: Christ the Healer
 
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Page Twenty - Four

TEEN PROBE

S-T-R-A-I-G-H-T T-A-L-K T-O T-E-E-N-S

This is the story of a ferocious teen-age hood. It is the story of Jesus Christ and His far reaching, all-encompassing love. It is the story of Nicky Cruz and Jesus embracing each other’s life.

This account is taken from the book RUN BABY RUN by Nicky Cruz with permission from Jove Publications, New york, N.Y.

My early childhood was filled with fear and resentment. The large family meant that there was very little individual attention given to each child. I resented Papa and Mama and was afraid of the sorcery that took place each night.

The summer before I started school Papa locked me in the pigeon house. It was late in the evening and he had caught me stealing money out of Mama’s purse. I tried to run but he reached out and grabbed me by the back of the neck. “You can’t run, baby. You’re going to have to pay the price for stealing.”

“I hate you,” I shouted.

He grabbed me off the ground, shaking me in front of him. “I’ll teach you to talk to your Papa like that,” he bit out. Putting me under his arm like a sack of grain he strode across the dark yard to the pigeon house. I heard him fumbling with the lock as he opened the door. “Inside,” he snarled. “You can stay in there with the birds until you learn your lesson.”

He shoved me through the door and slammed it behind me, leaving me in total blackness. I heard the lock snap into place and Papa’s muffled voice came through the cracks in the walls. “And no supper.” I heard his footsteps fade into the distance back toward the house.

I was petrified with fear. Hammering my fists against the door, I kicked it frantically, shouting and screaming. Suddenly the shack was filled with the sound of wildly flapping wings as the frightened birds slammed against my body. I threw my hands over my face and screamed hysterically as the birds smashed against the walls and ferociously pecked at my face and neck. I collapsed to the filthy floor burying my head in my arms trying to protect my eyes and shut out the sound of the flapping wings overhead.

PAGE NINETEEN.....

It seemed like an eternity before the door opened and Papa yanked me to my feet and dragged me into the yard. “Next time you’ll remember not to steal and sass back when you’re caught,” he said harshly. “Now wash up and go to bed.”

I cried myself to sleep that night, dreaming of the fluttering birds that slammed against my body.

My resentment against Papa and Mama carried over the next year when I started school. I hated all authority. Then, when I was 8 years old, I turned against my parents completely. It was a hot summer afternoon and Mama and several other mediums were sitting at the big table in the living room drinking coffee. I had grown tired of playing with my brother and entered the room bouncing a small ball on the floor and catching it in my hand. One of the mediums said to Mama, “Your Nicky’s a cute boy. He looks just like you. I know you must be very proud of him.”

Mama looked hard at me and began to sway in her chair, rocking back and forth. Here eyes rolled back into her head until only the whites showed. She held her arms straight out in front of her across the top of the table. Her fingers stiffened and quivered as she slowly raised her arms above her head and began to speak in a sing-song tone of voice ... “This...not...my...son. No, not Nicky. He never been mine. He child of greatest of all witches. Lucifer. No, not mine...no, not mine...Son of Satan, child of Devil.”

I dropped the ball and it bounced across the room. I slowly backed up against the wall while Mama continued in her trance, her voice rising and falling as she chanted. “No, not mine, not mine...hand of Lucifer upon his life...finger of Satan touch his life...finger of Satan touch his soul...mark of beast on his heart...No, not mine...no, not mine.”

I watched as the tears coursed down her cheeks. Suddenly, she turned to me with eyes wide and in a shrieking voice cried: “Get out, DEVIL! Get away from me. Leave me, DEVIL. Away! Away! Away!”

I was petrified with fear. I ran to my room and threw myself on my bed. The thoughts flowed through my mind like rivers churning down a narrow canyon. “Not her child...child of Satan...not love me...No one cares.”

Then the tears came and I began to scream and wail. The pain in my chest was unbearable and I pounded my fists against the bed until I was exhausted.

PAGE TWENTY-ONE.....

Inside the house I could hear the laughter as my father’s deep bass voice joined with the women. I knew they were still laughing at me.

The waves of hate flooded over me again. The tears coursed down my face and once more I began to scream. “I hate you, Mama! I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!” My voice echoed against the emptiness under the house.

Reaching a stage of complete emotional climax I collapsed on my back in the dirt and rolled over and over, the dust covering my body. Exhausted, I closed my eyes and wept until I fell into a tortured sleep.

