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He’s Helping to Heal Childhood Wounds

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As an Army Special Forces Green Beret, John was deployed to Afghanistan twice and Iraq once. In 2014, at Fort Hood, he endured severe injuries to his neck and right arm after being shot by a deranged fellow soldier, who killed four people, including himself, and wounded 16 others. Despite these traumatic experiences, John says something much earlier in his life wounded him even more.  

John grew up in in Whittier, CA in the 80’s and 90’s. He says it was pretty normal to have only one of his biological parents “steering the ship.” “Sometimes that ship spun in circles, and other times veered off course mainly because the captain was absent,” he says, referring to his dad. John says his dad’s alcoholism brought about the end of many things: his career, marriage, dreams of raising his children, and tragically, his own life when he was age 34 and John was just five. Though he couldn’t grasp what that profound loss meant for years, in time it was clear. “I was lost without him,” he remembers.   


Growing up, John tried a number of things to fill the void his father left, gain affirmation, and create what he lacked – identity. In school, he became the class clown, craving attention. It didn’t heal his heart, but felt good to make the other kids laugh. From age 12 to 18, John joined his older brother in a gang, still searching for identity and approval. “I wasn’t a good gang member, because I loved people,” he says. The gang life kept him on the run from rival gang members and was, of course, a bad influence. He engaged in a lot of fighting, felt hatred from others, and became a teen father in the ninth grade, none of which provided what he hoped.  

At 18, John tried a new way to cope – meth amphetamine -- and became hooked. It, too, failed to remove the pain in his heart. At the encouragement of his praying grandmother and his sister, John decided to join the Army when he was 20, thinking that would help him put his life in order, and give him a sense of identity. “I was taught by great leaders to work hard, perform with excellence, be a self-starter, and to never quit.”

Still the longing in his heart persisted. “The orphan heart that craved affirmation remained; this time, it was masked in a camouflage uniform and esprit de corps,” John admits. Though he couldn’t do drugs in the military, he could drink, and did so to excess. In time, he earned his way into the elite fighting group, the Green Berets, with what he calls an unhealthy craving for the affirmation he never received from his father. “I never heard my dad say, 'You are my son in whom I am well pleased. You are my son; I love you,'” he painfully recalls.   


In 2003, John married Angel, and their lives spiraled steadily downward with alcohol and anger until Angel came to the place where she didn’t want to live anymore. In 2009, they went to a church, heard the gospel presented clearly for the first time, and came to faith in Christ. John says he began to change as he poured himself into church activities, surrounded himself with other Christian men, and set boundaries to curb his drinking. While their new faith and church involvement certainly made life better, John says he was like Lazarus – alive, but still wearing the grave clothes of past hurts. “Inviting Jesus into my heart was only the beginning of restoring my spirit, soul, and body. I lived with unhealthy fears and beliefs that became part of my everyday life without ever considering I could be free of them.”  


The well-known Bible story of David, his best friend, Jonathan, and his son, Mephibosheth, is one John says illustrated every believer’s true identity. When King Saul and his son, Jonathan, were both killed in battle, the news came to Mephibosheth’s nurse, who picked up the five-year-old and fled, fearing the new king would put everyone in Saul’s family to death. She dropped him along the way, causing him to be lame. He lived in exile in the wilderness for many years until King David asked Ziba, Saul’s former servant, if anyone from Saul’s family remains, so that he might show kindness to him and fulfill his promise to Jonathan.

Ziba brought Mephibosheth, now a young man, to the King, who assumes he will be killed, considering himself but “a dead dog.” David not only spares him, but assigns Ziba and all his family to serve him, and elevates him to eat at the King’s table every day. John applies that to believers today who don’t know (or believe) their true identity: “Do you see yourself as a dead dog? Do you live in your own emotional Lo-debar (the wilderness where Mephibosheth lived)? Did you grow up without a dad or a mom? You might not have …heard those endearing words, ‘I love you. I am proud of you.’ The truth is, you have always had a Father that loves and adores you. His name is God, and He sent His Son, Jesus, to earth for the greatest hostage rescue mission ever executed.”  


When John met his co-author, Peggy Corvin, he also met his future “freedom counselor.” Peggy has helped him work through the hurts remaining in his heart through a variety of therapy methods. The issues they’ve processed, and he says most of us need to as well are:
•    Beliefs. “Beliefs are the content of our hearts and have dominion over our thoughts,” John says. “An ungodly belief will appear to be true based on the facts of a person’s experience, yet is absolutely false based on God’s Word.”
•    Unforgiveness and bitterness. They act as a poison to us if not rooted out and healed, John believes. 
•    Anger. “Was Jesus angry? Absolutely. Did he react in rage? No. He acted to make sure His point was made, and He did it appropriately.”  
•    Spiritual warfare. John says we need to be aware of how our enemy, the devil, works and be prepared with tactics to fend of his attacks. Some of methods they’ve used are the breaking of strongholds, practicing forgiveness, finding freedom from fears, and overcoming family hurts and sins.    

Learn more about John Arroyo's ministry at To purchase John's book, I Never Heard My Dad Say, please click: I Never Heard My Dad Say.

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About The Author

Julie Blim

Julie produced and assigned a variety of features for The 700 Club since 1996, meeting a host of interesting people across America. Now she produces guest materials, reading a whole lot of inspiring books. A native of Joliet, IL, Julie is grateful for her church, friends, nieces, nephews, dogs, and enjoys tennis, ballroom dancing, and travel.