"The day I accepted Christ, was a day I'll never forget. I was 19 and I walked into the church fully clothed in red with my red bandana because I was a Blood. And at the end of the church service, the pastor did an altar call," LaFleur said.
"The pastor looked at me, and he said, 'There's one more person that needs to come up and truly give their life to Christ.' And then I got up, and the whole church burst into applause because everyone knew what type of person I was. And from that day on, I never looked back. I decided to follow Jesus and I was baptized shortly after that day."
A few years after his baptism, LaFleur said he spent many long nights locked in his bedroom praying for freedom from the Bloods gang.
"The rumors about gangs are true. Once you're in, you're in, there's no way out. But I prayed my way out," he said. "I was like, 'God get me out of this,' because whenever I stopped answering the phone calls, and I was going to church, the gang members would stop by my house and ask for me."
Eventually, LaFleur found out that the Bloods had labeled him "untouchable," meaning that because he joined the gang as a minor, he was deemed too young to know what he was getting himself into. Based on his age, he was permitted to leave the gang.
Even with his newfound freedom from gang affiliation, LaFleur still needed guidance as he strived to lead a Christian lifestyle. He said it did not come with ease. He met Christians along the way, both inside and outside the church, who discipled him and guided him closer to Christ.
A dream from God
As he continued to form a closer relationship with God, LaFleur said he will never forget one night when he laid down to take a nap and God gave him a dream.
As he slept, he dreamed of being in a car with two of his best friends, who were still active members of the Bloods at the time.
In the dream, LaFleur and his two friends were in the two front seats of a car driving with the windows rolled down and he sat in the back seat. All of them were dressed in red from head to toe, as they were still members of the Bloods in the dream.
As the three stopped at a traffic light, they turned their heads to see a group of men suddenly beginning to surround their car.
LaFleur recalls that his dream took a turn for the worst when he looked out the window and saw the blue Crips flag. And suddenly, he knew that their rival gang was surrounding the car.
As the dream continued, LaFleur recalls one of the Crips members placing a gun into the opened window and shooting both of LaFleur's friends to death. LaFleur said he was able to get out of the car and ran away. He woke up from his dream, covered in sweat and heavily breathing with fear.
"After I woke from the dream, my phone rang. It was one of my best friends who had been in the car in my dream. He asked me if we could get some lunch together, and I felt suddenly nervous because of what I had just dreamt," LaFleur recounted.
LaFleur said he reluctantly went to lunch with his friend. While eating, the friend received a phone call. The friend's mother told him that he needed to go to her friend's house immediately for something urgent.
Not knowing what was happening, the 19-year-olds went to the house. Upon walking into the house, the devout Christian woman immediately prayed in tongues and English loudly. LaFleur and his friend sat quietly until the woman finished praying.
The woman told the boys that she had a dream last night that LaFleur and the friend got held at gunpoint and she said that the Lord told her to ask them to be careful.
"The woman confirmed my dream that day. Even now, I know that God gave us the same dream for a reason because nothing happens on accident," LaFleur said. "Something in me changed that day. My heart dropped when I realized we had the same dream, and I felt deep inside that it is time to draw even closer to Jesus."
After that day, LaFleur formed a bond with that woman.
"She became my spiritual mother. I would call her every day. She would pour into me. She would read the Bible to me and have in-depth conversations about God with me," he said. "She led me even closer to Jesus and further away from the parts of myself that I knew needed to change even though I was freed from the gang and I never got arrested again."
The woman is still alive today. At 76, her bond with LaFleur remains.
"She poured into me, and now that she's a lot older, I pour into her with the love of Christ and with the care that comes from the power of the Holy Spirit," LaFleur said.
Bringing others to Christ
Years later, LaFleur moved to Oklahoma City, where he continued to live out his Christian faith at Authority Church.
He was ordained as a minister on Feb. 6, 2022. He hopes that in his ministry role, he can continue to inspire other youth involved in gangs because he sees them as the future generation. He also hopes to travel the world to share his testimony.
"God's timing is perfect, and He knew it was time for me to be ushered into a ministry. And if God could set me free from gang violence, then he can set anyone free," LaFleur said. "My goal for my new ministry is to bring glory to God. I want to also bring hope, healing and rivers of freedom to the youth because they are our future."
