Assistant pastor craig cerrito
A friend first told me about the Rock sometime around 2004. He was convinced that I would love this ministry and needed to check it out. It’s almost funny now, but I resisted even visiting the ministry for a long time. I just couldn’t see myself serving in the inner-city.
My own childhood was nothing but privileged. I was raised in the suburbs by parents that cared for me and provided everything I needed. I got the best education, lived in a completely safe environment, and was afforded every opportunity for success in this world. After graduating from college, I landed jobs with some of the most prestigious organizations in the world. Virtually everything this life had to offer was available to me. How could I ever relate to the people of Kensington whose daily reality was shear struggle?
After enough arm-twisting, my friend finally convinced me to visit the Rock. The neighborhood was rough. Drug dealers and street addicts were everywhere. There was a real darkness that you could feel. The Rock itself was rough. At that time, enough renovations had been done to make it safe for the kids, but it still had the look of an inner city “abando”. The boxing “ring” was four small posts roped off with clothesline. There was no heat or air conditioning. Most of the building wasn’t even usable, having been vacant for years and overloaded with debris.
But God was here. To this day, I hear people say, “What is it about this place?!” That was the exact feeling I had about the Rock. I still do.
I committed to boxing with the kids once a week. Then twice. Then three times. Soon I was serving here often six days a week while holding down my day job. The Rock was growing fast. Thousands of kids were coming through. New activities were being added all the time. We were always on the street doing outreaches and service projects with the kids. The entire neighborhood knew about the Rock. Even the drug dealers appreciated what we were doing! To top it all off, the Bible study we had started was clearly becoming a church.
And somewhere in all this, I became burdened for full-time missions. Going to work was getting harder and harder. I simply couldn’t justify spending my time in an otherwise very respectable job while the streets of Kensington consumed so many souls. After much prayer and fasting, God clearly confirmed that I was to leave the professional world and move to Kensington as a missionary. He promised He would take care of me, and years later I can attest that He has. Not only that, but he has done “exceedingly abundantly above” anything that I had ever asked or thought (Eph 3:20).
Just so you know, I wasn’t always a Christian. Ever meet someone who gets downright hostile at the mere mention of Jesus? Someone who thinks Jesus is a nice fairytale for weak people? I was that guy. I don’t believe I’ll really understand the mercy He had for me until I see Him face to face. Why He saved me, changed me, and gave me this life is beyond me. My prayer is that I would remain true to the “upward call of God in Christ Jesus” ( Phl 3:14).
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. (Heb 10:23)