I’ve always believed that God has blessed me to have true friends, that are like fingers to my hand. Today, I lost my first finger, my boy Rob. I’ll never forget this dude walking up to me in 7th grade, to ask me, a new kid in his school, to be in a group skit. Only God knew that for the next 33 years, he and I would be asking each other to “help over here” or “join me for this”. I think our last conversation was me asking him to join me in mentoring men at a pregnancy center, and encouraging them to be fathers. Why? Because Rob said in the early 90’s, “I want to write the definitive book on Black Fatherhood.” He said this before he had any kids.
It was Rob that encouraged me to be a father when I didn’t know how to be one. It was Rob who encouraged my wife and I to have another child when we were drowning financially with the ones we already had. It was Rob who encouraged us to homeschool. It was Rob who told me I was stagnant in my life when I was all about getting paid on Friday and hanging out. Rob got his first degree in Sociology, I got mine in Sociology. I didn’t even know how to apply at a college, but he taught me the game. When I graduated at 33, I let the brother know I could not have done it without him as he would say, “You’re going to be that age whether you go back to school or not, so just do it man!” It’s Rob’s influence that makes me post topics in this venue and others that hope to promote dialogue and make us think, because that’s what he was always all about. “We need to stop jaw-jackin’” was his common phrase, and he always threw stuff out to get an argument going. Even if you didn’t agree, you left the debate smarter and with a sharper argument for your own position, because he’d force you to get it tight.
I found out the news, sharing the gospel at my church. How fitting. It was Rob who pushed me and the other “Mission Men” to preach the gospel whenever we had the opportunity, to do it boldly, and know our Word. It’s now Rob, seeing Christ face-to-face. We talked about death more than most, and Rob knew that when he died, he’d spend eternity with Christ because he had repented for his sins and trusted in the Cross for his salvation. There was no doubt in his mind.
But what about you reading this? If Rob was a fool and believed in a made-up religion handed down by the white man to enslave the masses, he lost nothing, but you gained. You gained because he lived his life from the time I met him at 12 until 45 always knowing that whatever he did, he’d have to answer to a Holy God some day. Therefore, you have benefited from his “ignorance”, as it was that belief that made him such a good friend to many and want to reach out and build relationships.
I will use Rob’s passing to do just what he was all about every day, and that’s to preach the gospel yet again, and ask you to examine yourself. If you do not know God as your Savior for your sins, that you should turn to him, because your good deeds can never make you righteous. Logically, ANY sin against a holy and righteous God deserves death. But salvation has been made available through Jesus Christ, not your tithing, your singing, your skin color, or anything you have only because God gave them to you. Only through Jesus Christ.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. – John 3:17-18
I’m going to miss Big Rob, aka Dr. Chill of our unknown rap-group called the Benny-Boys. I’m going to miss our racial conversations, church discussions, or walks down memory lane and life in the ‘hood. We were beyond “punk” or “hard” status and could say, “I love you man”. If you’re saved, please pray for his wife and their three children, his mom, and his brothers and sisters.
Who is the Robert in your life today? Who can you be a Robert to, who can you mentor and encourage?
Ecc. 4:910 says, Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
I’m so thankful God gave me so many years with this brother to pick me up whenever I needed him. Christ is there to pick you up from whatever mess you find yourself end today as well. I didn’t have a chance to tell my boy goodbye, and you may not have a chance to say a word before you leave. Repent and believe in the gospel, while you still have breath.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Eph. 2:4-10
3/25/15 – Someone from Rob’s days at USC made a video that I wanted to share here as well. This is fantastic, and I think it captures the special guy Rob was, his infectious joy and laughter, and his determination to always “keep it real”. Don’t believe me? Watch Rob not get star struck at Morris Chestnut! We hated Rob’s stories about all the movie stars he met at USC and thought he was exaggerating. Then one day we went to see House Party 2, filmed at USC, and all of a sudden it looked like he walked past in the movie. You never saw his face in the shot, but we all knew that “Robert walk”. Guess the brother wasn’t lying!