The sun had already sunk into the western sea when I awoke and crept out from under the porch. Sand still gritted between my teeth and my body was caked with grime. The frogs and crickets were chirping and the dew felt damp and cool against my bare feet.

Papa opened the back door and a shaft of yellow light fell on me as I stood at the foot of the steps. “Pig!” he shouted. “What you been doing under that house so long? Look at you. We don’t want no pigs around here. Go clean up and come for supper.”

I obeyed. But as I washed my body under the pump, I knew I would hate forever. I knew I would never love again...never. Fear, dirt, and hate for the Son of Satan. I had started to run.

PAGE THIRTY-SEVEN.....

A life motivated by hate and fear has no room for anyone but self. I hated everyone including Frank. He represented authority. And when he began to object to my being out of school and staying out late at night, I made up my mind to leave.

“Nicky,” he said, “New York is a jungle. The people who live here live by the law of the jungle. Only the tough survive. You really haven’t seen what it's like, Nicky. I’ve been here for five years and I know. This place is crawling with prostitutes, junkies, winos and killers. Those guys out there, they’ll kill you. And no one will even know you’re dead until some junkie stumbles over your rotting body under a pile of trash.”

Frank was right. But I couldn’t stay here. He was insisting I go back to school and I knew I would have to make it on my own.

PAGE THIRTY-NINE.....

A room was going to cost money and I didn’t have a penny. It was almost 10 p.m. and the winter wind was freezing cold. I shrank back into the shadows of the alley and saw people passing by on the sidewalk. I pulled the switchblade out of my pocket and pressed the button. The blade snapped open with a soft click. I pressed the tip against the palm of my hand. My hand was shaking as I tried to imagine just how I would perform the robbery. Would it be best to pull them into the alley? Should I go ahead and stab them or just scare them? What if they yelled?...

My thoughts were interrupted by two people talking at the entrance of the alley. An old wino had stopped a young man in his late teens who was carrying a huge sack of groceries. The old man was begging him for a dime to buy a cup of coffee. I listened as the young man tried to get away telling the wino he didn’t have any money.

The thought ran through my mind that the old man probably had a pocket full of money he had begged and stolen. He wouldn’t dare scream for help if I robbed him. As soon as the boy left I’d pull him into the alley and take it from him.

The young man was putting his grocery sack on the sidewalk. He fished into his pocket until he found a coin. The old man mumbled and shuffled away.

“Damn,” I thought to myself. “Now what will I do?”

Just then the boy tipped over his sack of groceries. A couple of apples rolled onto the sidewalk. He bent to pick them up and I pulled him into the alley and smashed him up against the wall. Both of us were scared to death but I had the advantage of surprise. He was petrified with fear as I held my knife in front of his face.

“I don’t want to hurt you, but I need money. I’m desperate. Give it to me. Now! Quick! All you got before I kill you.”

My hand was shaking so badly I was afraid I would drop the knife.

“Please. Please. Take it all. Don’t kill me,” the boy pleaded. He pulled out his billfold and tried to hand it to me. He dropped it and I kicked it down the alley. “Take off,” I said. “Run, man, run! And if you stop running for two blocks, you’re a dead man.”

He looked at me, eyes wide with horror, and started to run. He tripped over his groceries and sprawled on the pavement at the mouth of the alley. Scrambling to his feet, he tripped again as he half crawled, half ran down the sidewalk. As soon as he turned the corner, I grabbed the wallet and sprinted down the alley. Emerging in the darkness on De Kalb, I vaulted the chain link fence surrounding the park and ran through the high grass into the trees! Squatting behind an embankment, I paused to catch my breath and let my pounding heart settle down. Opening the wallet I counted out $19. It felt good to hold the bills in my hand. I tossed the wallet into the high grass and counted the money again before folding it and put it into my pocket.

Not bad, I thought. The gangs are killing hobos for less than a dollar and I get nineteen on my first try. This isn’t going so be so bad after all.

PAGE FIFTY-TWO.....

I could feel the blood tingling in my veins as I imagined what was ahead. The gigs, the girls. But most of all, the fights. I wouldn’t have to fight by myself any more. I could hurt as much as I wanted to and not have to be hurt back. My heart began to beat faster. Maybe I’ll get a chance to really stab someone. I could almost visualize the blood flowing across my hands and dripping down on the street. I made swinging motions with my hands as I walked, pretending I had a knife and jabbing and slashing at imaginary figures in the dark. I had told Carlos I would let him know in three days. But I had already made up my mind. All I wanted was for someone to give me a switchblade and a gun.

