Ministering to Learning Disabled Leaders
This is the calling story of Richard Gorman of the United States and how Christian Leaders Institute is helping him and his wife in their dream to bring the gospel to learning disabled children.
I am Rich Gorman and I am a 63 year old husband and father. I have a daughter, two step-sons and one grandchild. I grew up on the beaches of South Florida, USA and spent some time in the Caribbean as well. My family was Episcopalian so I was raised in the Episcopal church but drifted away in my early teens, questioning God, Jesus and the Bible.
During my teen years I became involved in the Hippie counterculture of the ‘60s and all
that it implies drugs, alcohol, and crime At age 17, however, I had a powerful face to face
encounter with Jesus during a dream in which He essentially told me to stop what I was doing
and follow Him. I tried to do so for a short while but had none to disciple me, didn’t know how
to find someone to disciple me, didn’t even know that I needed to be discipled. As such, I quickly
drifted back to the counter culture into which I had become entrenched. I married at 19.
I first accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior during the Jesus Movement of
the 70’s. This time I managed to follow Him for about a year. While at a prayer meeting one
night a pastor made some un-welcomed and inappropriate suggestions toward me. As a result I
ran hard and fast from the church, from Jesus, from Christianity, from God. I wanted to have
nothing more to do with any of it. Again, I returned to drugs and alcohol. My wife left me for
For the next 15 years I lost myself in a haze of drugs and alcohol. I married again, had a
beautiful daughter. I went to college and managed to get a degree in English Literature. As my
addiction worsened I stopped the drugs but continued the alcohol. I don’t remember much of the
last few years of that period in my life. My wife and I separated. I ended up essentially
homeless, often sleeping in the back seat of a car with no windows, eating wherever and
whatever I could. In 1986 I had had enough. I was beaten. I checked myself into a drug and
alcohol treatment center and have not touched alcohol or other drugs since.
Upon leaving the treatment center I began attending Alcoholics Anonymous. Through the
teachings of AA I gradually began to ease my way back toward God. That route, however, lead
me through the New Age Movement. I experimented with various methods of spirituality,
Hinduism, Egyptology, Native American spirituality, and other methods that have no names. I
finally settled on Zen Buddhism. I practiced Zen for several years. But always felt that
something was missing. One night while sitting in meditation I heard a voice say: “Why are you
doing this, you are Christian.” That opened a door that would take several years before I would
walk through it.
Inspired by the people at the treatment center, I returned to college to study Psychology.
After four years of sobriety my wife asked me for a divorce. So much damage had been
done through those drinking years the the marriage was unsalvageable. Not long after that I met
a young lady in one of my college classes who would change my life. As a result of the divorce I
had to find another place to live. After several weeks of apartment hunting this young lady told
me there was an apartment available in her building. I moved into the apartment next to hers.
Her name was Paula. Paula was a relatively new Christian. She and I spent night after night at
her kitchen table discussing the Bible, God and Christianity. I would try to convince it was all
wrong, she would try to convince me it was all right. She was gradually winning. She and I
began dating, continued college together and I began attending church with her. We married in
1993 and vowed to put God first in marriage.
In 1994 we moved to Lake City, FL from South Florida. Lake City is a small rural
community about an hour south of the Georgia border. Shortly after moving here I officially
recommitted my life to Christ.
Paula continued her education, getting a Masters Degree in Special Education and
began working as a teacher. She had two boys from her previous marriage. The younger one
was speech and language delayed and is an Aspergers child. The public schools were not
meeting his needs so we place him in a local private school that claimed they could work with our learning disabled child. After a year there it became apparent that they could not so we pulled him and homeschooled him. When we pulled him he was in 7th grade, functioning at a fourth grade level
in all core subject areas. By the time he was in tenth grade he was functioning well above grade
level and was dual enrolled at the community college. He graduated with his High School
Diploma and his Associates Degree at the same time.
In time God told Paula to start a private school for learning disabled children that would use the same techniques as we used with our son. In 2003 we started New Generation Christian School. Paula was the
teacher and I remained in the secular work environment so we would have insurance. The first
year there were 10 students, one teacher in a borrowed room at a local church. The school grew
by 12 students a year for several years. she added another teacher. Then I joined the school in
Two years ago Paula and I lost our home in Tropical Storm Debbie. We evacuated out
house at 4 in the morning and went to the school building. Twelve hours later the school flooded
and we had to evacuate again. We were blessed to have church friends who took us into their
home until we could get things settled.
We ended up having to move the school due to mold issues after the storm. After many
trials God has seen us through it all. There have been many miracles along the way. God has
seen fit to bless us with a 26 acre property on which we have placed the school. Our new home
is also on the same property.
The school now has 20 portable type buildings and a staff of 14 and 160 students. We
serve those students who are learning disabled, have Aspergers disorder and other problems
that interfere with their ability to succeed in the traditional school system. Paula continues to
serve as Administrator and I serve as Pastor and English Teacher.
New Generation Christian School is a non-profit ministry to our community. We are the
only private school that will not refuse a student due to the family’s inability to pay for the
The CLI Scholarship will be extremely important to me. I am a Pastor to 160 kids with no
real Biblical education. The CLI Scholarship will allow me to get the foundation for my ministry
so I can better teach the students about the Bible and the saving grace of Jesus.
Right now we have been asked to start other schools of this type in several counties in
Florida and as far away as Alabama. The CLI Scholarship and education will help me take the
Gospel to, possibly, hundreds more students who might otherwise have no opportunity to hear
Thank you so much for establishing this ministry.
Christian Leaders Institute Note: If you want more information about this school for learning disabled children and young people click here. Christian Leaders Institute is working with learning disabled students and graduates world wide. If you are learning disabled we encourage you to enroll at CLI. Learning disabled leaders are called into ministry all the time. Our president, Henry Reyenga was learning disabled as a child. He struggled with dyslexia and still does but that did not stop him from founding this school.