It is true that most people will face challenges in their lifetime; for instance, losing a job or facing conflict with a family member. And, there are those who will face circumstances with more devastating impact such as bankruptcy, addiction, divorce and homelessness. In Kurt Barreto's case, he endured each of these—and more. Yet today, he and his family stand in a position of victory, thanks to the Lord’s unconditional love and grace in their lives.
Kurt grew up in a small town on New York's Long Island. By age 29 he had become relatively successful, at least by the world's standards. Kurt was a young professional running a subsidiary of the largest automotive dealership consulting firm in the country, he was married with two children, a daughter and a son, and his future seemed bright. But, by his mid-thirties, his life had fallen apart. Kurt's first marriage had ended in divorce, he had lost his job, and he had begun drinking.
In the late nineteen nineties, at age 37, Kurt had reinvented himself, gotten remarried and had managed to get his foot in the door, in the then booming mortgage industry. He did very well for several years and was able to make an increasingly handsome living. By 2004 Kurt owned a mortgage company, a large home and a rental property.
On the surface the Barretos appeared to be doing well. Underneath, however, Kurt's social drinking was becoming a dependency, his then adolescent daughter, Nicole, was struggling with issues at school and Kurt was leveraging his entire family's financial future.
In late 2005 Kurt's life began to unravel again; a hurricane severely damaged the family's primary residence and the rental home, and his mortgage business was in legal trouble. In addition to these struggles, Kurt's wife, Leisa, had suffered traumatic injuries in a horseriding accident and faced the possibility of never walking again.
In 2007, the Barretos lost the mortgage business, their homes went into foreclosure, and more serious problems were brewing with Kurt’s daughter. Kurt's social drinking had become alcoholism and strife was raging within their extended family because Kurt had borrowed money from various family members in an attempt to save his company. Eventually, Kurt's business dealings left his family broke and deeply indebted to relatives, and his father was forced to file for bankruptcy.
After moving to a new state with the intention of starting a new company, things only grew worse. Kurt’s business efforts failed and he was fired was from two subsequent jobs. Even with Leisa's income and Kurt's unemployment benefits, they were unable to afford the home they had rented, and to top things off, his daughter had become involved in a dangerous relationship. Eventually, the strain was too much and Kurt was hospitalized for depression.
Shortly after his release from the hospital, Kurt took on work as a handyman, but his drinking had become such an issue that he plummeted to an all-time low. One evening, Kurt passed out, drunk, on a customer’s couch and Leisa had to go pick him up. At her wits end with both Kurt and their daughter, Leisa, told them to move out. Kurt loaded his tools and his motorcycle into a trailer and headed to his brother’s home.
As he pondered his plan to stay with his brother, who pastors a Christian church in Florida, Kurt changed his mind. Instead, he decided to drive to the nearest U Haul warehouse facility to rent a storage unit. There he made his home for the next three months. From December until February Kurt lived in his unit, showering at the local YMCA. When the weather became too cold, Kurt plugged in a small space heater, which blew the breaker in the building and his make-shift housing was exposed.
It was during his time living in the storage facility that his brother had given him Andrew’s booklet, Self Centeredness—The Root of All Grief, which Kurt claims turned out to be the most profound reality check he had ever encountered. Kurt asked his brother for more information and was directed to Andrew’s website where he downloaded and listened to over 250 teachings. “Being separated from my wife and family, I rode an emotional rollercoaster and these teachings were literally the only thing that kept me from going crazy,” Kurt said. “In the midst of living on my own and listening to critters walking around all night in the warehouse walls, trying to protect myself from roaches for three months, I still managed to find a profound peace that I never felt before, as I recognized how awesome God is.”
As Kurt grew in his relationship with the Lord, he was convinced he should pursue reconciliation with Leisa, but she wasn’t receptive to Kurt's supposed change of heart. Kurt didn’t give up, however, and simply continued to pursue the Lord. In this pursuit Kurt learned about Charis Bible College and he decided to move to Colorado to attend. Imagine his excitement when he realized there was an extension school in Jacksonville, right near his storage warehouse. He called Danon Winter, Director of CBC Jacksonville, and arranged to start school the next week—in the middle of the term.
Today, Kurt, now a graduate of CBC-Florida, looks back and realizes that his time at CBC saved his life. After his first year, he began spending weekends with Leisa, who recognized the changes in her husband. She eventually joined Kurt in Jacksonville, where they live together now—their marriage is better than ever. In addition, Kurt convinced his daughter to attend classes with him in Jacksonville for a two week period. While there, her transformation unfolded before his eyes. She now lives in Colorado Springs where she attends CBC- Colorado full-time.
Through his time at CBC, Kurt realized that the call on his life is to travel around the country, as the Lord leads, in the family's motorhome, to share his testimony and teach Discipleship Evangelism. To learn more about Kurt and the Barreto's ministry, Jesus for Dummies, visit, God Followers Ministries.