Lawrence had everything going for him but when life fell apart only one thing could save him from himself
From an aspiring architect to suicide attempts and a crime spree, Lawrence Mendoza hit rock bottom in prison before rediscovering purpose and hope.
"After a series of jobs and broken relationships, I began to question my purpose in life. I was meandering in a haze of mediocrity," Lawrence explains.
Born in the Bronx, New York City, he worked hard and graduated high school with honors, despite losing his father in a car accident when he was five.
He studied architecture for two years before short finances and relationship heartbreaks led to him dropping out of college.
"I started becoming depressed," he says, "All my self-esteem was lost and I considered myself a nobody and a failure."
By his mid-20s Lawrence was deep into cocaine, heroine, dust (PCP), pills, and liquor.
"In the summer of 1986 I decided to end my miserable life. I was walking in a drug haze," he recalls sadly.
Straddling the beams at the top of the Hudson River's Spyten Dyvaul Bridge, Lawrence was ready to jump until he saw his mom below, and a rescue crewmember, who cried out that God loved him and quoted Psalm 23.
Yet after treatment at a psychiatric hospital, his suicidal behavior and drug use continued.
At one stage he jumped off a seven story building but his belt buckle caught on the fire escape and prevented his fall.
His mother told him that many people were praying for him and that same year Lawrence found himself in a Christian church where he "heard that liberating message of a new life in Jesus Christ".
"My spiritual eyes were opened and I confessed my sins and asked Jesus Christ to come and be Lord of my life. Tears of joy filled my heart," he recalls.
While he experienced a degree of the life changing power of knowing Jesus, Lawrence continued to rely on himself to fight his battles and did not fully trust in God.
"Fighting my battles on my own led to three consecutive prison terms. I violated my parole conditions every time and was sent back to finish the remainder of my sentence."
Later in 1998, after a high speed chase in a stolen vehicle, he was arrested and found himself facing a minimum of 15 years to life in prison. After attempting to escape from prison an additional 7 years was added.
"Finally, in September 1998, in a cell ... I cried out to the Lord in prayer," he recounts.
"I prayed like I never prayed before, and asked Jesus Christ to take control of my life once again. I asked him to take control of my present situation. I prayed for strength to go on despite the life sentence I was facing. I asked Him for wisdom and knowledge to do His will, and I asked Him to forgive me for all my sins and for trying to live life on my own."
From that point Lawrence did not make the same mistake of relying on himself but on God instead.
He utilized his time in prison to study the Bible, fellowship with other believers, spend hours in prayer and working to complete a religious education associate degree.
"Now that I allow Jesus Christ full control of my life; I just rest in His peace," he shares gladly.
"I know now through God's Word, 'that if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new' (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). I now strive to live by faith in God's Word; uplifted by prayer ... My heart's desire is to constantly be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might and not my own."
God delivered Lawrence from his life sentence, as he was released in 2001.
Today he encourages others saying, "I want people to know that you can't win the [inner, spiritual] battle for your soul yourself.
You need God's help, otherwise you'll end up losing the battle like I almost did." •