Are You Living A Lie? Former Gang Member Talks Redemption

By: Carlos Acevedo

On Sunday, Sept. 11, Art Blajos, a former gang member of the Mexican Mafia shared his testimonial to a crowd who gathered at Victory Outreach Church on Chicago’s South Side.

After a quick welcome by members of Victory Outreach, Pastor Rick Alanis opened the night with a prayer, and then some members sang songs, another member rapped using positive lyrics to promote an inspirational message. The crowd included kids, teenagers, adults, some who were former gang members and drug addicts.

Blajos, who said he is now an Evangelists, talked about his life while in the gang, the betrayals he witnessed and his experience as he left that lifestyle behind. Blajos said he decided to leave the gang lifestyle when he realized he was living a lie. “I realized it was phony and that I didn’t have any real friends,” said Blajos. The crowd was attentive as they saw dramatizations of cold-blooded gang killings on video and skits that depicted the instant when Blajos said he experienced his life changing moment.

Raised in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood by his grandparents after losing his parents at an early age, Steve Drapala said that he suffered through gang life, drug addiction and said things got so bad that he lost his marriage, communication with his kids, job and home. Drapala said he credits his success to the Victory Outreach program because they helped him rebuild his life, his marriage and now owns two businesses. Pastor Alanis and Blajos agree that the reason for this type of testimonial is to reach out to people in the community, to people going through what Steve Drapala experienced and let them know that they are all welcome at Victory Outreach.

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