Two nights later I was back at the gig. I walked in and Carlos met me at the door. “Hey, Nicky, you’re just in time. We got another boy who wants to join the Mau Maus. You want to watch the initiation?”

I had no idea what an initiation was but wanted to watch. Carlos continued, “But maybe you came to tell us you don’t want to join, eh?”

“No,” I countered. “I came to tell you I’m ready to join. I want to fight. I think I’m just as tough as anyone else and a better fighter than most of these other guys.”

“Good,” said Carlos. “You can watch and then it will be your turn. We have two ways to find out if you’re chicken. Either you stand still while five of our toughest guys beat you up, or you stand against the wall waiting for the knife. If you run from either, we don’t let you join the gang. This kid says he’s tough. Let’s see how tough he really is. Then we’ll see if you’re that tough.”

I looked across the room and saw the other boy. He was about 13 years old with pimples on his face and a long shock of black hair that fell down over his eyes. He was small and skinny and his arms hung stiffly by his sides. He was wearing a white, long-sleeved shirt that was soiled on the front and pulled out around his belt.

There were about 40 boys and girls eagerly awaiting the show. Carlos was in charge. He told everyone to clear the floor and they all lined up along the walls. The young boy was told to stand with his back against a bare wall. Carlos stood in front of him with an open switchblade in his hand. The silver blade glistened in the dim light.

“I’m going to turn and walk twenty steps toward that other wall,” he said. “You stand right where you are. You say you’re a tough kid. Well, we’re going to find out just how tough. When I get to twenty, I’m going to turn and throw this knife. If you flinch or duck, you’re chicken. If you don’t, even if the knife sticks you, you’re a tough kid and you can join the Mau Maus. Got it?”

The small boy nodded.

“Now, one other thing,” said Carlos, holding the knife in the face of the youngster. “If you turn chicken while I’m walking away counting, all you got to do is holler. But you better not even stick your nose around here any more. If you do, we’ll cut those big ears off and make you eat ’em and then dig your belly button out with a beer opener and let you bleed to death.”

The boys and girls started to laugh and clap. “Go, man, go!” they shouted at Carlos. Carlos turned his back to the boy and started slowly across the room. He held the long glimmering knife by the point of the blade, his arm in front of him bent at the elbow, the knife in front of his face.

“One...two...three...” The crowd began to shout and jeer. “Get him, Carlos! Stick it through his eye! Make him bleed, baby, make him bleed!”

The young boy was cowering against the wall, much like a mouse trapped by a tiger. He was trying desperately to be brave. His arms were rigid at his sides, his hands balled into tiny fists with his knuckles showing white against the skin. His face was drained of color and his eyes were wide with fright.

“Eleven...twelve...thirteen...” Carlos counted loudly as he paced off the distance. The tension mounted as the boys and girls jeered and cried out for blood.

“Nineteen...twenty.” Slowly Carlos turned and pulled his right hand back toward his ear, holding the knife by the tip of its needle sharp blade. The crowd of kids was wild in their frenzy calling for blood. Just as he snapped the knife forward, the little boy bent over, throwing his arms around his head screaming, “No! No!” The knife thudded into the wall just inches from where his head had been.

“Chicken!...chicken!...chicken!” the crowd roared.

Carlos was angry. The corners of his mouth grew tight and his eyes narrowed. “Grab him,” he hissed. Two boys moved from each side of the room and grabbed the cowering child by his arms and slammed him back against the wall,

Carlos moved across the room and stood in front of the shaking form. “Chicken!” he spat out. “Chicken! I knew you were a coward from the first time I saw you. I ought to kill you.”

Again the kids in the room picked up the theme. “Kill him! Kill the dirty chicken!”

“You know what we do to chickens?” said Carlos. The boy looked up at him trying to move his mouth but no sound was coming out.

“I’ll tell you what we do to chickens,” said Carlos. “We clip their wings so that they can’t fly no more.”

He snatched the knife out of the wall. “Stretch him out!” he said.

Before the boy could move, the two boys yanked his arms straight out from his body, spread eagle. Moving so fast you could hardly follow his hand, Carlos brought the knife up in a fast vicious thrust and jabbed it almost to the hilt into the child’s armpit. The boy jerked and screamed in pain. The blood gushed out and quickly flooded his white shirt with a crimson red.

Pulling the knife out of the boy’s flesh, he flipped it into his other hand. “See man,” he leered, viciously thrusting the knife upward again into the other armpit, “I’m left handed too.”

