You will not usually see those three words in the same sentence or phrase. Yet, for Rob Mitchell, it’s his story. My wife and I had the privilege of meeting Rob for dinner where he shared his personal testimony from being abandoned at the age of 3 to finding and living in hope today.
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I picked him up from the airport as an incoming guest to be interviewed for a future FamilyLife Today broadcast. I love picking up various guests to spend 15 minutes with them on the ride from the airport to their hotel or from the hotel to FamilyLife’s headquarters. It’s always a joy to meet someone new and hear about their life, their journey. Everyone has a story. And, Rob’s is very unique–powerful, sad but hopeful. Yet, it’s a part of nearly all of our stories at some level. Pain inflicted on us in childhood through nothing we did. Divorced homes, abandoned, abused and forgotten children. It’s an ugly part of our culture. But, it’s unfortunately the reality for way too many children.
At the age of three he was abandoned by his mother to an orphanage. He was there until he was 17 when we was left for homeless. The fact that he’s now a loving father of two grown children and a husband to a wonderful wife (his words 🙂 is a testament to a life change between then and now. I won’t give away any of the story but you can pick it up at your local bookstore. You can download the first chapter (which will get the tears flowing) by going to his books’ website: Castaway Kid (http://www.castawaykid.com).
As we shared, ate, laughed and even shed some tears, I was reminded that hope is eternal. Even in a life as seemingly hopeless as his was, the story didn’t end there. Unlike most children who are given over to orphanages in that type of situation and are either dead or in prison by the time they are 21 (according to Rob), his story turned out different. He speaks to a lot of kids in similar situations, trying to spread the hope that he found in Jesus Christ. He shares with them that they don’t have to be a victim of their circumstances and that their situation was not due to anything they did or didn’t do. And, there is a God of hope that is there for them and does care.
His story is also one of forgiveness. Though it was one of the toughest, if not the toughest, thing he ever had to do, he didn’t experience freedom from his past until he was able to forgive his mother. He learned that bitterness and anger only enslave the one who holds them. There is no freedom until one can forgive. He left us a great picture of what God has done on a grand scale in forgiving us. And, if Rob can forgive his mother for what she did to him, what keeps us from forgiving those who’ve done much less to us? He shared the truth that forgiveness is not justifying the other party’s behavior but it is the “get out of jail card” that so many never turn in. And, most of them, die in their bitterness when they could have lived in freedom. It’s not easy…just necessary to live and have hope.
He referred to himself as the “voice of a father to the fatherless” when he goes to share his testimony. He knows and can personally related to what each of those young men and women are going through and the anger, bitterness and despair that they feel. And, because he has come out of their situation, they relate to him and he relates to them.
Maybe you’re one of those adults who was abandoned by your mom and dad, either physically, emotionally or both. I invite you to read Rob Mitchell’s book, Castaway Kid. There is hope for all. Not just to get out of your circumstances or to put them behind you but to live in the promise of a God who loves and cares for you!
Oh, did I mention that he’s also now one of the leading financial advisors in the country. But, as satisfying as it is for him to have that kind of career success, he indicated that the thing that he feels is the most important accomplishment in his life next to his becoming a Believer (in the Congo jungle at the age of 19 –you’ll have to read the book :), is the fact that his children know he loves them. The love of a father is powerful. Now, that’s generational change of a family legacy. From abandonment to hope and a future–that’s how families are changed one home at a time.