Our friend, Rick Norton, is a Southern California native living in Mansfield, Texas. Rick retired from General Motors after 29 years, a job that took him from California to Ohio and finally to the Lone Star State. He and his wife Kara are real estate investors, managing numerous rental properties in the Fort Worth area. He’s on the podcast today to share his testimony of a life transformed by God’s sobering grace.
His childhood was nothing to complain about; Rick and his two sisters were raised by both parents. His mother was a Christian lady, though the family did not attend church regularly or often. Still, by junior high Rick was looking for a peace to settle the insecurities he was feeling. He found that peace in drugs.The taste of Southern Comfort at his eighth grade sock hop was Rick’s introduction to alcohol. His insecurities seemed to melt away when the “liquid courage” took over. By high school, drinking and smoking cigarettes were regular habits for him. Marijuana, though, would take things to a whole other level for Rick. Besides drinking, Rick began smoking week all day, every day. By the age of 18, Rick had his first of many drunk driving arrests. He began getting into wrecks as he drove under the influence, each time being bailed out by his sweet Italian mama. His drinking and drug use only intensified. His addiction became so bad that it affected his physical and mental health; so much so that he was disqualified from being drafted to the Vietnam War.
Wrecked cars and jail time didn’t slow him down. Fresh out of jail, Rick headed to a party. Intoxicated, he broadsided another vehicle. He fled the scene, but was quickly apprehended. This time, Rick was looking at felony charges – drunk driving, hit and run, possession with intent to sell. He was going to prison. His mom again bailed him out, but this time she said she was done with him. His family, repeatedly hurt by his poor choices, didn’t even know who Rick was anymore. They couldn’t continue to support him. Now he was waiting to be sentenced for his most recent and serious arrest, and had no job, no money, and no place to live. Rick was homeless in downtown Los Angeles.
The hand of God continued to weave Rick’s story. As he roamed those streets, a social worker recognized him and took him to a hospital. The hospital couldn’t admit him, but they did refer him to a new program that had just opened nearby. It was Alcoholics Anonymous. The first piece of advice he received there would be life changing. In that old Victorian hotel, Rick did as suggested and got down on his knees and asked God for help. At the age of 25, Rick had nothing left. He knew that if he didn’t change, he was going to die. When Rick called out, God met him right there. He removed from Rick the desire to drink. He gave Rick peace, and hope for his future. Rick would attend meeting after meeting under the support and guidance of AA. His time at the house was coming to an end, and it was time to go back to court to learn his sentence, where he fully expected to receive prison time. Instead, the judge discovered a technicality that closed the case. So now, not only had God delivered Rick from his alcohol and drug addictions; He’d also taken the case out of his way and gave Rick a fresh start on life.
Today, Rick has remained clean and sober for 42 years. He serves in prison with the Kairos prison ministry, sharing with the men in there the message of God’s forgiveness and hope. God’s miracles are evident behind those walls, as men are transformed by God’s amazing grace. Rick’s encouragement for someone else who is feeling like giving up is this: You have a loving Father who knows your problems and knows all about you. Drop to your knees and tell Him you need help. He loves you and He’ll help you. He’ll open doors. He’ll give you peace. He’ll break those chains. Amen!
Rick Norton: 01:32 I’m doing great, Jake.
Jake Enriquez: 01:34 All right man. Thank you so much for coming, uh, to be a part of Press and Reach and come on and share your testimony. But before we do, I know that people want to get to know one another in a personal manner. So if you would just introduce yourself, who you are and where you’re from.
Rick Norton: 01:49 Well, my name’s Rick Norton. I’m from Texas, but I grew up in southern California. Sunny Southern California. I had a pretty good life there – middle class, great mom and dad, little Italian mother, four foot 10. She knew how to dish it out. I had a great father who, uh, I want to work with starting around eight years old and he taught me how to do the glass business. Auto glass business, a great man, great man. I have two sisters, Elaine and Bev. We’re four years apart and they are alive and they’re doing well. Grew up a little town called Hollydale, Hollydale and it’s a, is kind of like a little part of South Gate, California and uh, that’s near Compton. Inglewood in those areas there a, it was a little two bedroom house, great area, a good neighbors, had a lot, a lot of kids around to play with. I had a good life growing up. I had little league boy scouts, all that type of stuff. Uh, when I got about 13, I started going to the beach and I started learning how to surf, became actually pretty darn good at surfing. So good that I quit high school and decided to hitchhike to the beach every single day, that’s how good I got!
Jake Enriquez: 03:07 Where are you, where you live at now Rick?
