Meet the pastors
Senior Pastor Işık Abla
IŞIK ABLA (pronounced Ishyk) was born in Istanbul, Turkey, and raised in a Muslim home. Throughout her life she experienced verbal and physical abuse, and found herself in an extremely violent abusive marriage to a Muslim man.
Işık entered college when she was only sixteen and earned a bachelor’s degree in literature, followed by an advanced business degree. She worked in high-ranking executive positions for some of the largest corporations in Turkey and traveled throughout Europe.
In 1996, she fled to America from her violent Muslim husband after he tried to kill her. After years of struggling to start her career all over again in a foreign country and failing in many areas of her personal life, Işık fell into a deep depression. She became suicidal.
On the day she was planning to end her life, she had a personal encounter with God. That day, she surrendered her life to Jesus, and she received the supernatural healing and redemption of Jesus Christ. From that moment on, her life remarkably changed for the better.
After receiving the Lord’s call to full-time ministry, she attended Ambassador’s Commission School of Ministry. Soon after her graduation, she became an ordained minister.
In 2009, Işık began hosting a satellite TV program on Kanal Hayat, a Turkish-language Christian satellite channel. There was an overwhelming amount of response through these programs. Two years later, she began a live call-in program: The Way, The Truth and The Life that is simulcast on Turkish and Farsi TV channels throughout the Middle East and Europe. The responses started multiplying as the lives of Muslims were being transformed.
In 2011, Işık founded Işık Abla Ministries. Due to her desire to spread the Gospel on a broader scale and to ignite the fire for revival in the church, she started Embracing New Life, TV programs in English first aired on Inspiration TV and then many other TV and social media channels. These programs are targeting hundreds of millions of Muslims by being dubbed into the Urdu, Farsi and Arabic languages.
In April 2015, Embracing New Life began airing in the U.S. on the NRB Network.
Today, Işık’s programs are broadcast and streamed online in over 150 countries on six continents in five languages- Turkish, Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and English- available to more than 700 million people. She hosts radio programs in Turkish reaching millions. The ministry has launched websites in five languages. On Facebook, she has over six million followers around the world!
In 2016, she focused on social media engagement hosting weekly Facebook Live videos called Dream Church. She was awarded the National Religious Broadcaster’s International Impact award for demonstrating a strong personal commitment to proclaiming Christ through electronic media, working with integrity and faithfulness to influence culture for Christ.
In 2018, Işık attended and completed Leadership and communication programs at both Yale and Harvard Universities. She also became a certified Leadership coach by John Maxwell.
Her message of hope, love, and redemption, found only in a loving God, resonates and continues to reach the Muslim world for Christ. As a Muslim background believer, she is uniquely positioned, knowing the culture, language, and social norms, to authentically and relationally share the good news of Jesus Christ to Muslims.
Co-Senior Pastor Rick
Ricardo was born in a rough New York City neighborhood. He was a gang member, used drugs and eventually dropped out of high school. When he was 19 years old, he moved to Texas and joined a UFO cult. Even still the prayers of his mother and the hand of God kept him safe. A frequent bar-goer and smoker, he was miraculously delivered of his desire for drugs, alcohol and cigarettes- four years before his salvation! In 1994, God turned his life around, and unlike his past hangout spots, he could be found working in a ministry capacity, painting or cleaning the church, singing in the choir, evangelizing the lost, and prison ministry. He felt the Lord prompt him to study scripture through programs and courses by the church early in his faith walk.
Lovingly known as “Pastor Rick”, he has a passion for prison ministry. He visits twice every week, where he preaches, worships and prays for inmates. He also works alongside the chaplain one day per week.
He met his wife, Işık, while attending church. Together, God is using them to touch the hearts and lives of people of all ages and backgrounds at home and around the world.