San Antonio – A man is taking his troubled life and turning it around through crosses he makes out of palm leaves for the community.
Miguel Zamora, 46, posts up at the intersection of Culebra and Zarzamora Street, where he spreads the Gospel.
“I do this because I love crosses and, first of all, I love my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” Zamora said. “I feel like it drives me closer to him and encourages me never to give up on the struggles we have in life.”
Zamora said the hardest part is collecting the leaves.
“Getting the leaves is difficult,” Zamora said. “I talk to people who have them and ask if they will allow me to get them.”
Zamora makes the crosses by hand, hairspray, and scissors. He sells them as a source of income because he is homeless.
“Doing this helps me get by,” Zamora said. “Sometimes we are not able to eat, but somehow doing this helps us each day.”
He and his wife, Gina Zamora, have lived on the streets on and off for the past three years. He said his struggles started when he was a child.
“Growing up I had a rough childhood,” Zamora said. “I had a mother who loved me very well, but she also gave me strong discipline. I thank her for that. I have been in trouble, but no matter how much trouble I have been in, I have always had people who prayed for me and who loved me and talked with me and spoke with me.”
Gang activity landed Zamora in prison for several years.
“I was in segregation for five years,” Zamora said. “I had a lot of time to myself. The only thing that kept me sane was reading my Bible and listening to, we had a radio, so listening to the word of God.”
Drug addiction was also a struggle of Zamora’s.
“I did heroin and crack cocaine,” Zamora said. “My biggest drug was fear though because ‘Once you get out of gangs, the only way out is death,’ so I lived in fear for a lot of years.”
He said he has been sober for six months and has been trying to get off the streets ever since.
“We live in a tent, but I know God is going to do something big for us,” Zamora said. “He helps us eat and get what we need. I feel like God has a lot for me. I know there is a lot more for me. Sometimes, the day doesn’t turn out as good. Sometimes we don’t even eat. My wife and I get on our knees and pray together.”
Zamora said sharing his crosses with the community fills his cup.
“Every time I give a cross, it goes to a deeper meaning within myself,” Zamora said. “I feel like I am giving to the people, hoping that it might help somebody as well. I love to encourage them that no matter what they are going through, I let them know I have been through this and this and this but I also had a way out.”
In addition to the cross, Zamora said another thing that keeps him going is his children, who do not know he’s homeless.
“I have a six-year-old boy,” Zamora said. “He is with my mom. He is very smart. I got a daughter who is in the Air Force and an older son who is in the secret service for the military. I try not to get them involved. I try to keep my homelessness away from people. I just know whatever God is doing, he is leading me to something greater and bigger and maybe he is bringing me through this to get me to where he wants me to be. I do think of them daily. I think of them daily and I want them to understand that I love them no matter what you know.”
Zamora said his dreams have changed over time.
“My dreams as a kid was to be a movie star,” Zamora said through laughter. “I always said I was going to star in the Walking Dead. That’s the show! Now as I have gotten older and going through what all I have been through, I want to be a pastor. To help people. To pitch the word of God and to take it out to the world.”
Zamora’s relationship with God has encouraged his wife as well.
“Even though I am out here on the streets, it doesn’t matter because I still wake up with a smile because I see him and I know that at the end of the day, it is going to be OK no matter how our day turns out,” Gina Zamora said. “I see hurt inside of him and I see all of this pain, but he still pulls through every day and it makes me so proud of him.”
Zamora said he is a Street Warrior for Christ and a Cross-walker.
“I have walked a cross from New Braunfels to Sutherland Springs in honor of the people there,” Zamora said.
More importantly, he said he loves the relationship he is building with others despite being rejected at times.
“If you have Jesus Christ in your life and on your side and in your heart, nothing can take that away,” Zamora said. “If he can love me like that, then I can love like that. I can love people like that no matter what they have done to me or what. I can love like that. The cross just shows me not to give up because God didn’t give up on me. Even though he got on that cross. He thought of me. He thought of me and he didn’t give up.”
If you know someone like Zamora who is making a difference in the South Texas community or who has a unique story, send us your tips. Contact Japhanie Gray on Facebook or @JGrayKSAT on Twitter. You can also send your tips to KSAT 12 & KSAT.com on Facebook.