‘We’re So Proud of Him:’ Rigoberto Ramos’ M28 Story
It’s become a ritual of sorts, something that connects both men no matter what else is going on in their lives. Every morning without fail for the past three years, Rigoberto Ramos texts Pastor Jim a short note of encouragement.
“It is usually something he found on an inspirational website on the internet,” says Pastor Jim. “I might respond with, ‘I don’t believe this’ or ‘What are you talking about’ or ‘I’m with you on this one.’ It’s kept us constantly engaged.”
“It started off as me wanting to share something positive,” Rigoberto says. “Sometimes he would text me back, ‘Thank you’ or ‘I needed to hear that.’ But sometimes he would challenge me and say, ‘Well, what’s your belief about this?’ And I’d need to go read some scripture, which gave me another way of being grounded in the word of God.”
The daily ritual has added value these days. Rigoberto, who had been receiving coaching and support from M28 for seven years, recently fulfilled his longtime goal of moving from Harrisburg to Florida to live near his family. The daily texts nurture the connection forged during Rigoberto’s recovery and maintained through his many triumphs since then.
Addiction and Recovery
Rigoberto had struggled with drug addiction since his teens. “I eventually became homeless, living in the streets under the bridge, and that lifestyle lasted for over 20 years. Then I entered Daystar Center,” says Rigoberto. There, he connected with Pastor Jim and began to receive the support and spiritual guidance that has helped sustain his recovery.
Upon leaving the halfway house, Rigoberto took a low-wage job working for the Harrisburg School District. His exceptional work ethic, drive and excellent rapport with the students (many of them bilingual like him) helped Rigoberto quickly earn a promotion. He was eventually recommended for a job working with children with autism. However, he encountered a barrier: Since he didn’t have a college degree, he needed to pass a test in order to get the job.
The first time he took the test, he failed the math portion. But the human resources department believed in Rigoberto and offered to let him retake the test. He explained his struggle to a math teacher at the middle school who’d become a friend. She volunteered to tutor him for an hour every school day at 6 a.m. the two weeks before the test.
“I could feel God’s compassion, and together we did it. I think passing was 65, and I got a 66,” Rigoberto recalls. He more than doubled his salary since he started at the district, and he began earning health benefits.
Answering God’s Call
When the pandemic struck, Rigoberto found God calling him to another role. The schools had temporarily shut down, and a friend told him that the hospital had a shortage of workers due to COVID. “I thought, ‘We got to help the sick. If I step out in faith, I’ll be alright.’ And I protected myself with the PPE they gave us and worked in housekeeping,” he remembers. “God protected me and guided me and allowed me to give back.”
The extra money he earned also set Rigoberto up to finally move to Florida, something he had dreamed about for decades. In fact, he planned so well that he not only has a place to live but also can afford to take off work for a bit before finding his next calling.
In the meantime, he’ll stay in touch with Pastor Jim with those morning texts — and reflect on what M28 has meant for him in his unique journey. “I was very fortunate to learn from Pastor Jim not only to walk with Christ but also to be a good steward with my money and how to figure out the right time to give back and help,” Rigoberto says. “It really allowed me to grow into the man God wanted me to be. I just don’t have enough words to express my gratitude.”
“We’re so proud of him,” said Pastor Jim.