My Story: Santei Di Leonardo

  • by Santei Di Leonardo with Jess Fong
Photo courtesy Santei Di Leonardo

I grew up in Italy. It was more of a cultural thing to be Christian. You just go to church because that’s what everyone else is doing, especially if you are Italian and Filipino like me.

I didn’t know that Jesus was God or that I needed to accept Him as my Lord and Savior.

When I got to college, I started partying, getting drunk, taking drugs; you name it. All I did was create a bigger hole that I couldn’t get out of.

Every night, I would think, What’s the point of this? Why not just end it? Why not just join the military? If I joined the military, I could put myself into some extremely dangerous situation and end my life but not look like a coward.

Then my brother, Alessandro, came to Christ. We had a really bad relationship before he became a Christian and then after he did, it changed for the better.

Little by little we talked about what it meant to have a relationship with Christ. I didn’t know. I figured if I just didn’t screw up enough, I would get into heaven.

But I entertained the notion that Alessandro might have really changed, so I checked out his church. One day I was in my bed, where I had a little picture of Jesus.

I looked at it and prayed, “If You are real, show Yourself to me.”

Throughout the next month, “coincidences” happened. That’s what I would call them: coincidences.

One of my friends from the church gave me this book called The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel. It was referring to Scriptures and concepts I didn’t understand.

I was standing in the laundromat and I just didn’t get it. So I just prayed, “God, if You want me to understand who You are and get past these objections, can You send someone to explain this to me? I don’t care who it is.”

The second I finished that prayer, I looked up and my pastor was standing there. I had not seen him coming at all. That’s just one of the “coincidences.”

You can’t always write things off to be a coincidence, though.

This summer, during a sermon the pastor asked if anyone wanted to accept Christ. He said God would listen if it was the desire of your heart.

I asked Jesus to come into my life. My life is no longer just another number. It’s a precious soul that God cares deeply about.

I’ve always been the kind of person who wants to be where the fight is at. Evangelism: that’s where the fight is at.

I want to explain God’s kingdom. I want to save people from lies and expose them to truth. Three weeks ago, I saw 2 people become Christians when I was explaining the gospel to them.

I remember how it was to be lost and the joy that comes from being found.

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