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  • Writer's pictureCarolina Conference

From Darkness to Redemption: A Life Restored by Grace

photo by: Henrique Gomes

In the quiet moments of introspection, there are times when one might hear a faint voice, whispering that something is amiss. For Jose Antonio Carlos Cota, better known as Pepe, that voice turned out to be the Holy Spirit, guiding him through a very dark time of his life.

Pepe, a hardworking mechanic responsible for keeping trucks running smoothly at a concrete manufacturing company, found himself entangled in the clutches of addiction. His journey to redemption, however, is a testament to the transformative power of faith and grace.

photo by: Henrique Gomes

Raised in a conservative Adventist family, Pepe’s early experiences with religion left him with a skewed perception of the church. He drifted away from his faith, seeking solace among peers who seemed to understand him better. What began as occasional social drinking spiraled into full-blown addiction to both alcohol and drugs, leaving him in a seemingly endless cycle of despair.

“I was always high from 18 to 25 years old, and after that, it was when things started to get out of hand. I wasn’t drinking and getting high socially. I had become an addict,” Pepe recalls.

In the depths of his addiction, Pepe was haunted by self-loathing and despair. However, a persistent, inner voice began to speak to him. “I knew that inside of me, I was rotten. I knew that I had gotten to a point of no return. But something kept saying, ‘God came for the vile and despicable. Search for Him. Search for Him,’” he says.

One fateful day, driven by an inexplicable force, Pepe found himself at a church, disheveled and hung over, and planning to just give his tithe and leave. The only Hispanic, Spanish-speaking person at church was the one who met him at the door, and kindly gave him the address to the nearby Greenville NC Spanish church. “They’ll be waiting for you there,” he said.

As he sat through the service, feeling unworthy, Pastor Jonathan Mairena’s message on God’s grace resonated deeply within him.

“I felt as though he was talking to me, as if God was telling me, ‘I’m not mad at you. I’m not mad at you. And I never want you to be far from me again,’” Pepe shares.

This newfound connection with faith led Pepe to participate in the foot washing and communion, an experience that overwhelmed him with God’s love and forgiveness. Eventually, he made the decision to be baptized, a step symbolizing his rebirth and commitment to a new life.

Pepe’s story demonstrates that even in the darkest of moments, the grace of Jesus Christ can bring about transformation. “I don’t wish for anyone to go through what I’ve been through. But if the grace of Jesus Christ could rescue me, I don’t believe you’re in a place so low as I was where you can’t be saved by grace,” he emphasizes.

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