Rick Norton: 03:09 I live in Mansfield, Texas now. Just south of Arlington with my wife. Beautiful Wife, Kara Norton. I met her about 12 years ago. Beautiful Christian lady. Uh, yeah, she lit up my life for sure. She’s my backbone.
Jake Enriquez: 03:31 Absolutely. I know that you’re a real estate investor as well. You and Ms Kara invest in real estate here in the Dallas, Fort Worth area. Really Fort Worth, right?
Rick Norton: 03:31 Yeah, our places are here in Fort Worth.
Jake Enriquez: 03:42 OK. So tell us a little bit about your everyday business every day walk. What are you guys, what do you do when it comes to real estate?
Rick Norton: 03:49 I guess I’m the muscle of the operation. Kara does all the billing and, and, and all that type of stuff, handling the money. I do the yard work. Yes sir. A lot. And uh, I prefer to do that because it gives me some exercise and I like being outdoors and I enjoy doing that. I also do a lot of maintenance a, if there’s anything I can fix, I do. If I can’t, I’ll call somebody in and I’ve learned a lot how to do things, you know, myself, which I was already pretty handy. But uh, this has been a whole new thing here. You can’t call someone every time something breaks, so you have to learn how to fix things [fix a lot of things] and it keeps me busy. [Absolutely] I retired out at General Motors in 2008, full pension and I did my time there. It was like a prison, it really was. Uh, but uh, God was good to me to give you that job. So I retired out of there and I’ve been doing this every day, ever since. It’s good, good business.
Jake Enriquez: 03:49 So it’s a good people business, right?
Rick Norton: 04:54 Absolutely. Well we’re kind of a mom and pop operations, you know, so I get, I’m always around and uh, I think, well we figured it out that we had 18 single women that we rent to really three men. So I kind of feel like I’m the ‘honey-do’ guy. Some of these women think they got me wrapped around their finger, that I’m gonna just do every little thing for them. I have to straighten them out. But, uh, yeah. It’s uh, it’s a mom and pop operation. We get pretty close to these people and I know I do. And uh, I’ve, I’ve had a chance to share the gospel with quite a few of them.
Jake Enriquez: 05:34 Absolutely. It’s been really good. OK, so tell us a little bit about me because you retired from GM, right? So how many years did you work with those guys at gm?
Rick Norton: 05:45 I worked at GM for 29 years. Wow. Started out in southern California and then they closed their plant, had 14 years there, and then they shipped about 600 of us to Lordstown, Ohio, up by Lake Erie. So, uh, that was a culture shock for me. They couldn’t figure out why people from Southern California are going to come to come to Lordstown, Ohio. They couldn’t figure that one out. At the time, I was raising my two boys by myself because I got a separation and divorce. But uh, I had to get out of there. I could not take those winters back there. So I put in for transfer, and I got transferred to Arlington, Texas and I finished up, uh, my time. Yeah, at Arlington, Arlington, Texas. The good old boys.
Jake Enriquez: 06:34 The good ol’ boys. There you go. So tell us a little bit about you coming up in southern California as a kiddo was, what was it like for you? Because I know that every one of us have a story, right? And usually we can always revert back to coming up as a youngster, you know. So what was it like for you when you were coming up? Did you come up in church or what was it like for you?
Rick Norton: 06:58 Uh, well when I was really young, yeah, we, uh, my sisters used to take me to church. I’d be there about 10 minutes before I run out of there as fast as possible. I would always wind up running down the tracks because the tracks ran across, you know, across our house. So I’d run across the tracks and throw rocks at the windows. At the, at the buildings there. See how many windows I could break. I was a little monster, but I didn’t really have a Christian background growing up. Not really. What about mom and dad? Uh, my mom actually was, uh, I was told that she was at one time going to study to be a nun, although when she started yelling at you, you didn’t think so. She was something else. But I found out as years went by that she was always, you know, telling me, you know, Rick, that God loves you. She was always telling me that in certain circumstances if things got bad, you know, she said, you know, God loves you. So my mom was a believer. She, uh…
Jake Enriquez: 08:00 So you came up around a mom who was a believer even though you weren’t really engaged. Not really. What about your dad, man, how was he?
Rick Norton: 08:06 My Dad, uh, my dad was a, I believe a great man. And uh, he uh, he liked to go to the bars, he didn’t over do it. [right] But he did, he loved the play shuffleboard and he was a, I guess a championship shuffleboard. She had to go to bar to bar to get it. He would come home drunk every now and then start a little trouble. But I mean, he was a hard working man. He made sure that we’re taken care of. He worked six, sometimes seven days a week, a little too much, but he was a, he was a good man. And uh, I love my dad. and mom.