The two boys turned loose and the child collapsed to the floor, his arms across his chest, his hands clutching pitifully at his punctured flesh. He was screaming and gagging, rolling on the floor. His shirt was almost completely covered with bright red blood.

“Get him out of here,” snapped Carlos. Two boys came forward and yanked him to his feet. The boy threw back his head and screamed out in agony as they jerked his arms. Carlos clapped his hand across his mouth and the screaming stopped. The boy’s eyes, wide with horror, peered across the top of the hand.“Go home, chicken! If I hear you scream one more time or if you squeal on us, I’ll cut your tongue out too. Got it?” As he spoke he held up the switchblade, the silver blade dripping blood down over the white mother-of-pearl handle. “Got it?” he repeated.

The child nodded.

The boys pulled him across the floor and out onto the sidewalk. The gang of kids in the room shouted as he left, "Go home, chicken!"

Carlos turned. “Who’s next?” he said...looking straight at me. The crowd grew quiet.

PAGE SEVENTY-NINE.....

The next night more than 100 Mau Maus gathered at the candy store in Hell Burner turf. Willie the Butch was there with more than 50 of his boys and we marched together down the middle of the street toward the candy store in Phantom Lord turf.

Charlie Cortez, one of the Mau Maus, had been high on heroin for the last week and tonight was in a mood for fighting. When we got to the candy store he snatched the door open and grabbed one of the Phantom Lords who tried to break and run. He slashed at him with his knife but missed and shoved him backward toward me.

I was laughing. This was my kind of odds – about 150 to 15. I swung at the stumbling boy with a heavy lead pipe with a huge joint on one end. He screamed in pain as the pipe smashed across his shoulder. As he crumpled to the sidewalk I hit him again, this time on the back of the head. He dropped heavily on the concrete as the blood seeped through a deep gash.

“Come on,” someone screamed, “let’s burn this whole turf.” The boys scattered. Some of them headed into the candy store and the others surged into a pool hall next door. I got caught in the wave and was carried into the candy store. I still had my pipe in my hand and was swinging out at everything. The windows had already been broken and I could see the manager of the store huddling underneath the counter trying to protect himself. The boys had gone wild. They were tearing up everything. Someone turned over the juke box and I was on top of it with my pipe, smashing it to pieces. Others were behind the counter ripping the cabinets off the walls, breaking glasses and dishes. Someone cleaned out the cash register and then two of the boys heaved it through the broken plate glass window.

I ran into the street, my face covered with blood from a piece of flying glass. I was running up and down the street smashing my pipe against car windshields.

About fifty boys were inside the pool hall. They had turned over the pool tables and broken the cue sticks. Now they were back out on the street throwing pool balls at all the shops across the street.

A gang of boys had stopped a car in the middle of the street and were climbing all over it, jumping up and down on the hood and the roof until it was bent beyond shape. Everyone was laughing and shouting and destroying.

Sirens wailed as police cars converged from both ends of the street. Ordinarily, this would act as a signal for the boys to break and run. But the riot fever had taken control and we no longer cared.

A squad car worked its way to the middle of the block but the patrolmen were unable to get their doors open as the boys surged around the car, pummeling it with broken bottles, bricks and clubs as they smashed out the headlights and shattered the windows. The policemen, trapped inside, tried to call out on their radio for help, but we clambered onto the top of the car and snatched the antenna off. One of the boys kicked at the siren until it came loose and fell into the street.

More police cars screeched to a halt at the end of the block. It was bedlam. More than 150 boys were fighting, shouting, overturning cars, breaking glass. Policemen waded into the seething, screaming mob slashing out with their billy clubs. I saw Charlie struggling with two cops in the center off the street. I ran to help him but heard gunfire and knew it was time to beat it.

PAGE ONE HUNDRED AND THREE.....

Dr. John sat silently for a long time before starting the car and pulling out on the road. “I don’t know, Nicky,” he said, “I just don’t know.”

The trip back was misery. The rain was pelting the car without mercy. Dr. John drove silently. I was lost in thought. I hated going back to the city. I dreaded the thought of going back to jail. I couldn’t stand to be caged like a wild animal.

The rain quit but the sun had already gone down as we drove past the hundreds of blocks of towering, grimy apartments. I felt like I was sinking into a pit. I wanted to get out and run. But instead of turning toward the jail, Dr. John slowed down and turned on Lafayette toward the Ft. Greene project.

