Spirit to Spirit
by Bill Martin

Ozzie Arroyo looked like a million bucks. The blue pin stripped suit was pressed just right. His shirt was starched and smart looking. The shoes were shined and he wore just enough jewelry to complement his wardrobe. The pin on his lapel sparkled "Jesus loves me".

Ozzie's face was worn but soft. He was not an especially a commanding figure but once you spoke with him, it was like you knew each other for a million years.

I first met Ozzie at a Christian music festival at the Cuyahoga County fairgrounds. It was one of those "friend of a friend" meetings but we became close instantly.

One of my best friends always calls these kinds of meetings "spirit to spirit". Your spirit and the other person's intermingle in a deep and godly way. This is what happened with us. Ozzie and I talked a good long time at that meeting. While the conversation meandered to a number of topics he always seemed to direct it back to Jesus. His tone was always soft and inviting.

Every Christmas Stacey Bell and I have raised money inside Fox 8 for a special charity project. It's something we've done away from the glare of our television cameras to give something back. We don't publicize our efforts and we never will.

Last year we blessed Pastor Ozzie and his inner city mission work with the poor, drug dealers, and gang members. He was in the thick of it. Ozzie was the best kind of Pastor.

The family tells me he grew up on the rough streets of Cleveland. Ozzie was in fights and trouble most of the time. He later moved to New York City where he got a job as an engineer for Donald Trump. It was high living in the Trump Towers and Ozzie was well respected. He also let his past catch up with him and it slowly started taking its toll. It was time to leave New York. It was the only was to save his life.

His wife says she was scared to death to come to Cleveland knowing Ozzie's past but it was back in Cleveland that he gave his life to Jesus.

I remember one woman told me that Ozzie rushed to her bedside one dark, rainy night. She was lost, confused, broke and going to commit suicide. Ozzie took her hand and lead her to Jesus Christ. To see her now nicely dressed, a good job and deeply happy, you might be shocked but not Ozzie.

I held Pastors hand the other day and we talked for several hours. Again he always brought the conversation back around to Jesus no matter how far I got off track. I prayed over him, anointed him with oil and left his room.

The next day Ozzie sat up in bed at University Hospital, his arms outstretched he called to Jesus: "Jesus I can see your face." Ozzie closed his eyes and gasped his last breath.

I'm a human being so on that level I don't think I can describe this painful loss. But I do know the prize at the end of the journey if to be with our Lord and Savoir.

Ozzie Arroyo looked like a million bucks. The blue pin stripped suit was pressed just right. His shirt was starched and smart looking. The shoes were shined and he wore just enough jewelry to complement his wardrobe. The pin on his lapel shined "Jesus loves me".

Yes, He does, and may you rest in peace.

Bill Martin is a multiple winner of Emmy and Associated Press Awards for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism. He was also inducted into the Ohio Television/Radio Hall of Fame in 1999.

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