The Encounter

The Encounter

The story of a man saved by a vision of Christ on the way to join the Mafia”

My Name is Joe Rodriguez,

This is How I encountered Jesus, and how He changed my life forever. I was the ripe old age of twenty three, and full of piss and vinegar. I was ready to take on the world and to fight for my piece of the pie. When SUDDENLY all went awry, everything that could go wrong DID go wrong. It was as if God had it out for me. I became angry and depressed, my world was falling apart. I decided I didn’t care any more, the gloves were coming off. I would do whatever it took, to get to the top. I decided to take an offer to join the mafia from a long time family friend that had watched me grow up from infancy. I called the family friend that had made me the offer and told them I decided I wanted in. They said OK but you know the deal right? I knew, it was “once your in, your in for life, or die.” I said yes, “I know the deal.” They said, “OK then, let me call you back after we make the arrangements.” They said “we will have dinner and make it all official. They assured me that they would I call me back with a time and date as well as a location for our dinner. 

I said OK and hung up the phone.

I had been staying in a home I was remodeling for my sister, it was late evening and I was all alone when I had made the call to let them know I wanted in. As I hung up, I heard a clear whisper in my head. It said; “What if there is a God?” I automatically thought, well if there is a God, I am going to hell for all I am about to do. I would need to be ready to kill if need be to stay alive and free, it would probably only be a matter of time before I killed or hurt someone.

I heard another voice, this one sounded angry and mean, it said; “don’t be stupid, there is no God.” I thought this is true, there is no god, what am I thinking? Then I heard the whisper again, He said; “what if? Just consider it?” I started to ponder the idea, then I heard the cruel voice speak again, he said; “what are you thinking? Have you ever seen God? Have you ever heard God? Do you know where God Lives, where is he now?”

I became confused, I didn’t know what to think. I quickly went and grabbed some bible on cassette tapes that I had seen laying around the house. I took them to the bedroom and started to listened to them in hopes that I could prove they were wrong, so I could continue with my ungodly plans. I listened to those tapes into the wee hours of the morning. The more I heard the more I began to get upset. I had lived a rough life, and I didn’t think it was fair, I did’t know it then, but I blamed God for all the inner pain I was feeling. That was really what was driving me, it was anger and resentment. It had been eating away at me for years and I was in terrible spiritual shape. After hours of hearing about all kinds of promises and blessings, I couldn’t take any more. I jumped to my feet from the edge of the bed I had been sitting on. I thrust my fist towards Heaven in a rage and yelled; “Lies, lies, lies! They are all a bunch of damned lies!”

“You say your the God of Love, you say you are the God of peace, you are the God of joy, well; Where in the hell are you right now? You don’t give a damn about me, You are a selfish God, all you care about is yourself. I care about people, if my friends need help, they know, they can always count on me. I will always be there for them, but as for YOU, where are you, and what have you ever done for me? I said; You dropped me off on this earth, and took off to only you know where.

Then it hit me all at once, how about the old lady that gets raped, how about the old man that freezes to death in the alley, how about the child that starves to death and about the children born with birth defects and how about all the Jews that died by the Hand of Hitler? WHERE WERE YOU THEN? Just then, I fell like a dead man, and my Spirit left my body. I found my my spirit man standing up in the same position as before, screaming the very same words “How about all the Jews that died by the Hand of Hitler, WHERE WERE YOU THEN?”

Suddenly I saw the bust of a Catholic Jesus that had the bleeding crown of thorns. It was just like the one my mother had hanging on our wall ever since I was a child. I looked at it, and to my amazement, the eyes on this the bust were REAL! I know that sounds crazy but it’s true, and as I locked my eyes on the eyes of this bust, His eyes were staring into the depths of my soul, I knew He saw everything. I could also see into Him and what He was feeling and thinking. I could see that my comments had grieved Him deeply, it was breaking His Heart, that I hadn’t  believed. His eyes grew watery from the tears that were building up in them, and they began to flow down His face, and as they did they turned to blood. It was no longer a ceramic bust. I began to see His flesh, the living flesh of his body began to appear beneath the tears of blood as they rolled all the way down his body, revealing that He was on the cross.

