Success Stories: Dennis

Dennis was born in the Philippines in a family of 12 children. He was a middle child with 5 brothers and 6 sisters. Dennis’ father divorced and remarried an American woman. His father’s wife successfully petitioned the U.S. Government to allow Dennis, his brothers and sisters to move to San Francisco’s Excelsior district at age 10.  

By age 12, Dennis was skipping school to hang out at the “Fun Center” arcade with his childhood friends in San Francisco’s SOMA District.  The boy spent days smoking cigarettes, marijuana and hanging out downtown. Given the large number of siblings, there was little accountability in the home. The boy subsidized their “Fun Center” activities by stealing coins from newspaper and parking machines. 

By age 14, the boys had added alcohol and cocaine to the list of recreational substances. Dennis soon joined a violent Philippine gang called BNG.  In the gang, he began committing more serious crimes including burglary and armed robbery. Dennis stated that gang life introduced him to a new reality – violence. Fights with rival gangs became common. Weapons included knives and guns. Dennis began stealing cars (usually Fords) using a technique called “master keys”.  Dennis was first arrested at age 14 for pickpocketing an under-police officer. During this time, his old brother was arrested for armed robbery / shooting at age 16. Dennis’ brother was one of the first California minors to be tried as an adult. In a highly publicized trial, his brother, Julius, received a 33 year prison sentence. Julius discovered God in San Quentin. Dennis stated that Julius’s faith influenced him to later turn to God in his time of despair

Age 17, Dennis was arrested for shooting and stabbing two men in a gang fight. Fortunately, for Dennis both men survived. A timely psychiatric evaluation was favorable influenced Dennis’ case.  As a result, Dennis caught a break and only served three years in prison. 

Age 21, Dennis had become a full time cocaine dealer.  Dennis was never arrested for dealing. Dennis was to spend the next 20 years living the drug and gang life. Eventually, he was overcome by addiction to the drugs he sold. Dennis found himself homeless on the streets of San Francisco. Now in his 40s, the loneliness, despair and shame of a life apart from God overwhelmed him. 

Dennis finally surrendered and entered the City Team Ministries treatment program in 2005.  At City Team Dennis found Christ and gave his life to following him. The seeds that Dennis’ older brother Julius had planted from prison many years past now took root. Dennis successfully graduated from City Team in 2006 and has maintained his sobriety ever since. 

Upon graduation from City Team, Dennis entered World Impact’s urban leadership training program in 2007.  In 2011, Dennis became one of the first T.U.M.I graduates from the San Francisco leadership training center. Dennis is now a successful associate pastor of Bay Community Fellowship in Oakland. He also manages World Impact’s leadership home inone of Oakland’s roughest neighborhoods and shines the light of Christ into the darkness.