Jake Enriquez: 08:06 So that was dad and mom. What about your siblings? What were they like? You guys all got along real sweet and pretty and nice, right?
Rick Norton: 08:55 Oh, yeah, right! Well, we grew up in a two bedroom house, little cracker box house in a long time. All three of us slept in one bed, two twin beds, put the put together and I slept in the crack. I gave my sister’s heck. I mean they would have their boyfriends over and I’d be farting and everything. Just annoying! They wanted to strangle me, you know, I was just a monster. Catch them up kissing, and I’d just make fun of them is, you know. But, uh, yeah, I was a little rascal when I grew up. I was a little rascal. I have great sisters. They’re beautiful, beautiful women.
Jake Enriquez: 08:55 Y’all keep in touch still today?
Rick Norton: 08:55 Uh, yes, yes, we do.
Jake Enriquez: 09:39 That to me, I think about childhood and thinking about coming up and some of the things, memories we have, um, you know, even in our life as we keep going along the way are always different things that we can touch back and relay or bring it back home if you’re, you know, some of those things you sit with us. So when, uh, you know, I can just hear from you, you know, you did know that God loves, you.
Jake Enriquez: 10:02 Know that mom made sure that it did show you how to work hard and you knew the importance of family and in family, you know, we can all give each other grief or whatnot, but still we love each other or want to take a really quick break and then we’re going to be right back.
Jake Enriquez: 10:20 Hey guys, it’s Jake, your host, and I just want to take a brief moment to ask you if in fact you liked the podcast, subscribe, rate and review. Just take a brief moment to do that, but not only that, we ask that you come and visit us on precedent. [inaudible] what we’re all about, faith, family, and community. Listen to if you have a story about how your faith and the Lord has seen you through, we certainly want to hear from you whether it’s been in your business life, your personal life, which could be your marriage or dealing with your family, whatever it may be. We know that faith is a daily walk, so come join us as together we build our communities back up and give God all the glory.
Jake Enriquez: 11:04 Welcome back to Press and Reach. We’re hanging out with my good buddy, Rick Norton and brother Rick was just telling us about coming up and man, just tell us a little bit about family and what it was like a as a youngster coming up, man, but I gotta tell you Rick, we all go through things, man. You know, if we could just freeze life at maybe five years old, that’d be great. Or eight years or whatever. That was the best year. You know, a best time would be great to just stay in there, but we do grow up, we go through different things, we have experienced different things and some of us experienced a whole lot of different things, right? Or brother, I just know that each and every one of us have a testimony when it comes to the Lord. But would you be willing to share your testimony for us?
Rick Norton: 11:49 Well, we talked about me growing up and uh, I got to tell you, uh, I’m not, I’m putting my finger on it, but it might have been an inferiority complex or something like that or some kind of fear or something in my, my younger years that kind of caused me to, uh, to seek some kind of a, I guess a peace, you know, but the peace that I seek was through drugs. Uh, anyways, uh, in high school. Well actually it started at the end of the junior high. I started feeling a little bit insecure, like eighth grade. Then around eighth grade, you know, those are tough years and uh, you know, I had a hard time with uh, you know, I found alcohol at a sock hop dance and I drank that, that half pint of Southern Comfort and boy, I’ll tell ya, it just, it just does something to me.
Rick Norton: 12:39 It gave me a courage. It gave me a, you know, stand out in the middle of the dance floor in and ask the girls that dance. I’m, it just gave me, gave me courage to take all those fears and those insecurities away. Anyway, so I noticed that, uh, that’s kinda where it kinda started. And then when I got into high school, uh, uh, we used to go to the pool hall after, after high school every day. That’s where we kind of hung out with shop pull, you know, pretty good bunch of guys. I hung around with a guy who was a year older than me, Charlie, Charlie Kirby and Charlie was a good guy. He’s a, he loved the girls, you know, and he has always tried to take me to dances and stuff like that. And he had an older sister that was, you know, a really popular in high school, but one day a charlie, we were at the pool hall.
