Clark Umengan

 

Back in the Philippines I grew up in a Catholic family who would go to church every Sunday and attend family gathering every weekend. When I came to Canada everything started out okay. My mum sponsored us with our stepdad and I came here to Toronto with my two brothers. In 1996 I went down to Louisville Kentucky and was there for three years working and doing school. That was where I met my wife. Two months after our marriage we moved down to Vancouver. I enrolled in VCC to finish my nursing while working two jobs. My wife was also working full time and life was good. In 2005 we moved from Granville from Coquitlam. At the time we always went to church regularly and I was even a member in the choir. But then we started missing church services and slowly everything started to fall apart. I was working two jobs and she was working full time as well and there wasn’t time for church. We both made mistakes. I met some guys I shouldn’t have associated with and got introduced to the gangs here. My wife found out about my connection with the gangs, said she wanted to move back home to Korea and we separated after that. I didn’t see my wife for 13 years.

I didn’t want to be alone with my suicidal thoughts, I was drinking and burning myself all the time with my cigarettes. I even chugged down a whole bottle of Tylenol, I wanted to end everything. I loved my wife so much and missed her a lot. I didn’t want to be alone so I stayed connected with the guys. I stayed with them for the next 10 years collecting police charges day by day. That was how I supported myself since I couldn’t go back to work. I was in and out of jail and the last time I was in jail they were looking at putting me into federal prison. And as soon as they locked the cell door, it was like a voice in my head kept asking me what was I was doing to my life. I was getting old and losing my family, losing my good friends, losing everybody. In that moment I just prayed to Jesus about what to do with my life. My lawyer was the one to mentioned going to a recovery house. And at first I wanted to do it just so I could get off the hook of doing prison time. But it wasn’t till I was in court when they brought me to the holding cell in Vancouver that I realized that I wanted to actually recover. That very moment I gave my life to God. I said “God my life is all screwed up, I don’t have my family, I don’t have anything with me, you’re all I’ve got so I’m just going to give my whole life to you”. As soon as I said that, the prayer took all the selfishness out of me, my life was about Him now. I just gave my life to Him and no matter what the judge decided I was going to man up and do the prison time trusting that whatever happens was from God. But if He was going to turn my life around, it’d be from him also.

When I went to court my lawyer was giving me that 50/50 look where he wasn’t sure what the judge was going to say. I was lucky that it was a good judge that day. I’m pretty sure that judge was touched too because my file is really thick and he only read parts of it. Since I went to Luke 15, it has been a total change. I just love myself right now. I was able to release a lot of guilt in me. In one of the meetings I had with the guys in the house, I poured out everything and laid it all down on the table. I hoped that I could be forgiven by Jesus Christ and it was a huge feeling of relief being reminded by the guys that I was forgiven. I’m happy. I always look forward to waking up and looking at the sunshine and thanking Jesus Christ for everyday. Another blessing too is Jesus bringing back my daughter into my life. Back then I felt the gap even when she would hug me. But right now my mother in law bought her a phone and now I can call her everyday to tell her how much I love her. She understands. Dad was messed up before and I told her as soon as I finish here I don’t want to ever leave her side. Even though I’m going to be finished with luke 15 I see myself still going back. Im part of an AA chapter now and it’s now one of my goals to continue serving people until my death.