Testimony: God’s Work in My Life
By: Daniel Soriano
Divorced in December 2008, I entered the United States with my five-year-old son, Daniel, who is now 18 and about to start college in Mexico. In 2009, I heard about a place teaching Taekwondo (TKD). I was interested instantly because the class tuition was low compared with other martial arts studios. So, we went to The Salvation Army Houston International Corps to attend the corps programs where Captains Peter and Youngsun Kang, who were soldiers at the time, taught Taekwondo and piano lessons respectively. Captain Peter kindly got me the information about TKD class and introduced himself as the instructor. I felt confident enough to enroll my son in his class. He also encouraged me to participate in the class. I didn’t plan on learning TKD, but I found myself taking classes along with my son. I was shy at first to practice with little kids, but I got used to it and started enjoying his classes because they were very fun and easy. Now, I am a second degree black belt in TKD, and teach TKD to community children. I also enrolled my son in Captain Youngsun’s piano class.
Later, Captain Peter invited me to attend Sunday worship service. My son and I finally accepted. I wasn’t sure why I was there. I came out of curiosity and wanted to do something different during the weekend with my son. I found myself really enjoying the music—the songs, everyone singing and praying—everything was different from what I experienced in the church that I used to attend. I grew up in a Catholic family and never enjoyed a worship service as much as I did that Sunday. I didn’t believe that people could pray with such intensity. That morning I repented for judging them and for not believing that this kind of faith could be possible. Going to church that Sunday was one of the most important decisions I’ve made in my life. The third time that I attended worship service, I suddenly stood up holding my son’s hand. I remember they were singing “Amazing Grace.” I couldn’t understand at that moment the meaning of the song lyrics in English, but I felt wonderful, and indescribable peace came upon me. I closed my eyes and raised my hands crying. It was the most beautiful moment I have ever had. That was the moment I met Jesus personally. The Holy Spirit touched me, anointed me, and life changed.
After accepting Jesus as my Savior, I saw everything in a new light—my perspective on life changed to only fixate on God. I embarked on a new Christian path, where I met wonderful people such as Majors Na, the officers at Houston International at the time, my current pastors Captains Kang, and many others who, through the Holy Spirit, helped me follow my calling. In mid 2011, Major Sujung Na invited me to take a soldiership class, and in May 2012, I was enrolled as a soldier. This changed me for the better and helped me get rid of my bad drinking habits. Since then, I have participated in community programs like the Angel Tree, kettles, food panty distribution, Taekwondo instructor, Club 316, Spanish adult Sunday school, and children’s Sunday school teacher. Heavily involved in The Salvation Army, in 2015 I found myself wanting to become an officer. I shared with the captains, and they told me, “Let’s pray and wait for God’s answer.” Due to many obstacles including my visa status, I was unable to be considered as a potential candidate. The window to being accepted kept getting smaller every year because soon I would reach the age limit that the training college would accept.
However, something life changing happened to me two months ago, something that caused me great fear and sorrow, but also gave me hope and assurance.
I went to work on March 13. It was a normal day in my workplace, when suddenly two people tried to steal an item. I asked them to return it, but they were unwilling to do so. One started to get physical with me. I had to defend myself. At first, I managed to fight off the person and he soon fled. I thought it was over. A few seconds later the man returned to my stand and he shot me in the back with a gun. I felt a pain in my back like fire burning. Immediately I fell on the floor, unable to move because of the agonizing pain. Soon, the ambulance came and took me to the emergency room. I couldn’t believe that I had survived. What’s more amazing was that without touching any internal organs, the bullet entered near my lungs and exited five inches down my back near the ribs—a few inches more inward and I would’ve been paralyzed or even dead. God’s hand had guided the bullet to avoid seriously injuring me. After leaving the hospital I returned home alone, but I could feel the strong presence of Jesus Christ with me during my recovery. Captains Kang and their family, with the love and kindness of God, came every day to my home to tend to my wounds. Now, my wounds are completely healed, and I can do all the regular activities I used to do.
A few days after the incident occurred, the sheriff informed me that as a victim of a crime, I was eligible for my temporary visa which would allow me to remain in the United States legally. This came as a surprise to me because I wasn’t thinking about ways of acquiring a visa. I had, in fact, begun losing hope of ever getting one. However, God changed my mourning into praise answering my prayer in an unexpected way. I knew that as soon as I got the chance, I would have to resolve my status. I started praying for God’s guidance and wisdom to lead me in the right way to find a good lawyer to help me through this process. He already had the answer on the way. I was at home when I turned on the radio, something I rarely do. I heard an advertisement about an immigration lawyer for a free consultation. I immediately called him. I am in the process of completing my application for my temporary visa. I believe not only did He use my incident as a way of letting me get a visa, but now I will be able to use that visa to apply to training college where I can learn to live a life wholly dedicated to proclaiming His name.
I know our Savior hears our prayer, and although we may not understand His perfect timing, I feel His love and mercy. I trust in Him always. I know God called me, and He has a purpose for me.
Jeremiah 29:11 says, “Because I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This verse will be the testament I will live from now on. I expect God’s amazing grace to unfold in my future.