Nicky Cruz is the former leader of a gang from Brooklyn, called the Mau Maus. He was born in Puerto Rico. He did not have a good family upbringing at all. He did not feel loved by his parents and Nicky was a victim of mental and physical abuse. At the age of 15, he was sent to America to visit a family member. Shortly after that, Nicky left to go on his own.
According to www.nickycruz.org, “Tough, but lonely, by age 16 he became a member of the notorious Brooklyn street gang known as the Mau Maus (named after a bloodthirsty African tribe). Within six months he became their president. Cruz fearlessly ruled the streets as warlord of one of the gangs most dreaded by rivals and police. Lost in the cycle of drugs, alcohol, and brutal violence, his life took a tragic turn for the worse after a friend and fellow gang member was horribly stabbed and beaten and died in Nicky’s arms.”
• Soon after he joined the gang, Nicky met David Wilkerson, a preacher who went right among these gang members. Nicky wanted him dead because he could not stand him. He did not want to hear anything about God. When he first met David, he slapped him in the face and spit on him.
Pastor David Wilkerson decided to hold a gang rally at a local arena. Two gang groups showed up including Nicky Cruz and his group. These groups sat on opposite sides but at one point while David was speaking, both groups got up and were ready to fight right in the arena. All of a sudden, Nicky stopped everyone and said, “Didn’t you all hear what the preacher said?
There has been enough fighting and killing.” He went up to David and told him that he was going to give his life to God from that point on. While Nicky was on stage talking to David, the leader from the other gang came up behind him and stabbed him in the hand. Somehow Nicky got the knife away from him and held it up to the gang leader’s chest. He said I can kill you right now or give you back the knife. He said, I am going to give you back the knife. Everyone in the place realized that Nicky was a changed person from that point on.
For a while, Nicky and David worked together at Teen Challenge which was founded by David Wilkerson. It is a drug rehabilitation program for addicts. It has been a very helpful program to many. Today, Nicky has his own ministry to gang members and leaders in California.