Julio “Jermaine” Concepcion

In January of 2002 I had just found a place to live, having been homeless up until December. Because of my lifestyle nobody could really put up with me – no money, no job – and I had burned all my bridges. In my heart I was a time bomb, easily frustrated, angry and violent. I tried to numb my pain with partying, drugs and girls.

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That night, all of our friends had gotten together which was rare, so we decided to all go out drinking and to try to find any party we could get into. We ended up at this party and immediately started trouble, which started a massive brawl. Fifteen people were fighting in the house. I ended up in a rage with this kid in a choke hold but when the police were called I finally let him go.

Hours later, I was out making a drug deal. While I was gone from the apartment, the men from the party came looking for me at the place I had been earlier, broke down the door, and fueled by cocaine, began attacking the man inside. Spencer, who had stayed home from the party and was upstairs sleeping, came down and tried to intervene, to stop the attack and help his friend.

I returned to find my two dear friends wounded – Spencer already on a stretcher. He had been stabbed three times and beaten, with a fatal stab wound to the heart.

It was in that moment my life stopped. I was the one who started the fight, I was the one who had gotten this man in a chokehold, and I should have been the one to take the knife. Instead my friend Spencer was killed. Somebody totally innocent died in my place.

After that I was severely suicidal. But before I went over the edge with drugs and alcohol, I wanted to call Spencer’s mom and tell her the truth and that I was sorry. She forgave me and told me about God’s forgiveness, something Spencer had always wanted for me. She asked me to come to the memorial service.

It was at Spencer’s funeral that I accepted Christ as my Savior. And I tell you, I felt the weight of my past lifted off of me when I was forgiven.

2020 Jermaine, Ana and a bunch of kids!

Dave Murphy

One day a connoisseur of fine brass was searching through a pile of junk on the outskirts of an eastern city when he suddenly spied an old battered brass pot. It was dirty, stained and beaten up, but his practiced eye recognized a thing of value. He made his way through the junk and picked up the old pot and set it apart by itself. In so doing he sanctified that vessel. Of course he must spend many hours cleansing, straightening out the dents and polishing the old pot, until it becomes a thing of beauty to one day grace his living room table.
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This illustration fits my life story perfectly. Before Jesus reached down and touched my life and placed me in a different and new place I went through life seeking satisfaction. I involved myself with a drug lifestyle and the results were crime, violence and almost prison time. The road I chose brought nothing but pain and suffering. I found myself at the age of 19 heavily involved in cocaine which began to control me. The drug that was supposed to bring in big money was now ruining me and many friends around me. The lifestyle that promised good looking woman, popularity and a tough-guy reputation was now nothing I wanted. I would work then go to the bar to drink until night time and once alcohol was involved cocaine easily followed. I will never forget those sleepless nights. I remember a couple times sniffing cocaine for 3-4 days straight without any sleep. It was those times when I was all alone so messed up I began to realize I needed help.

At 16 I sniffed my first line of cocaine. In just a few years I went from smoking dope to smoking coke to sniffing bags of heroin. On one occasion I even shot cocaine in my veins with my best friend. That same best friend died the next summer. Now that I look back at my life I see that God was doing something even though I was so far away from accepting the fact that I was lost. I began to hate myself and hate my ways.
My life may be a bit different from most young people because I knew the truth about Jesus Christ. I found out early in my life that Jesus was more than a religious figure in the Bible. I grew up in a Catholic home where we attended church fairly often. I went to the Catholic classes and got confirmation. I remember watching the people in church go through these rituals. I was not sure I understood any of it at the time. I never felt God or even believed Jesus was real. In 1987 my Father was invited out to a church called Victory Chapel. He eventually became a real biblical Christian. He found what it meant to become Born Again. That would change everything.

At the age of 9 I realized I needed what my Father had and needed to know Jesus for myself. I accepted Him into my heart through a prayer of faith. I wanted Him to show himself somehow to me so I could put my faith and life into His hands and He did just that but after many years of focusing on the right way to live, I got distracted and discouraged by the many challenges of living a Christian life among my friends.

So here I was at 22 knowing the whole time my life would not be successful without Christ. Yet I tried not to believe that because I thought I knew better. This is how I got saved from a lifestyle that would have taken me to Hell.
I had a friend who was also a born again Christian and he accepted Christ and was into sharing that with his friends. He was a young man who had struggled with the same type of problems most young people battle here on the Cape. Spencer had a passion about speaking about what had happened in his life. I don’t remember everything he said but I do remember he looked satisfied. That bothered me. I wanted to be happy but did I really have to become a Christian to have that real satisfaction? I would soon find out.

One night in January I got a call from a friend who told me that Spencer was murdered. This event shook me to the core. I could not believe Spencer had been murdered by people I knew. It was such a tragic situation. The story was incredible! Spencer had jumped in to save his friends life and in the action was stabbed and killed. The story impacted a community and even was spread to local news all over New England. It devastated many people and families. To many it caused them to ask why….to many it caused people to seek answers and to me it caused me to evaluate my lifestyle and my need for what Spencer had and that was Christ!