Rick Norton: 13:27 Charles comes over to me and he goes, hey Rick, look, I go ‘what’s that?’ and it was when they used to roll joints up in yellow papers for the yellow papers, ZigZag papers, and he had two big fat joints. I go, I go, what the heck are those? Charlie goes, man it’s marijuana. I go, what? He says, yeah, I got it from guero over there. Guero? That guy over there. I said, wow, you know, let’s go out and smoke it. I smoke cigarettes. So I guess, yeah, come on man. So we went out behind the pool hall at the tracks to the train tracks and we lit that joint up. He says, take a big old drag of itand hold it in, hold it in. You’re gonna cough but hold it in. I’ll tell you when to blow it out. So I took a big old drag, and I held it in, and boy and I mean I could just feel the tingling, and the little sparks, things flying around. I go, what the heck is this? I took another big old drag, and another big drag and next thing I know me and Charlie are laughing like crazy. I’m going, what the heck? I love this stuff. What is this? So we smoked both joints, and I mean I was higher than a kite. I was walking home and I didn’t have a care in the world. Everything was beautiful! Went home, cleaned the ‘frigerator out. I mean, I ate everything in sight.
Rick Norton: 14:52 My personality was. I thought that was so beautiful, so great. So I went and asked Charles and given me some more. Charles says, well, I can’t do that right now. So I saw Guero sitting over there. I went to introduce myself. Yeah. And Guero sold me a bag of weed. So I had my own personal bag of weed. So I went home and practice rolling them up. Well, here’s how the addiction starts. I not only rolled one up, I rolled ten up, stuck them in my sock and went to school. And brother I’d I smoke weed all day long, all night long every day. I loved that stuff. That’s the addiction. Yeah, it started there and it progressed all through high school. Back in the late sixties, I mean it was all about drugs. I mean it was OK if you were a goody two shoe or whatever, you were taking barbiturates or smoking or drinking.
Jake Enriquez: 15:52 So this started around eighth grade and went in to high school?
Rick Norton: 15:59 Eighth grade and advanced on in to high school. It got progressively worse. I started getting in trouble when I got 18, actually got thrown into jail when I was 18. I got my first drunk driving charged, so I started going to jail a lot. Started getting a little jacket, you know what I mean? A little probation thing going on.
Jake Enriquez: 16:12 What age is this now?
Rick Norton: 16:16 This is about eighteen, nineteen. Start getting my license taken away. So it was
Jake Enriquez: 16:17 So it was getting a little more serious then.
Rick Norton: 16:18 It was getting very serious.
Jake Enriquez: 16:18 We’re not In eighth grade no more.
Rick Norton: 16:23 No no no, and all along my little four foot 10 Italian mom was going to court with me, flipping my bail. Just she loved her little Ricky, you know, I mean, she’s not wanting nothing to happen to him, you know, so I started getting out of doing time, going to jail, but I mean I’d go for the weekends and that type of stuff. Then it got a little more serious, a little out of control.
Rick Norton: 16:45 I started getting in wrecks, totaling cars out, blacking out, you know, the drug use became more, more powerful. Sure. You know, it became out of control. Uh, I started going to jail for longer times, you know, 30 days, 90 days, another drunk driving charge. I went to jail for a year one time, a couple times.
Jake Enriquez: 17:08 So they started, they started stacking up, more and more length.
Rick Norton: 17:14 Stacking up, brother, and mom kept hanging with me, you know, I was making her ill, making the whole family ill with all this, you know, I became like this huge black sheep, you know, the neighbors were going, what is wrong with this guy? What’s going on here? Why is he doing this? Why, why did they stop? Why do they keep towing these wrecked cars home? And I mean, this guy, he’s on a bad path. And I became like bad news. I was bad news.
Jake Enriquez: 17:43 What was your dad saying to you during those times?
Rick Norton: 17:44 I started really running his business down a little bit, I wrecked a couple of his trucks, a couple of his cars. I mean, totaled them out. One time I wrecked one of his cars and uh, I was in jail. He went to go pick it up and uh, my dad went to the junkyard. He says, uh, as my car here. And the guy said, what kind of car? He says, well, it’s a ’84 Ranchero. Guy says yeah, we got it back there. He walked my dad back, my dad, he said, that’s your car right there. My dad says no that’s not my car. The guy says, Oh yeah, that’s your car. I mean, it was completely demolished. God had his hand on me brother. I should’ve been gone a long time ago. I mean, I was a destruction machine.
Rick Norton: 18:30 Destruction machine. It got so progressively worse. I had no control over my drinking, my drugs. Uh, I kept thinking to myself, how could this, how could this happen? How’d my life come to this, you know, so when I got into my early twenties in and out of court all the time, in and out of jail.
