Upon beginning his Tier 2 courses with Crossroad Bible Institute, Kozi was assigned an Instructor from Oregon named John, who later wrote of him: “During our exchanges, many of Kozi’s letters brought tears to my eyes. I realized how majestically God works out His plan of salvation for His children, no matter where they reside. As He calls out the stars one by one, so too He calls His children to Himself.”
One would never think that God’s hand was at work in Kozi’s childhood, which was filled with abuse and neglect. “One of my earliest memories is being smacked around at the age of two or three,” Kozi remembers. “My other early memory is about my parents splitting up. From then on, I was beaten often.”
One night, after he was made to sit in a cold bath as a punishment, Kozi ran away from home. Just ten years old, he was arrested as a runaway and taken to juvenile hall. Kozi refused to return home with his mother, so he was sent to a group home. And for the rest of his teen years, Kozi bounced around from group home to group home. Often, he ran away to the streets, where he found friends.
Kozi developed serious anger and drinking problems that would haunt him for the rest of his life. “I would drink to try to escape all the pain I felt,” he says. “I would take my anger out on others, the anger that I felt from the way I was growing up. I felt alone even when people were around. I truly didn’t care whether I lived or died.”
One day, in a drunken rage, Kozi killed someone. He was sent to jail, where he continued his habit of substance abuse for the first eight years of his fifteen-years-to-life sentence. But just as the prodigal son had to go through a season of wild living, slavery and swine before he came to his senses, Kozi too eventually reached his saturation point. “It wasn’t until I truly knew I had had enough of that lifestyle that I was finally ready to listen to people’s recommendations about going to church service,” he reflects.
It was then that God started stirring something in Kozi’s heart. Kozi started reading his Bible. He began praying for God’s knowledge and understanding. And he met a Christian named Chris. Chris showed Kozi Christ’s love, a love not based on merit. Where others saw a foul-mouthed fighter and drinker, Chris saw someone searching for God.
“Chris chose to study with me when other ‘Christians’ wanted nothing to do with me,” Kozi says. Kozi got baptized and, soon after, enrolled in the CBI program. “From that point on, I learned so much,” he says. “Every lesson I received from CBI only led me to wanting more.”
As Kozi came to know his Savior, the hate and anger he had harbored for so long began to vanish, replaced by love for the One who could forgive him so much. Kozi now says that love, “love as Jesus spoke about it in Luke 7:40–43,” motivates him to try to live for God and for others instead of for himself. “Because I love Jesus Christ, I am not who I once was,” he explains. “And this life is no longer about me, but about how I can serve others.”
Kozi now seeks to tell others of the peace and joy he has found in Christ. And so his Instructor John was right: the Father of mercy and the God of all comfort had been working out His plan of salvation for Kozi all along. If Isaiah 40:26 and Psalm 147:4 promise that God knows each of the stars by name, and if Daniel 12:3 promises that those who lead many to righteousness through faith in Christ will shine like the stars, then Kozi has his place among that multitude in the heavens, shining Christ’s light before men and testifying to God’s goodness.