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Joe Almanza grew up in a family of organized crime called the Mexican Mafia:

"We were supplying most of the heroin for the Southern and Midwestern US. I became addicted to heroin. I went to many drug addiction agencies. I sold some heroin to an undercover agent and I went to prison. When I got down to the prison I got the red carpet treatment because my name carried weight. I didn’t want to be a religious person because in my culture that’s not cool. They say that if you become a believer that’s for sissies. I was in prison where they keep you in the cell for 23 hours a day and you get out for 1 hour. One night in 1982 I felt really down. One of the ways to deal with this is to commit suicide. Some rays of light came through my prison window. All of the windows there were painted black but every once in a while some paint would come off and a ray of light would shine through. On that night in 1982 a little ray of light came through. God seemed to be saying that He was that one ray of light. I began to belief and then he started to put people into my life. One day I was looking for something to read and I found a magazine by someone in the Churches of Christ."

Now he is a minister at an inner city church. He says, “Sometimes your mess becomes your message.”

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