By the time Keith Robinson was 17 years old, his rap sheet included DUI, possession of narcotics and drug dealing. He was emaciated from drug use and under house arrest awaiting trial when something happened that forever changed his life. His story is detailed in the book "You Found Me: God's Relentless Pursuit to find you."
From the earliest time, Keith remembers that he felt like he was living in a cold cruel and crowded world. His mom met his dad when she was just a teenager and got pregnant. 3 boys came into the world without know why they are here. It didn't seem like there was any purpose for their lives due to the circumstances surrounding their birth.
Growing up for Keith was a struggle. Both his parents struggled with employment, and as years went on things began to spiral out of control. There were a lot of fighting and turmoil in the house. By the time his dad was in his mid-30s, he was on dialysis.
As a kid, Keith remembered going into the hospital and seeing his dad, thinking to himself, "Is this my life?" He hears things like "be successful" or "do something great with your life" when he was at school, and all he wants to do is to bring them to his house and let them see the world he is living in. Perhaps they will have a different expectation of his life.
Due to the illness and all the struggles at home, Keith's dad took his anger out on him constantly. Being ashamed about where he was from, Keith would lie to his friends at school about taking trips to Disneyland or that he lives in a different neighbourhood.
He got really good at wearing a mask and covering up the pain. Eventually he turned to drugs and alcohol to mask what was going on on the inside.
He knows what it's like to feel invisible. On the inside, he was screaming for attention because no one sees, and no one cares.
There was no sense of hope.
Keith's father suffered a massive stroke when Keith was 13 years old. In his paralysis, he tried to whisper words to Keith in the hospital, but Keith couldn't make out what he was trying to say. Keith's mom leaned over and closed in to see if she could decipher.
"Keith, your dad is trying to tell you, that he loves you."
That was the first time in his life that he has ever heard his father said those words to him. But Keith did not return those words to him.
Instead, he walked right out of the hospital room and said under his breath, "I hate you".
In that moment of his life, he let hate own his heart. With that bitterness and anger, he turned to a lot of other things in the mode of self-destruction.
The worst day of his life happened when he was 15 years old. His mom came to pick him up at a friend's place on a Friday afternoon and told him that his father has tragically and abruptly died.
Keith remembered having a sense of finality when they had laid his father down to rest in the cemetery. There was no going back. There was no way to fix all those things that were broken.
So he used all these as an excuse to continue to rebel and to be angry.
His friends came to him that day and invited him to get drunk and get high, to forget about all these. Keith thought to himself, "What other choice do I have to cover all these up?" So he did.
That eventually led him to house arrest at 17 years of age.
A woman had been in a church service where a teenager had requested prayer for Keith. She decided to be an answer to that prayer. She was just a mom, who had a heart for a teenage boy.
She decided to visit Keith and bring him a bible.
Growing up, Keith was not raised in a church. So his concept of God was how he had viewed his dad, which was not in a very good light.
He got angry at his mom when she told him that someone is going to come over and pray for him. Her reply was simply, "Well, you are on house arrest. We've tried everything else. You're not going anywhere. She's coming to pray for you today."
That was just hours after he had tried to end his life with a gun.
Keith had put the gun away, thinking that if his younger brother sees him that way, he would never be able to recover.
Somewhere inside of him, he had a desire to get better, to do something different with his life. But he didn't know how.
The answer came in the form of the woman who came to his house to pray for him.
"Keith, I'm here to pray for you today."
"You know, I hate God."
"Keith, you can hate God. You can hate me. But I want you to know today, that Jesus Christ loves you and has an incredible plan for your life."
No one had ever said that to him before.
She sat on the edge of his bed and put her hands on his shoulder, and began to pray a prayer for this drug dealer, this young man who was so broken, so lost and so far gone that many had thought there's no hope.
Hope is the most powerful thing in the universe.
It was on that day that he opened up his heart to God.
2 weeks later, he surrendered to that relentless love of God and his life was never the same again.
Keith now serves as Lead Pastor at Bethel Church in Evansville, Indiana and is consumed by a mission to tell everyone everywhere about the good news that rescued and restored him.
You can get a copy of his book, You Found Me: God's Relentless Pursuit to Find You, at our Crossroads eStore!