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Gravesend was founded in 1643 by Lady Deborah Moody who named this community after her home town, Gravesend England. Founded on the precepts of religious freedom, Gravesend which means “at the end of the grove,” derives its name from two Saxon words: graves ende.
Rich Piscopo Was Born In Gravesend
In 1912, Rich’s grandfather Ernesto Piscopo came to Gravesend, New York, six months after the Titanic’s sinking, following the same route. Within ten years he owned a home, a business, and had a wife and two children.
In 1917, in Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada, a ship filled with bombs and TNT blow up. That event was the worst explosion at the time, with thousands killed and wounded. It leveled all of Richmond and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Rich’s grandfather, Francisco Scauso, a builder, went there in 1919 and spent six years in the rebuilding of the city. Grandma Rosaria meet him in Halifax and they married and lived there until 1924. Grandma was pregnant with Rich’s mother when they moved and lived in New York City where she was born in June of 1924. In 1929, they moved to Casablanca, Morocco. Rich’s grandfather was killed, shot dead in front of his mother. Grandmother, not a US citizen, with two small USA-born children, had a choice—go back to her home in Italy or go to Gravesend, New York City.
What is most amazing is that in 1917, the ship which blow up in Halifax had been loaded at the Sheepheads Bay Harbor in Gravesend.
Two trains define Rich’s life.
The first, which in 1951 brought Rich’s wife, Ruth, to freedom from Communist China, when she and her mother, father, and brother escaped to Hong Kong. Ruth’s father’s family, going back three generations, knew the Lord as faithful Christians. Her mother came to Christ during the great Shandoug revival. Ruth, born in Shanghai, China would later move to New York City and graduate from the Juilliard School of Music, a Mezzo-soprano.
The second train, a NYC subway train, which on December 16th, 1959, led to death.
Born in bustling New York, Rich soon found that the excitement of the city was hollow, and that its feverish pace could just as easily swallow a person as it could stimulate him. Rich’s thoughts often drifted to suicide. He thought he had reason enough to take his life. He explains, “As a young person growing up in New York, lonely, searching, on drugs, a drop-out, what hope was there?”
Rich’s thoughts often drifted to suicide for another reason. His father, as a thirty-seven-year-old nightclub entertainer, had decided one morning that life had no purpose and had jumped in front of a Manhattan-bound subway train. Pinned between the train and the guard rail, he died shortly before he was freed, spending his last two hours of life with the pain of his injuries added to his inner despair.
Rich was four years old at the time of his father’s death. As he grew up, he longed for the strength of his father’s presence and guidance. With the longing grew anger—anger that he had been left alone. Rich’s inner pain was driving him to end his life, too.
When Rich’s Italian grandmother, Rosaria, was visiting the family, she sensed the growing pain and the unspoken need for help in her grandson. Being a Christian, she knew that only the Lord could make a lasting difference in Rich’s life.
Billy Graham was broadcasting a series of evangelistic meetings from Madison Square Garden during the summer of 1969. Grandmother persuaded Rich to watch one of them on TV.
Dr. Graham’s opening illustration that night pierced Rich’s heart. Graham said, “A man about to jump off a bridge was convinced by a policeman to postpone his suicide attempt for 10 minutes. The policeman said, ‘I’ll make a deal with you. I’ll give you five minutes to tell why life is not worth living, if you will give me five minutes to tell you why life is worth living.’ They talked for ten minutes, and then they both jumped in.”
Billy Graham talked about the epidemic of suicide and the hope that can be found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Rich says, “There was a storm going on in my heart. All the confusion, all the loneliness; the thought of following in the footsteps of my father. I remember I said, ‘God if you are for real, and if what this man is saying is true, then come into my life right now.’ I thought perhaps, just perhaps, what Billy Graham was saying was true.”
“As I listened, I heard that Jesus came to forgive us, that He died upon the cross, that He was buried, that He rose again, that He wanted to be part of my life personally and intimately.”
On that summer evening in 1969, as America’s astronauts were racing to the moon, the God of the universe entered the life of Rich Piscopo.
Since then Rich and Ruth have been telling the story of God’s love in their lives and seeing many people come to God through their ministry. Just like Rich and Ruth, each person must trust in God individually.
Rich asks his hearers to bring their hurt, despair, and confusion to God today. Just as he did, you need to realize that your sin is a serious matter, and stop running away from God: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out” (Acts 3:19).
Then, when you trust in Christ alone as the payment for your sin, God promises forgiveness: “All the prophets testify about Him [Christ] that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name” (Acts 10:43).
You even become a part of God’s family: “To all who did receive Him [Christ], to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
And you’ll find that because of your trust in Christ, God accepts you forever: “All those the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never drive away” (John 6:37).
Rich Piscopo looked to Jesus Christ for comfort and forgiveness and overcame the despair that life can bring. Now his message is, “God loves you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to leave you that way.”
Come to Christ today, and experience the victory that the Bible talks about when it says, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Rich and Ruth Piscopo serve as international evangelists. They have travelled to 40 countries around the world.
Billy Graham, as heard on television from his Reno Crusade in 1980 said, “There was a teenager who gave himself to Christ through one of our television crusades like this. He is married to a Chinese-born soprano, who is a graduate of Juilliard School. His father was an Italian musician who got depressed and jumped in front of a train. He also tried suicide, having gotten into drugs. Then he gave his life to Christ. And today he is a wonderful young evangelist.”