“Ain’t you taking me to jail?” I asked, puzzled.

“No, I have the prerogative of locking you up or turning you loose. I don’t think jail will do you any good.”

“What do you mean, Doc, you think I’m hopeless?” I laughed.

He pulled his car up at the corner of Lafayette and Ft. Greene Place. “That’s exactly right, Nicky. I’ve worked with kids like you for years. I used to live in the ghetto. But I’ve never seen a kid as hard, cold, and savage as you. You haven’t responded to a thing I’ve said. You hate everyone and you’re afraid of anyone that threatens your security.”

I opened the door and got out. “Well, you can go to hell, Doc. I don’t need you or nobody.”
“Nicky,” he said, as I started to walk away from the car. “I’ll give it to you straight. You’re doomed. There’s no hope for you. And unless you change you’re on a one way street to jail, the electric chair, and hell.”

“Yeah? Well, I’ll see you there,” I said.

“Where?” he said.

“In hell, man,” I said laughing.

He shook his head and drove off into the night. I tried to keep laughing but the sound died in my throat.

PAGE ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN.....

The skinny man walked over to me and stuck out his hand. “Nicky, my name is David Wilkerson. I’m a preacher from Pennsylvania.”

I just stared at him and said, “Go to hell, preacher.”

“You don’t like me, Nicky,” he said, "but I feel different about you. I love you. And not only that, I’ve come to tell you about Jesus who loves you, too.”

I felt like a trapped animal about to be caged. Behind me was the crowd. In front of me was the smiling face of this skinny man talking about love. No one loved me. No one ever had. As I stood there my mind raced back to that time so many years ago when I had heard my mother say, “I don’t love Nicky.” I thought, “If your own mother doesn’t love you then no one loves you – or ever will.”

The preacher just stood there, smiling, with his hand stuck out. I always prided myself on not being afraid. But I was afraid. Deeply afraid that this man was going to put me in a cage. He was going to take away my friends. He was going to upset everything and because of this I hated him.

“You come near me, Preacher, and I’ll kill you,” I said, shrinking back toward the protection of the crowd. I was afraid, and I didn’t know how to deal with it.

The fear overwhelmed me. I was close to panic. I snarled at him and turned and walked back through the crowd. “This man’s a Communist, boys,” I shouted. “Leave him alone. He’s a Communist.”

I didn’t know what a Communist was, but I knew it was something everyone was supposed to be against. I was running, and I knew it. But I couldn’t fight this kind of approach. If he had come at me with a knife, I would have fought him. If he had come begging and pleading; I would have laughed at him and kicked him in the teeth. But he came saying, “I love you.” And I had never come up against this kind of approach before.

PAGE ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FIVE.....

I slumped down in my chair. All around me the pandemonium continued. Israel was standing up looking backward. He was shouting, “Hey! Cool it! Let’s hear what the preacher has to say.”

The Mau Maus sat down. Israel continued to shout for quiet. The noise died. Like a fog moving in from the sea the silence swept toward the back of the room and then up into the balconies. Again, that deathly hush hung over the arena.

Something was happening to me. I was remembering. I remembered my childhood. I remembered the hate for my mother. I remembered the first days in New York when I ran like a wild animal set free from a cage. It was as though I were sitting in a movie and my actions were flashing in front of my eyes. I saw the girls...the lust...the sex. I saw the stabbings...the hurt...the hatred. It was almost more than I could stand. I was completely oblivious to what was going on around me. All I could do was remember. And the more I remembered the greater the feelings of guilt and shame. I was afraid to open my eyes for fear someone would be able to look inside and see what I was seeing. It was repulsive.

Wilkerson was speaking again. He said something about repenting for your sins. I was under the influence of a power a million times stronger than any drug. I was not responsible for my movements, actions or words. It was as though I had been caught in a wild torrent of a rampaging river. I was powerless to resist. I didn’t understand what was taking place within me. I only knew the fear was gone.

Beside me I heard Israel blow his nose. Behind me I heard people crying. Something was sweeping through that massive arena like the wind moving through the tops of the trees. Even the curtains on the side of the auditorium began to move and rustle as if stirred by a mysterious breath.

Wilkerson was speaking again. “He’s here! He’s in this room. He’s come especially for you. If you want your life changed, now is the time.” Then he shouted with authority: “Stand up! Those who will receive Jesus Christ and be changed – stand up! Come forward!”

I felt Israel stand to his feet. “Boys, I’m going up. Who’s with me?”