He looked at me, and without actually speaking, spoke into my mind, He said “You ask, What have I ever done for YOU?” “ Well LOOK!” then I saw His arms stretched on the cross, I began to hear then see the large crowd around Him. they were mocking, and ridiculing Him. There were even some spitting on Him. I instantly knew He was a God, and I knew He had the Power to get off that cross and destroy them all. I was bewildered as to how He could keep Himself destroying them and at how He could keep His gaze on me the whole time even while enduring their insults. The pain was becoming unbearable for Him and He began to quiver as He fought the urge to turn away from me, as He cringed in pain. not being able to resist, He turned His head in pain and began to let out a loud cry that sounded like The Roar of a Giant Lion. It also sounded  like the sound of all the people of the world letting out a loud cry in one voice, and still also, like the sound of all the waters of all the oceans roaring and crashing all at once. THEN, there was a great earthquake, and all the earth shook, and Hell opened up and swallowed Jesus Spirit off the cross, then tried to swallow me as well. I began to scream in terror, then flames shot out and tried to wrap themselves around my ankles, and pull me in. My life, in that moment, flashed before my eyes, I could see every sin I ever committed. I saw every lie I ever told, everything I had ever stolen, every person I had ever beaten up, every girl I had ever slept with, as well as every other thing I ever did that hurt others.

Then Jesus shot out of Hell at the speed of light. He was so big that, His feet were on the earth, His Head was in space, and His hand was raised into outer space. The angels appeared and they filled the heaven’s as Jesus stood in the middle. It was as if the universe was covered in a pure white silk sheet and I was a black speck that needed to be removed. I was in agreement, I didn’t belong there and I needed to be destroyed. It felt as if they were all pointing their weapons at me and Jesus was about to drop His hand and say FIRE and I would be reduced to less then powder. I cried out; I am so sorry JESUS, please forgive me!

He instantly forgave me, and I could feel it, all the terror left instantly. Jesus and the angels suddenly disappeared and I was left prostrate on floor where I had curled up in the fetal position after seeing Hell. I was now in the presence of The Father. I felt total peace, all fear was gone, I felt like what could be best described as a blank video tape. No fears, no worry’s, no cares at all, total peace. I was laying prostrate on the floor and could not even lift my head because of His GLORY, but I could still feel Him staring right at me. I stayed quite and waited for a while for Him to speak, but He would not say a word. I couldn’t believe He was waiting on me. I thought, You are the creator of the universe, The Ruler of Heaven and Earth and all that is in it, and You have time to wait on me? I could tell He heard me and that my comment had pleased Him. It’s as if He was saying; “yes, exactly, now your getting it.” He was communicating with me, it was as if  He was smiling down on me.

I said, I never knew you were real, I had no idea. But now that I do, all I want, is to KNOW you better. I will go anywhere you want me to go, I will say anything you want me to say, and I will do anything you want me to do, only show me Your will. Just then it felt as if God reached inside of me and began to tickle me from the inside of my belly. I began to roll around on the ground and giggle like a child uncontrollably. Then, it was as if He lifted me into His arms and began to cradle me as a child. I felt as if I fell into an ocean of Love, and as if I was overdosing on it! I began to weep tears of joy, I said yes Lord, yes Lord, yes! I will give you everything, you can have my mother, my brother, my sister’s, and all my relatives just don’t ever take this feeling from me. Then the POWER of the Holy Spirit lifted to my feet where all I could do was jump up and down and say He is ALIVE, He is ALIVE, He is ALIVE! JESUS IS ALIVE!!!

