"Twice Dead -
The True Death and Life Story of
Roman Gutierrez


“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” -Jesus (John 8:36)

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is
easy and my burden is light."
- Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30)

"When Roman Gutierrez was eleven years old, his father died from a heroin overdose. Roman resolved, in his anger and his pain, that someday God would take him the same way. He became an addict, went to juvenile detention for stealing a year later, and attempted suicide the year after that. At fifteen he got into a fight and was pronounced dead for six minutes. At nineteen he was stabbed by his best friend and pronounced dead for five minutes."


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“David Drum captures this spellbinding story from cover to cover. I couldn’t put it down!”
Chaplain Thomas Cunningham, PhD, Central Arizona Correctional Facility

About the Author:

David J. Drum has over twenty years of ministry experience with the Christian Fellowship Ministries, where he has served as pastor and international evangelist. He spent five years as a missionary in Soweto, South Africa. David resides with his daughter, Dayna, and his wife, Hilda, in El Paso, Texas.


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Roman Gutierrez was dying. Death did not bother him, but the way he was dying was so pathetic. He looked at the syringe still in his hand and wondered how many times had he used it through the years. The drug crept up his arm and spread throughout his body. It was hot. He had been too impatient to let the drug cool properly before injecting it. The dose was so strong that it dripped out of his nose and mouth, and he felt like throwing up.

Heroin is an analgesic. Once addicted, a person’s body no longer produces natural painkillers and depends on a fix to keep it going. From the age of eleven, heroin had been Roman’s escape. It made him numb and seemed to quiet the anger that he felt inside. However, it was only a temporary high, thus the addiction.

His father had been a junkie. Roman’s mind drifted back to when he was a young boy. He remembered vividly the day his dad died of an overdose. The memory brought back the pain that Roman felt, the abandonment.

Roman’s mother always cursed his father for being such a loser. What she said may have been true, but to Roman, his dad was a hero. His time spent with his dad, which was not often, was an escape from his drunken mother. At least his dad did not hit him and call him names as she did.

Roman pushed the thought of his mother out of his head. He did not want her to be his dying memory. He tried to picture his dad. Roman’s aunt had found him dead in the bathroom with a needle still in his arm. Roman did not see it, but he had a mental image of it that he carried his whole life. When he got the news of his father’s death, Roman made a promise to God. He vowed that he would die the same way his father did. Now it was coming true. It was strange, but he felt vindicated. Perhaps his death would repay some of the hurt that people caused him. Maybe they would feel guilty for mistreating him.

It was a pitiful end to a pitiful life. Here he was, twenty-five years old, homeless, jobless, and dying of an overdose. A friend had allowed Roman to stay in his house while he was out of town. What will he think when he finds my body, Roman wondered. Some house sitter I turned out to be!

Nobody else even knew where he was, except for Roman’s mother. She had become a Christian four years previously; it seemed as if she was trying to make up for all the past wrongs. She constantly told Roman she loved him and was praying for him. Who did she think she was, preaching to me? It just made Roman angrier.

He had not eaten or slept during four days of partying. There was nothing festive about this party, though. It had been a dark, lonely haze of reliving and rehashing the past. He started Thursday night with an ounce of cocaine, a bag of marijuana, two ice chests filled with beer, and a brand new pack of syringes. He had been speedballing heroin and cocaine. Finally, Roman decided to take all the heroin at once and end the torment going around in his head. He had filled the syringe all the way to the top and injected it into his arm.

Now, he was burning up all over, and his muscles were tightening. Suddenly, his ears popped loud like a cap gun. The intense pain shot through his head and knocked him to his knees. That has never happened before. Perhaps blood vessels are exploding in my brain, he thought. On his knees, he stared at the soiled, carpeted floor. It was spinning around, moving closer and then farther away. He was breathing heavy, as if he had just run a mile, his heart was pounding, and he was dripping sweat.