I was on my feet. I turned to the gang and waved them on with my hand. “Let’s go.” There was a spontaneous movement out of the chairs and toward the front. More than 25 of the Mau Maus responded. Behind us about 30 boys from other gangs followed our example.

PAGE ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-SEVEN.....

Then Wilkerson came in. “All right, fellows,” he said, “kneel down right here on the floor.”

I thought he was crazy. I never had knelt down in front of anyone. But an invisible force pressed down on me. I felt my knees buckling. I couldn’t remain erect. It was as though a giant hand were pushing me downward until my knees hit the floor.

The touch of the hard floor brought me back to reality. It was summer. It was time for the rumbles. I opened my eyes and thought to myself, “What’re you doing here?” Israel was beside me, weeping loudly. In the midst of all this tension I giggled.

“Hey, Israel, you’re bugging me with that crying.” Israel looked up and smiled through the tears. But as we booked at each other I had a strange sensation. I felt the tears welling up in my eyes and suddenly they spilled over the sides and dripped down my cheeks. I was crying. For the first time since I cried my heart out under the house in Puerto Rico – I was crying.

Israel and I were both on our knees, side by side, with tears streaming down our faces, yet laughing at the same time. It was an indescribably exotic feeling.

Tears and laughter. I was happy, yet I was crying. Something was taking place in my life that I had absolutely no control over...and I was happy about it.

Suddenly I felt Wilkerson’s hand on my head. He was praying – praying for me. The tears flowed more freely as I bowed my head and the shame and repentance and the wonderful joy of salvation mixed their ingredients in my soul.

“Go on, Nicky,” Wilkerson said, “Go ahead and cry. Pour it out to God. Call on Him.”

I opened my mouth but the words that came out were not mine. “O God, if you love me, come into my life. I’m tired of running. Come into my life and change me. Please change me.”That’s all it was. But I felt myself being picked up and swept heavenward.

Marijuana! Sex! Blood! All the sadistic, immoral thrills of a million lifetimes put together could not begin to equal what I felt. I was literally baptized with love.

After the emotional crisis passed, Wilkerson quoted some Scripture to us. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17).

It made sense. For the first time in my life it made sense. I had become new. I was Nicky and yet I was not Nicky. The old way of life had disappeared. It was as though I had died to the old way - and yet I was alive in a new kind of way.

Happiness. Joy. Gladness. Release. Relief. Freedom. Wonderful, wonderful freedom. I had stopped running.

All my fear was gone. All my anxieties were gone. All my hatred was gone. I was in love with God...with Jesus Christ...and with those around me. I even loved myself. The hatred I’d had for myself had turned to love. I suddenly realized that the reason I had treated myself in such a shoddy way was I didn’t really love myself as God intended for me to love myself.

Israel and I embraced. The tears running down our faces and wetting each other’s shirts. I loved him. He was my brother.

Wilkerson had stepped out but was now back in the room. I loved him, too. That skinny, grinning preacher I had spit on just a few weeks before – I loved him.

PAGE ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-NINE.....

Late that night I climbed my steps to my room as a new person. It was a little after 11:00 p.m. which was early for me – but I was anxious to get back to my room. There was no more need to run. The streets had no appeal to me. I had no more need to be recognized as the gang leader. I had no more fear of the night.

I went to the closet and took off my Mau Mau jacket and shoes and put them in a bag. “No more,” I thought to myself. “No longer will I need these.” I reached up to the shelf and took down my revolver. By force of habit I started to put the shells in the magazine so I could sleep with the gun on my night stand. But suddenly I remembered. Jesus loves me. He will protect me. I took the bullets and placed them back in the small box and put the gun back on the shelf. In the morning I would turn it into the police.

I walked by the mirror. I couldn’t believe what I saw. There was a light coming from my face I had never seen before. I smiled at myself. “Hey, Nicky. Look how handsome you are. Too bad you have to give up all the girls now that you are so handsome.” I broke out laughing at the irony of it all. But I was happy. The burden of fear was gone. I could laugh.

I knelt beside the bed and threw my head back. “Jesus....” Nothing else came out. “Jesus....” And finally the words came. “Thank you, Jesus...thank you.”

That night, for the first time in my memory, I put my head on my pillow and slept nine beautiful hours. No tossing on the bed. No fear of sounds outside my room. The nightmares were gone.

From the time of his conversion to Christ Nicky Cruz has spent his life reaching others for Jesus. RUN BABY RUN is available in Christian bookstores.

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