Jesus – A Son of God

Jesus Cendejas

Jesus Cendejas, a sophomore at Morningside College

Jesus sat on his bed, guitar in hand, and strummed away. He began playing guitar only last year after being approached to join the Morningside College campus ministry worship band. Having wanted to learn to play guitar for quite a while, he quickly said yes and was loaned a guitar by fellow student, Jackie Lincoln. Playing guitar allows him to praise the man who shares his name and reflect on a life that likely wouldn’t be as it is now, had he not strayed from the previous path. Jesus Cendejas is a noticeably different man now than he was even five years ago.

Growing up in a broken household can impact children for the rest of their lives, particularly in negative ways. Whether the broken household is caused by drugs, alcohol, abuse, divorce, or combination of these and others, instability at home can have dire effects on children of all ages. For one Morningside student, this life isn’t just a story one hears on the news. It’s a life that he has lived. Luckily for him and those he has come in contact with over the past few years, Jesus Cendejas has found a new meaning in life and is living through God.

In 1992, Jesus Adrian Cendejas was born in Santa Ana, California to Carina and Jesus, but moved to Mexico before turning one year old when his grandmother suffered a stroke and needed care at home. For the next four years, Jesus grew up in Mexico, being raised with common religious beliefs, superstitions, and traditions of Mexican culture. After growing up with these Mexican cultural ideals and even attending kindergarten, Jesus and his father moved back to their former home in Santa Ana in time for first grade. Soon after, his mother moved back to rejoin them. Here he struggled as he knew Spanish but was in an English speaking school environment. As would become evident over the course of his life, Jesus Cendejas overcame this challenge and eventually became fully bilingual. Unfortunately though, this language barrier wouldn’t be his biggest obstacle to overcome.

Throughout his childhood years, Jesus’ father spent time in and out of jail for various misdemeanors and felonies including drug and alcohol issues. Not having his father around much took its toll on young Jesus, as he didn’t have that father-figure around to support him. Even when he was around, Jesus recalled his interactions with his father usually revolving around the drug use of his father. “When I would be with my father, he’d usually be engaged in drug use or simply around paraphernalia. The most vivid memories I have would probably be the 2AM drug deals he brought me on. I was so young, I didn’t know what was going on.” Although he initially did very well in school, being surrounded by this behavior all the time eventually took its toll on Jesus.

By the time he reached middle school, Jesus now recognizes that he began following in the path of his father, beginning to take part in the same activities. He simply didn’t know what not to do, a major byproduct of growing up in a broken household. Whether directly or indirectly involved, Jesus’ life revolved around drinking, partying, gangs, and drug deals. Jesus saw it all. “It got to the point where I was just numb to life. I was that kid your mom didn’t ever want you to hang around with. It got so bad that at one point, I wasn’t even allowed in some classrooms anymore. I went from the top to the bottom academically during this time.” As a seventh grader, Jesus became a bad influence to others. “People would look up to me. Well, down, because I’m short,” he chuckled. “My friends began doing what I was doing, and many of them came from similar households as mine.” While many 12 year old boys were playing organized sports for the first time, becoming attracted to women, and playing video games, Jesus and his friends were involved in these dangerous activities.

The tides began to change for Jesus soon after they began changing for his father. While in jail, his father began reading the Bible to pass the time. As a result, he would attend church services in jail. Not just his Catholic services, but any and all religious services that were available. It was at this time, that Jesus says his father saw the light of God. When his father was finally released, though, he was deported back to Mexico. During this time, his contact with his son was very limited. When his father came back to America, young Jesus noticed his father was a changed man. “He was clean. He didn’t use drugs anymore, didn’t use alcohol anymore, he was just a different man and for the better. And he did it without rehab. I see it now, but didn’t at the time. God truly changed his life.

His father eventually moved back to Santa Ana while Jesus was in 8th grade, and Jesus wanted to spend time with him. He began attending church services with his father, not to participate or find God, but to simply spend time with him. “I would even doze off in church, but I was with my dad.” During this time, Jesus says he was doing better in school, but was still directionless in life, still taking part in his previous activities. However, one day while at church with his father, Jesus recalled an interesting feeling within him. “All of a sudden I felt something tugging at my heart, something overcame me. I tried to fight it off, but couldn’t. It was as if someone was telling me, ‘I can fix your broken life.’ So I said, ‘OK. If you are real, change me. I’m miserable and hate my life.’ So this is where it all began.”

It didn’t all happen overnight for Jesus, but he was slowly progressing away from the life of his past. The same kids he influenced in negative ways earlier were now being influenced by Jesus to attend church and Bible studies with him. Even during this time, Jesus was leading somewhat of a parallel life. He lived his church life, but still lived the “life of the Greasers,” as he put it. “But I felt that Jesus was protecting me. While my friends were out doing their normal things and getting put in bad situations, I felt that God was keeping me away. Violence was a predominant thing at the parties I attended in the past, and I just felt that God was working in me to keep me safe and out of harm’s way.”

