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On Friday a former heroin addict who turned to religion and became a prominent pastor after being released from prison was found dead in the church where he preached and ministered to those who walked in his shoes.  The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office said a family member found the 51 year old Rev. Ron Christian inside the Christian Love Baptist Church.

Foul play was not suspected, however officials were awaiting autopsy results to determine the cause and manner of death.  Christian was a prison guard who battled heroin addiction before he lost his job and was sentenced to prison in 1996 for theft.

Upon his release in 1997, Christian joined a church in Newark where his father, a retired pastor, was working.  He decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and became a minister, which led him to this community where drugs and violence plague the community.

In 2000 he became pastor of Christian Love Baptist Church. The church, which had just a dozen members, has since grown to a congregation of 6,000.

Christian was known for being a pastor whom wanted murderers, drug dealers and other criminals could turn to: he would encourage them to do what was right and turn themselves in.  In a statement, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. said Christian’s energetic sermons, dynamic personality and kind words inspired everyone he met.

Christian is survived by his wife and five children.


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