Jake Enriquez: 18:50 And weren’t you going to go into the military or something at the time? They were going to…
Rick Norton: 18:56 Well at the time, yeah. When I, when I turned 18, of course I was going to a mental health centers because they couldn’t figure out why I was so crazy. I mean I was taking a lot of drugs, acid and stuff and I kind of just flipped out a few times too many. Well, I was seeing this, this one doctor in Compton…
Jake Enriquez: 19:14 For those who don’t know. So those type of drugs, the ones that…
Rick Norton: 19:14 LSD,, peyote, all these crazy hallucinogenic drugs..
Jake Enriquez: 19:26 That’s a little bit more than alcohol and marijuana.
Rick Norton: 19:26 Oh absolutely. Some very high-powered drugs.
Jake Enriquez: 19:32 What is it that does to you? Because don’t they have some kind of a shot or something they would give you or some other kind of counteracting drug they would give you?
Rick Norton: 19:41 Here’s the deal, Jake, back when I was eighteen, in the sixties, the late sixties, ’69, they didn’t have any counter drugs and I actually, I actually was a Guinea pig for some of these new drugs because so many people were flipping out in them days. They didn’t know how to treat them, lsd and all that stuff. They didn’t know, so they started giving me thorazine, stelazine, all these zines and it made a Zombie out of you, you know?
Jake Enriquez: 20:06 Yeah. What was the shuffle one?
Rick Norton: 20:10 That was the thorazine. They call it the ‘thorazine shuffle’ because you lose control of the way you walk and you’d like shuffle. Yeah. And it’s just, it’s pathetic. It was really pathetic.
Jake Enriquez: 20:20 Brother Rick, you were out there doing the thorazine shuffle like that?
Rick Norton: 20:22 I was doing the shuffle brother. And uh, so this doctor kind of took me under his wings. I kind of like became his buddy; let me take his car to wash it and all this. Well he was a psychiatrist to the stars, the movie stars. So he’s kind of famous. Anyways, he would let me come to sessions and Hollywood, you know, there’d be, you know, goofed up a, should I say the word screwed up Hollywood kids and I met a few of them, but there he was a psychiatrist to the stars. So anyways, to get back to the induction center, at that time everybody was being drafted to the Vietnam war. If you were 18, you were going. Right, OK. You had a draft card, you were going. I had to show up Los Angeles, you know, I was A-1. I had to show up at the induction center down here.
Rick Norton: 21:13 And I mean, I was a mess at that time, a total mess. Um, you know, I was a paranoid…I mean, I was afraid of everything. I couldn’t even speak. I, literally, almost could not speak. I had messed myself up so bad [that bad. OK] with hallucinogenic drugs. So I was going through all the different sections. Uh, you know, and then the last section you come to, that’s where you go to see the psychiatrist and that’s the last one. You go through that one, you’re in. You’re in your boxer shorts. That’s the last one you go through. You’re inducted. You’re going to Vietnam, you’re going.
Jake Enriquez: 21:13 What happened?
Rick Norton: 21:50 Well the guys are falling out on the floor, guys are dressed up like women. Uh, you know, I mean, they’re trying everything they can to get out of service and wasn’t working for any of them. So I’ve gone and here I am, I go up to this, this window and all of a sudden I hear this ‘Rick, Rick’ and I look over and it’s Dr Woods.
Rick Norton: 22:12 He goes, come here, come here. I said, what are you doing here? He says, I’m the head psychiatrist here. Says, you’re not going, you’re not going. You’re just too sick, son. You’re too sick. So that’s how I got out of the war. I was, I was pretty bad, but he knew you. He said there’s just no way. For a long time I was not capable of going over there, but anyways, uh, I got out of the draft that way and uh, he got me out. But, you know, the drug use and alcohol use continued. It really started piling up on you and you know, you, you know, each and every one of those, I think we’d get to a certain point. There’s a breaking point somewhere. So tell me how that came for you. Where did it, where did it come to a breaking point for you?
Rick Norton: 23:03 Well, a breaking point for me, uh, I like to call it my bottom. Uh, it was, uh, I had accumulated about seven drunk driving charges and uh, I just got out of jail and uh, I was gonna go to a party and I was cleaned up and I had just come out of jail and looking good. I had been working out, so I looked pretty good. I wanted to just have a good time. And uh, I had a bottle of Jack Daniels in my lap and I was headed to a party, you know, just a few miles from my house. Two people cut in front of me. They cut right in front of me and I broadsided them, just t-boned them. Yeah. And it, you know, the hood flew up on my truck, I couldn’t see, the Jack Daniels fell out on the floorboard. And bottom line was, I ran. I mean I put it in drive and I took off.
