Turning Pain Into Laughter Since 2011
I first met Pastor Broderick Connesero in 2007 at the University of Memphis. I was a student who was missing home and feeling a little out-of-place. I didn’t know anyone. I went to class, work, and straight to my room, occasionally making a stop at the library. If my sissy (best friend) wasn’t in town for a weekend visit, I didn’t have a social life. I was desperately searching for something to connect to make this college journey a little easier. That’s when a classmate told me about an on-campus weekly bible study and I decided to check it. On my first visit there weren’t that many people in attendance, and when I saw the pastor leading the group I was a little taken aback. He didn’t fit the bill for a pastor, at least not any I’d seen. He was in street clothes and fit the description of what some would consider a thug. Despite my hesitation, I stayed and found myself attending this bible study every week, and eventually joining the church of which Pastor Connesero was youth pastor. He became one of my mentors and the big brother I never had.
As a drug dealer, Broderick lived a very prosperous, and what he believed was a good life. While running drugs from California to Memphis, he was able to maintain living quarters in two different states and generated a large amount of money. Life was good, until the city of Memphis experienced a drought–a drug drought that is. A sudden turn of events also left Broderick faced with a big question from God, “What are you going to do with your life?”
Born in Bellflower, California and raised in Compton, Broderick had dreams of being in the entertainment business. Growing tired of the liars in Los Angeles and Hollywood, he made his way to Memphis, TN and enrolled at the University of Memphis. His attempt to be a college student left him financially frustrated and depressed. He soon sought relief in what he was familiar with, selling dope.
Selling drugs between the U of M and an apartment complex located in Whitehaven, Broderick began to experience the life he was accustomed to. Always having money at his disposal, Broderick lived what most would consider a good life. Fortunately for him, and others around him, this good life was short-lived. During the drug drought, mentioned above, he was unable to get drugs in or out of Memphis. Everyone he sent to make drops or pick ups got arrested…Broderick saw 7 of his associates go to jail because of him. Broderick began living off of money he’d already made and stashed away. But he soon saw a break in the drought and was able to finally get a package through. This break came during the holiday season, so his workers were excited about the opportunity to make some money for Christmas.
While in the apartment he worked out of, after the drugs has been broken down and all the work was finished, him and one of his associates sat and had conversation. This associate casually asked to see his gun. Feeling comfortable with this person and not giving it a second thought, Broderick handed his gun over to this man…the man then turned the gun on Broderick. He stripped him of all his clothes, hog tied him, and placed him in the bathtub. When he pulled the trigger the first time, the gun jammed. He pulled the trigger a second time and was again unsuccessful and fled the apartment. For the next 2 months, Broderick was on a mission of revenge. He spent that time looking for the man who tried to kill him with his own gun and looking for anyone he could rob for some money. In a desperate attempt to make some money, Broderick actually took a ‘job for hire’…he was hired to kill someone.
On the day that he was supposed to carry out this mission of murder, his plans were halted. Him and a friend set out, on a rainy day, to follow and kill a man, but ironically the car they were using kept stalling. By the time they caught up with the man, he was surrounded by too many people, and they were unable to complete the job. At that point Broderick began to analyze his life. After helping his sister through a financial crisis, along with his continued lifestyle of partying and blowing money, the man who once had money at this disposal, found himself broke and homeless. He ended up living with a friend, who shared a two bedroom apartment with your boyfriend and their child. On his first night there the friend prepared dinner for all of them. Never really experiencing hard times, Broderick was shocked at the meal they shared that night…a pack of Ramen noodles for each of them and one Tostino’s pizza. Now one grown man could eat all of that by himself, imagine having to split that between four people.
Broderick had reached his lowest point. Crying out to God for help, he began the process of ‘change’. He took a job at an apartment complex where he picked up and shoveled others people’s trash into the trash dispenser. As you can imagine, this was a humbling experience. Even though he was now making an honest living, he became angry and upset at the turn his life had taken. But in this moment of humility and anger he finally started listening to God, attending church and bible study on a regular basis. Six months later he got a job offer that took him out of the trash cans–he became a case specialist for the Department of Human Service. Eventually his walk with God would lead him to New Direction Christian Church, where he became the youth pastor and leader of the college and singles ministry. Almost being killed, taking a job to kill someone and becoming homeless led Broderick to finally realize that God would never let him be happy without Him…he’s been riding with God ever since.
I’m so glad that I looked pass Pastor Connesero exterior and listened to his message at that first bible study. He has a tough exterior but a soft heart when it comes to reaching and helping others. He’s made incredible strides in helping develop the youth in the city of Memphis. It’s heartwarming to see how much his ‘children’ love him…he leaves a permanent positive mark on all of the kids that have the opportunity and pleasure of experiencing his mentoring. I can honestly say he was instrumental in helping me connect to New Direction and becoming more than just a church member, but a volunteer as well. Broderick is currently a pastor at Living Hope Church-Vollintine Evergreen
. He is now happily married, raising three children, and still riding for God, mentoring and touching the lives of the youth all over the city of Memphis.
As Always…Keep Laughing!
Kitta, a native of Jackson, TN, is a blogger and co-founder of Can I Laugh Now. She is a graduate of the University of Memphis, where she earned her degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Kitta believes in healing pain through the power of laughter.