Billy Borja has fought for his life. But what the devil meant for evil, God is using for good. Now, a Rock Church LIFE Group Leader, he gives us a raw and candid look into his life-journey with Jesus.
“As a young boy growing up, life was tough. I was the youngest of 6 kids and my father was a military man who served in the U.S. Navy for twenty-six years. My mother was a stay-at-home mom who raised all 6 of us. We went without a lot of things growing up, though we had the things we needed—a roof over our head, food, and clothing. We had the essentials.
As a young boy I didn’t have many dreams of what I wanted to become or who I wanted to be. But I did ask my parents if I could take some martial arts classes; they told me they didn’t have the money.
I was bullied quite a bit. Sometimes I was beat up and then chased home by two or three kids. This would continue on into middle school until I started fighting back; I was tired of being bullied. I would literally fight for my life.
Also in grade school I was molested repeatedly and this would happen for several years.
I was introduced to drugs at the age of eleven. This sent me on a journey of self-destruction and addiction for the next twelve years. In high school, every day was a party. I would ditch school to go surfing or play in a rock band and I thought I had it made. I started selling drugs to make money and was very successful at it.
But as it is with dealers, I started using the money I was making to buy and use drugs myself. Eventually I got into a lot of debt. At nineteen, I was at work and some drug dealers took me at gunpoint. They drove me out to east county and I thought I was going to lose my life. I was in debt to them. They told me I had seventy-two hours to pay them back. I still don’t know how I got out of that situation, but I did.
At twenty-three, I had no job, no car, no place to live and was staying in the homes of friends and family. I remember I was at my sister’s house one evening and I had been up for 3 days straight strung out on crystal meth; I was sitting on the floor and I was a mess. I was one hundred and twenty-eight pounds. To give you some perspective, I now weigh one hundred and sixty-five pounds.
I took a razor blade to my wrist and started to press in on my skin. I began to cry.
At that moment I prayed to God, I believe You are real. Look at my life. Look at what I have become. I am a drug addict and I don’t want to be. And I don’t know how to quit. I don’t want to go to jail and I don’t want to die. I don’t want to continue living my life like this. Would You please help me?
Without a doubt, not only did God hear that prayer, but He began to answer it immediately. Within a few months I walked into a detox center out in east county. I admitted myself. I walked out of there clean and sober. I relapsed a couple of times, but I kept fighting for my life.
One of my sisters took me in to live with her. She told me, ‘You stay as long as you need to Billy, so you can get clean.’ She gave me a membership to a fitness center and in the first thirty days I gained twenty pounds.
I was feeling pretty good about myself. I had an appetite and was eating! I started to get my color back. I got a good job working construction and moved up the chain really fast. I was a journeyman painter making top dollar and was doing so as one of the youngest guys in the company.
And that childhood dream…I signed up for some martial arts lessons. I got really good at it. I finally had something I could claim as my own, something I had accomplished and achieved.
I met a girl, we got married and we had two kids. They were both in a private Christian school. We bought a home. We had the white picket fence, the mushroom tree in the front yard and the swing. Seriously. I was living the all-American dream with the all-American family.
I opened a martial arts studio too. Originally it was just a satellite school. Eleven years later I was the go-to studio in La Jolla going to every school in the community, taking a team of kids and doing martial arts demonstrations. We talked to hundreds of kids, faculty, and staff about bullying, inappropriate touching, stranger-danger, self-defense, and awareness. I was also the go-to-guy for KUSI news as the expert on martial arts and bullying.
I think back to being that twenty-three-year-old kid on my sister's floor, ready to take my life and crying out to God. I know God answered that prayer.
But as it is with life, my wife and I had some challenges. An investment gone bad sent us spiraling downward fast. We had to pull our kids out of private school and that rocked their world.
Our house was foreclosed and we filed for bankruptcy. It all would subsequently lead to my wife taking my two kids and leaving. That was the single most devastating thing I have ever had to experience. Not because we lost the house—that was devastating. Not because we filed bankruptcy—that was humbling. But because of how it affected my two young children. That was single handedly the most difficult thing I have ever had to encounter.
It was more challenging this being bullied. It was more painful than being molested. It was more devastating than being an addict strung out on drugs contemplating suicide.
But God met me in my brokenness and I found new opportunities. I became a personal trainer. I moved up quickly to earn a 6-figure income. I met Lisa, my new wife, who loves the Lord and serves in the Third Step Ministry. We have a 4-year-old son who loves the Lord too.
I also lead a ministry as a LIFE Group leader at Rock Church.
What the enemy meant for destruction, the Lord has turned around for His glory.
In 2 Corinthians 5:17 it says, ‘If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.’
The Lord knew the pain and the shame I was holding on to as a result of the things that happened to me when I was young. I needed to know I was a new creation in Christ and now I believe that with every fiber of my being.
In Philippians 4:13 it says, ‘I can do all things through Christ Jesus, who strengthens me.’ God knew I needed His strength to fight for my life. And His grace and mercy continue to sustain and help my family as we look to Him on the journey.”
POSTSCRIPT: Rock Church LIFE Groups are small groups that meet regularly all around the county. In a LIFE Group, members have a place to connect, grow, and share life with others.
For more information about the Life Groups Ministry, click here »