A book by the late Ora Mae Willing, published some 70 years ago, was presented to Rick Razsi recently by E. Roger Ammons, pastor of The Church of God, Southside. The book, “Those That Sit in …
A book by the late Ora Mae Willing, published some 70 years ago, was presented to Rick Razsi recently by E. Roger Ammons, pastor of The Church of God, Southside. The book, “Those That Sit in Darkness,” tells the story of men in prison for life and was presented to Razsi in recognition for his work in prison ministries for the last 20 years.
Razsi had more than 200 inmates on his roll when he finished his ministry time in the Georgia State Prison. He said each night, he would sing and open up service and he asked God to give him a special song they could connect with. He wrote “I Found Life on Death Row,” and it became the most requested song.
But how he came to minister to men in prison began with his own crisis.
“After sitting on the couch with a gun to my temple, I thought life for me was about over,” Razsi said. “Then Jesus spoke to me and said, ‘If you pull the trigger, you will kill your mother.’”
That was almost 35 years ago. Razsi said he didn’t want to kill his mother. The youngest of three children, he said he and his mother had a special bond. So, “how could I think of killing her by committing suicide?”
A few days later, a friend called and asked him if he wanted to go to church. Razsi said he might as well — “there’s nothing else to do” — and they went to Mount Paran Church of God, in Atlanta. The preacher seemed to speaking directly to him, Razsi said, and he asked his friends if they had talked to him.
And the young man, who had a short time before contemplated suicide, “asked Jesus to come into my heart, and He heard me.”
Razsi said he found something worth living for — the joy, peace and contentment that he had previously been searching for in bars with drugs, booze and women.
He lived 11 years in Douglasville, Ga., and worked as an electrician in Atlanta. He said he witnessed to the men on the job as much as possible and was thrilled when one of them was saved and joined The Church of God.
Directed by the Spirit of God, Razsi said, he moved to Hazlehurst, Georgia, and worked on various jobs. But one day, he said, he was driving by the Georgia State Prison and something happened.
“My heart tugged upon me and I felt the love of God for those men.” He said he told the Lord if He would open up the door, “I’ll go into this place and tell these men what you can do for them, because you did it to me.” Razsi said he knew he was just as vile and corrupt as the men inside those walls, before Jesus rescued him.
Long story short, he continued, he began working part time, got access to the prison, and eventually had services every Sunday night, on Tuesday nights teaching Sunday school classes. He saw men transformed into children of God — those even on death row. “They had the peace of God that “passes understanding.”
He said he watched as big, bad, mean men would cry and ask God’s forgiveness. “I would see their countenance change right before my eyes and they would go around hugging, crying and apologizing for the wrongs they had done to one another during their years within those walls.”
Although circumstances forced him to go back to working full time and a move to another state, he continues mail corresponedence with the men — sending cards at Christmas and regular letters. He noticed many who were sentenced to life, were being transferred to low security camps, which makes it easier to get paroled. Three joined the church and are still living for God, he said. Currently, he has connections with some 75 men who are “enjoying the Word of God” through letters and the church paper.
Razsi said that for the last 20 years he has dedicated his life and time to feeding God’s children behind bars. “I know that every man — if he’s given the chance, and obeys God’s commandments — can be changed — no matter how hard a man is. They can sing, ‘I Found Life on Death Row.’”
email: bettie.marlowe @clevelandbanner.com
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