Hour of Power Church Service,
broadcast November 18, 2007 in Germany
Dr. Robert A. Schuller (RAS)
Nicky Cruz (NC)
RAS: We have as our guest today a fabulous gentleman who I am very honored to have here. Gang violence is a problem today around the world, and according to the 2004 national youth gang survey, 173 cities have reported problems with gang activity. In Los Angeles and Chicago more then half of the combined one thousand homicides were considered to be gang related. Today’s guest, Nicky Cruz, is no stranger to that life. As the notorious leader of the violent Mau Mau gang, Nicky Cruz once stalked the streets of New York City. Today, Nicky travels the world taking a message of hope and salvation to broken young people. Nicky’s true story became a best seller and a motion picture in 1969 entitled, “The Cross and the Switchblade” and the forty years that have passed since moving to Christ, Nicky has reached out to thousands of inner city gang members as he speaks to their need from his own experience. Would you please welcome to the Crystal Cathedral Nicky Cruz. Nicky, God loves you and so do I.
NC: Thank you.
RAS: You know, backstage you said, don’t look down on me. And I really want to honor that so why don’t we go over here, how’s that? (Dr. Schuler climbs one or two steps down) Is that better? If you stand right here, come over here..
NC: All right, all right oh right, right, right.
RAS: ..there you go. Now we’ve got it the right way. I can look up to you as I truly do.
NC: Thank you. Thank you. You’re too much.
RAS: Well you’re terrific, I love you.
NC: Thank you.
RAS: And I’m glad you’re here. I’ll tell you what I love about you. I love your spirit and your soul. I really do.
NC: Well I’m so happy that I know Christ as my personal savior. My life was very sad. I was born in Puerto Rico. I was born in a witchcraft home. My mother was a witch; I was planted in the womb of a witch. My father was a satanic priest. And since I was three years old I was abused. Not sexually, but physically and it was very painful because many times I used to wake up in a pool of blood, my nose was broken, my lip was split, my rib was torn apart, my eye was closed because of beating, and it was very painful, very painful.
RAS: So you didn’t know love growing up as a child, did you?
NC: I began to hate love. There was no such a thing as love. Because when it did with a mother and a father, it seemed like the mother’s more close. The father is the masculine image of the hero, but that mother had the feeling. And I felt betrayed in that time. And I wasn’t the only one in my family; I have a big, big large family, seventeen brothers and one sister.
RAS: Seventeen brothers you say?
NC: Oh my father.
RAS: And how many sisters?
NC: One sister.
RAS: And one sister.
NC: Oh my father believed in "love"! So when I was nine years old I came to the conclusion because I could not handle it no more, to hang myself in a mango tree in Puerto Rico and I was that close, and it was a force that I could not control because for many years I lived in a curse, my generation, my father and for so many generations there were involved in sacrifice of animals, the drinking’s of animals Santeria, witchcraft, black magic, that was my, I was elusive in that kind of environment.
So then when I tried to commit suicide when I was nine years old, hanging myself from a mango tree, it was my little brother who really saved me. He was crying so hard. I never heard a crying for a soul that was desperate to say, “Don’t do it.” And I’m happy that I never jump or sail all the way down because that’s one thing I want to say. My mother can really take a pillow and just take my life out of this planet because the way she used to live. I don’t know what happened. When I was in the gangs, I commited a lot of mistakes, my hair was full of blood, and I was cold, calculated, executed. Didn’t care, didn’t have no feelings. And yet through all of this my mother, she can kill me, and the gangs I went through showers of bullets, but there’s one thing I know. The devil cannot kill me, because I was born to serve the Lord. And that was Lord’s answer.
RAS: The Holy Spirit was there when in the voice and the cry of your little brother.
NC: Yes. What I tell you..
RAS: Then you went to New York and you immediately were drawn into the gangs, what drew you there?
NC: When you don’t have a family, that physical family which is so valuable to you, then here you come to a gang and homeless and sleeping in the street. I didn’t want to live with my family. I prefered to be called a bastard than to be called Cruz. I wanted no identification with that, so here I am in the street running wild, and I lost my best friend two days before Christmas. He died in my arms, with so many holes in his chest, and it was a type of situation that I was completely confused. Loneliness was like a seductive lady that used to come in about three or four o’clock in the morning and just press in and depress me. I felt anguish, I felt alone. And I felt that I was in a cocoon of despair and I could not do nothing and then I got mixed up, so many times in and out of jail and when my friend was killed we retaliated and the Mau Mau’s, which was my gang, we killed two. And then I got busted, not because of that crime and that was when the criminal courts assigned a psychiatrist, Dr. Goodman, to deal with my case.
And I end up; they put me in the famous hospital in New York called the Belleview Hospital. Do you know that place? (Laughter and applause) Thank you I know I wasn’t the only one that was there! Thank you that you were there with me!
