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SOUL OBSESSION: When God's Primary Pursuit Becomes Your Life's Driving Passion
Nicky Cruz, with Frank Martin
WaterBrook Press
Christian Living
ISBN: 1578568935

Nicky Cruz, once a terrorizing gang leader in New York City, now a world-renown Christian evangelist, opens this compelling compilation of personal true stories with a particularly heartwrenching recollection of the moment he received the news that his mother was dying. At only twenty-two, Nicky felt stunned and confused by the myriad of emotions he experienced when the word came that his mother, who once called Nicky a "child of the devil," was near death in his home country of Puerto Rico.

Cruz recalls his tainted early childhood as the son of a man who was a spiritist and a mother who was a medium. His memories of bizarre sťances, inexplicable physical occurrences, and otherworldly happenings all figured into Cruz's reluctance to re-enter his parents' demonically driven home. As a Christian, Cruz felt repulsed by his family's occultist practices, yet his passion for Jesus, his mercy toward the lost, and his visionary heart compelled him to revisit the last place on earth he would willingly choose.

Go he did, and God met Cruz's faithful obedience with an outpouring of support from surrounding churches that encircled Cruz's home and prayed for his mother's deliverance from demonic influences. Cruz credits God for releasing his mother from the grips of satanic power, and miraculously she didn't die but lived another twenty-five years after having committed her life to Christ.

Cruz's own scurrilous past makes him the ideal communicator to those lost in the grip of poverty, drugs, alcohol, sexual addictions, and crime. And communicate he does --- daily, hourly. Cruz's own rescue from a life of violence came at age nineteen, and sadly he recounts how slimly he escaped from the all-too-frequent sting of prejudice and discrimination from within the church itself. Citing the need for believers to embrace a lifestyle characterized by passionate love for all people, Cruz tells how after having received an invitation from the pastor of a local New York church, he was rudely accosted by an elderly horror of a woman who blatantly criticized Cruz and his fellow gang members' appearances and instructed them to leave. Even today, Cruz is incredulous at the woman's arrogance, as he admits how even one week previous to this encounter, his gang would have killed her, no question about it. Thankfully, something within Cruz realized that this woman wasn't representative of all Christians. Yet this experience sobered Cruz, and he continues to speak out in support of those who are not the lovely, the gifted, or the favored.

Throughout this three-part text based upon developing personal passion, mercy and vision, Cruz challenges Christians to get involved in their community and their world by developing a dependence upon God and his power. He speaks with sincerity, humility, and bold intensity as he cites numerous times and places across the globe where God has turned tragedy into triumph. Nicky Cruz's ministry and message will draw a wide range of enthusiastic readers, and even those from the more conservative evangelical camp will applaud his ongoing and ever-increasing zeal for reaching the world with Christ's message of redemption.

   --- Reviewed by Michele Howe

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