Rick Norton: 23:53 I got about three blocks. My tire blew out and I mean I was facedown with cops all over me, all over me.
Jake Enriquez: 23:53 Now were you drunk at the time?
Rick Norton: 24:03 Yeah, I was intoxicated. But not, you know, to me it takes a lot to intoxicate me. But I was drunk. Yeah. I had drugs on me, a lot of the drugs. They fell on the floor too, and so, uh, I didn’t tell you this, but the drunk driving before that, the judge told me, he says, Mr Norton, I’m putting down here if you’re ever arrested for anything under the influence of anything and driving a vehicle. He says, I’m recommending penitentiary time. So here I am sitting in La County jail kind of coming out of this. And I got a pink slip that in front of me with this felony, drunk driving, hit and run, possession of narcotics for sale. And I’m reading this and I’m going, ah man, what have I done?
Rick Norton: 24:52 You know? Yeah, yeah, I know for a fact I’m going to prison on this one. I mean, I was sick, I was sick. How could this happen? Right. I just wanted to go have a good time.
Jake Enriquez: 25:02 You know, you weren’t even really started yet. You hadn’t been cranked up for that day yet. You were buzzing, but you weren’t…
Rick Norton: 25:09 Oh no. Well I almost killed two people, but uh, uh, so anyways, I bailed out. My mom bailed me out and uh, my family at that point said, that’s it, we’re done with you. And when my little Italian mom said she was done with me, it broke my heart because she was the only thing I had that was backup. She was the only one that kinda like loved me anymore. I mean, I had destroyed everybody’s life. I mean bad, bad, destroyed their lives. They became almost as sick as I was. I mean, they were just, worrying.
Jake Enriquez: 25:43 Sure. So mom says she was done with you.
Rick Norton: 25:45 She was done. And she, she told me, she says, if you ever come around here, rick, I’m going to call the cops. We don’t want you here no more. We don’t even know who you are. Broke my heart. So brother, it just started really getting bad. I really spiraled down. It got to the point where I couldn’t hold a job. Uh, I had no place to live, no money. Uh, I was getting beat up in bars, you know, twenty five cent beers saying bars like that and just getting beat up because I mouthed off to people and just insane. Uh, it got bad. I wound up in downtown La, homeless, homeless. All I had was a pair of beat up tennis shoes. And a holy pair of Levis and a tee shirt. And I was living in a eight dollar hotel. One day I was walking and uh, this lady honked, she says Rick, Rick, and it was this lady, Barbara. She was a social worker of mine. She saw me. She says, get in the car and uh, I’m going to take you to the hospital. I’m going to take you someplace here. You are so bad, you know.
Jake Enriquez: 26:50 Hold on. During that time, that last wreck that you had, that last incident, was it still on in, uh, under review or whatever the case?
Rick Norton: 27:01 It was still going. Still going on when you’re doing this? Actually, I was supposed to go for sentencing. It got so bad. I wouldn’t even worry about that. I mean I was, I was worried about dying and surely on that, on that end of it. So now you’re a homeless, so the social worker sees, he tells you to get in the car. She says, get in the car. She took me to this place on Hollywood Boulevard. It was called Edgemount House and it was a mental hospital and this is where she used to work. She thought she could get me in there and, not that I was mental.
Rick Norton: 27:35 They could take care of me. She was, she, you know, she had such a good heart. And uh, I got there before the director and the director said, Mr Norton, you can’t come in here, you have no insurance. We can’t take you in here. But he said next door, they just started a program, it’s an AA program and it’s old, old Victorian hotel, next door. It’s free. You can go there. Well I had no place to go. So I went there and I walked up those steps and I knocked on the door and Barbara, she says, fine. And I walked up there and I’m…the guy, Jim, opened the door up. He goes ‘hi’. I go ‘hi’. He says my name is Jim, I’m an alcoholic. I said, I’m Rick.
Rick Norton: 28:23 I said, I’m an alcoholic. I may start to cry here, brother. Uh, he said, well, he talked to me for awhile and uh, he says he gave me some books. He said, why don’t you go on back? You’re the first resident here, there’s 30 rooms here. Why don’t you go back and pick out one of them rooms and uh, I’ll be back later. OK? I said, OK, I will. And he said, he tapped me on the shoulder. He says, he says, I want to make a suggestion. I said, yes sir. He says, I suggest you get on your knees and ask God for help. So I went back and I closed the door and I dropped to my knees and I asked, God, please help me God, I’m dying. I don’t know what happened to my life, but I feel it’s over. My soul was just hurting. I just had nothing left. Physically, I was dying. Mentally, I don’t know what happened. I was, I just know that I just knew that I could not go back out that door. I was going to die, at 25 years old. Twenty five, 25. I was done, brother. Done. So I want to make this short for you.
