Finding peace in the realness of God

Listen to this article

By Hector Acosta, Lt. –

I think I was maybe one of the most cynical people about church, and church people, and maybe even God. I had a stepfather who required us to go to church, and we would go to mass and do the whole thing. I say this person was my stepfather, but I really just saw him as my father. He was the only father figure I ever knew. So that just added to the confusion because that person was the most abusive person in my life—physical, emotional, mental. The person who is supposed to be your greatest advocate, your protector. When that person turns out to be the one who is hurting you the most, it creates a lot of confusion.

I got into a lot of fights. I got kicked out of a lot of places because I just couldn’t behave or conform to whatever the structure, whatever it was. Cussed like a sailor, chased the girls, tried to prove my manhood, my toughness in the street. I feel like I had a lot of anger in my heart, a lot of chaos, maybe inside. I managed to get myself kicked out of the L.A. Unified School District. So I contacted my biological father and begged him to let me come live with him. He was attending a church and I think he was trying to get some stuff figured out for himself. So since he was attending a church, I had to be attending a church. But I didn’t go easy. And there was a youth leader there, and he would call me at every event, and he would offer to pick me up at every event. And I have to say if he didn’t call, I wouldn’t have gone. I started to form a bond with the kids that were in this youth group.

What I started to see from them was that there was something genuine with their relationship that these kids had with God. And that they behaved as if God wanted to be involved in their lives, and they would go out and tell people about God. I didn’t understand it, but I was sure I wanted to know God. And so my prayer was, “If you’re real, I want to know you.” If I could establish that in my life, then I felt like maybe I could deal with the rest of it.

It had been about three or four months that I was praying this, and all of a sudden I felt this strange warmth, and the most notable thing about it was that for the first time as long as I could remember there was a quiet peace, a peace I had never known. In that, God was saying, “Here I am.” And even though I grew up hearing about Jesus, and I grew up hearing about Christmas and about Easter, and how on the third day he rose, all of a sudden it made sense to me, the reality of that. One of the most cynical people all of a sudden became a fanatical believer.

I think that you could invite God to show himself how you need him in your life. And I didn’t even know what that was when I asked. I would have never thought to have asked for peace. I didn’t know I needed it; I didn’t know I craved it. Now I am a pastor. I spend my life creating environments and opportunities for people to encounter God, and to ultimately find their purpose in life.

Sometimes I’m sitting in my living room and I’m just reflecting about how my life is, right now today. I have the best job in the world, I have an amazing wife, I have a 20-year-old son and a 16-year-old son, and they both have their own relationship with God. If you are missing something you can’t quite put your finger on, I’d say you need to look to God. Talk to him in spite of what you see in the church because maybe you’ve experienced some of that craziness. If I hadn’t invited God into the process, well then, I think I’d just be like everybody else in my family and the pattern. They married whoever came along, there’s this kind of pattern of brokenness and broken relationships. In crying out to God and inviting him to reveal himself to me, what I was doing, I was confessing with my mouth and I was believing with my heart that Christ gave himself for me. There was a price paid for me and that was in Jesus—he paid his life. And because he conquered death, I get to live.

Watch Lt. Hector Acosta tell his story and find other video testimonies at

Finding freedom in engaging with others
Two cups of coffee on table

Finding freedom in engaging with others

I was raised in West New York, New Jersey, one of the most densely populated

Casa Grande Corps finds its niche

Casa Grande Corps finds its niche

Performing arts partnership pairs the corps with the artistic community When

You May Also Like