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CBN.com “You can get high on sex. You can get high on alcohol. You can get high on all kinds of drugs. I was high on hate and violent.”
When Nicky Cruz showed up on the scene, people had every reason to run and hide. He wasn’t just the leader of the renowned Mau Maus -- the toughest gang in New York City -- Nicky was an animal.
“New York was a jungle. The law of the jungle… you behave like an animal,” Nicky Cruz recalls. “Animals don’t know the difference between right and wrong. An animal has to kill another animal for survival.”
Pain and violence weren’t anything new to Nicky. He grew up in Puerto Rico, where his parents brutally abused him. Nicky’s father used to throw him in a room with pigeons.
“He put me there naked, and I used to scream,” Nicky says. “The pigeons used to get scared, and they’d scratch me all over.”
And Nicky’s mother?
“She hit me so much and knocked me unconscious so many times over and over that, honestly, if I grab a knife and I put it [in], I didn’t feel the pain anymore.”
It wasn’t just because they were cruel… They were possessed!
“I know that I was planted into the womb of a witch,” says Nicky.
Seances, satanic worship, animal sacrifices… they were all a normal part of his parent’s lives.
“I saw my mother possessed by the devil many times,” Nicky recalls. “My mother had to eat everything when she was under the influence of Satan. So did my dad. All those animals sacrifice, all the blood, all the blood that was shared and the smell was so repulsive and the spirit used to manifest. It was scaring.”
So when he hit the streets of New York, Nicky was a hardened man void of love and full of hate.
“I wanted to do to others what my mother did to me,” Nicky says. “I used to feel good when I hurt some people.”
But alone in his tiny apartment in the projects, he didn’t feel good.
“Privately. When I was alone, loneliness became like a seductive woman that crawled inside my chest and eat me. I was there twisting and fighting; I felt so lost. The most you can live the way I lived is 20 years. I was 19 already. One year, I be dead.”
Only two people that saw the desperate condition of Nicky’s heart. One was a psychologist.
“He told me about five times. ‘There’s a dark side in your life that nobody can penetrate. Nicky, you are walking straight to jail, the electric chair, and hell. There’s no hope.’”
The other was a pastor named David Wilkerson. He risked his life to tell Nicky there was hope.
“I heard his voice: ‘God has the power to change your life.’ I started cursing loud,” says Nicky. “I spit in his face, and I hit him. I told him, ‘I don’t believe in what you say and you get out of here.’”
Nicky never expected what he heard Wilkerson say next.
Wilkerson replied, “You could cut me up into a 1000 pieces and lay them in the street. Every piece will still love you.”
Nicky says, “It did damage. Good [damage] in my brain and in my heart. I began to question, and for two weeks I could not sleep thinking about love.”
Nicky and his gang showed up at one of Wilkerson’s rallies. One by one, they gave their lives to Christ. It was the crucifixion – Jesus’ death on the cross -- that grabbed Nicky.
“I was choked up with pain, and my eyes were fighting and tears became to come down and more tears and I was fighting and then I surrendered,” says Nicky. “I let Jesus hug me, and I let my head rest on His chest. I said I’m sorry. Forgive me, and for the first time, I told somebody I love you.”
The love Nicky got in return radically changed his life.
“When I had opened my eyes, I got a new heart. I’d been born again. I’m a child of the Lord.”
Nicky left the gang scene. He enrolled in Bible college and met Gloria. The two married and moved back to New York City where they ran “Teen Challenge,” a program to help troubled teens. Since then, Nicky has raised four girls and traveled all over the world as an evangelist and head of Nicky Cruz Ministries.
“I am the most happy human being because I have reached thousands upon millions of people that have come to Jesus through my message,” says Nicky. “But the greatest success of my life was when I brought my mother to Jesus and my father and my brother.”
Nicky chose to forgive his parents, and he asked them to forgive him. Nicky writes about this in his latest book Soul Obsession.
“When true forgiveness come in and out from you, that dark cloud will disappear,” says Nicky. “You have access straight to the heart of Christ.”
Once an “animal” filled with hate, today, a lover of souls. Now if you met Nicky Cruz on the streets, you probably wouldn’t run from him. You’d run to him, and here’s what he might say.
“You can turn all this deep pain, hurt, and rejection and do what I did. Give it to Christ. You are going to be more happy with your life!”
Want to learn more about Nicky Cruz's life? Check out his movie 'The Cross and the Switchblade'
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