"I spent 22 years being a knucklehead in there," Vasquez said. "Just trying to fit in where i knew i was never going to get in."
Vasquez claims he covered up a crime committed by his brother. He says was innocent. Two decades later, Vasquez had payed his debt. He was set to go free; but he was terrified.
"My heart started beating so fast," Vasquez recalled. "Not because i was going home, but i didn't know if i had anyone back home who remembered me."
Once released, Vasquez reunited with his mother, and his wife, who stayed married to him throughout his entire prison term. However their relationship ended and his wife would later lose her life to cancer. Her death left Vasquez alone...and homeless.
Vasquez says the lord eventually brought him to Abilene's Love and Care Ministries, and to pastor and founder Mark Hewitt. There he would attend a retreat where he finally opened up about his life, and about being homeless, only to have people laugh at him, thinking he was merely kidding. It was a moment that changed his life.
"I wanted to run. I wanted to cry," Vasquez recalled. "But i didn't. But that feeling that i felt right then, god took it away. He removed that from me right away."
7 years after his release, after stints with alcohol abuse, and living on the streets. Rey Vasquez has a steady job. He has a home. And most importantly, he has self respect.
"That's why I'm here right now. That person that i hated so much looking at me, when i shaved or whatever. Now i can look at this person that is looking at me now, and say I'm starting to like you a little bit," says Vasquez."
"Today he has a home and is doing wonderful," said Mark Hewitt. "I mean he looks good today, he;s doing good today. I'm very proud of him."
What a life...what a story of faith...what a story of victory. Rey says his real victory will surely come at the pearly gates.
"That my hope in God, to see his face one day," imagines Vasquez. "That I'm face to face with Him. And He tells me, 'I'm so proud of you. I'm so proud of you. Come on in.'"