More than a decade ago, as he neared his fiftieth birthday, Ambrosio stared at a test during his first week in his prison’s faith-based pod program.
With only the ability to write his name, he left the rest of the test blank.
Upon reviewing their responses, the teacher, who was also incarcerated, took Ambrosio aside and asked if he could read or write. Instead of turning him away, the teacher demonstrated compassion, offering to teach him not just how to read and write but also about God’s Word.
Two months prior, Ambrosio had encountered an older man at his facility who started sharing his faith.
Ambrosio confessed that he knew very little about God. However, with the man’s encouragement, he was compelled to apply for a spot in the faith-based pod program, not knowing how transformative the experience would be.
“Within six months, I learned to read and write and memorize Scripture and even closed out the prayer circle before we went to eat,” Ambrosio said.
After two years in the faith-based pod, Ambrosio graduated at the top of his class.
“The chaplains were all proud of how far I had come: from someone who couldn’t read or write to someone who could remember Scriptures without looking in the Bible,” he said.
He has since graduated from four Bible schools and earned a college diploma, and he remains committed to studying the Word of God.
“I have been doing Bible studies from the time I gave my life to Christ,” he said. “It’s like I cannot get enough of God’s Word.”
Ambrosio also signed up to be a Crossroads student, and he is currently studying in the Tier 2 program. In his enrollment form, he wrote, “Now I know why God kept me alive back in the seventies—because He has plans for me.”
As a teenager, he survived a point-blank gunshot to the face, an event that could have claimed his life. Miraculously, an elderly couple discovered him and rushed him to the hospital, frequently visiting him during his recovery.
“My father and mother didn’t even look for me or call the cops to find me. My mom and dad didn’t care about me because they had thirteen more kids to think about,” he said.
The kindness of these strangers left a mark on young Ambrosio. Even when his own family had abandoned him, these strangers stood as a testament to God’s love and grace, a memory he would reflect on decades later.
Despite coming from a large family, Ambrosio has not heard from any of his siblings or his own children in over eighteen years.
While Ambrosio’s past is marked by abandonment and neglect, he has since discovered hope, peace, and purpose in Christ.
Since enrolling with Crossroads, Ambrosio has received encouragement and support from thirty different Crossroads mentors, including his current one-on-one mentor, who is walking with him through his Tier 2 courses. Their support has helped Ambrosio grow in his faith as he discovers his calling to serve others.
“My testimony is that God has been good,” he said. “I have learned how to write and read by using the Bible. In the Bible, Matthew 19:26 says, ‘But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”’”
Serving a life sentence, Ambrosio feels called to preach the Gospel to the lost. “That’s why I am studying the Word of God: to show the unbelievers that there is a God, and He is my Father and your Father and their Father also,” he said.
Sign up for updates!
Get news and stories from Crossroads Prison Ministries delivered straight to your inbox.