Daniel DeLeon, Lancaster PA

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Daniel DeLeon, Lancaster PA

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I was born and raised on the streets of Lancaster city. I came from what could be classified as a dysfunctional family. This is evidenced in a mother who would lash out in frequent psychotic outbursts; a father who would discipline his children by pretending to be the devil; a sister who was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (multiple personalities); and a brother who made a name for himself for the animalistic brutally that he dished out on rival gang members. This was my family, so it should come as no surprise that at the age of eleven I started drinking alcohol and experimenting with drugs. At twelve, I was placed on probation for shooting a girl in the face with a pellet gun. At fourteen, I was locked up for almost beating a man to death. By sixteen, I was locked up once again for armed robbery. And from that point forward, I was in and out of detention centers and prisons for the majority of my adolescent and adult life.

As a result of my chronic addiction to drugs and alcohol, I became homeless at the age of 25. With an alcohol and drug habit to feed, I made a living by robbing drug dealers (and anyone else on whom I thought I could gain the upper hand). Eventually, this kind of lifestyle led to the demise of all meaningful relationships in my life. All alone, sleeping in a back alley in the middle of November, I found myself bracing for death. It was at this point that I began to ask the big questions: Why am I here? Where am I going? Why can’t I change? At various times in my life, I believed I’d had encounters with God. For that reason, I believed Him to be real, but up until that point, I was just not willing to surrender the only life I knew.

It was shortly after this, on December 7, 2007, that a series of events and influential people persuaded me to enter the Christian Life Development Program at (what was then called) the Water Street Rescue Mission. From the outset of this process I knew that God was involved in directing my life to this point, and my new motivation was to live to the fullest for Christ. From the very beginning, a thought was implanted into my heart that I was not at the mission to get my life back; rather, I was there to give it up.

The verse that was deeply implanted within my heart and mind was Jesus’ simple yet profound words recorded in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Since then, this verse has continued to motivate me to seek the things of God first in all I do. As a by-product, God has added many wonderful and undeserved blessings into my life. I have a wonderful wife (Alicia DeLeon) who has followed Christ since she was a little girl. I have a restored relationship with my daughter (Sabrina DeLeon) after three years of disappearing from her life. And my wife Alicia recently gave birth to our little baby boy named Micaiah DeLeon. On top of all this, I have had the opportunity to go on several out of country short term mission trips (Mexico and Dominican Republic) and I also had the opportunity to spend two weeks in Israel on a travel learn tour.

There are two things, besides my family and relationship with God, that bring me the most joy. The first is when I can spend time with God in His Word, and a light turns on in my mind as I see Him revealed through the pages of Scripture. The second thing relates to the first. When this happens, I must tell others. With that said, I believe I am called to be a pastor, but I also could see myself teaching in an academic setting. This spring (May of 2013) I graduated from Lancaster Bible College with degrees in Biblical Studies and Pastoral Ministry. If, God willing, I can raise the money, I will begin online classes this fall at Reformed Theological Seminary, where I hope to pursue a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies.

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