Ray Kozlowski: Listening to God's Voice
By Audra Smith
The 700 Club
“I always wanted to be accepted. But more than just accepted, I had this desire and hunger to be the center of attention.”
“It turned from just wanting to have fun, to actually wanting to prove myself as a young man.”
In high school, Ray eventually found the thrills he was looking for in the school’s gang members. Along with the crowd came his first experiences with drugs.
Ray tells how it began. “Before my 16th birthday, I started experimenting with pot. It was quick. It went from cigarettes to pot to everything else very, very fast. So, basically within a 2 year time, not only was I smoking pot, but I was using a lot of acid and a lot of cocaine. I was selling about 2 pounds a week of marijuana to the most respected gangsters in my school.”
Ray and his friends became increasingly more violent to gain respect in their city.
“We did a lot of crazy things; a lot of fights, a lot of gun activity, a lot of drugs.”
At age 17, Ray was arrested in a sting operation …and was given 5 months in prison plus 4 months of house arrest.
After serving his time, he ignored his probation and returned to the streets, more determined than ever to maintain his reputation.
His motivation was clear. “Anything, anything for that respect. I want a story that’s permanent. A story that is permanent is a story of murder. I was set that in the next phase of my life, I’m going to kill somebody.”
Ray found his opportunity one day after a fight broke out with rival gang members.
“I called my buddy, so he brought his gun. We decided we’re going to make this a mission. We are going to make this an event. We pull into the parking lot and my buddy asked me, ‘Are you ready to go?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He handed me the pistol. I pulled the gun. I cocked it. He was in my ear yelling, ‘Shoot em! Shoot em! Shoot em!’ I don’t know how close I was, but all I can say is that my finger was absolutely on the trigger.”
“There was a girl who was there who I knew who was there. She screamed. Her scream broke me. I looked over at her. I looked at the situation, and I was like a child. That was the first time in that transition of my life that I experienced fear for myself - not like I was scared of what somebody could do to me, but scared of who I could become.”
Ray didn’t follow through with his plans to kill that day, but the authorities arrested him for gun possession, a violation of his parole. Ray was sentenced to a 90 day boot camp program.
Boot camp would not be easy, and Ray knew it. “This is going to be the most intense thing I’ve ever experienced. This is a whole new world. Until one day, there was a sergeant who was walking… I had no idea why he chose my rack, and he throws a Bible at me. I remember opening it up to the book of Revelation. That was the first place I went. And it talked about God, and gave examples of His hair being as white as snow, and His bronze-like skin. The absolute respect He had from the angels around Him singing Holy, Holy, Holy. I’m mesmerized. I am absolutely in complete awe of this God. Never have I heard this before - not like this.”
“I mean, this was the Holy Spirit. BAM! Coming into my life just showing me what respect really was.”
“There is the beginning of the most drastic turnaround that I’ve ever encountered. Real. This time it was real.”
Ray continues, “A new prayer life began to take place with God. It was a very awesome time because this was God showing up in my life.”
When Ray got out of boot camp, he made the tough decision not to return to his old lifestyle. Just days later, he met his wife Stephanie.
Ray’s change of heart laid the groundwork for a completely transformed life. “I’m thankful. I’m just thankful to tell this story from where I am at; with a wife, 2 children, and 1 on the way. I praise God that I listened to His voice when I did because I could be behind bars. God would have still worked on me, but the path could have been a lot more difficult.”
Ray is a leader in his church youth group. He also has a Christian rap ministry and hopes to show young men the power and excitement of Christ.
“What I am begging any young person who might be hearing this, any parent, anybody who is hearing this, take notice to my God, the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Take notice to Him. The God I serve and the God that has done mighty things in my life is the God who wants to do might things in yours. Just listen, listen to his voice.”
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