Story of Hope: Ricky of Brooklyn Teen Challenge

Story of Hope Brooklyn Teen Challenge Ricky

Every year, we celebrate Easter and the power of gospel transformation with special stories of hope from our affiliates. We hope you will be touched by the incredible ways our affiliates are helping their clients make holistic life changes. Read and hear the story of Ricky, who learned how to trust Jesus during his recovery time at Brooklyn Teen Challenge!

Hi, my name is Ricky and I’m a recent graduate of the program at Teen Challenge Brooklyn. I’m here to share my story with you today.

I was born in San Diego, California, and my sister and I were raised by a single mother. My father was never around so I didn't really know too much about him. I remember growing up with a good childhood—we did a lot of vacations and spent time together.

My mom went to church, so I knew of God, but I didn’t have that relationship with him—I knew who he was, but I didn’t personally know him.

By the time I was middle school, I started noticing that my mom was hanging out with different people. People started coming over to the house, and I realized that my mom was involved with gangs.

Toward the end of middle school, I was out on the beach one day. These kids that I went to school with and whose parents knew my mom came up to me—and I really had fear. They said, “We know your mom, and we want you to hang out with us today." And so they forced it upon me, and I was so scared that I gave in, and that was that— I was part of the gang.

Once I joined the gang, everything started going downhill. I went from trying marijuana to using coke, and my mom and I started committing crimes and doing drugs together. We established a relationship based on that. By the time I was in my 20s, my mother passed away from her drug use. Two years later, my sister passed away. I went deeper and deeper into my addiction and I started doing a lot of bad things.

I didn't want to live anymore, and I was ready to commit suicide with an overdose. I remember sitting there on the beach and I started crying. I said, "God, if you're real, just give me something, speak to me now." I felt peace come over me, and I got up and I started walking along the boardwalk. I found this paper that looked like money at first, so I grabbed it—but it ended up being a tract for a ministry, and it said "A place you call family and people you call home." I called the number on the back and a ministry came and picked me up the next day. I gave my life to the Lord that next week, and I stayed in that program for three years.

I learned a lot there, and how to love and serve the Lord. They sent me to a leadership training in Connecticut, and I ended up working with a pastor on Staten Island and joining his church. I met my wife serving on the worship team there, and we got married in 2012.

We established a home, a family— we had our son Nicholas— and loved the Lord. Within our fourth year of marriage, I started getting overwhelmed at work. Bills started coming in and I needed more hours. And eventually I didn't know how to cope. And so I started to drink. I never thought in a thousand years that I would drink, but it started with just a small little drink and I remember coming home and justifying it, like I had worked a hard day. After a year, it was driving a wedge between me and my wife. My wife told me: “I need you to be the husband God called you to be. This isn't the man that I married and who I fell in love with that loves the Lord." But I got deeper into drinking, and my wife and son eventually left. Two weeks after that, I knew that was it. I had to change. I loved them too much and God too much. I felt so far away from God, so far away.

So, a little over a year ago, I entered the program at Teen Challenge in Brooklyn, and I started to work through the issues that I had, my selfishness and my pride. Through the brothers here, I started to recognize that I had those things and surrender them to the Lord. I had the opportunity to go to marriage counseling with my wife and we are learning to compromise and communicate.

In the past year, as I have put my trust in Him, God has showed himself strong. One thing I've been praying diligently is “God, I pray that you transform me." It’s an ongoing process, but my wife sees the change in me and I see the change in me.

I just graduated from the program at Teen Challenge a few weeks ago. I’m excited to be back at home with my wife and son and back at my church. I want my son to grow up knowing that his father loves him and that God loves him. I have a love for the streets and I want to give back. I love the mission of Teen Challenge, that we reach the unreachable, we teach the unteachable, we love the unlovable. I'm grateful for the opportunity to even give my testimony, to give back what was freely given to me.


Hope for New York Relief Fund

As of mid-March, 95% of our affiliate programs have been suspended or modified because of COVID-19, and your giving is more important now than ever. Our 60+ affiliates are still providing programs and resources, such as food and shelter, job skills training, youth mentoring, and more, to our most vulnerable and marginalized communities.

We are committed to sustaining the vital work of our affiliates, and we ask that you consider giving generously toward our Relief Fund—100% of your gift this year will go towards relief grants and more resources for our affiliates.