I had gone from being depressed, to being the happiest person in the world. My new life had just begun. I now knew God was real, and I knew I had purpose. I could not wait to share the good news with my friends and family, they needed to know that, Jesus is still Alive! My family and friends were mostly Catholic, and I didn’t really think they God based on what I had experienced. No one had ever told me Jesus was alive. Nobody had ever told me that I could know Him, feel Him and see Him. I couldn’t wait for the sun to rise, so I could start making phone calls and sharing the good news about Jesus and all that He had shown me.

None of my friends and family ever really talked about God at all. We would only attend mass on occasion, and if we were feeling really guilty, we would confess to a priest, and say a few Hail Marys and Our Fathers, to bring relief from guilt. But other then that, we really didn’t care much for church or God.
Morning came, and I started making phone calls, my mother was first. She had been the only person who talked to me about God, but our last words concerning Him, had been me telling her, that although I did believe that there probably was a God, I didn’t believe He was in the Catholic Church. I told her that I had attended mass all my life, and that I had never felt Him there, and that I was no longer going to attend.
My mother was a devout Catholic, she laundered the priest clothes and cleaned his house as a service unto the Lord, as she put it. She had seen to it that I completed catechism and confirmation courses, and that I attended Mass on a regular basis. Her last words to me  concerning the subject of God had been, “God hates sinners”!
When she answered the phone, the first thing I said was,”You lied to me, you told me that God hates sinners”! I said, He doesn’t hate sinners, He loves them, and He died for them, and for me, since I’m one of them. Then I proceeded to tell her all that Jesus had shown me. She believed me and supported this message and the gospel until her dying day many years later. She would eventually have her own personal experience with Jesus and left the Catholic Church a couple years later. She later told me, “all these years I had prayed that you would be saved, not ever realizing that I needed to be saved.” She had felt God for the first time in her life by then, and now knew Him personally.
Next, I called all my friends. One who was somewhat of a devout Catholic quickly invited me to go to church with him and his family that following Sunday. I accepted. We attended mass together and I was extremely disappointed. I kept waiting for the priest to share that Jesus was alive and that we could know Him, but it never shared. I was ready to help them get the word out but they never mentioned the fact that Jesus was Alive, not even once. At one point the priest said, now it’s time for the word of the Lord. I got really excited for a second, but they just read one scripture, then closed the bible saying, now I know that you all want to go home and watch the football game, so I’m going to let you out early. I told my friend that something was wrong, and that I needed to look into it. My friend suggested that perhaps he was just a  rouge priest, that was in error and that I should try another Catholic Church before I came to any conclusions.
A few moths later, I felt led to move to Dallas. I had no plans other then to try and be led by God and His Holy Spirit. I had no friends in Dallas, I only had a relative who offered to try and get me a job. Shorty after arriving I was invited by another relative that I had just met, who was also Catholic, to visit her church. I said I would and I did, only to have a similar experience as my previous visit. I shared my concerns with my relative, and she recommended that I talk to the priest, so I did. The priest recommended that I come to the men’s retreat at The Monastery which be held the following week. He said I would get to stay there for a week and I could find all the answers, to all my questions. I agreed to attend, and the priest made the necessary arrangements for me to go. I arrived at The Dallas Catholic Monastery, excited and looking forward to the great mysteries they might reveal to me. I was given a dorm room, and asked to participate in Catholic practices and rituals that they carried out on a daily basis. I decided to take things one at a time, as I prayed my way through it. Right off the bat my conscience was challenged.
I was asked to kneel before a statue of the Mary along side all the other men. I was asked to pray prayers to her, because she was the supposed mother of God. I told them that my conscience would not allow me to do such things, because I knew Jesus and the Father and I talked to them, and I knew they heard me, and answered my prayers. They said they understood, and allowed me to take a pass. Later the same thing happened again, when they asked me to kneel in front of lit candles with images of saints and asked me to pray to them. And again when they asked me to pray the rosary. They kept giving me a pass saying, when the bishop shows up, he will explain everything to you, than you will understand.
