Church became a refuge. The mother, Rebecca, followed hard after Christ and participated in many church ministries. She LIVED Christ all week by visiting and helping the poor, the sick, and the elderly. Wherever she went all 3 kids went with her.
All 3 sang in the choir until they graduated from high school. All 3 would accept Christ at the small Missionary Baptist Church their grandfather had helped to build. But Ricardo would come out of his shell at church, especially at the intense Wednesday night Bible Study. Usually the only child present, by age 11 or 12 he was attending every week with his uncle and even asked questions and made comments.
Every pew rocked and the air was thick with music and with SOMEONE. God seemed to truly "inhabit the praises of his people." And He spoke right to me.
God, through the lyrics, spoke to the lonely young man in places he really couldn't yet verbalize. Lines like "I Know Jesus is my only friend" or "I'll go if I have to go by myself" stayed with him, even to this present day!
Sometime before 4th grade Ricardo secretly committed to live only for this God who so powerfully spoke to him through the music and comforted and challenged him through His Word. God, who loved Him enough to let His Son Jesus die for Him, had his complete loyalty. After all, Jesus seemed to be the only one who loved Ricardo at all.
The only problem with church was the ‘tradition’ of ‘Joining’ the Church at age 12. It was expected that at age 12 any young person would come forward to join the church, and later be baptized and become a member in a traditional ceremony. All of his peers did. So he waited. And his parents and relatives all kept asking “when you gon join the church?”