It was not long after Spencer had passed that I gave my whole life to Christ. That is what He wanted not just a portion of my life but my whole life. I had to give it all up, my sin, my ways, my goals and my heart. I had to trust Him and believe that He was going to fix me. Just like the illustration in the beginning, I had to trust that He could change me and make me into something useful and meaningful. It has been more than 10 years since the all of this took place. Today I feel the same way about Jesus Christ and will continue to live a life of faith in Him and help others find real satisfaction in knowing Him. He changed me so powerfully that today I am still completely free from all substance abuse. Those very things that had a evil hold on my life were broken by His power! It was an awesome thing to give my life to Jesus Christ.

Brandon Gomes

Before I can tell you who I am now I first need to tell who I was. I grew up in a single family home with a brother that was 15 months older than I was. Cape Verdean Families were very tight knit families and you always did what elders told you to do, especially if it was your parents. My grandmother had a falling out with my dad and told him never to come around her daughter anymore. This is all I know of why my father wasn’t in my life.

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My mom tried to raise the two of us on her own. It was very difficult. We went from place to place and my mom went from job to job. Because of the way I grew up, broken home, no father, poverty, instability, I was very angry. At the age of 14 I drank my first beer, smoked my first joint and lost my virginity. It was a summer of a lot of first time things and the beginning of a life that would spin out of control. I was athletic and played sports in school. Sports was the only thing that kept me in school. After high school I was drinking and partying a lot, and smoking weed. By the time I was 21, I would drink to get myself to sleep. My whole life revolved around drinking and getting drunk. Once I got a taste of the night life I became hooked.

I found myself depressed, lonely in a crowd and empty even though I lived the night life and had many women at my disposal. I soon began to wonder what life was really about. By the time I was 24 I was burnt out and had had enough. I was invited to come to church by a friend, Jermaine, who had given his life to Jesus and changed. I knew in my heart that was the right thing but I wasn’t sure if it was for me, after all, how could a guy like me live like a Christian? On March 20, 2002 I finally came to a church service with Jermaine, and I asked Jesus to take control of my life and asked him to be my lord and savior. Today I am a different person. I have a family and stability. Before I never would even let myself think about being a father because of who I knew myself to be. I didn’t want to have my children go through what I did. I’ve been married for 14 years and I have a complete family; a beautiful wife and two wonderful boys, which is a miracle considering the cycle of my family history.

God didn’t just help me stop drinking; He completely changed me inside so that the desire and need to be filled by alcohol wasn’t there at all! He filled me with His peace, and I was no longer angry and bitter. I am a changed person in my heart because of Jesus Christ and his forgiveness. I have a friendship with the God who created me and know that I have a secured place in Heaven because of what Jesus has done for me.

2Corinthians 5:17
So that if any one is in Christ, that one is a new creature; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Lawrence Barros

*** Larry Barros went home to be with the Lord in November 2014 after a tragic head-on collision. He is terribly missed by many. I want to leave his beautiful testimony up though. Larry remained an outstanding witness to God’s redeeming love until the day he died. Well done, Larry!

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Hello, my name is Lawrence Barros and I would like to share with you how the life and death of Spencer has forever altered the direction of my life. Spencer was murdered days before my 20th birthday in February 2002. During that particular time, my life was in transition. I had just moved back to the cape from going to college about 3 hours away and I was really hoping that life would settle down for me. I had been in trouble at college for possession of alcohol and marijuana and as a result the school had banned me from the dorms.

In my mind coming back to the cape was going to be a good chance to start over and make some changes in my life. I didn’t really understand why or how my life had started to grow out of control but never the less I found my life heading down the same road of addiction as my parents before me. Within weeks of returning to the cape I had lost any desire to change and had set my heart on partying hard.

Growing up on Cape Cod caused me to have a false sense of security, I never thought that the people I grew up with, had sleep over my house as a kid and party with all through high school would become murderers within 2 years of graduating high school. When Spencer was murdered it really confused me because the two groups that were fighting that night were friends. All of us grew up in the same two towns and had many other attributes in common. Any other day most of the two groups would have referred to the other group as “one of my boys” or some other slang word that was common during that time.

My older brother and my cousin Jermaine were very close with Spencer and had been for years. After his murder things in my house began change. My brother went to Spencer’s memorial service that was held a Victory Chapel and he experienced something at the service that he couldn’t explain but touched his heart. It was Spencer’s testimony, Jay had never realized until that service all the things that Spencer had done in his life for God, like rapping and going to South Africa to evangelize the world. Jermaine had made a decision at the memorial service to become a Christian and as if over night he was a different person. Jermaine began to tell me that my life needed to change and that there was only one person who could help me, Jesus.

I didn’t want to acknowledge that I had a problem because I was self righteous and prideful. In my mind I was happy for Jermaine because I perceived him to be a lot “worse” than me. I told him that I was “all set” because I didn’t do some of the things that he did and told him that I’m a “good” person. I tried to explain away or discredit the work that God was doing in his life. I told him that his new life was a product of socialization or in other words he was hanging out with a new group of people and adopting their beliefs and behaviors. I didn’t understand that he was a completely new person, that God had completely changed his heart.