Rick Norton: 29:41 Some counselors there, there were eight people staying sober and uh, they, they just worked really. They just love to have me. I, they were working me, uh, they would take me across to the hospital to eat than did take me to a new meeting and then an evening meeting and meetings, meeting, meetings – because I was a mess. I was a mess. I was fearful. I didn’t know what’s going to happen to my life, but I’ll tell you brother, when I said that prayer, I felt a presence in that room and it was God. And from that day on He took that obsession of wanting to drink. From that day on, I did not want to drink, I wanted to live.
Rick Norton: 30:23 And I just knew something was inside of me. I just felt different. I felt like, I’m going to be ok. I had that feeling like I’m going to be OK. I don’t know what it is, but I’m going to be OK. So anyways, uh, I wound up staying 30 days at this old hotel and when I left I had a sponsor, guy named Mike.
Jake Enriquez: 30:47 OK. Sponsoring you. What happened? Um, you know, because you, you, you made that change and you on this 30 day stay at the hotel. What happened with the case?
Rick Norton: 30:55 So one day, uh, I had to go for sentencing in downtown LA and Mike says, well, what are you going to do Rick? And I had been in the house about six months and I knew, I knew I was finished here. He, my lawyer told me, Rick, there’s nothing I can do for you on this one. You’re going to be going to jail.
Rick Norton: 31:12 And my lawyer told me that. Buddy, I’m not paying you tell me that! But you know, God had moved in my heart is so powerfully that I told Mike, I said, you know what Mike, I’m going to go and I’m just gonna. If I go to jail, I go to jail. But I know that I’m going to stay sober. I know that I have a new life and I got to do what I gotta do. Mike says, you go do what you gotta do. So I went to court. I stood in front of that judge. He looked mean and he had my records in front of him, about the size of a phone book and he kept going page by page, page by page. I’m just going. I looked at me, I looked at my lawyer. He looked at me and I, I just, you know, I just know I’m going from here and Madam, he looked at me, he said, Mr Norton, uh, he slammed the book down and he says, uh, I see a technicality in the arrest here. This case is closed. And I looked at my lawyer ago. He looked at me like, I don’t know. He says, get out of here. And I turned around and I walked out. I don’t know what happened. I didn’t want to find out, but I walked out of there brother and I never looked back. And that’s a God thing. That was all the way in there. Even my lawyer couldn’t believe it. He was like, what?
Jake Enriquez: 32:44 So God delivered you from, not only alcohol, not only the addictions. Not only those things, but now He took this case because we know it’s the hand of the Lord. He takes this case out of your way and now you’ve got life to look forward to and move forward in.
Rick Norton: 33:01 Absolutely. I spent a lot of years in Alcoholics Anonymous. [Yeah, OK] And went that route. It was a beautiful, beautiful route. Can’t go into all the things that happened to me in AA. But I mean today, brother, I’ve got 42 years by the grace of God, clean and sober for 42 years.
Jake Enriquez: 33:15 42 years, clean and sober!
Rick Norton: 33:17 I have a story that I share every chance I get about redemption, about how God is working in your life. You might not know it, but He’s behind the scenes. It’s awesome because when you can look back, you can see that He was there and He was here and there He was working for you on behalf, doing things for you that you could not do for yourself. You know?
Jake Enriquez: 33:42 So I was going to ask you, because you know, you have that and you’ve experienced those different things and you can surely attest that to the Lord and what God has done for you in your life. So as you go forward now, Rick Jealous Cause I was gonna. Let you just go ahead and dive where there, what, how do you go forward and where do you share? What’s your ministry that you love to do now?
Rick Norton: 34:03 I heard that people have certain gifts and uh, I believe my gift is to go into prison. I mean, I can go into prison. I feel so comfortable there, because really, I should be there. But my heart goes out to those guys because so many of them don’t have any hope anymore, and bottom line, a lot of them are in there for drugs and alcohol or some stupid thing they did under the influence. They made a big mistake and I can identify with that and my heart goes out for those guys and I can sit in and I can tell them my story and I can give them. I can tell him, look, you have hope. God forgives you for what you’ve done. He holds nothing against you. He wants to bless you. He wants to give you a good life, if you’d let Him.
Jake Enriquez: 34:55 And how long have you been doing prison ministry?
Rick Norton: 34:57 Uh, well, about what, seven years now?
