Let me start over.
High school’s when it all started. One of my friends introduced me to the rave scene in 1990. To go to a rave, you'd have to call a number at 12 o'clock at night, then they gave you directions to a map point. So you'd drive out to the middle of somewhere in LA. You show up on the corner of the street. You pay $5 to $20, depending on the thing, then they give you a little piece of paper, like a fortune cookie, with the directions to the place, which led you to Compton.
You'd show up in Compton or Watts, in the ghetto of ghettos, like neighborhoods where you could get killed. You pull up, you park your car, you go up to this back industrial alley, to this place. You walk up, you got a wall of music, like 60 speakers, one whole wall. The loudest electronic music, nitrous tanks, pop acid, or Ecstasy or candy flip and you start hallucinating. Going nuts with the loud speakers and nitrous balloons. It's just a wild ride at that point.
I had a couple of friends that actually went mentally insane. A couple of guys are schizo. One guy jumped off a cliff on LSD and killed himself. Another guy jumped in front of a train. I'm lucky I'm alive.
I grew up in Los Angeles, in Southern California. I would skateboard like a normal kid and surf. And when I was in the 1st grade, I remember finding a big duffel bag of porn magazines in the back of my school. When I got to 4th grade, I saw a video and I kind of started understanding what was going on in those pictures. It just warped things in my mind.
When I got to high school, I got introduced to cocaine. It was more experimental at that time. But, then, after high school, it started getting more of a habit, where it just turned into a routine, where that's just what I did. That's just what I did, I just partied. When I started my new job, that's when everything took off. We were working with a lot of big-named people, so a lot of opportunities opened for Playboy mansion parties, the vivid porn star girls would host our parties.
During the summer we'd go to Europe for a month and a half. We'd film videos, shoot for magazines, travel with musicians and go on tours with them. And, then, we'd do video premieres with our skate videos. I'd wake up, go to work, go skate, go get wasted. Wake up, go skate, go work, go skate, get wasted. But I had the nice house. I had the motorcycles. I've literally done laps around the world like three to four times. And, a lot of girls and the drugs, nothing gets me off anymore. I was empty, just nothing made me happy.
Then I did a tour through Mexico, Costa Rica, and Panama City. I just did cocaine the whole time. One of our team riders found me in my bed with cocaine all over my face and all over the counter. They couldn't wake me up. They thought I overdosed. All I know is I woke up the next morning and they said: "Dude, we thought you were dead last night."
And at that point, I just realized I got to change my life. I went to my hotel room and I was by myself for the first time, and sober for the first time in at least a month and a half. I was at Panama City, at the Sheraton Hotel. I just remember going, "Jesus, if you are real, I need you to prove that you are real to me."
I just remembered this prayer my Dad would say. He'd just say, "Jesus, forgive me for my sins, come into my life, and fill me with your Holy Spirit."I said that prayer. I said, "Prove that you're real to me, because I see religion around me. I see my parents, and these Christians, and I don't relate to them."
And I remember going, "Ok. What can I do now? I need to read the Bible, right?"
And started looking through the drawers. There has to be a Bible in the hotel room, they have Bibles all over the world, I'd always see them. I open it, there's a blue Bible there. It's a Gideon Bible. I pulled it out and I just started reading it.
I was waiting for this supernatural experience, you know? I've taken a lot of drugs. I've seen a lot of stuff and I thought that God was going to show up in his heavenly glory, with angels and what not, but that didn't happen.
So I got the Bible. I stole it from the hotel. I put it in my backpack, got on the plane, and I was surrounded by all the skate team. They were looking at me and they must have been tripping, because they're like, "This guy lives his life like a pirate."
And I remember just looking at them and saying: "You know what? If God's real, I'm going to find him, because he's in this book. This is God's Word."
So I just read that Bible, that Gideon Bible, for six hours straight all the way to LAX. And I remember, I landed and I just had peace in my life for the first time in my life. I just felt peace. The next morning, I wake up and I hear this song singing through my head. I remember just getting up out of my bed, and opening my eyes and I just heard this song singing, "This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in him."