During the summer that year my brother decided that he wanted whatever it was that Spencer had and Jermaine was experiencing, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and forgiveness. I was living with my brother Jason at the time and I was shocked when he came home one night and told me that he wasn’t an alcoholic anymore. I was amazed as I watched him change before me eyes. It was at that point where in my heart I started to question whether I was wrong and needed what they had. It took me two months of searching my heart and resisting out of stubbornness and pride before I made the same decision both Jermaine and Jason had made.

I had never really thought about God before Spencer was murdered. I wasn’t religious but I wasn’t really an atheist either in the sense that I didn’t hate God. I had a hard time believing that if there was a God that he would care enough about me to help me. I was resistant to asking Jesus to help me because in the back of my mind I was afraid he would reject me. The thought of a God that would love me despite all my failures and mistakes was inconceivable to me.

September 20 2002 at a home bible study in Jermaine’s living room was the date that I accepted Jesus into my life and asked for forgiveness of my sins. I received that chance to start over again that I had been looking for 8-9 months earlier. Since that time God has done so much in my life. The things that I thought were major problems in my life were nothing for God to change. It’s amazing to look back and believe what God has brought me through. When I tell people what my life was like, they have a hard time imagining that I could have ever been the type of person that I was.

I have absolutely no regrets about the decision I made for Christ except that I waited so long to make it. I now have wonderful wife, Monica and we have a 14mth old son Isaac. I am currently involved in many different ministries in the church. God has given me tremendous opportunities to have influence for his name. I am currently involved in children ministries bringing the gospel to kids, our song service, Moving Mountains, and preaching on Saturday nights after our music scene. God has given me the ability to influence lives for his glory and there is nothing greater in the world that person can be involved in.
Only God knows the direction that my life would have taken if Spencer hadn’t been murdered. God was able to take a terrible tragedy and use it to reach others who were in desperate need of help, who in turn picked up the same desire to reach others that Spencer had.

Joshua Shapiro

My name is Joshua Shapiro. I was born in Great Barrington, MA. My parents were divorced and my mother raised me on Cape Cod. My life was never easy. From a broken home I was heading fast on a road to destruction. I was sixteen when I left home. I wanted to party and have fun. This quickly turned to addictions and a loneliness I had never felt before.

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I had lots of people around but inside I was broken. I was involved in many things that hurt others and myself, of which I am not proud of. The guilt was too much to bear and I started cutting to bleed it out. I was a drug addict, alcoholic, and violent! I had been incarcerated, and was in trouble with the law. I had no answers or way to stop so I just kept doing what I knew to do. I wanted a way out. That is when a friend of mine, Jermaine Concepcion, told me about the answer he had found. Through the murder of his good friend Spencer, he had found Jesus Christ. God used him to touch me and my life has been changed forever. I decided to tell other close friends of ours: Standly Miranda, Teddy Henning, Andrew Shapiro, and many others. Today I am a pastor in Orlando, Florida. God has been good to me and I am grateful for my salvation!

****The Shapiros are now missionaries in Croatia – all glory to God!

David Myland

In January of 2002 I did not know who I was. My life consisted of partying, drug using and drug selling and everything that came with those choices. I did not have a care in the world. My lifestyle would ultimately lead to a group of men and myself taking the life of Spencer Macleod. As a result, I am serving a 20 years to life sentence for the murder.
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Now, you would think that would’ve opened my eyes. But instead I entered prison and continued on with the same façade I manifested over the years, never truly taking any responsibility for my actions in life or on that tragic night. The truth is I never realized I needed forgiveness from Spencer’s family. It was not until years later that I finally opened my eyes to my warped sense of reality. In a program called 2nd Thoughts Inc., I was challenged to re-evaluate my thinking process. In doing so I made a decision in 2010 that would change my life. I sent a letter of apology to Spencer’s mother, Robin, a decision I will always cherish.

Through God’s grace, Robin had the courage to respond to my letter. For the next few years we corresponded through the mail, talking a lot about God and how Jesus was working in her life. Eventually I heard about Jermaine and the work he was doing in Jesus’ name, so I reached out to him and we began speaking more about God. This led me to giving my life to God and accepting Jesus Christ as my lord and savior in January of 2013.

I can remember that night vividly. Jermaine led me through prayer and immediately I felt the Holy Ghost in me. I felt as if I had taken drugs. I was on cloud 9. What a beautiful feeling, feeling God’s love. Eventually I would ask Robin and Jermaine to come visit me here in prison. And once again Robin’s courage showed up and through the grace of God she and Jermaine came to visit me. I can remember that first encounter face to face with emotions running high. I reached out to shake Robin’s hand and instead she embraced me with a hug. The forgiveness I felt in that moment, the love I felt, can only be explained by God’s grace through Robin, a truly sincere and mature Christian.

Today I have never felt so free and I owe it all to the power of forgiveness. Today I am a servant of God.