By Jesus’ junior year of high school, he had decided enough was enough. “I told myself, ‘this is it. I’ve seen what you’ve done for me; you deserve the first place in my heart.’ So I forgave others, asked for forgiveness, and wanted to honor God in the best way I could. My junior year went extremely well, but by my senior year, things started falling into place.” At this time, Jesus finally had his life on a relatively stable track, but his academics had yet to catch up. He was told that a 5th year of high school would be necessary to even think about getting into a good college. “But I persevered and said, I’ve come this far. Why not try? God has pulled me through harder times, let his will be done.” And try is exactly what Jesus did. In a short period of time, Jesus went from needing to return a 5th year to even think about college, to being accepted by nearly a dozen schools across the country, giving all the credit to “his Heavenly Father.”

While in college, Jesus has taken a very active role in campus ministries, attending Oasis weekly, and learning guitar to play in the worship band, Inside Out. Alyssa Filipek saw potential in Jesus, and offered to teach him guitar. “He had an eagerness to learn guitar and this humble approach to applying himself in life. By working with him in the worship band and being friends with him, I’ve noticed this natural leadership about him. He has a natural influence about him.” Cendejas has become extremely involved in mission projects offered by the school. These trips have taken him to flood-ravaged Cedar Rapids, and a Navajo Reservation in New Mexico in the past 18 months, but he finds great enjoyment in these mission trips. “They allow me to truly work as the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. I’m just doing my part serving as Jesus Christ did,” Jesus said while wearing his “Jesus Christ is Life” shirt. He has found inspiration in God and is now doing all he can to live for Him.

After having a less-than-stellar childhood, Jesus has found God as a way to overcome the demons of his past. He witnessed the power of God help his dad, and he has lived through this transformation as well. Being the only son of his father, he looks up to who he has become, thanks to God. It is almost ironic that a man with the name of Jesus could be so impacted by both his father and God, but that is the truth.  One can believe whatever they’d like, but for Jesus and his father, they have witnessed His power and are believers because of it. Jesus is not only the son of Jesus, but one of God as well.

8 Responses to “Jesus – A Son of God”

  1.   Claire Elyse Says:

    The picture at the beginning is priceless… it makes Jesus look like such a good guy.
    And okay, honestly, I laughed at the Jesus-son of God thing at first. Clever title.

    Also, I believe “Bible” is capitalized. Same as other holy books such as the Torah (spelling error? idk.).

    Clarification: did Jesus and his father leave his mother, or did they move back in with her after they were in Mexico for 4 years? It seems like she disappears out of the story with no explanation.

    LOVED the last line!
    I also loved how the article was mostly about his road from “Greaser” to Christian… but it wasn’t preachy, and it didn’t creep me out. You know how some religious stuff can come off as goody-two-shoes or cult-like… this was NOT either of those.
    GOod work!

  2.   Andrew Says:

    Good story, you had a lot of details throughout his life and that was good. I felt it might be a little long for some, but it kept my attention. Good use of quotes, it would be cool if you could post a video of him playing guitar, I’m not sure if that’s possible.

  3.   Brittany Says:

    I like the transitions you have. Subtle but good. I like how it wasn’t to pushy about religion but informative.

  4.   Alisa Says:

    This story is great and it is such a sad story. The fact that it turns out for the best is great and you really captured his life. I liked it. 😀

  5.   Tasha Says:

    I really liked the title of the story, it definitely gets a persons attention. Your story was very descriptive and detailed, which made it easy to follow. I’ve seen Jesus around campus and at Elevate a few times. He seems like a very wise person, and after reading this I definitely have respect for him and everything he’s been through. Nicely done.

  6.   Joshua Says:

    WOW that was long. I lost track of what I was reading after a while. That not saying you are a boring writer but rather that my mind like to wonder aimlessly. I like Jesus, he is a cool guy and you used good detail to show this.

  7.   Sarah Says:

    Wow!!!! I never knew this about Jesus, and I even went on the mission trip with him last year.

    I thought this story was VERY good, but it definitely gets stronger as it goes. The lead could be a little better and more catchy, but other than that I really enjoyed reading this story!

  8.   fuglsang Says:

    You’re giving away a lot at the beginning, Nick. I sometimes
    call this lapel grabbing. Just step back and try one of the alternative
    leads we discussed a while back. Set the scene. Tell a story
    (Maybe begin with his epiphany). Give me an image of Jesus, then
    give me the back story. This is one of those ties when you can
    structure your story as a story.

    Sometimes you’re kind of vague. Be as concrete as possible in your
    use of details and description.