By Michael Ashcraft —
At 10, Veronyka Sanchez dressed like a boy and wanted to be a gangster. Then her father got radically saved and she started attending church.
“My family gang-bangs,” she said on a video posted by the Long Beach Door Church. “That’s just the life I came from. I come from generations and generations of gangsters. When you come from the lifestyle that I come from, there are strongholds.”
But after tasting church life, she decided to follow her secular friends and leave the church.
“I was going to church but I was also walling out, drinking and going to parties,” she said. I was living a double life. I never had a real one on one relationship with God. When I was 17 and I got my first real taste of the world, I decided, ‘This is awesome. I love it,’ and, ‘Freedom!’ and I got pregnant. I just kind of went downhill from there.”
Veronyka left home and lived house to house during the pregnancy and after giving birth. Then when her baby turned one, Veronyka turned to do what she thought was the only career available to her.
“I started dancing,” she says. “I was in a really hard place, and I felt very alone. I felt like I needed to get quick money fast. Everything that I ever knew was unraveling so fast, so I started dancing. Little did I know that I was going to go down a really dark rabbit hole once I opened that door.”
For three years, she made good money “dancing.” She got her own place and her own car and lived in San Bernardino.
“I got involved with some people who definitely took advantage of me and manipulated me,” she says. “As dark as an environment that I got in, I could have gotten deeper. It scared me to a point where I was like, ‘Am I going to go fully into what I’m doing or am I going to stop all of this and turn back to God?’
“I was so far away from God that I didn’t feel Him anymore,” she adds. “It scared me the place I was in and the dark things I was doing. I wasn’t happy. I was making a lot of money. I had everything that looked good on the outside but on the inside I wanted to die. I hated my life.”
She started making small steps towards God. She attended Sunday service once every two weeks. “That created a ripple effect to bring me back to God,” she says. “I’m really grateful that God found me in that really dark place.”
After committing to Sunday and Wednesday services, she began praying and listening to sermons daily. “I just wanted to hear from Him everyday,” she recalled. “I told God to tell me something, and He did. God is so personal.”
On New Year’s Day, she decided to break 100% with sin.
She decided to move back to Long Beach to her original church.
“Materialistically, I don’t have anything right now,” says Veronyka, now 22. “But on the inside I’m leaping for joy. I’d rather have God than materialistic things and not have Him.
“I ran to the world, and the world used and abused me. I’ve tasted and seen how good God is. That’s why I choose to serve Him, and I will always choose Him over the world. I’ve tasted the world, and I’ve tasted God, and there’s no comparison. The world tastes like burnt toast. God tastes like fresh fruit from the tree.”
Michael Ashcraft pastors the Van Nuys Lighthouse Church.