Tornado terror halted pimp
FORMER PRISONER NOW HELPS PRISONERS: Gonzalo and Adriana Samblás
Under the influence of drugs, Gonzalo Samblás murdered a woman while robbing her house and was fleeing the law when an unlikely escape from a violent storm convicted him of his wrong-doing.
"My life was a disaster," Gonzalo admits. "My mother was involved in the occult and I grew up in an atmosphere of drugs and prostitution."
He had a drug addiction by age 14, and later was a pimp of several prostitutes in his hometown of Las Varillas near Córdoba in Argentina.
When he murdered a woman at age 23, he fled from the police before a tornado suddenly swept through the town he was hiding in.
"Five minutes after I had crossed the main bridge, it was swept away by the flooded river," Gonzalo says with amazement.
"When I arrived at the house I was going to buy marijuana from we began to hear a loud rumble. Walking outside, we realised that a passing tornado had up-rooted trees only five metres away from the house.
"These incidents led me to believe that God truly existed and that He was very upset with what I had done."
Unwilling to flee further, he was arrested a week later, but for years in prison he continued to feed his drug addiction and made many enemies.
A fellow inmate swore to kill him which led to a transfer to another wing, where a church group met every day.
"One of the church leaders, Ricardo, confronted me about my drug use inside the prison," Gonzalo says.
He realised God was once again reaching out to him.
"My decisions had made my life the disaster it was," Ricardo says. "It was time to allow Jesus to change things around.
"On December 25th of 2004, I surrendered my life, all my problems and my addiction to Jesus.
"Since that day, not only am I saved, forgiven and clean, but I have never tasted drugs again since then."
Gonzalo says God made many radical changes, firstly in giving him a love for studying the Bible, then finishing his high school education. Best of all he says, "I met a beautiful young girl named Adriana whom I married".
After nine years in prison, in 2011, Gonzalo was released on parole and found a spiritual mentor and housemate in English missionary Martin Frost.
"Martin had conducted Bible studies with us in prison. I began to attend church, I was able to get a job, and now I wake up every morning at 5am to read my Bible before I head off to work."
Since his release, Gonzalo has returned to prison to visit friends and contacts that he left behind.
The motivation behind going back to prison is to share the same Gospel message that changed his life with other inmates that find themselves in the same situation he was in, just ten years ago.
The changes in Gonzalo´s behaviour since coming to Christ have been so noticeable that he has earned the respect of the prison director and guards.
Gonzalo's dream, he calls it his mission in life, is to help inmates to prepare for life outside prison by
getting their education, learning a trade, finding a job, and going to church. His firm belief is that the only way to avoid them returning
to prison is by having a transformation of their life, which begins in the heart.