I grew up in the church, was raised in a middle class family and was baptized at a young age. Within 6 years of my baptism I was experimenting with drugs and slowly giving my life over to the world and its current leader. By the Age of 17 I was kicked out of my school in the suburbs, fled the scene of a crime that happened at that school and landed in the local trap located near the area that I grew up in.
That very same day I was supposed to purchase my first .38 caliber handgun and invest in some drugs with the intent on turning a profit. I was right where I needed to be make this purchase a success. It turned out that the guy I was going to meet could not complete the sale because he had used that very same weapon on someone and was fleeing the police. I believe this was one of God’s first great attempts to intervene in my life.
I went from wanting to run away from home to running home real quick. You would have thought it would have all ended here but unfortunately, that is not the case. My life continued in vicious roller coaster motion (full of ups and downs) for the next 9 years. I’d get cleaned up for a while, then convince myself that “I could do it right this time” and the cycle would start all over again.
The last two years of this time is where I experienced the darkest moments of my life. I was completely hooked on some heavy drugs and was getting arrested about once every 3 months or so. To make matters worse, I had taken hostages; I was now married with 3 kids and was putting them through all kinds of emotional torment.
In spring of 2008 I was arrested and God laid the groundwork for a series of miracles to occur in my life. This path led me out the doors of jail, to rehab, then on into the rooms of recovery, and eventually back to the church. It was August of 2008 when I went forward and re-dedicated my life to Jesus Christ before a congregation. This was a trip because I had previously sworn that I would never sit amongst Christians inside a church building again. Since that time, I have utilized the philosophy of “you can’t keep it unless you give it a way,” as a way to plug into all kinds of avenues of service towards God’s Kingdom.
I served my family, the recovery community, the Church, the homeless and eventually found that I really enjoy serving the incarcerated. For the first time in my Christian walk, I was serving out of gratitude towards God and what He had done in my life, as opposed to serving out of a fear of going to hell or an attempt to earn God’s love (a misunderstanding that I am afraid that many deal with when they join a church and start serving).
In the midst of much Spiritual growth I re-discovered Christian Hip Hop and was so thankful that I could listen to the genre of music that I loved the most once again without compromising my newfound beliefs. In fact, I attribute a lot of my growth and direction to the Many MC’s of Christian Hip-hop and the Gospel message they share.
Needless to say, when I stumbled across the City Takers Radio show I was floored. I couldn’t believe I was hearing this on a local Christian radio station. I went to a few concerts where the CityTakers were spreading the word about their “ministry” and I second guessed it. “It seems everyone is calling themselves a ministry these days,” I thought. Scott Free put a flyer in my hand and I told him how much I appreciated the show and that was that. One day, while looking for DJ Radikal’s playlist from a show I found myself looking on their website. Conviction Set in, I soon realized how wrong I was and how much of a ministry CityTakers truly is.
My Conviction soon turned into excitement when I saw all the many facets of service I could plug into with CityTakers. I was especially excited to see that they were involved in local jails and prisons. I ended up filling out the volunteer portion under the “Love a City” Page on their website and I remember practically writing an essay under where it asks “Explain your interest in serving with City Takers.” My first Service event with City Takers was with their yearly “Warm Atlanta” campaign. I was impressed to see that among the many that were volunteering, there were a few talented hip-hop artists serving right alongside us (what a great way to stay humble).
Since then, my family and I frequently serve meals down at Safe House Outreach and enjoy plugging in throughout the various seasonal ministry opportunities. I have also been asked to take on the role of CityTakers Corrections Coordinator for the Men and I am amazed at what God has done with me once I partnered up with this wonderful extension of His Church. One of the most monumental experiences I have ever had was in Central State Prison with Scott, Tami, and the rest of the City Takers crew.
I witnessed over 30 incarcerated men getting baptised after a service we were invited to lead. I was even invited to get wet and do some of the dunking myself. While this one stays at the forefront of my mind, there are many many more experiences I can not list with the allotted amount of space.
I just know that the prayers and confessions offered to God at City Takers events are innumerable and have been a starting point for so many who normally would not step foot beyond a doorway of a traditional church. I also know that this is only a beginning for these individuals. With its more than able team and many service opportunities, City Takers offers a brand of discipleship like no other.