Sanchez values two things above all: his relationship with Jesus Christ and his daughter Cheriece. Four years ago in a Philadelphia prison, Sanchez received an unexpected letter from Cheriece. In the letter, she explained her decision to give her father a second chance. Sanchez uses this letter as inspiration to live a renewed life.
“The Lord has restored my relationship with my daughter,” Sanchez explains. “She didn’t condemn me. I have to get back on my feet for her.”
Sanchez’s hope is now in Christ, but for years he put his hope in others. As a young man, Sanchez stole and dealt drugs, leading to his on-going battle with addiction. Due to this destructive lifestyle, Sanchez began the cycle of entering and exiting juvenile detention centers.
Raised by his father in Puerto Rico, Sanchez lived a comfortable life. His father worked for an airline and traveled constantly. Like any child with too much alone time, Sanchez used his father’s absence to get into trouble.
“I had everything,” Sanchez explains. “We had money; I was in one of the best schools in Puerto Rico. My dad took care of me.”
One evening, Sanchez’s father woke Sanchez to tell him something important — he’s a believer in Jesus Christ. Sanchez’s father started attending church. Sanchez thought his father was crazy, but his actions planted a seed in Sanchez’s heart.
At sixteen, while in juvenile hall Sanchez heard this same call towards Christ. Upon Sanchez’s release, he started attending church with his father.
Sanchez’s life became shaky again after his eighteenth birthday. He moved to New Jersey to live with his mother. Sanchez struggled for more than two decades. He married twice, but both marriages failed after he returned to abusing drugs.
Sanchez ran out of options and the streets became his home. He slept under bridges and near train tracks. He had his first and only child with his girlfriend. Sanchez’s girlfriend abandoned Cheriece a few months after her birth and Sanchez’s mother became Cheriece’s primary caretaker.
Sanchez continued feeding his drug habit by dealing drugs and stealing in Philadelphia. His actions eventually caught up to him when he is charged with theft and sent to prison. This was the last straw.
Cheriece’s letter inspired Sanchez to change his life. After his release from prison in 2014, a social service agency referred him to Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission.
“I thank God for giving me the strength to stand on my own two feet and take charge of my life,” he says.
On October 6, 2015, Sanchez committed to the Mission’s long-term Overcomer Program. Sanchez attests that the Lord set him free on that day.
As an Overcomer, Sanchez is learning the importance of being patient and loving towards others. His primary duty at the Mission is overseeing the Pearl Street entrance. Sanchez is often the first face our homeless guests see when they enter the Mission. He loves sharing his story with those living on the street in hopes they will surrender their lives to Jesus Christ.
Today, Sanchez considers Cheriece to be his best friend. Cheriece, twenty-one and studying psychology at Rutgers University, regularly comes to the Mission to visit her father and treats him to dinner.
“Cheriece is my buddy,” Sanchez exclaims. “I’m so proud of her!”