A Miami native, Ray Holsemback grew up in a foster home and struggled with abuse, insecurity, and a lack of confidence.
At 18, Ray aged out of foster care, but kept with him the feelings of insecurity and rejection.
I had no guidance. I found myself handing out with people just like me. With low self-esteem and no self-worth, I wanted acceptance no matter what the consequences were.
– Ray Holsemback
Ray did find acceptance with the people he began drinking and doing drugs with.
“I started to walk in their footsteps. This led me to sink even deeper into my drug and alcohol addiction. I found myself at the age of 20 on the streets homeless,” Ray said.
For the next decade, Ray was stuck in a world of drugs and violence. While he was on the streets, a minister named Monty regularly came to feed the homeless and preach the gospel.
“So many people from the church would come to preach, but Monty was different. He said he lived the life I was living, but God had changed him,” Ray realized
Monty continued to visit Ray and one day, Ray decided he wanted his life to turn around, just like Monty’s had.
“We prayed and I left believing that my life would change,” Ray said.
At the time, Ray was working out of the labor pool. He went to sleep under the highway underpass, but when he woke up one morning, all of his money and ID had been stolen out of his pockets. Ray, desperate, cried out to Jesus.
God led Ray to the Salvation Army, where he saw the minister Monty again. Monty helped Ray get into the Salvation Army and became a spiritual mentor to him.
“I started a new life. I received spiritual, physical, and emotional healing. I found my new identity in Christ.”
Ray completed his time at the Salvation Army equipped as a new believer. Over time, he married a beautiful godly woman and took the steps necessary to become a pastor while receiving a bachelor’s degree in Church Ministry Studies.
As he began to seek God’s direction for his life, Ray felt a burden for the city of Naples.
There was a void in Naples, something missing in the city. The Lord impressed upon my heart to plant a church to reach the one that was far from God…the one person who believed there was no hope. – Ray Holsemback