September 2, 2015
Ever since John Mantone was young, he always felt like God had His hand on him, but he didn’t realize it just yet. Growing up in a religious environment, John was just going through the motions. Even though he was doing the steps that were taught to him, he still felt a void inside. A son of older parents, who had no control over him, John’s home life could be described as dysfunctional. The lack of control his parents had over him, caused them much anxiety and nervousness.
Turning to the streets at a young age, John was faced with his own depression and anxiety, leading to a turn towards alcohol and drugs. “I continued in darkness and bondage through my teens, twenties, and into my thirties. Addiction, adultery, pornography, lying, cheating, vulgar language, and fornication were just some of the sin I was caught up in.” John tells us.
After his mother died in 2002, and father in 2008, John was faced with his own mortality. “I began to ask myself what happens to you when you die?” John says. This question led to asking a co-worker, who he knew was a Christian; “Does it just go black, like when you’re under anesthesia?” A seemingly simple question, but for John, “that one question changed my life forever.”
For the first time, John was shown the truth when his co-worker responded, “No. There’s a heaven, and a hell.” The next day he opened up the Bible for John, showing him Revelation chapter 20, focusing on verses 11 though 15, which speaks of the judgement before the great white throne. Striking John the most was verse 15; “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” He tells us “I asked myself “Is my name written in the book of life?””
From that moment on, his co-worker continued to read the scriptures with John, pray with him, and disciple him. Through this, John prayed privately at home asking Jesus into his heart and for forgiveness of his sin, but “I didn’t feel anything different. I guess, I was expecting a zap or something. I did know that God was doing something to me.”
John continued to battle with alcohol, including drinking and driving many times. He’s thankful to God now that he never hurt or killed anyone while behind the wheel. This continued all the way through the early morning of September 6, 2009 where after leaving his second job, John had bought a beer, and as usually happened, he drank it while driving. “I remember feeling broken” John recalls of that day. Later on that morning, John, with his wife, attended the service at Crossroads Church. At the end of the message, there was an opportunity for anyone who wanted to turn their life over to Christ to come forward. No one went up to the front, except for a couple women who were already Christians, wanting to rededicate their life to the Lord. As the women were in the front John reflects that “I looked at my wife and knew I had to go down to the front. I was finally ready to surrender my life, my addiction, my will over to Him. This is when I felt something. I felt relieved, I felt liberated, I asked Jesus to take my addiction, and my bondage from me. I knew apart from him I couldn’t do it.”
John has been a faithful man of God, and a faithful member of our Crossroads Church family ever since. After surrendering to Christ, six years ago, God has completely taken the desire from John to drink alcohol. He has continued with his relationship with Christ, growing and learning each day. On most Sundays you’ll find John at the entrance of the sanctuary as Crossroads Church’s Head Usher.
When looking back on what God has done in his life since that fateful day in September of 2009, John tells us “It’s been almost six years alcohol free. I now know where I’m going when I die, whether it be tomorrow, unexpectedly, or if I live to be 100 years old. I do know that I am no longer separated from God by my sin nature because of the work on the cross. I now have a relationship with God, not religion, through Jesus Christ. I thank Him for my salvation, His grace, His mercy, His love. I thank Him for Crossroads Church and for Pastor Ray. And, of course, I can’t forget Danny, who led me to the Lord.”