Pastor Roland A. Nava saw a way out of his miserable life stemmed from a troubled childhood while he was in prison. A voice spoke to him and told him of his mission to be a servant to God.
Pastor Nava was only eight years old when he burned down his parents’ home. He said he did it on anger because he wanted them to feel pain. You see, he did not grow up from a loving family. His heroin-addicted father would often beat him and growing up in a drug-infested neighborhood in Houston added to his miserable upbringing.
“And I would get whooped. My dad would tell me that I would never amount to anything. I just felt so much hatred at that young age,” Nava, now 55, told CBN.
His only source of strength, compassion, and somewhere he can find a safe place then was with his grandmother, who he recalled would treat him like he was somebody. She would take him to church and at times anoint him with oil.
However, despite her presence, Nava ended up alone and on the streets at 14. Fueled by anger and bitterness, he indulged in theft, drug possession, and DUI, and became an enforcer for a notorious crime syndicate. At this time he had married three times and have five kids, but his life of stealing and getting high and intoxicated never changed.
“Getting high, drinking, stealing – their hands were up in the air while I was robbing them and going and taking from them. I thought that was power. I thought that’s what a man was,” he said.
His life took a turn for the worse after his grandmother died. He felt worthless and thought he was put on earth to suffer. His family was not there for him when he lived off of dumpster food and slept in abandoned cars. He was tired of living and felt hopeless so he turned to self-mutilation.
In 2006, he became an enforcer for a violent Latino gang as prisoner 0-1-1-6-0-7-8-9, wherein his job was “to lame or cripple or eliminate every white man, black man, red, yellow, polka dot, stripe, it didn’t matter.” However, one day he heard a voice inside his cell that asked him why he was persecuting his brothers. When he heard the voice, Nava remembered going blind for three days although doctors didn’t see anything wrong with his eyes.
The voice prompted him to read God’s word and leave the gang (which resulted in him getting beaten and stabbed). The voice told him to minister to the homeless, to the hungry, to those in addiction and coming out of incarceration.
“I knew, that I was gonna get out of prison. That’s when I knew God was real,” he said, adding that the very next week he surrendered his life to God and did his mission. In 2007 upon his release, he started as the voice commanded and until today, Pastor Nava continues to serve God through his ministry In The Streets Hands Up High Ministries, an organization that helps the poor, the homeless, and the incarcerated.
“Today I’m not robbing nobody. Today my hands are up in the air cause I’m praising God. That anger’s gone. I am worth something and I am somebody. Now to me, a man is one who follows the Lord and has Jesus in his heart. I think my grandmother would be very pleased,” he said.
That voice lifted Roland from his despair and led him to a brighter path with God. The voice is what inspired him to lead a better life serving people in honor of God.