Before he moved to Oklahoma City and before his ordination, LaFleur remembers his spiritual mother guiding him to develop and hone a passion for Christ. He began to yearn to help others experience the same desire to know God more intimately.
LaFleur started attending discipleship classes at his church and regularly participated in the church where he was baptized in Texas. And after seeking God in prayer, he said, he knew he needed to start evangelizing close to home.
LaFleur returned to where he used to hang out with his former gang members. He preached the Gospel to them. He said that three Blood members accepted Christ as their Savior and left the gang.
One of the three former gang members who accepted God under LaFleur's discipleship was his best friend, who had been in the car with him in his dream and who had been there when LaFleur met his spiritual mother.
Another one of the three who left the gang was Mike Sims, a 34-year-old husband and father to an 11-year-old daughter.
Sims said that, like LaFleur, he grew up in Beaumont and was raised in a loving and supportive family. Sims was the youngest of six children in his household.
For Sims, his earliest and fondest memories as a child were over the five years he was in elementary school. During those years, he said his mother and father were devoted to caring for him and instilling in him the importance of attending church and maintaining the Christian faith.
However, by the time Sims left fifth grade and entered sixth grade, he experienced a change that turned his whole world upside down.
"My mom ended up getting sick at an early age. So, I would help take care of my mom," Sims recalled, adding that his mother later became disabled and needed constant care from him and other family members.
With his mother sick, Sims said, his family stopped attending church regularly.
In his neighborhood, Sims said he began to notice Blood members frequently wearing red, and he wanted something to do to distract from the reality of his mother's debilitating illnesses.
It wasn't long before Sims entered the Bloods gang as an active member in the hopes of finding companionship and brotherhood in the midst of dealing with the pain of seeing his mother's fading condition.
On one occasion, Sims said he never forgot what his middle school principal told him upon discovering that he had joined a gang.
"My middle school principal told me that I was going to be dead or in jail before I was 18," Sims recalled. "That really took a toll on me. It didn't make me want to do better for myself. I felt like I would just be another statistic."
In 2002, when Sims was 14, his mother died after a long illness.
Sims said his mother's death gave him even more "ammunition" to want to remain active in the gang. And for the next 10 years, he remained a gang member.
"During the time my mom was sick, I always said: 'If something happens to my mom, I will have nothing to live for,'" Sims recounted. "And when she ended up passing, I definitely felt like I didn't have anything to live for."
'Never forgot his brother'
While in the gang, Sims said he was introduced to LaFleur, and the two quickly became partners in crime as they navigated gang life together. Sims said it felt like LaFleur had always cared for him as a "brother cares for another blood-related brother."
It was only natural that when LaFleur became a Christian, Sims began to think back on his Christian upbringing and the times he once had with his family when they brought him to church.
As LaFleur began to disciple Sims, Sims said it felt as though LaFleur had "returned back for him because he never forgot his brother."
"Derek was a big inspiration to me. Once Derek found the Christian faith and he was giving me guidance, it just made me want to change. I ended up having a daughter, and that really played a role in my change as well," Sims said.
After many weeks of LaFleur ministering to him, Sims said he turned to God again and devoted his life to caring for his baby and his soon-to-be wife.
In the same way that LaFleur could leave the gang as an "untouchable," Sims eventually left the gang under the same allowance because he was a minor at the time of his entry into the Bloods.
Since leaving the gang, Sims said he is experiencing life in a new and joyful way.
"I feel like I'm more successful. And the biggest reward is my wife and my daughter and being able to be there for them and provide for them," he said.
"You know at school when they always used to say, 'do what's right when no one's looking,' that's what being a Christian is like. I am doing what's right when I'm not under a microscope, when I'm not being micromanaged. I'm just doing what's right because it's the right thing to do. And it's truly life-changing. I never want to look back."
The Christian Post reached out to Beaumont Independent School District, King Middle School in Beaumont, the city council and the local police precinct. CP was informed that they could not verify LaFleur's identity or reveal if he attended the school and if he was arrested because its confidential information based on LaFleur's underaged status during the time of these events told within this story.