Through your gifts, new beginnings are possible
By the age of four, Luciano was homeless and living on the streets of Brazil. He shined shoes and washed cars—other times he would steal just so he could eat. Life on the streets was tough for a little boy. Luciano experienced horrific things, but through it all, he longed for a family.
Praying for Change
“I can remember looking up at that statue of Jesus and wanting to believe there was a God,” says Luciano. “I would pray and pray, but my prayers were never answered. Until one day, everything changed.”
Around the age of 12, Luciano met Cort, a flight attendant who wanted to adopt him and take him back to America. He bought Luciano clothes, took him to get a haircut, fed him and went through the legal process of gaining custody of him. Soon, Luciano was on an airplane from Brazil to California. Cort’s parents, Kathy and John, decided they wanted to adopt Luciano. They felt they could provide him with more stability since Cort traveled so much.
“I’ll never forget driving up to my new home. I had never seen such a big house,” says Luciano. “I couldn’t believe I had my own bed, much less my own bathroom. I saw snow for the first time. I had never been to school, so that was a big adjustment. It took me two years to learn English.”
Luciano quickly adapted to life in America and by the time he was in 6th grade, he was already a very impressive soccer player. His team played in two state championships. He attended soccer camp where the coach from Duke told him if he continued to play as well as he was, he could most likely get a scholarship to play soccer at Duke.
When Luciano was 15, his mom lost her job. They moved to Tennessee where she had accepted a new job. Unfortunately, his new school didn’t have a soccer team. Without soccer, Luciano’s world crumbled. Instead of focusing on school and sports, he focused on girls and parties. This led to him becoming a father at just 17, when his son Lucas was born. His girlfriend was doing drugs, so Luciano and his parents got custody of Lucas.
“On top of becoming a father, I spent a year in jail,” says Luciano. “I beat up the guy my girlfriend was seeing behind my back. Then my dad got sick and passed away. Things went downhill from there. I started hanging out with the wrong crowd. I was fighting all the time. I started selling drugs and spent more time in jail.”
Luciano’s mom kicked him out of the house, so he moved to New York. He got connected with a gang—selling drugs and running guns. It was dangerous, but lucrative. He forgot all about Lucas and stayed on the run for the next two years.
“The entire time I was doing this crazy stuff, I knew it was wrong,” says Luciano. “I got really tired. I realized all the money, clothes, parties…none of it mattered. I started thinking about my son, Lucas. I decided I was done. I headed back to Tennessee to try and start my life over, again.”
Luciano began working odd jobs like washing cars, landscaping and hanging sheet rock, instead of selling drugs. He wanted to make an honest living. Eventually, his mom agreed to let him move back home. For a while, things were great. Luciano took an active role in his son’s life. However, he still struggled with anger. After a series of bad relationships, he slipped back into using drugs. He tried rehab but nothing seemed to work.
“I knew I couldn’t go on living life like that,” says Luciano. “I was angry. I was tired. I wanted to trust God. My mom had heard about the Nashville Rescue Mission. She hoped they could help me. She paid for a bus ticket and I made my way to the Mission.”
“Going through the Mission’s life-recovery program was the best thing I could have ever done for myself and my son,” says Luciano. “There I met Jesus. I’ve discovered how to listen and be patient. I’ve learned how to love other people and not judge them. My mom and I are finally growing close again. It felt so good to hear her say she loves me and is proud of me.”
“Looking back, I know God never took His eyes off me,” says Luciano. “I’ve made a lot of bad decisions in my life. Today is a new day. I’m looking forward to rebuilding a relationship with my son Lucas, who recently turned nine. I’m excited about getting a job. The future looks bright.”
“I learned some very important things along the way,” shares Luciano. “I learned to put my relationship with God first. He comes before anything and everything. He helped me conquer the anger I had in my heart. I also desire to be the best father to Lucas I can be. He’s playing soccer and I’m so excited I can attend his games and show my support. I’m so proud of him.”
“I’m also grateful to the Mission and to everyone who supports this amazing ministry,” says Luciano. “God is working at the Mission. He is changing lives. He certainly changed mine. I owe my life to the Lord Jesus working through the people of the Nashville Rescue Mission.”