Musician – “Seventh Day Slumber”
Seventh Day Slumber front man and founder Joseph Rojas had a rough childhood. He was abandoned by his father when he was three, physically, emotionally and [Edited] abused, bullied for being overweight, a drug addict and convicted felon. He was also an atheist. But his miraculous spiritual conversion in the back of an ambulance put Rojas on the road to recovery.
Formed in Bible college, Seventh Day Slumber’s (SDS) mission is to point hurting kids to the truth of Jesus Christ. And its working – over 20,000 kids have made decisions for Christ at their concerts. Often compared with mainstream greats Incubus, Staind and Nickelback, SDS’s first national effort “Picking Up The Pieces” yielded five top ten R&R Christian Rock hits with three of them going to number one. They also won a BMI Award for “Most Played Music at Christian Rock Radio” and a Dove Award Nomination. Their latest recording “Once Upon A Shattered Life” was recently put out by their major label Tooth and Nail Records
And has already spawned a number 1 song for 6 straight weeks (Caroline).
I met God in the back of an ambulance. Since then, I’ve been on the most incredible ride. If you are looking for proof that He is real all you need to do is look at my life. I’m a brand new man because of Jesus Christ.
I was born in California on an Air Force Base. My father was a heavy drinker. Eventually, it took over his life and he began to have a lot of issues with anger. Before we knew it he was beating my mother. Obviously, that put a strain on their marriage, but it was even worse when he started cheating on her, too.
I remember my mom telling me that it had gotten so bad that she had to leave. She took my brother and me to Texas and took a retail job making absolutely nothing. When I was three years old my dad got a dishonorable discharge from the Air Force and tried to get back with my mother but she didn’t want anything to do with him. And I remember him beating her – I was three years old and I remember it vividly. I remember him punching her in the face over and over again and her bleeding. My brother and I were sitting on the bed crying. She finally got to the phone to call 911 and my dad was arrested. After that I no longer had a dad.
That clip played in my head repeatedly as I was growing up. I grew up without a father to teach me how to throw a football or baseball. I used to daydream about fishing – I would catch my first fish and hold it up for my dad to see. And he would be so proud of me. But it was just a dream that never was to come true.
I was the fat kid growing up that never got picked for teams. I remember people making fun of me because of my weight. My brother and I were also teased for being poor. Now, my mom did the best she could, but it was tough raising two boys on a single mother’s income.
So, I got teased for being Hispanic, for being fat and for being poor. It happened so often that I just couldn’t take it anymore – I was either ready to commit suicide or I needed something else. When I was 14, I tried cocaine for the first time; it was a way to help me cope with my life. Cocaine not only helped me dull the pain, but it helped me fit in with the crowd as well. By age 15, I was using cocaine at least once or twice a month. Then it went from once a month to once a week and once a week turned into once a day. By the age of 21 I had a $400-a-day cocaine addiction and I would do whatever I could to get high. I went to jail numerous times for drug possession and for stealing – I even stole from my own mother to get high. Drugs totally controlled my life... I was a junkie.
When I was 21 I was also an atheist – I didn’t believe in God at all. Even if there was a God, there was no way he’d love a man like me who’d done so many bad things. I’d stolen, I’d robbed, I’d hurt people, I’d used drugs, I’d sold drugs, I’d even stole from my own mother. I just felt like a nothing. I ended up in rehab several times to get sobered up. But it never worked – I ‘d just go back to my old ways. I’ve done so many things I’m ashamed of – one in particular.
My mother worked her whole life as a single mother to feed and clothe her two boys. She couldn’t always be around, sometimes she worked 7 days a week. She managed to accumulate $30,000 in her company’s 401K savings plan. But she saw me dying and took that $30,000 – every bit of money she had in her savings, everything she had worked her whole life for – and put me in the best rehab in the country out in California. She used every dime she had to save me. But only 30 days out of rehab I was getting high again and her whole life savings was gone.
That’s when I decided I was going to end my life. I decided that after doing that, after stealing from my own mother, that I was going to take my life. I didn’t want to hurt her anymore. Of course, I knew my death would hurt her, but I thought that my living would hurt her even more.
