Ryan had a lot going for him: An Air Force veteran, he was highly educated and trained in the culinary arts. He worked in several fine restaurants in the Atlanta area and Washington, DC. He was young, successful, and the skies were the limit. That was until a prescription pill addiction caused him to hit bottom. He was too prideful to reach out for family help, so he found himself living on the DC streets. His father sent him a list of resources for homeless people, and that’s where he discovered Central Union Mission.
“I just came to Central Union Mission for an ‘oil change’-some meals, a bed-just until I could find a new job,” he remembers. Instead, he started helping out some of the Spiritual Transformation (STP) men and listened to them talk about what they were learning in their program. Former STP student Darion Carter asked him, “Are you trying to change?” After meeting with Lobby Manager Phillip Ford, Ryan realized that the STP seemed beneficial for him. “I had a hole inside me, and I was looking everywhere to fill it. I was bitter, angry and rebellious.”
During one chapel service, he was listening to Rev. Rutherford Cooke’s voice, but the words were coming directly from God. He realized that what he was missing was a relationship with the Jesus who had given His life for him. Ryan started in the STP and quit the pills cold turkey: “Jesus was my detox. He lifted the needs right off my chest, and that empty hole was filled.”
Ryan decided to make service his passion. At the Mission, “we have a mission to accomplish,” and for a military man, a mission is hard to resist. While he was still studying in the STP, Pastor Lewis asked him to work with the Men’s Ministry department. In less than a year, Executive Director David Treadwell asked him to consider becoming his executive assistant.
Nowadays, Ryan has even more going for him. “I just want to be a servant for the Mission for God. I have a desire to help others. Once I was in the driver’s seat, but now I let God drive.” He has even recently moved out of the Mission into his own living situation. When asked what the future holds, he replied, “I have nothing to worry about; God won’t lead me astray.”
Samuel and Anthony Ross, 1976 Every child who receives Jesus Christ as Savior at Camp Bennett is cause for thanksgiving; but it is only occasionally that the thrilling results come back, perhaps years later. The answered prayers of Anthony Ross were one such occasion. His father tells about it in this testimony.
As a young lad my dreams were to have a large family to enjoy and a home. This dream was being fulfilled with four children and one on the way when due to a corrupt and sinful life that I had been living, my marriage was suddenly shattered. I left home leaving my family no security, my wife pregnant with the fifth child, and the rent about three or four months behind. I had tried to make my marriage work but I just couldn’t.
Upon leaving, I indulged more than ever in sin and even began living with another woman and drinking very heavily in order to try to live with myself. It was during this time that our first-born child, Anthony, came to spend some time with me. During his stay, I sent him to Camp Bennett through the Central Union Mission. The year was 1976. Upon his return home, he said that he had got saved, which meant nothing to me at the time. But I do remember that my life became even more miserable after his return.
About two years later, I learned that Jesus Christ would save me and give me a new life, and Jesus did save me. Very shortly thereafter, the Lord put my family back together after four years of separation and I shall never forget the words, “This is what I’ve been praying for,” that our son Anthony spoke as I entered the door to where my family was living.
It finally dawned on me that God heard the prayer of a nine-year-old boy who had prayed for two years that God would bring his father back home. Therefore, I shall ever be grateful to the Central Union Mission and Camp Bennett.
I shared the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ with my wife and children and brothers and sisters and they all got saved. Also some of my relatives got saved and many others have come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior through the cab ministry that God gave me, and I attribute it all to the prayers of our nine-year-old son . God took Anthony at the age of 16, but it is comforting to know that we all shall be together again in heaven where my dreams shall at last be complete.