By Michael Ashcraft —
Frank Mesa put the gun in his mouth many times. Sometimes, he pointed it to his temple. But he could never pull the trigger.
“I hated life. I hated people. I was just bitter,” Frank says. “I used to argue a lot with my parents. I told my mom, ‘I hope you die.’ Two weeks later she became real ill and went to the hospital and within a week, she passed away.”
Frank, then 23, blamed himself. He had been taking care of both his parents, who were ill. He grew up in Apple Valley, California.
The family moved away from the gang violence in L.A. in 1978 at the time his dad retired. An only child, Frank was mischievous.
“As a kid, I remember being bullied a lot, getting picked on,” he recalls. “I was jumped by a number of older kids. They stole my brand new bike. This is where I started hating people.”
As he grew up, he fell in with the Heavy Metal crowd during middle school, groups like Ozzy Osbourne and Def Leopard.
“One of my favorite songs was from Pat Bennetar. It was ‘Hell is for Children,’” Frank says. “It was an addiction. It helped me to forget about issues, stress, peer pressure. I just wanted to be accepted.”
The first time he inhaled second-hand marijuana smoke, it gave him hallucinations for three days, so he stuck with alcohol.
“Almost every weekend, I would look for parties that I wasn’t invited to,” he says. “We would just get blasted. I would show up to work intoxicated.”
Naturally, his parents scolded him for this behavior. He argued over this. “This is my own life,” he responded. “My mother didn’t approve of anything I was doing. I brought home a girlfriend so she could meet her. My mom just called her a whore straight out.
“I got into an argument with her, and I said, ‘I hope you die,’” he remembers. “Before the month was over, she had passed away.”
After his mom fell into the coma and passed, Frank felt bad for what he had said. He could never apologize. He wondered what would become of himself.
“Is this life? Is that all there is?” he asked.
Frank had never been a church person. A few months later, somebody knocked on his door and explained the gospel to him.
“I had all kinds of questions about God at the time,” he says.
The church was full, and Frank picked a spot in the back row. When worship started lively praise, he freaked out.
“I’m in the wrong place. I have to leave,” Frank remembers.
But it was a corner mall storefront, and the layout was unusual in that the door was behind the pulpit. If he were to leave, he would be seen by everybody.
“I was trapped,” he says. “I would have to pass the pastor, and I knew he would want to stop me. So I just stayed in my seat and waited it out.”
He listened to the whole message. At the end, the pastor asked everybody to bow their heads and close their eyes. He asked if anyone wanted to receive Jesus.
“My heart was pounding. It wouldn’t stop,” he remembers. “So I raised my hand.”
The pastor then asked him to go up to the front and pray.
“I didn’t want to. My heart started pounding again,” he says. “Finally I got out of my seat and heart started going back to normal. A brother led in a prayer to (receive) Jesus.”
Then something remarkable happened. He saw a bright flash. He thought it was a camera, but when he opened his eyes, there was no one with a camera.
The Light of the World had entered his life – the same light that stopped Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus Road.
“I felt a heaviness come off. The flash was God touching my life,” he says.
At home, Frank tried to explain what happened to his father, who was still in mourning and didn’t want to hear.
Frank felt an urgency to bring him to church. “I didn’t know what to do except to force him to go,” he says. His dad had emphysema, from having smoked most of his life. He only had 20% lung capacity.
Frank, who had just accepted Jesus, wasn’t instantly delivered from the spirit of suicide. So Frank told his dad that in he didn’t go to church with him, he would take his life. He got very angry and looked for a knife in the kitchen.
“I could not open any drawers. For some reason they were stuck,” he says. “I got so angry, I busted a drawer open, but all I could find was a butter knife.”
His dad got scared, so he relented. A week later, his dad accompanied him to church. Dad didn’t want to receive Jesus, so Frank raised his hand for him. The whole church circled them to pray because his dad didn’t want to receive Jesus.
Nonetheless, Dad found an inexplicable peace.
On Monday, he had passed away.
Frank kept persevering.
“The thoughts of suicide just went away. I sold my guns,” he says. “I began to serve God.”
A divorced man, Frank began to ask God if He had a wife for him: “Yes,” was the reply.
Every time he went to work, he would turn on Christian radio. By chance, the same song would always start. It said, “I care for you.”
“Who is the person you have for me?” he asked God.
Jennifer was on the worship team on stage as Frank stood at the back as an usher.
She’s the one, God impressed on his heart. It seemed like a spotlight was on her.
At a dessert night, he tried the banana cream pie, which Jennifer had brought and was serving.
“You know you want the whole pie,” she said, teasing.
“I was speechless,” Frank says. “That was confirmation because that was my favorite pie.”
In 2015, he began pastoring a church in nearby Adelanto, California, where he is serving today.