Second Chance Story: A purpose driven life

Second Chances

FRESNO, California (KGPE) – Crackpots and potshots. The Trajectory of a Purpose Driven Life

In the hyper-connected world of the 21st Century, it’s easy to live from moment to moment. I know sometimes I do. It’s easy to lose our focus, our purpose, and sight of the bigger picture.

And then in one moment…BAM! Someone tries to kill you. It’s random it’s indiscriminate but it doesn’t matter. Someone just shot at you from a passing car.

What are the odds?

For most of us, that moment would instantly reset our focus on the big picture. All of that happened to Paul Martin Jr. as he was driving to work in Fresno County. He’s a great man with an amazing second chance story.

Paul’s OK now. In fact, he’s flourishing. The gunman stole one moment from Paul’s life but in so doing he reinforced Paul’s focus.

The Back Story

Do you remember those random shootings that happened in Fresno County back in late 2017?

The gunman, later identified 42-year-old Jorge Javier Gracia, was randomly shooting at passing motorists in rural Fresno County. It went on for months. He terrorized the community and Paul was one of his random targets.

Paul, a heavy equipment operator for Fresno County, remembers the day well.

“I was on Dickenson Avenue, just east of Kerman, heading to work at American Avenue Disposal Site in Kerman”    

It was Dec 15, 2017, at about 7 a.m. when BAM! A bullet missed his head by inches. When he got out, he saw the bullet still lodged in the front door jam pillar. He thought of his wife and his children and thought:

“Wow is that the way I go out? After all I’ve been through?”

After all he’s been through

Paul’s been through a lot and has a lot to be thankful for.  He’s on a mission to pay it forward and help others. Paul’s wife, Rhonda was kind enough to write to me about Paul’s second chances in life. He’s had several.

”Hi, Ken. I’m writing on behalf of my husband Paul Martin Jr. He’s an amazing man that has fought through many battles”

Paul’s many battles have included being homeless, living on the streets, being addicted to drugs and alcohol, and even spending some time in jail.  Then someone shoots at him. That’s a lot. What are the odds?

Paul told me years before the shooting, he decided to get his life together. With the help of family, friends and support groups – he did. The shooting only reinforced the new path he was on.

Rhonda continued. “His second chance includes sobriety for going on 10 years.”

Rhonda told me they take part in “a ministry that helps provide resources for the homeless and addicted. We have a street youth group in our home every Friday night.”

The day that Paul was almost killed galvanized their new mission in life to help others.

Tomorrow is not Promised

After the shooting, they “dove headfirst into ministry” trying to help others who are facing the same challenges that Paul overcame.

“We were given a second chance and are now living our best life.”

They are both clean and sober on a mission to help others.

“We have a wonderful home, four kids and Grandbabies.”

Why share their second story?

Paul told me “if we can touch even one person with our story – it’s worth it.”

“That’s the whole goal to help others.”

Rhonda remembers getting the phone call that Paul had been shot at. She said it was the most devastating call ever.

But despite life’s setbacks and the second chances, Paul says our vision is hope.

So, what are the odds? 

Sadly, the odds are pretty good that someone or something is taking potshots at your life right now.  Not literally but figuratively. 

You’re not good enough. You won’t get that promotion. You’ll never find the right person. Your debt will drown you. You’ll never lose that weight. You’ll never stay sober. Never get off drugs. Never stay clean. You’ll never escape your dead-end job. God doesn’t care. Nobody cares. 

They’re all lies, propagated by a crackpot taking potshots at your life.  

Just ask Paul. 

He’s clean, sober and a servant leader. He’s helping the helpless.  Ministering to the homeless. Offering power to the powerless. He’s gone from homeless to Kingdom builder. From Fatherless to Grandfather.  From inmate to liberator. From target to transformer.

And finally

It’s not lost on me that Paul works at a landfill in Fresno County.

I can’t help but think – that just maybe – Paul has taken some of his former hurts and hurdles and dropped them off at the trash dump where they belong.

Admit it. 

In this moment to moment world, we’re all hyper-connected. The question is: to what?

Have you had your BAM moment? Have you found your Purpose Driven Life?

Paul has.

Despite all odds…

~ Ken

As for the gunman?  He was caught, convicted on 19 felony charges and sentenced to 354 years in prison.

Thank you so much Paul and Rhonda for sharing your powerful second chance story! You are an inspiration to all of us.  Thank you!

Our community. Our Valley. Our second chances.

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