After a week, the bishop finally showed up, and gave a lecture to the men. We were told
we could ask questions during the lecture if we simply raised our hands. I did not hesitate, my hand went up time and time again, I was determined to understand and to reconcile all that I had seen and heard with all that they were teaching. Time and time again the bishop would need to alter his statements to accommodate the self evident truth that I was bringing to bear. After several corrections, the bishop said, your comments are all valid and true, but for the sake of time, please write the rest of your questions down and you can present them to me later, and we can go over them together. So I said sure, and did. I wrote five pages of notes and kept my peace for the time being. Later that night while in my dorm room, I was summoned to the bishops office for a private meeting. I was escorted to the bishops private quarters, then to his office where he met with me in private. He asked me if I had written everything down and I told him I had. He then asked me to read my questions and comments to him and I did. One by one we went down the list of every concern I had. He didn’t even attempt to refute a single thing I said. Instead he agreed that everything I had mentioned was true, even admitting that the teachings were contrary to some scriptures. He asked me how I knew all these things about God and I told him about how Jesus appeared to me in a vision, and how He had revealed Himself. He said he could not deny the Lord had appeared to me, otherwise I would not know and understand these things. He said I guess if God could appear to Paul, he could also appear to you. I said great, now what are we going to do about this? He said, I can’t do anything about it, I could only teach what the Vatican tells me teach, nothing more. I was torn, and confused. I didn’t know what to do, so I just said OK, and went back to my dorm room.
The next morning the bishop attended a breakfast with the men and I. He entered the room, walked right up to the man sitting next to me and asked for his seat. The man said OK and the bishop sat next to me. He proceeded to offer me the position of retreat coordinator, saying he would like me to oversee the event in the future. I told him I would be happy to, and he asked me to return the next Wednesday to meet the staff. He also asked me to share a bit about my experience with God, at the following Sunday Service mass. I said yes to that as well, and ended up sharing that Sunday. I will never forget the message, “It was as if I stepped out of a dark cloud, and into His glorious light I told the crowd. That all went well, but next was the Wednesday meeting with the staff. I just could not find the peace and confirmation that I needed to go. I prayed for days and I simply could not get the release. I knew I would not be able to share what I knew to be the true message and all that I felt was important concerning God, because they were teaching a different message. I wanted people to know that Jesus was Alive, and we could both meet and know Him. I wanted people to know, that Jesus can take you from depression to purpose, hope, and joy in the Holy Ghost. They wanted us to worship Mary, and pray to her and passed saints. They wanted us to kneel before idols, and to pray rosaries. They wanted us to confess to them, and to consider the Pope as the final authority on all things pertaining to God here on earth. That was simply not going to work for me. Jesus is my King, Jesus is my Lord, it is He and The Father who watch over me and protect me from all evil. Not the not Vatican and not the Pope. Needless to say, I had to say, I had to pass on the offer and continue in my new walk with Jesus and His Holy Spirit, and with our Father who is in heaven. The following week I was given a miraculous promotion, and my own new store to run in a new city and state. I would meet and marry my wife there a year later.
I have been walking with The Lord for over thirty years now. I try to let His Holy Spirit and His Word lead and guide me in all that I do and say. My ability to hear and understand Him has been growing continually over these past thirty years, and I can’t wait to hear what comes next with every new day. I have visited and been a part of many different types of Christian Churches since my first encounter, but it has always been His Holy Spirit, that I trust to lead and guide me, and He has never let me down. It would take a small library to share all I have seen, heard, and experienced through Him in last thirty years. God has been faithful in both the little and the big things, throughout the entire time that I’ve known Him. I encourage you, to give Jesus, His Holy Spirit, and His Word a try, see if they don’t change your life forever and for the good.
I met and married my wife Deanna a year after this experience. The Lord KNEW to bring the two of us together. We both had supernatural stories that only we could relate to and understand. We have been married, and doing the Work of the Lord for almost 30 years now.
Thank you for reading and may God Bless you~