I’d just gotten out of jail and I was looking at a 10 year sentence. There was nothing left to live for. So I took a lethal dose of cocaine. My mother wasn’t supposed to be the one to find me, but she walked in unexpectedly and I remember grabbing my chest and falling to me knees and overdosing on cocaine on the living room floor right in front of her. As I laid there on the floor my mother was screaming and crying out to God to save my life. When the paramedics arrived I was in and out of consciousness. I wanted to tell my mom how sorry I was, but I couldn’t.
The paramedics put me in the back of an ambulance and as I was lying there I realized I was about to die. I knew I needed to do something. In every rehab center I went to, there was always this mentioning of reaching to a higher power. For some reason that night I reached out to God.
Lying on that stretcher I felt this power, this power that I would not be able to explain to you if I had every page in this book to do it. It was the power of God and I felt Him from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet. I didn’t see Him, but I felt Him. And I knew that He was real. Right there in the back of that ambulance I cried out to Jesus and asked Him to save me. And for the first time in my life I felt like I got picked. That was the first time in my life that I ever knew the love of a father that I been longing for so desperately. He immediately took the pain away. He took the pain in my life away right there. And He filled that void in my life. I felt like I had a big hole in my chest and God filled it up with His love. I can tell you this for sure – the only reason I’m alive today is because of a praying mother. I know for a fact that God hears our prayers.
My recovery wasn’t an overnight thing. I tried to stop using drugs that day but I fell every now and then because I still had cravings. But the cravings got easier and easier as the days went by. Some people take it one day at a time, but I had to take it one hour at a time – that’s how addicted to drugs I was. But before I knew it I had three hours accumulated, six hours accumulated, ten hours accumulated. And then I had a whole day when I didn’t even think about drugs.
It took me a full year and a half to be completely free of them. After I gave my life to Jesus I jumped straight into Bible college - I wanted to change the world! When I first got saved I was right off the street, so I had absolutely no background in church or anything. When I went to Bible college I didn’t really fit in. I didn’t realize that saying the “f” word was bad. I thought that as long as I wasn’t using cocaine, man, that I was doing something really awesome. I guess I didn’t realize that there are just certain words you’re not supposed to use at a place like that.
I remember sitting in the lounge at my dorm one day in 1996. I was sitting there on my birthday with all these guys who’d been raised Christians all their lives and they asked me what I was going to do that night. And I said, “I can’t believe I’m sitting here on my f’ing birthday”. Now I didn’t realize that was a bad word until those guys were all just looking at me. I couldn’t help it, that was just the way I talked.
I ended up only being at Bible college for a year, but I learned a lot and it was a great experience. Had I never gone to that school l wouldn’t have started Seventh Day Slumber. I formed the band as a way to touch kids and to reach out to a generation that was hurting. I didn’t even think about records going platinum or rock star status at all. I wasn’t thinking about being famous or Dove Awards or anything like that. All I wanted to do was write songs that would help other kids know that there’s more to life than brokenness and pain.
And now here we are, signed with the largest Christian record label in the world and doing concerts for thousands of people. We’ve seen over 20,000 kids come to Christ at our concerts. People will ask me sometimes, “If you had it to do over again would you? Do you have any regrets?” Many people would answer, “Yeah, I’d do it all over again and I wouldn’t change a thing.” Shoot – I’d change a whole lot of things! I hated feeling like I was worthless and empty. And I have tons and tons of regrets. But I would do it all over again if I could wind up in this place and change lives for Christ.
All I can say about God is that He’s not necessarily found in history books or in articles. God has to be experienced. You’ll never get it, you’ll never fully understand what I’m talking about here unless you give it a shot and experience Him. I have experienced Him. I don’t have any explanations, I’m no theologian, but I know that God is absolutely real. I’ve met Jesus and He changed my life. Jesus did something that many rehabilitation centers could not do. He did something that all of the counseling sessions in the world could not do. He did something that all the money in the world could not do. I’m telling you right now that I’m a brand new man because of Jesus Christ. I’m living proof that Jesus is alive today.
From the book: “How Do You Know He’s Real: God Unplugged”
Author: Amy Hammond Hagberg.
For more information on the book and the
author, go to www.amyhagberg.com.
If you would like to learn more about how God can impact your
existence, click here.
Add this article to your Facebook or Twitter: