As a child, Kalel Pratico yearned to know God but found little guidance at home.
“My parents, you know, wanted me to find my own path,” he says on a CBN video. “I always wanted a connection with God. I was asking about angels, and so I was always hungry for God. I didn’t think that he was a personal God at all. I would pray for him to get me out of trouble. I would pray for, you know, a girl to like me. I would ask him for selfish things.”
Without any guidance he found liquor before the Lord.
“The first time i tried alcohol, I was in about sixth grade,” he says. “I remember the feeling that alcohol gave me and it was this peace that i was looking for.”
In high school, he discovered marijuana.
“I tried other drugs as well,” he says. “It hurt my parents that I was abusing substances. I would drive drunk. I was trying to numb this void I had in my life, this lack of connection that I was looking for.”
One night when he mixed up drugs in a hotel room, he felt he was dying.
“Everything else zoned out and all I was aware of was the presence of God,” Kalel says. “Every breath that I was breathing was given to me from God. I was aware that at any moment he could just stop what he was doing and I would have died.”
After surviving his brush with death, he vowed to never abuse again. Of course, he couldn’t keep that vow.
“I lived a very inconsistent life after high school,” he says. “I went to art college and was dating a girl at the time and she got me a Bible. Eventually I decided to go to church. I would sit in the pew and the message would completely go over my head.”
He was out of control and could not stop drinking.
Sitting on the street in Philadelphia one day all alone, he directed his desperation to God.
“God. If you’re real, show me who You are,” he prayed.
“Then I saw in front of my eyes all these scenes from my life and every scene from my life,” he remembers vividly. “God was showing me the times in my life where He showed himself real, and in that moment I knew that God was speaking to me about how He was throughout my entire life revealing himself to me in different circumstances and different situations.”
Then he was transported in the vision into outer space where his attention was drawn to a cross.
“I had no idea that Jesus was God,” he says. “At the time, I was reading all kinds of new age material. “The cross was a hint.”
He left college and went home. He attended a week-long evangelistic crusade.
“I felt like he was speaking right to my heart,” Kalele remembers. “Everything else zoned out. It was just me and God again.”
God spoke to him: If You decide to follow Me, you’re going to lose all your friends. Your life is going to be completely new. It’s going to be completely changed.”
“All I need is to know that you’re real and I’m giving my life to You,” he responded.
That night, he gave his life to Jesus and was born again. “I asked my family for forgiveness,” he recalls. “My work ethic changed. I remember my ex-girlfriend’s dad saying this to me, ‘You could actually give your life to becoming a pastor.’ As soon as he said that, I knew in that moment that this is what my life is about.”
Today, Kalel pastors in New York City with his wife Carla.
“I’m living my best life, my greatest joy, to see people come alive in God and know that God called them to come alive in their identities. So I’m forever grateful for what Christ did for me and it’s an adventure every day.
“The kindness of God leads you to repentance. I have been changed from the kindness of Jesus.”
Max Devantier studies at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.