Ricky Christmas: An Unstoppable Criminal
By Rod Thomas
The 700 Club
CBN.com -“Whatever we saw, if it was a car or someone leaving their garage open, we would bust out the window and take everything we wanted. It’s like, ‘Can’t nobody stop me,’” remembers Ricky. “And I didn’t even feel God could stop me."
Ricky Christmas was a true menace to society. He had only one goal in mind. “’As long as I’m here, I’m going to enjoy it. When it ends, it just ends.’ You couldn’t see five years down the road, it was just for the moment,” remembers Ricky.
Ricky was raised by a single mother. She remembers that even in his childhood there were problems. “He had a lot of anger growing up,” says his mother. “I did the best I could at that time and I think it was just rebellion, just being rebellious to me being a single parent raising kids by yourself, it’s really difficult.”
But, she made sure Ricky went to church, and taught him that God loved him. “I love God, but, I want to experience life,’ remembers Ricky. “Because most of the people I knew in church were poor. You know, they didn’t have nothing. They always struggled. They couldn’t pay their light bill. ‘But, Lord, there’s got to be something else out there.’ So I put God on pause and I started to search, what I believed what real life was.”
That search started with listening to gangsta rap, and eventually to joining a gang. “You got guys saying, ‘it’s okay to kill police. It’s okay to have ten girls. It’s okay to-to sell drugs cause you gotta eat,’” remembers Ricky. “’You know, I mean, this is why I do what I do cause I gotta eat.’”
“We hung out together and eventually we started stealing together,” says Ricky of his gang. “And I was in charge of stealing car stereos and rims. And it just grew from there and we started breaking into houses. And we formed a bond that was tighter and more real than even with my own brothers.”
Ricky dropped out of school and his gang terrorized their neighborhood. They thought they were invincible. But at home, his mom never gave up on him. “I did a lot of praying, praying for him,” remembers his mother. “And I knew that God, sooner or later, the Lord would bring him back and protect him.”
But even a mother’s prayers didn’t seem to be working. Until one day Ricky found out that a close friend had been arrested. He never saw him alive again. He died in a prison boot camp. “We’re about the same age, you know, 18 years old,” says Ricky. “He had a daughter, now she’s looking in the casket crying for her daddy. And I’m just sitting here looking back at this whole scene and saying, ‘Man, this is how it ends?’”
“I saw myself in that casket,” says Ricky. “Because I was doing some of the same things he did. And I didn’t want to go out like that. I remember God just put it on my heart, ‘Ricky, if you keep living the life you’re living, this is your future. You’re either going to be dead or in jail.’”
Ricky knew then, it was time for a change. “I began to pull myself away from my friends and began to seek out God, because I knew He was there. I knew He was real, and I repented,” says Ricky. “I was like, ‘Lord, forgive me for what I’ve been doing. And I’m not going down that road no more. Lord, I’m giving my life to You.’”
Ricky walked away from the gang life for good. He found a job and started attending church. Ricky knows that without the Lord, he would have destroyed his life. “When I realized Jesus was all I needed, I began to see the benefit that it was better to walk with Him and enjoy peace and strength and joy every day, than to have a temporary moment of pleasure that would cost you five, ten years in prison, or more or your life.”
Ricky’s mother believes that her patience and prayers made the difference. “God answers prayer,” says Ricky’s mother. “As I prayed for him through the years, and saw the change and God’s hand on his life and God protecting him and brought him back into the fold. And, you know, that was just awesome and I give God the glory for that.”
“She never left me,” says Ricky. “But the relationship grew stronger because now I’m not in the streets. Now I’m not doing drugs. So we began to spend more time together, and you know, now she had grandkids. So it really began to draw closer.”
Today, Ricky is a husband, father, and pastor. He helps others avoid the bad choices he once made. “As I look back, I’m like ‘thank you, Lord, for keeping me and protecting me when I was going my own way, doing my own thing,’ says Ricky. “He still loved me enough to say, ‘I want you. I want you back. I want you to be a part of Me, despite your mess, despite all you went through, despite all the wrong choices you made, I love you.’ And that’s amazing.”
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