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CBN.com Barry Washington’s mother left him when he was just two days old. She never came back. The Washington family adopted the abandoned child, and raised him as their own. As Barry grew older, he enjoyed sports, but found school difficult.
“I had a hard time reading,” Barry says. “Coming up in Pittsburgh when you can’t read and can’t do a lot of those things, you just get involved with the wrong things.”
In the ninth grade Barry dropped out of school to sell marijuana. It wasn’t long before he moved on to harder drugs.
“A friend of mine, we were selling cocaine and snorting cocaine back then,” Barry says. “He would always talk about this other stuff called ‘boy,’ and I said, ‘What is boy?’ and he said, ‘Lets get a bag.’ I came to find out it was heroine. We would watch other drug addicts shoot up so we learned how to do it, and we started shooting up.”
Barry learned from the best.
“My brother at that time was one of the largest drug dealers in Pittsburgh,” Barry says, “so I kind of wanted to follow him. He would buy me new tennis shoes and different things, so I wanted to be like him. He had cars. He had money.”
Barry pulled in close to five thousand dollars a day, but he eventually came to a point of desperation.
“It came to the point where I became suicidal and I would actually try to overdose and kill myself,” Barry says. “I had almost a 20 year run in and out of jail. When my father died I just really went crazy, and I started sticking up people then. You see, I used to kidnap the drug dealers and hold them for ransom. It seems funny now, but that’s exactly what we used to do.”
Then, a drug deal went bad.
“I had forgotten about the guys I had robbed, and they came back,” Barry says. “They caught up to me, and that’s when I got stabbed 41 times. I thought that would’ve slowed me down but it seems like once you come up out of that you kind of think you are invincible.”
But one cold December morning he met two men on the street.
“I was hungry and just dirty and nasty, and I was walking down the street,” Barry says. “There were two Nigerians, and I asked them if they would give me something to eat.”
The men offered Barry more than just the two dollars to buy breakfast.
“He said, ‘Listen, I want to invite you to our fellowship,’” Barry recalls.
That night Barry went to church.
“But every time he talked about how Jesus saves lives, it was like I could really hear the Lord speaking,” Barry says. “Then he gave the invitation -- and this was right in his house -- in this little small house. He said if there is anyone that wants to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior just raise your hand. I raised my hand.”
But he still struggled with the drug addiction.
“Now I confess to you, after I went back home, I went out one night and tried to get high and could not get high,” Barry says. “It just wouldn’t work. It had no effect. That’s when the Lord showed me the Scripture 1 Cor. 5:17, ‘Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation.’”
So Barry decided to live like one. First he passed his GED exam. Then the boy who couldn’t read graduated from Bible school. Today, he’s the pastor of Redeemed Christian Church and ministers to people who are just like he was.
His church offers GED classes, computer training, and clothes and feeds the needy, homeless, and drug addicted of Louisville, Kentucky’s West End. It’s all a dream come true for Barry. And its evidence that God brought the son of a prostitute full circle.
“Sometimes I look at my arms that are still marked up and I look at them for a while and I say, ‘Dang, God, I really messed myself up,’” Barry says. “The Lord just reminds me, ‘It’s over.’ It’s over. I just want to make sure that people have this opportunity to hear the Gospel, to know who Jesus is. He really does heal and set us free.”
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