There is still Hope

By: Jonathan Santiago

                        Saturday morning in the gym, new young man comes in and starts working out. Luis stared at him and goes to give him some tips on how to do the exercise correctly. After five minutes out of nowhere Luis asked the man “Are you okay? You seem like if you need someone to talk to.” The man stared at him surprised and started crying. “My older brother got killed two days ago” said the man. The guy was training because he was planning revenge and wanted to be tougher. Luis talked him out of his idea of revenge and convinced him of doing the spiritual retreat Pope Juan XXIII. The man is called Michael Rivera and now serves as a catechist giving testimony of what happened to him and how God and Luis changed his life.

Luis (brown shirt) with a group of catechist  of the Movement of Retreats Juan XXIII. Luis dedicates his life to God and to helping others in this spiritual retreat.

Luis (brown shirt) with a group of catechist of the Movement of Retreats Juan XXIII. Luis dedicates his life to God and to helping others in this spiritual retreat.

“I would be dead or at jail if it wouldn’t have been for Luis” said Michael. “The first time he talked to me I immediately found tranquility and peace in the things he said to me”

“He got like this gift which he always knows who needs help and always have the perfect words to change your life” said Alexis, a friend of Luis and trainer at the gym,

while looking at his wrists which had some scars. Alexis tried to commit suicide and Luis also changed his life.

“Many may see Luis in the morning training at gym and think he is just another guy exercising before going to work”, said Alexis “but what they do not know is that Luis does not have any ordinary work.  Luis works as a soldier, a soldier of God.

Luis del Rio, 49, is a small guy only in height because his muscles are pretty huge but bigger than his biceps is his heart. He fully dedicates his life to serve God.

Dominican Republic, Haití, Honduras, Perú, Panamá, these are some of the places Luis has visit doing missionary work. He goes there preaching Gods will and giving food to children and handicap. He also is a Chaplin at the women’s jail  in Vega Alta.

Asking Luis about his childhood, he scratched his head and said “I had a very tough childhood, I even had to go to the towns dump to look for food and copper to sell because my stepfather didn’t gave nothing to us, not even food.”

Luis became very problematic and was always getting into fights says his older son Jonathan. “I think the reason of him being so troublemaker was because of the way he was raised, he grew up insensitive with others and always angry” said his son. “But one day he went to church and came home like a whole other man, he said ‘God has talked to me’ when we ask him what was wrong, even though he has never said what God told him, we all believed him.”

“After that Luis became the person he is now, dedicated to God and the needy and bodybuilding lover” said Jonathan.

When in bodybuilding, Luis won even first prize representing Puerto Rico in international competitions. “I’d say he has everything he needs to be ‘successful’ in life, he was even a model” said Alexis laughing “but instead he prefers to live a humble life dedicated to God and the needy”

Luis (middle) in a bodybuilding competition. He won first place in his category.

Luis (middle) in a bodybuilding competition. He won first place in his category.

Luis is pensioned; he worked nine years for the Owens Illinois Company, glass bottle company, but got his back injured for lifting all the heavy stuff. “They called me Popeye” he laughed “but that’s why now I am taking therapy every week.”

“God has filled all the emptiness I always felt” Luis said smiling, “I which that all the people in the world would express their love to each others, this way criminality would not be common.”

Luis is helping the world one person at a time. Changing people lives in a positive way. When getting to know people like Luis del Rio you can say with faith that there is still hope for this sometimes cruel world we lived in.

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