FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- A family rooted in gang culture shared their story of transformation Sunday (April 23) morning to the congregation of the First Baptist Church.
Gilbert Gonzalez and his brothers were members of The Kobras in the Springdale area.
He said when they moved to Arkansas from California, his uncles brought the lifestyle with them.
Gilbert was jumped into the gang at 16, which to his family was just normal.
"My mom was proud that we were the next generation of gang members and just being around my uncles who would do drugs and we would be out there in the streets just beating up people," said Gilbert.
His older brother Robert said he was not as involved but did nothing to stop his younger brothers from going deeper into the gang life.
He said at times he even encouraged their day-to-day behavior of drinking, drugs and looking for trouble.
They said at the time they had everything that they wanted.
They had respect from others but were often times plagued by what they had to do to get it.
“I remember sending these two brothers, you know, they went to the hospital and we thought they died," Gilbert said. "I was scared. Me being tough and a gang member, I would still go home being like man these dudes died.”
Robert explained it was seeing his children get a desire for gang life that concerned him the most.
Eventually Gilbert met his now wife Karen who got more involved in religion.
She then shared it with Gilbert who took it to the rest of his family.
Robert said they grew up Catholic, but after his brother showed him the gospel, something changed.
“Hearing the gospel for the first time and that it’s only Jesus and there’s nothing else that we can do," said Robert. "There’s no Virgin Mary, there’s no saints, there’s nothing like that, there’s only Jesus that can save. That’s when it just broke my heart and I knew that’s what I wanted.”
The family now spends more time in church than in the streets and work to help kids stay out of the life they once had.
Gilbert says the one piece of advice he gives to kids is to stay focused on school and do what you want to do in life.
"But, don’t get caught up in all this hype over here about drinking and alcohol because I had that and I was still empty," Gilbert said.