Most of the men and women we serve at Gospel Rescue Mission are here because they’ve made some mistakes in life, and they’re ready to own them and overcome them. That was where Robert’s story started the first time he came to see us. He worked hard, put his feet to the floor, and was blessed with an amazing opportunity all the way in New Jersey to become a truck driver. He was ecstatic, and we were so happy for him! The day he checked out was so exciting as we watched him begin the next part of his life journey. Never in a million years did we expect to see him back.
Before we get to that, let’s go a little further back into Robert’s story. When he was a young man, all he dreamed about was comics. Writing them, drawing them, reading them; he loved it all. He was constantly doodling and drawing the most incredible characters. Even his wife was into the comic book lifestyle, being an artist herself. Eventually, his work was recognized, and he landed a job at DC Comics as an inker. His job was to embellish and fine tune the artwork of the character’s drawer. He truly loved his work. He went on to start publishing, writing, and drawing his own comic book collection and even owned his own publishing company. One day though, he came home, and all his drawings had been destroyed, ripped to shreds, with divorce papers laying on top of the rubble. That was the day he had given up comics. The thing that brought him so much joy was now just a thing that reminded him of one of the most painful days of his life. He left all of it behind him and never looked back.
Life led him down some twists and turns, and fast forward several years into the future, and that was when he came to GRM for the first time. After he left to pursue truck driving, life took another devastating turn. He had been having some problems. First, there was an issue with his ID. Because of COVID tying up all of our DMVs, when his license came up for renewal, he was in a pickle trying to get in before it expired. The new Real ID required that he have a birth certificate or passport to renew his license, and he had neither. To make matters worse, Robert was born in Germany, so it wasn’t as simple as running to Tulsa or Oklahoma City to get a copy of his state-issued birth certificate. The red tape was impossibly thick.
Since his license hadn’t quite expired yet, he was still driving, but the stress was starting to weigh on him. He was feeling very ill, like something terrible was about to happen. He could feel it settling on his chest like a huge elephant just weighing him down. He was on the road driving, contemplating his predicament, when that feeling of dread came over him again. He suddenly felt his chest tightening, and he felt that something bad was about to happen. He quickly put on the brakes and took the truck out of gear, heading for the shoulder. And then it suddenly went completely black.
When he awoke, he was in the hospital and was told that he had went into heart failure. Although he did his best to get to the shoulder, he blacked out before he made it, and the truck careened off the side of the road and went straight into a grove of trees. It was a miracle from God that no one else had been hurt, and that he sustained no serious injuries from the accident. And for that, he was grateful, but now it was time to figure out what was causing this. They ran multiple tests and scans and blood work, and there were pings all over the place. Heart issues, brain issues, blood issues, but what was most urgent? The doctors went for an MRI first, and while he was being scanned, he suddenly went into heart failure for a second time.
The medical staff worked diligently to save him, and after he was revived, they were able to see the cause. A blood clot at the base of his skull, an aneurysm, was on the verge of a rupture and causing his heart much stress. He needed brain surgery and right away. It was a 10-hour surgery requiring him to be fully awake and alert. “I’ve been through a lot of crazy procedures, but nothing was as scary as that,” he said, looking back on his near-death-experience. He might’ve cheated death, but the ramifications of the surgery were far deeper than he realized. Once he had recovered, the blow hit him hard. He lost his medical clearance for truck driving. His new career, one that he had loved and that was giving him the fresh start he had worked so hard for, was no more. He lost his job, lost his home, lost his CDL, lost everything. He was crushed. He What was life if he couldn’t support himself?
He didn’t think he had the strength to start over for a second time, so he returned to Muskogee and decided to drink himself to death. For a week, he did nothing but drink; no food, no water, just alcohol. But at the bottom of a gallon of vodka, he realized one truth: “I did not want this to be the end of my story.” So, in his drunken stupor, he called 911 to get the help he needed. Once he had sobered up, he came to Gospel Rescue Mission, and hasn’t had a drink since.
It’s been tough and overwhelmingly frustrating, especially with the lasting memory and speech issues from the blood clot and surgery, but he knows that he is capable of picking up the pieces one more time. We find our strength in Jesus in these dark times, and He gives us the power to keep pushing forward, even when it hurts, and we don’t think we can. I’m reminded of the Footprints in the Sand. When life was at it’s hardest, and only one set of prints were in the sand, the author wasn’t walking alone, he was being carried. And right now, Jesus is carrying Robert through one of the toughest times of his life. Things are already turning around for him though.
Bored, he decided to get back into reading, so he strolled through the aisles of our local library in search of work from his favorite author. And then he saw it. The comic book isle. That was all it took, and the spark was ignited. Now Robert is working on fanning the flames of his old passion and hopes to one day re-open his publishing company and return to his own comic book series. The goal this time around? Earn the Comic Book Certification Association Stamp for his comic book so that his work can be more globally recognized. In the meantime, he wants to get back into the work force and get back on his feet so that he can realize this amazing dream. Thanks to our generous donors and volunteers, we are working hard to make sure that Robert has plenty of opportunities to make his dreams come true, because at GRM, Opportunity is Guaranteed.