Edwin Colon is the co-founder and pastor of the Recovery House of Worship in Brooklyn, New York. He describes his church as a refuge for the marginalized and his congregation being filled with murderers, prostitutes, and drug addicts. But Edwin tells his church regularly that he’s the worst sinner of them all.
Edwin’s downward spiral to addiction started when most children were still watching cartoons. At eleven, he began his relationship with alcohol, dropped out of school after 6th grade, and started using cocaine before he became an adult. When he turned eighteen, he qualified for a twelve-step program. It was in that program that he got saved. His conversion changed him drastically. He was no longer physically or verbally abusive to his girlfriend; he was now patient and gentle. He stopped watching explicit content. Despite only having a third-grade reading level, God gave him an appetite for learning about Him. He was devouring books and could not read enough about his Lord and Savior. True to 1 Corinthians 7, Edwin’s girlfriend (now wife) became a Christian after witnessing his life.
A Bible Study Ran by Addicts
Soon after becoming a Christian, Edwin heard a sermon on Matthew 25 where Jesus teaches that if you feed and clothe the poor, you’re feeding and clothing Him. Edwin took this sermon personally. While still recovering from addiction, he began to invite the homeless and addicted to his home to do bible studies. Being a new Christian, Edwin described these bible studies as, “Awful. I had no idea what I was doing. But God gave us so much grace.” These bible studies were growing and growing, and more people were coming to know the Lord.
Edwin and his friend Ray, both addicts and new Christians, now found themselves with a bible study that was growing faster than they could keep up with. They knew they needed help. But with no education, no seminary would take them on. They would often meet with a teacher from the New York School of the Bible. Edwin and Ray never asked for fundraising or financial support; they just desperately needed help and guidance. The teacher introduced them to Mark Marchak from Missions Door who saw clear evidence of the Holy Spirit and a zeal to learn about Christ. Like Priscilla and Aquila with Apollos, Mark corrected their teachings and invested in their lives for years. The fruit that came from that was more people being saved and discipled.
From Addict to Pastor
In his late twenties, Edwin was shocked when Missions Door offered him the opportunity to merge his ministry with the oldest Baptist church in Brooklyn and become a pastor. The church merge took a lot of work and there was a culture clash between the traditional, older generation and Edwin’s “hard-core” people. But God was good and after a lot of hard work, they were able to provide food pantries, soup kitchens, send the addicted to detox, house homeless people, and more. Today, the church is called the Recovery House of Worship.
Edwin’s goal was never to be a pastor. In his words, he just wanted to start a bible study so his friends wouldn’t go to hell. But he followed God’s calling and is now a shepherd to sheep who feel abandoned by the church. He’s able to understand them in a way most ministers can’t. He’s grateful to Missions Door who he says, “has forward-thinking and progressive people that could see beyond the lack of professionalism and education.” Edwin’s story is proof that God equips the unequipped. We’re honored to have played a role in the Recovery House of Worship, and we pray to play more roles in the lives of the overlooked and underserved.
How You Can Support RHOW
RHOW recently suffered from a fire that has left the church with a badly damaged roof and $450K in repairs. The church is currently operating under reduced capacity. When the repair is addressed, this will be the result:
- Expanded food pantry services to thousands of food-insecure New Yorkers. RHOW stayed open throughout the pandemic while hundreds of other city pantries had to close. In 2020, RHOW gave away more than 14,350 bags of food (and just under 25,000 in 2019)!
- Three days a week, supply a hot, nutritious breakfast open to all who need it. RHOW served a total of 8,634 grab-and-go meals during 2020, an average of 166 per week.
- Expand the mother/baby ministry, which once a week supplies baby clothing, formula, strollers, car seats, and other supplies to mothers of infants-2 years old. In 2020, RHOW was able to help 227 families in need.
- Create a dedicated space to receive clients who need social service help. As of now, RHOW volunteers set up outside the church to do the following:
- Supply towels, clothing, and hygiene kits to those who utilize RHOW’s Showers of Blessing mobile shower truck.
- Assist people in obtaining IDs, cell phones, housing assistance, food stamp benefits, stimulus checks, filing their taxes, and obtaining other social services.
- Connect those who struggle with addiction to detox/rehabilitation facilities.
Donate to RHOW’s repairs:
- Online: www.rhowbk.org
- Zelle: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Personal check: Recovery House of Worship, 360 Schermerhorn St., Brooklyn, NY 11217
Please designate your donation to RHOW REPAIR PROJECT.
Missions Door asks that you keep this precious church in your prayers and spread the word. God bless you!
How Can You Help
The Great Commission is what spurs us to do indigenous ministry. Around the world, Christians are bringing the Gospel to their people and making disciples in their hometowns. How will you be a part of this?