So, this is what it is like to overdose. He wondered if his dad had felt this same way. The pain in his chest was growing stronger. It felt like the drug was melting his insides and his heart was going to explode. He had to cool off. A bottle of beer was barely within reach, but as he stretched for it, he tipped it over and it spilled. Roman collapsed on the floor from the effort. He was burning all over.

A cold shower is what he needed. They’ll find my body in the bathroom, like my father, he thought. As he crawled, the hallway seemed to grow before him. He imagined the carpet smoking as he touched it with his hands and knees. He felt like a hot coal. Surely, his heart was on fire, the flames crawling up his throat and burning the back of his mouth.

The thought of his mother telling him about hell shot through his mind. Mockingly, he had told her that the devil was scared of him taking over down there. But now, Roman was scared. He was scared of dying, but he was also scared of living. He had been incarcerated many times, declared dead twice, and was addicted, violent, and hated by many enemies. Death had seemed the best option, but now the thought terrified him.

Roman pulled himself into the tub and turned on the cold shower. His clothes soaked quickly and became heavy on his body, but the heat continued. His insides were on fire, and there was a tremendous pressure on his chest. He thought perhaps his lungs were going to collapse.

“Oh God, I don’t want to die,” he whispered.

Surprisingly, there was a desperate will to live rising within him.

“I’m tired of my life, but I don’t want to die.”

The tears flowed down his face. Will God even listen to me? Roman had spoken to God lots of times in the past. He accused God of killing his father. He cussed at God and blamed him for his miserable life. He even preached sermons to his friends about how God hated him and tormented him. His mother kept telling him that God loved him, but he laughed at her.

Will God help me now?

“Oh God, if you forgave my mom for what she use to be, you can forgive me. If she can change, maybe you can change me too. Show me you are real. I need a miracle.”

The sobs came deep from within. It made his chest hurt even more, but it was uncontrollable. He could not remember ever crying before. He always tried to act tough, but now he thought he must look like a baby.

His stomach started to heave up bile mixed with beer. It burned the back of his throat. It seemed to go on for several minutes, even though not much came up. It shook his whole body and made his head feel like it was going to burst.

Finally, the convulsions subsided. He reached up and turned off the shower. Remaining on his knees, he watched the tub water swirl down the drain. He shook himself like a wet dog, and then he grabbed a towel. Sitting on the edge of the tub, he buried his face in the towel. There was a ringing in his ears, and he was still hot, even though he was soaking wet. The pounding of his heart felt slower and more intense, like a chugging engine about to quit.

The ringing noise continued. It was the phone. It must be one or two in the morning, he thought. Who would be calling? His legs felt weak and uncooperative as he staggered to the phone in the bedroom. He felt for it in the dark and knocked it off the table. The numbers on the phone lit up so he could see it. As he lay down on the floor, he put the phone to his face.

“Roman, this is your mother,” the voice in the receiver said.

He wanted to answer, but the words would not come out. Every breath hurt.

“Roman, I don’t know why I’m calling you so late, but I just woke up and felt like I needed to invite you to come to church in the morning,” she said.

She had invited him to church hundreds of times, but why now? Is this the answer to my prayer? Could this be? Did God hear me? The tears began to flow again.

“Yes, Mom. I’ll go with you,” Roman managed to whisper.

Now she was silent. I probably just gave her a heart attack, he thought.

“Do you remember the church they just built that we passed by the other day?” she asked.

“Yeah,” Roman said.

“They are having a visiting speaker tomorrow, and I was going to attend. Will you come?” she asked hesitatingly.

There was an awkward silence.

“Yeah,” Roman said finally, barely getting the word out.

“The service starts at eleven in the morning. I’ll meet you there,” she said.

She hung up, not wanting to give him a chance to change his mind. She probably doesn’t believe me, Roman thought. But he was serious. It felt like God had answered a prayer, though it seemed surreal. He put the phone back on the hook.

The pain was more intense, if anything. The hum of the air conditioner was the only sound. It’s not working very well, that’s for sure.

“God, if I live until the morning, I’ll go to church,” he promised.

He wondered if he would still be alive by then.

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