So Dr. Goodman told me you are doing your funeral, you are walking straight to jail, the electric chair and hell and there’s no hope, and there’s a dark, dark side of your life that nobody can penetrate, but thank God for Jesus Christ, our Lord that the Spirit of the Lord moved in the life of David Wilkerson, the hillbilly, a country preacher, a skinny guy, he wasn’t as tall or good-looking like you but that’s not.. I’m a straight; I’m a straight okay? I’m a straight. So that was the man, this was the man who brought the gospel and the police told him “Sir, they’re going to kill you. If you walk into that war zone, you are a dead man and you are going to force us to bring your dead body out.” No, Wilkerson penetrate.
In the beginning, I wanted to attack him. I bet him up, I spit in his face, I called him every name in the x book. And I told him I don’t believe in this thing; get out of our turf. You don’t belong here. And then he told me, 'I came over here to give you a message from heaven. Just three words: Nicky, Jesus loves you. And you can go ahead and you can kill me, and cut me in thousand pieces and you can throw them right on the street, every little piece is going to be crying out that Jesus loves you Nicky.' You can never love, you can never kill love, because God is love, and two weeks later, I fell into the arms of Jesus Christ, and let Him love me, forgive me, have mercy upon me, grace and hope.
RAS: What was that like? How do you describe the difference from where you were and what happened when you fell on your knees?
NC: Well, it was in front of my gangs. There were two thousand people there. And there were twelve different gangs in that time and we all had weapons. So Wilkerson was naïve in bringing so many other gangs. And they, there would be a big rumble or a fight, there’s going to be a glory fight. It seemed like Wilkerson lost control of the crowd. But then the Holy Spirit took over. And little did I know the crucifixion of Jesus, the last two minutes that what really touched me. And that when I began to realize that I need help, that I really need help, that I need love. And remember I buried Nicky Cruz when he was a little boy..
NC: ..nine years old. I bury him, I say nobody is going to hurt you no more, I’m going to protect you, defend you. That night, I was nineteen years old I let that little boy out to be loved by Jesus, by Jesus.
RAS: And what was that feeling like? How did, how do you describe the change?
NC: It was, let me put it this way, it’s like if you walk with me to a hospital, to the operation table, and there is my body laid flat on that operation table. I noticed somebody walking toward me, but there’s no fear in this time. There’s no fear. I noticed that he came and I went with him. He closed my eyes then he opened up my chest, he went deep down, pulled my heart out, and there I saw my bleeding heart and I saw all the hate, the bitterness, the loneliness, the despair, and all the rejections, and I noticed that he saidy something, spoke something to my heart, kissed my pain, kissed my heart. Then he let me know that everything is going to be all right. Put my heart back, closed my chest, opened up my eyes, and when I opened up my eyes, I was born again, I was a new creation, now I had Christ in my heart, I let Him love me, because I never allowed nobody to get that close. And He gave me the greatest peace of all peace. I know where I’m going. I know exactly and precisely where I’m going. Jesus has made the way for me, and that's the way it is.
RAS: There are still gangs today. There are lots of gangs. Almost every city has gangs. There are gang members listening to us right now. What do you say to them?
NC: When I was in El Salvador I talked to the president of one of the biggest, about 38,000 members in his gang. And he asked me for a session. So I went to see him. And I honestly believe that there, that this sense of loneliness has disconnected completely from parents, from society, from everything. And I detect a tremendous loneliness. I do feel that the gang’s going to sell out to terrorism. I do believe that they are moving in and I believe that the organized crime in Central America, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, to Mexico is going to be something that we should be careful of. And I still believe, to answer your question that Jesus Christ is the answer that Jesus Christ is the hope, but they have to see Jesus in us for them to believe because we have to be real. Christianity has to be a real thing. Not a phony thing.
RAS: Here’s what I’d like you to do. I want you to look in the camera. And talk to the gang members who are watching right now. And tell them how to accept Jesus Christ.
NC: I’d be very happy to do this. I would like to say this. I know you can make it. I know how to be trapped and feel like nobody cares, nobody loves you. Lost. Living in an environment, either rich or poor or whatever. And being trapped by any habit that controls you, that possess your mind, I believe that the attack of the enemy is to get through your mind. And from there to believe all this lying. But the one who you have to watch out is your heart. It’s your heart that does the execution. And there, your heart is a lonely hunter. There’s a big hole right there that I have in my life that nobody can fill. Until you open up, be vulnerable, you’ve got to be vulnerable, to be loved, or to love. And let Christ come inside and to take over, and to be the father that you are longing for or to be the husband that you have lost. Jesus Christ is the answer, and Jesus Christ is the force that can heal your mind, heal your heart, heal your body, heal your family, heal your environment, and I tell you one thing: You will never, never, never walk alone because Jesus will walk with you the last mile. God Bless you.
RAS: Nicky Cruz. God loves you and I do too.
NC: God bless you.
Nicky Cruz's book "Run Baby Run" can be purchased for example here at Amazon.