Monday night’s State of the Union address was thick with politics and partisanship. But there was one moment when both political parties came together to offer a standing ovation for a young Christian couple who put their faith into action. That couple is Ryan and Rebecca Holets.
Ryan Holets is a 27-year-old, five-year veteran of the Albuquerque Police Department. Last September, he and another young officer he was helping to train responded to an attempted robbery call at a convenience store. In a dirt area just off the parking lot, the officers found Crystal Champ, who was then eight months pregnant. Holets engaged his body camera, and some of the interaction, captured on video, is now on-line. You can see and hear him telling Champ that the heroin she was about to shoot up was not good for the baby. Champ said she wanted to put the baby up for adoption, and Officer Holets returned to his patrol car, where he said he “was compelled by God to go back and adopt the baby.”
Rebecca agreed, and within a week they had set the wheels in motion to adopt the baby once it was born, and since then they have also worked to get Crystal Champ and her companion into a drug rehabilitation program.
A quick dig into the Holets’ background makes it plain that acknowledging God is common for this young couple. A photo they took to commemorate the baby’s baptism was inscribed with Ephesians 2:8. “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
Still, the decision to adopt the baby, a decision Ryan and Rebecca made so quickly, could not have been easy. They already had four children under the age of five in the house, and police officers in Albuquerque average less than $50,000 a year. That’s not poverty wages, but it’s not a lot of money to support what is now a household of seven, and for a job that requires you to put your life on the line every day.
And it wasn’t just the money. After she was born in October, the little baby Crystal Champ was carrying was addicted to drugs, too. She had to spend more than a week in the hospital, under specialized care, in order to withdraw from the drugs. “That was difficult to watch,” Holets said.
But the baby lived up to her name: Hope. Holets told CNN, “She’s gaining weight, eating well, sleeping well. We’re just praying and hoping for the best for her. As far as development goes, we won’t know the effects until she’s older.”
The Holets also made sure that Crystal got enrolled in a drug rehabilitation program, and they set up a crowd-funding page for her to help get her off the streets and into a home where her recovery can continue. The success rates for addicts – even those who go through good programs — is discouraging, but Crystal recently passed an important milestone: 40 days drug-free.
(Friends of the Holets have also set up a GoFundMe page to help them with adoption costs.)
Crystal is quick to credit the Holets for helping her and for adopting Hope. She called them “lights in this world” and said what has happened to her is “serendipity.” Ryan Holets has a different word for it: “Providence.”
The Holets’ story and their appearance at the State of the Union address have turned them into international media personalities, but they are doing their best return to normal. When I reached out to him to ask some questions for this story, I got a response from a Public Information Officer with the Albuquerque Police Department, who confirmed for me that Holets is “an evangelical Christian” who doesn’t want to release the name of his church “for security reasons.” He added, “He’s pretty overwhelmed.”
That’s not hard to understand, though given what I know about this young man and his wife – and the God they serve – I’m guessing they’re up to the challenge.