Little by little, God’s putting everything in place.”

“Sometimes, I’m ashamed of my past, that I used to be a gang member,” Wade added. “But I’m learning that maybe my story can be some type of hope for people who have some of the same types of struggles I did. People in the gang life, they have been told so many lies. They have no one to reach out to them. I feel like maybe I could help somebody to realize that the life they’re living is not their best option.”