Episode 1. A Rocky Start
Imagine starting out life as the baby of a 15 year old mother, with a drug habit … growing up bumping from one uncaring foster home to the next – when you grew up that sort of a past would mess with your head wouldn’t it.
Join Berni, as he speaks to his special guest Mike – a young man who had just such a start in life.
Imagine starting out life as the baby of a 15-year-old mother, with a drug habit … growing up bumping from one uncaring foster home to the next. And when you grew up, that sort of a past would mess with your head, wouldn’t it?
Every now and then God makes a divine appointment for us, have you noticed that? What appears to be a random decision or a chance twist or turn in life, all of a sudden you run into a God moment and go, “wow”.
It happened to me the other Sunday. I woke up, said to my wife Jacqui, “Hey, I feel like going and visiting the Oyster Bay Baptist Church.” That’s the Church I first went to about seventeen years ago now.
It seemed like a good idea; Pastor Phil is a great guy, great teacher, so off we went. Kind of to my disappointment it wasn’t a regular service and it turned out Phil wouldn’t be teaching, there were some young folk from YWAM – Youth With A Mission visiting and leading the service and this young guy Mike got up to preach, I thought this would be interesting.
Well can I tell you something? What he had to say and how he said it just blew me away, what a preacher! And the thing that really made my hair curl is after the service I found out this was the very first time he’d stood up to preach. Unbelievable! And his life story, more to the point. His life story is one that’s going to make your hair curl.
So today, and indeed for the rest of this week we’re going to be joined by Mike Ricchini who’s going to share his story which I guess is like a live case study of what we’ve been talking about this last couple of weeks on the program which is knowing the truth because it’s the truth that’s going to set you free.
Berni: Hi Mike, welcome to the program. Thanks for your great message last Sunday.
Mike: You’re welcome there.
Berni: How old are you?
Mike: I’m twenty.
Berni: You’re twenty? I was twenty once a long time ago. So we’re going to share a bit of your journey today, in fact over the coming week but today I’d like to start with the beginning of your life, tell us about that, where were you born, your parents, how did all that happen?
Mike: I was born in 1991 in Miami Florida. I was born to a fifteen year old girl, she already had a baby ten months earlier so I was her second child and I really don’t know how old my father was, I think he was a little younger than thirty at the time when she had me but they never really knew how to take care of me, just a young girl and you can just imagine the stress that involved not even knowing how to take care of kids or anything like that.
So when they had me I was born two months early, premature and there was a battle whether she keep me alive or put me down just because of the inexperience that she had.
Berni: So yours was the life that almost wasn’t.
Mike: Yes. So praise the Lord they ended up letting me live and I was able to talk to my mum a couple of weeks ago and she said she had made the decision to let me live so I’m very grateful for that. And then after living out of cars, motels for a couple of months they moved up to Maryland which is just east of Washington DC in the States and I grew up there for about a year before I was taken from her with my two other siblings and put into foster care.
Berni: And that’s because she had a drug habit.
Mike: Drugs, abuse, malnutrition, other sorts of stuff.
Berni: It’s not your perfect start in life is it?
Mike: Not really, no.
Berni: So you have met your birth mother?
Mike: I have a couple of times and she just found me the other day on Facebook.
Berni: Ah cool.
Berni: So what was that like, meeting your birth mother after all those years?
Mike: My first time meeting her was a few years ago and that was probably the scariest moment of my life up to that point. Just knowing that your mum was about to come in there, the lady that brought you into the world was about to step into the room and you don’t have really any idea what she looks like, what she sounds like, you don’t really have any idea of your past, like the stories of your past, what you looked like, pictures, I’d never seen a picture of myself as a baby.
Berni: How do you feel towards that?
Mike: Towards her at that moment? I didn’t like her. It was one of those things where you want to know the lady that brought you into the world but there’s resentment, there’s hatred, there’s bitterness, even rejection. There was a lot of rejection that drove most of my life.
Berni: Yeah I can imagine. I guess when you have a start in life like that it’s going to mess with your head, it’s not ideal. When you look back at your start what is that you feel in your heart? What’s the thing that jumps out at you?
Mike: Rejection, hatred, just knowing you’re not loved.
Berni: What’s the impact of rejection? Why is that such a big deal?
Mike: You just feel like everyday, specifically for me, everyday I walked out to school or whatever setting I was in because the beginning of your life there was so much rejection, now you feel that way about everybody that interacts with you and you tend to interpret everybody’s actions and how they interact with you at that point. And so for most of my life because of this huge rejection at the beginning I’ve always thought people hated me or didn’t love me even if that wasn’t their actual motive.
Berni: And I guess it’s hard to trust people …
Berni: It’s hard to have relationships, it affects everything.
Mike: Trust for me with specifically females was pretty much non existent until a few months ago. I would often fake it just to keep going in life but in my heart it wasn’t there.
Berni: Yeah. It’s interesting. Tomorrow on the program we’re going to talk about those early years of growing up, I mean it can’t have been easy but today I’d just like to stick with those early days because if anyone has an excuse from the past to get all bitter and twisted and to grow up, you have. Has getting into a relationship with God, with Jesus changed the way you look back at things?
Mike: Yeah. I grew up in a Christian home but even though growing up in it I didn’t really know God and just His love and forgiveness. I didn’t know what real forgiveness looked like. I knew it in my head but there’s a difference between knowing something in your head and believing it in your heart.
Berni: And experiencing it, living with it in your own experience.
Berni: We’re going to talk about that another day this week but it’s just fascinating to me. I’d love to have a read of Psalm 139, those who listen to this program regularly will always hear me going back to Psalm 139. I guess you’ll probably know that psalm pretty well where the psalmist writes to God:
For it was you who formed my inward parts. You knit me together in my mother’s womb and I praise you for I’m fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works that I know very well. My frame wasn’t hidden from you when I was being made in secret. Woven together in the depths of the earth your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me.
Berni: I guess looking back on your start in life, did you have problems believing that?
Mike: Yes, I’ve doubted God many times, just His plan for my life, His control, just believing that He made me perfectly, believing that He made me who He wanted me to be and I often blame other people even God. I’ve said to God that I hated Him because of the way my life has turned out.
Berni: Yeah and then the psalmist goes on to say:
How weighty to me are your thoughts O God, how vast is the sum of them. I try and count them, they are more than the sand. I come to the end I am still with you.
Berni: That’s the language of victory isn’t it? That’s the language of someone who’s totally delighted with who God’s made them to be. And it seems to me that, okay you’ve got your circumstances and you grow up and they’re quite unique and my experience is different and other people’s experience is different but somehow we all have a past, right? We all have some things we look back on that are regrets that come back and haunt us and yet it’s not God’s plan for you to live angry, for you to live without a sense of trust, for you to live without love. And it’s how God’s started to turn that around that I really want to unpack with you further on this week because it’s just an awesome thing what God does in our lives.
Berni: So we’re going to have a lot of fun this week. I really encourage you, you’ve heard Mike’s story today and Mike’s story is a powerful story. I mean you look back on his start in life and it wasn’t a good start in life, it wasn’t fair and it wasn’t the kid’s fault. Mike was this little baby brought into this world, it’s not his fault he was born in those circumstances and yet even in his situation, as we’re going to see later on this week, God’s stepped in and has done some amazing things and changed the way he sees the world and changed the way he sees himself. Mike we’ll chat again tomorrow.