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Michael Ortiz is a Term 3 IMPACT195 student sharing his testimony at our End of Term Celebration this Thursday night. Read his powerful story of life change here.
“Good evening friends and family. My name is Michael Ortiz and as of tonight, I am a graduate of IMPACT195.
I want to share with you how God transformed my life of labor and worldly pursuits to one of rest in Christ Jesus. In Matthew 11.28-30 Jesus says, ‘Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’
I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was a rainy night in 2012, and I was having a hard time getting to sleep. A co-worker and I were in Japan, working on a multimillion dollar engineering project. I was a bright, young, handsome...well I was definitely a young…software engineer with the world at my finger tips. I had everything to lose and was in the perfect position to lose it.
We had spent the week laboring away and five cups of coffee and four beers later, we were at the end of another sixteen hour work day. I had pulled seventy-plus hour work weeks and sleepless nights leading up to this trip as well.
As I lay there in the hotel bed, something strange began to happen. My heart began to beat faster and faster. It was beating too fast. Panic began to consume me like a fire. I couldn't breath, I couldn't move, all I could do was let this happen. I thought ‘this is it, I am going to die’. Then it stopped.
Most would think that since I was raised in a Christian family that I would have cried out to God at this point. But not me. I was under the impression that God didn't care about me and He had let me down. The bible study that I was apart of during my college years, He let die. And if there was a God, I didn’t believe He was concerned about me. In my mind, my life was in my hands and my value was in my achievements, my accolades, my salary, and my work ethic.
So instead of calling on Jesus, I called on a Japanese doctor. The doctor said that I had experienced a heart arrhythmia and should take it easy for the next couple of days, but he told me not to worry because everything else was all right.
That statement couldn't be any further from the truth. In Mark 8.36 it says, ‘what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?’
This was the picture of my life. A bright young man, gifted by God, and full of potential, with a heart that grew darker by the day. I was slaving away, giving my life to obtain the world's false promise of success. I was literally dying to achieve it, all the while my soul was hanging in the balance.
A few weeks later, I woke up in my bedroom in San Diego. It was around 3AM in the morning and I was drenched in sweat and had a face full of tears. I just had a horrific nightmare, in which many demonic spirits kept coming up out of the ground, pulling me, and dragging me, laughing at and mocking me, all the while trying to take me to a place eternally separated from God. This was a place otherwise known as hell.
I believe that this was God's final warning to me that the life I was living was about to cost me my soul. I couldn't deny Him any longer. Immediately, I fell to the floor. I cried out to God and told him that, ‘I do not want to go to that place! Please forgive me! Please have mercy on me!’ As I lay there on the floor, broken, sobbing, ashamed, I felt a presence enter the room. This presence drew near to me and surrounded me. It was as if Jesus Himself was holding me.
Then I heard a voice say, ‘Michael, I love you and I forgive you.’
That next Sunday, I began attending Rock Church again. I saw one of the Rock lay counselors, who spoke truth into my life. It was truth like 1John 1:9 which says, ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ I discovered Romans 8:1 which says, ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.’ This lay counselor made me promise to join one of the Rock LIFE groups, where I was introduced to a precious community of fellow believers.
About a year later, a young couple visited one our LIFE group bible studies and shared how God met them at IMPACT195 and transformed their lives. They invited me to come check out one of the open house events. I attended and thought wow, these people are a little wild. But here I stand before you tonight, a changed man because of my year here. By the end of that night at open house week, I knew that God wanted me here at IMPACT195. I enrolled in the program and God miraculously provided the necessary resources to attend.
Here, God blessed me with a beautiful community of brothers and sisters. Through the Ephesians class He taught me that my true identity is a born again saint, a Child of God, holy and acceptable in His sight because I had received Jesus Christ His Son. I learned that when God looks at me, He doesn't see my faults, my sins, or my imperfections. He does not see that broken young man, who was losing his soul in the pursuit of worldly success. No. He sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
I learned much more through the classes and the community here, but it wasn't until I got the opportunity to go on one of the International IMPACT Trips to Haiti, that I finally embraced who I was in God's eyes and what He was inviting me into. On this trip, God used our team to preach the gospel, to heal the sick, to bring comfort to the broken, and hope to the hopeless. I was even given the opportunity to share my testimony with over 250 Haitian inmates at a prison in Haiti. God moved powerfully this day and many of the Haitian inmates received Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior!
Yeah, and some of you thought that walking with Jesus was boring, trust me it is not!
I realized that this is what life was all about. This is why I have been created. It says in Luke 4:18-19 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’
You see, God has more than answered my prayers. Not only has He forgiven me, and extended mercy towards me, but He has truly done immeasurably more than all I could ask for or ever imagine. He has taken me from a place where I was laboring and heavy laden, and has brought me into a place of rest and has equipped me to share this rest with the world!
Perhaps some of you tonight find yourself in a similar circumstance. Maybe you are weighed down and in bondage, seeking the world and it's false promises. Maybe you find your identity in what you do, or maybe you find it in what has been done to you. Maybe it's a job, maybe it's a relationship, or perhaps a divorce or an addiction, or a secret that no one knows.
If that's you tonight, I am here to tell you that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is standing before you, arms extended, and is looking into your eyes, saying, ‘Come. Come to Me, you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’”