“One night I couldn’t sleep. I am thinking: Okay this is it. I am going to die. In the darkness, I prayed in Spanish: “Father if you help me to live again, I will dedicate the rest of my life to you. Please let me hug my wife and see my kids.” In that instant, I felt peace and protection. God said to me: “I am here, and I will help you.”
JC, Milan, Italy
I never thought much about death, but two years ago I thought about it a lot. It was June of 2019 when the first dark cloud rolled in. I lost my job and afterwards, struggled to find work — which meant I couldn’t provide for my family. I got very anxious and sad. I isolated myself from friends at Church. I spent days lying on the couch either staring at the walls or watching movies. It wasn’t like me. After accepting Jesus in Peru 17 years earlier, God had been good to me, but in this season, I questioned everything: God, my family, my faith. I didn’t want to open my bible or pray. My children, would say to my wife, “This is not our daddy.” In tears she would tell them, “We need to pray so daddy comes back to us.”
People at Hillsong Milan were amazing. They checked in on us and took up offerings to help us pay our bills. Instead of being grateful, I thought about ending my life. Eventually, I went to a psychiatrist who prescribed anti-depressants. Then in February of 2020, Italy exploded with Covid-19 and everything closed. Without help or medication, my depression got worse. A few months later, I got pain in my stomach and fever. I didn’t want to eat. I lost a lot of weight. At one point, I was in so much pain, my family called an ambulance. At the hospital, I cried out to God: “Please finish this. I can’t take this.”
After many tests, doctors discovered I had intestinal tuberculosis. I spent two months in hospital and took 11 pills each day to manage the TB, diabetes and depression. One night I couldn’t sleep. The staff wheeled a woman into the room. Only curtains separated us. I overheard the conversation. The doctors asked her why she had tried to take her life. She said: “because I don’t care.” It was hard to hear. That’s how I felt. Then the Lord spoke to me: “Is this how you want your story to end?” I started crying and I said: “No Lord, I want to push through.” That night, I made peace with God. I wrote to my wife and asked for forgiveness. I wrote to my pastor and told him I was sorry for not being around. To my friends at church, I wrote: I am sorry for being so angry and not listening to all your good advice. Things will be better now.
A few months after getting out of hospital, Covid continued to ravaged Italy. With the TB still in my system, I was at risk and had to go back. It was miserable. Most of the time, I just slept. After a colonoscopy and treatment, I was discharged and in October, a few months after my 40th birthday, my eldest son got Covid. At the time, we relied on my wife’s income, so I told her to keep working and I would take care of our son — but keeping my distance from him was impossible. I also got Covid.
One Saturday, I couldn’t breathe, and my oxygen levels were dangerously low. An ambulance was called, and once again, I was rushed back to hospital. I was put in an intensive care ward along with other 10 other Covid patients – all very unwell. Because of the medication, I slept a lot and each time I woke another patient would be gone. One night I couldn’t sleep. I am thinking: Okay this is it. I am going to die.
In the darkness, I prayed in Spanish: “Father if you help me to live again, I will dedicate the rest of my life to you. Please let me hug my wife and see my kids.” In that instant, I felt peace and protection. God said to me: “I am here, and I will help you and I will show you a new way to know me as your Father.” When I woke the next morning, the fever had left. I felt stronger and hopeful. Three days later, I left the hospital and got to hug my wife and kids.
This miracle changed everything. Since then, my relationship with God is deeper than it has ever been. I am hungry for God’s word. My prayer life changed. My family are thriving and happy. We started our Connect group again. Throughout all this, Hillsong Milan, Rome, Naples and Turin were there for us. When we have been weak, they have been strong — praying for us, reaching out to me when I was in my depressive state, delivering meals when we were in quarantine.
I wouldn’t change those two years because in my brokenness, I have fallen in love with my Abba father and I have found my life again.
If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 (Australia), the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA) on 1800 273 8255 or Samaritans on 116 123. All are 24/7 hotlines.