Jake Enriquez: 35:00 OK. What prison ministry is that?
Rick Norton: 35:00 Uh, Kairos.
Jake Enriquez: 35:04 Kairos prison ministry. And how did you get involved in that?
Rick Norton: 35:04 A man named Curtis Coomes.
Jake Enriquez: 35:04 Not Coach Coomes?
Rick Norton: 35:04 Yes, Coach Coomes.
Jake Enriquez: 35:13 So, and how did that conversation go between you and Curtis?
Rick Norton: 35:18 Well, I met Curtis, the Church and uh, he’s kind of a, well, how do you say? He’s a bright light in a dark place, is a very opened and loves the Lord. He loves the Lord. I just started going to a Bible study with him and he mentioned prison ministry and I asked him, I said, well, what’s that? He said, Kairos prison. When he started telling me about it, yeah, that’s why you think you might want to do that. And I just said yes. I said, yes, I would like to do to it. Curtis says he still has never found anybody that signed the application, filled it out, got volunteer status and was ready to go man. Like I was. I was ready to do that. That’s good because it put on my heart that that’s what I wanted to do. And uh, it’s been a joy to you.
Rick Norton: 36:06 God does not make any mistakes, but I went through my first, uh, my first walk and curtis, you know, went with me and it was great. It was awesome. And that’s where we met some, you know, some real miracles. Sure. And then I met you, brother Jake, and I got you involved in Kairos ministry and that’s how it works. And we’ve got a great relationship going. I mean, we’ve had some good times. Kairos, we’ve seen some miracles and uh, there’s uh, there’s nothing in this world like it and we thank God all the time for that ministry. Hey, allowing us, uh, allowing us to do that, to be His hands and feet in there. And what a blessing.
Jake Enriquez: 36:51 It’s a blessing man to be able to go in there and do that, spend time. You know, I think to everybody, there’s something different. It just so happens to be that you said it, you can identify with that because of your life. So can I. So we have a great time in there. You know, it’s just, I don’t know, it’s really hard to explain, you know, going in there, and being with those guys.
Rick Norton: 37:19 Jake, as we sit at those tables to, you’re talking to those men and, and they’re, they’re talking and it’s like you’re looking at them like, what does this guy even doing in here? He’s intelligent, he’s smart, he’s funny and you look on this, like, why is he even in here? He’s just like we are, you know, but he made a big mistake and your heart goes out to them, you know? I mean, yeah, some of them are violent, some of them are gang members and stuff. They’re still human beings. And we get to see that transformation that God does in those men. I don’t care if they got tattoos completely all over their body.
Jake Enriquez: 37:58 They didn’t get the, a technicality found in their case. Maybe that’s the case, you know?
Rick Norton: 37:58 No they didn’t. That’s right.
Jake Enriquez: 38:08 You’re talking about the grace of God. Brother Rick, what would you say? So I think about this and I think about how I think about the transition. You know, God is always working in our lives. Like you were talking about while ago, you could look back on your life and say, man, God was there for me here. It was God that took care of me here. All of those things, and as you hear people now go through things, let’s just say there’s somebody going through a tough time. What would be your words of encouragement to somebody who’s just feeling like giving up? What would you say to these guys?
Rick Norton: 38:38 I would say don’t, don’t because you have a loving father, Jesus Christ who loves you. He knows your problems, He knows all about you. Do not give up. As I was told back in an old hotel, drop to your knees and tell Him you need help. Here’s your heavenly father. He loves you. He’ll help you. He’ll open doors. So He’ll give you peace. He’ll clear the fog, He’ll clear your mind and He’ll give you a. How do you say it? Uh, the will to go on, you know, even when even when things are very dark, sure, you know, He can do all those things and if it’s drug addiction or alcoholism, He breaks those chains. I see it all the time, brother. He can break those chains, but you need to go to Him humbly and ask for help. You need to open that door a and uh, He can change your life. And that’s any addiction. Any addiction.
Jake Enriquez: 39:48 Absolutely. I greatly appreciate it. That’s our brother Rick Norton. We greatly appreciate your time today, Rick, your testimony. Uh, clean and sober. 42 years?
Rick Norton: 40:01 Clean and sober, brother, 42 years. By the Grace of God. [by the grace of God, amen] Had nothing to do with me.
Jake Enriquez: 40:06 Amen. I get you, man. Thank God, man. We do thank God. So that’s our brother Rick Norton who comes today, give testimony and give God all the glory. So for the show notes for this episode, simply go to press and reach dot com forward slash pr 61.