I spoke with Robin on the phone today. It’s been a little over two years since he gave his life to Christ at the Harvest Crusade in Seattle, Washington. He still breaks into tears when he tells the story.
Robin’s story is emblematic of why it’s important to bring the gospel to our nation. It’s why Harvest America—and all gospel preaching—is the last best hope for our country. It’s why we’re working overtime to mobilize believers nationwide to join us in bringing the gospel to hundreds of thousands of people this September 29 from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
So what is Robin’s story?
Like many people of our generation, Robin grew up fast and free. His mom died of alcohol abuse when he was just 12 years old. That only fueled the party rage inside him. He says he barely made it through high school, and if you were to poll the people he hung with, they would’ve said he was either “destined for prison, or to be the father of many illegitimate children with multiple mothers . . . or both.”
What they didn’t take into account was that Robin was street-wise and a born salesman. Those traits, sandwiched between his party life and starting a family, enabled him to build a business in the recreational vehicle industry. To his surprise and to that of his friends, he found himself rolling in dough—and the excesses of life. Overindulgence was the god of his choosing, building race cars and “spending money like a drunken rock star.”
After years of emptiness, he finally confided in a friend and co-worker that he’d come to the end of the line. Fortunately, that friend was a Christian. He pointed him to the Bible, and because Robin didn’t read all that well, he ordered him a set of DVDs from a local pastor. Robin ate it up.
It wasn’t long before he wanted to know more about Jesus. Then, one Sunday morning, he asked his friend if he would take a drive into Seattle and hear that pastor in person. As it turned out, that was the Sunday Greg Laurie and the Harvest team were in town at Key Arena. Robin’s friend seized the opportunity and brought him to the Harvest Crusade instead. After hearing the music of MercyMe and Pastor Greg’s presentation of the gospel, Robin tearfully surrendered his life to Christ.
As are all conversions, it was only the beginning for Robin. His wife and son had not made decisions to follow Christ and they became the quiet focus of his heart’s prayers. For two years he decided he would show them how God could change a man’s life—and what they saw made difference. Robin plugged into a church, even becoming the head of the men’s ministry, and faithfully and quietly studied God’s Word. He shared his newfound insights with his wife, and there was always an attentive ear, but her upbringing in “religion” left her deeply suspicious. She was content to watch from the sidelines. So he simply prayed, and humbly walked the walk.
Then, to his surprise last August, Harvest America was scheduled to be live-streamed into their church. Here was a chance for his wife, Kathy, to attend the very same type of event that he attended when he gave his life to Christ. Here was an opportunity for her to hear Pastor Greg Laurie give a presentation of the gospel. Here was hope for new life for them both!
So on August 26, he brought her and their son to Harvest America. Their pastor, knowing Robin’s desire to see his wife and son come to Christ, even sat with them in the pews as Pastor Greg spoke. But when it came time to make that decision, they did not respond. Even when Robin got up after Greg’s invitation and encouraged others in the audience to do what he did and see their lives changed, even as 10 other people responded and walked to the front of the church at Robin’s encouragement, she and their son sat in silence.
But God has His own timing. On that following Wednesday, as Robin read his Bible and offered some thoughts about what he had read to his wife, Kathy suddenly opened up. He explained the gospel to her once again, what Jesus had done for them both, and then he read a “sinner’s prayer” to her. She said she had “always believed” in God, but she had never prayed that prayer sincerely. Even as he had just repeated it, she said she hadn’t sincerely allowed it to take root in her own heart. So Robin took a deep breath and asked her, again, “Will you pray it now?”
She agreed, and through tears of brokenness they became a couple in Christ. Robin has to pause frequently for composure when retelling it.
In Psalm 40, David described it this way: “He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along” (NLT).
That’s what our God does and that’s why Harvest America moves forward. Our nation is full of Robins and Kathys. Some are fed up with excess in life; others stand by quietly suspicious of religion. And Jesus is ready, in His timing, to meet them where they are, and pull them out of the mire.
Today, Robin is still selling RVs. Now he works for his Christian friend and mentor. He doesn’t have all the material things he once did, as bankruptcy and years of hard living stripped it all away. But Robin doesn’t care. He has peace. He has a wife that is walking with God and a son who is “tracking” in that same direction.
And he has one more thing: a burning passion to bring the gospel to others in need.