Rick Cartagena did not always have his eyes set on winning souls for the Kingdom. But God had a plan in place from the beginning of time for him to have an eternal impact.
Rick was honored last month by CE National with an award for “Reaching the Overlooked.”
Rick has been involved in ministry since 1995. For the last seven years, he has been director of evangelism for Conquering Life Prison and Recovery Ministries for about seven years, and he is a regular Sunday speaker and leader of the addictions ministry at Urban Hope, a ministry of CE National.
“I am heavily involved with Conquering Life Prison and Recovery Ministries, which is also based in the Philadelphia area. Most of the work we do involves the recovery community and the prison system. It is amazing work,” Rick shares. “Visiting prisons has been the type of ministry I have enjoyed most over the years.”
Rick says that while he was still in school, ministry was probably the last thing he thought he’d ever be a part of.
“Before my involvement in drug addiction, sports occupied all my time,” says Rick. “I thought I was going to go on to play professional baseball or football – I had the talent for it. But one day in high school I chose to involve myself with some friends who introduced me to marijuana. It wasn’t until I found myself in a prison cell that God revealed Himself to me. I learned then that I was a sinner and needed Him in my life.”
After Rick studied God’s Word for about a year, he realized he would be pursuing ministry for the rest of his life.
Rick finds it most fulfilling when someone says “yes” to Jesus Christ.
“It never gets old,” Rick says. “It brings me so much joy when someone realizes they need to receive Jesus, especially when they are clearly genuine about it.”
Through the thick and thin, Rick’s wife, Brenda, has been supportive of all the ministry opportunities Rick takes on.
“As a singer, her talent served to enhance what we’ve been doing,” says Rick. “She’s never gone into the prisons with me but has certainly been involved in every other aspect of my ministry. And I must say, she is quite fond of it. God has a wonderful way of pairing individuals together.”
This story first appeared in GraceConnect eNews. To subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that includes news and information from congregations in the Charis Fellowship (Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches), click here.