His dad was a murderer, convicted and sent to prison from the time Antonio Francis was in the womb. In high school, a voice told him that one day he too would become a killer.
Antonio was raised in a one-bedroom shack in Belle Glade, FL. “As soon as you came in, you could see the back door,” he says on a Delafe video. His mom didn’t take him to church but prayed with Antonio and his brother every night.
To visit their cousins, they had to go to church. At church, he learned about Jesus, but he never received him into his heart.
Next to their house was an abandoned building where addicts lived and used illegal drugs.
A “friend” of his mom involved in witchcraft cursed their family, blaming Antonio’s mom for a broken cell phone. She cast a spell on her, saying she would lose her car and children all at once.
Strangely, it happened to a certain extent. Rain came through the roof, forcing them to move. The car wouldn’t start. The kids had to stay at another place.
In high school, Antonio fell into selling drugs, stealing and violence.
Once, he robbed someone. Ten months later, three guys robbed him of $1,000. “Sometimes the stuff you do to people comes back to you and you don’t handle it so well,” he says.
Antonio swore revenge, vowing to kill the perpetrators.
But when he made up his mind to avenge his loss, he heard an audible voice, If you do it, you’re going to die or go to prison for the rest of your life.
Most of his buddies carried guns. Some even offered to do the dirty job for him. But Antonio’s manly pride made him think he would do it himself.
Sometime later, he again resolved to commit the triple homicide in retaliation for the robbery. A second time, he heard the voice, If you do it, you’re going to die or go to prison for the rest of your life.
He backed off, unsure of what the voice meant.
Some weeks later, he was in the car with a friend who had a gun under every car seat. He spotted two of the robbers exiting a gas station store.
“I reach under the seat to grab the gun,” he recounts. “I got the gun halfway up and I heard that voice: If you do it, you’re going to die or go to prison for the rest of your life.”
Antonio lowered the gun. It was the third time he’d heard the voice, but his friend who was driving didn’t hear a thing.
Providentially, a police car pulled up nearby. “Let’s go!” Antonio said to his buddy who was driving. The timing of their appearance saved him from trouble.
Later, Antonio used money he had scammed to rent an apartment for Mom and his brother on the other side of town, in a better neighborhood.
One day he picked up his Mom’s Bible and began reading, as if drawn to it by a magnetic attraction.
Then a cousin got saved, and they began talking about Jesus.
A crucial moment arrived Dec. 20, 2012. On that day, the Mayan calendar ended, and there was wild speculation in social media that the world was going to end. All the talk unnerved Antonio.
He called up his cousin that day and said he needed to have assurance of salvation. Over the phone, Antonio said the sinner’s prayer, and a newfound peace entered his soul; his anxiety disappeared. He gave his heart to Jesus as his Savior and Lord was filled with the Holy Spirit.
He immediately had confidence there was a place in Heaven for him. “I felt like even if the world ended tomorrow, I’m going to Heaven,” he says.
As it turns out, the world didn’t end. The hype fizzled. But Antonio experienced something that never went away.
He has been serving Jesus since then. Today, he has a clothing line that glorifies Jesus and raps for the Lord. He participates in a South Florida fellowship that does street ministry. They give clothes to drug addicts and pray for deliverance.
“I’m just so glad I didn’t (kill) because I know once I would have killed the first person it would have attached itself to me and I would have been a murderer because I come from a lineage of murderers,” Antonio says.
“Once you pull that trigger and turn into a cold-blooded killer, the devil (comes) into your heart,” he warns.
“I know that Jesus is real,” he adds. “Can’t nobody on this earth convince me that Jesus is not real. I would die for Jesus. Put a gun to my head, a knife to my throat. I’m willing to die for Jesus because I was in the streets, I was a thug. So I just know that God saved gangsters, he saved thugs, he saved murderers.”
To know more about a personal relationship with God, click here.
Ben Lahood studies at the Lighthouse Christian Academy near Venice, California.