And it kept repeating over and over, just like this little song. I'm tripping out at this point. I got to call my Dad. My Dad's a Christian. He can tell me what this means.
I called him up, and I go, "Hey, Dad. Dude, I gave my life to the Lord in Panama City. I'm coming off drugs. I have a heroine addiction, smoking crack and using a lot of cocaine, and drinking a lot. But, I gave my life to Jesus in the hotel room, but, the problem is, I woke up this morning and I heard this song singing through my head. 'This is the day the Lord has made.'"
And he said, "Ryan, that's the Holy Spirit. God is calling you, and he has a plan for your life."
At that point, I knew that God was real. I just started following him. Reading, praying, going to church. I just decided, I'm not going to sleep with girls, because I know it's in the Bible that I shouldn’t be sleeping with girls. I'm not using drugs. I'm going to church, but I'm watching porn because I'm like, "No one knows about that, that's a secret deal."
But, as I'm going to church, God's working in my life. He's transforming my mind and my heart. I also came to this verse in Matthew and it talks about how Jesus said to the disciples, "If you want to be my followers, you have to turn from your selfish ways, pick up your cross and follow me."
My porn problem and the things I want to do, I've got to grab that and throw it on the cross, crucify it, and kill it. Just the way Jesus hung on the cross with his flesh and died for our sins. My flesh has to die on that cross. I've got to follow Jesus. So, I stopped watching porn and I started getting these thoughts of watching porn, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, that's working in my life, I'm praying to God and I'm yelling to God like, "God, help me! Help me! I don't want to watch porn, Lord! I want to follow you! I don't want to say something and do something else! I want to be like you! I want to be like the disciples!"
And I just started following Jesus, and then an opportunity comes up that I go to Israel. I want to go to the Holy Land. I want to go see where Jesus walked. I'm going through the Bible.
So I called Sonny Sandoval, the lead singer from P.O.D., and said, "Hey, dog, I'm a Christian now, I'm going to Israel, and do you want to roll out?" A couple of days later we ended up in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed to the Father.
Pancho Juarez, a pastor, gave the story. He said, "You guys, you go make peace with Jesus. Go get rid of whatever you've got to get rid of, and leave all that baggage here at the Garden."
I remember going out there to the garden and I just prayed, "God, I don't know what you are going to do with me. I don't even know what you can do with me, or who am I. I don't even know how I can serve you. But, if you want me to follow you and you want to use me, and you want me to share my story then have someone contact me, outside of my immediate circle, to have me share my story. And if you call me out, then I'll go and I'll share my story. And I will not go back to my old job and I will follow you wherever that takes me."
And I said that prayer, and I happened to get a phone call the next day. And it was this guy, Derek Neider, at Calvary Chapel, Las Vegas. And he said: "Hey, man, I would love for you to come out and share your story at my church. I heard you got saved."
"Yeah, I'll come, I'll come."
But after I hang up the phone, I was just like, "I was just joking, Jesus! That was a joke. I didn't know it was going to happen.
It's been five and a half years since I watched porn. But, I'll be honest, like over the last four years it's been brutal. I come home and I'm single man, I get those thoughts like, "Go turn on your computer. Go hit that button. Go to Safari. Go for it."
But, when I start hearing that stuff, the Holy Spirit is like, "No, don't do that".
I actually walked into a liquor store the other day and I saw these porn magazines. I looked over and immediately I looked away. And I was like, "Dude, I can't believe I just looked away". Because Jesus says that, if you become a new creation in Christ, God renews your mind.
You want to know words that would describe my life? I would say I'm not perfect. I don't have everything figured out. I'm completely rough around the edges. But, I know that Jesus Christ is the Lord of my life, and I'm going to follow him in whatever he does in my life.
My name is Ryan Ries and I Am Second.