Posts tagged ‘from delinquent to disciple’

April 4, 2011

FROM DELINQUENT TO DISCIPLE: Essay by Regina Newman on a Memoir by James Robinson, Sr.

Author James L. Robinson, Sr. realized later in life that the ordeals he encountered as a young man were part of God’s greater plan for him. His memoir, From Delinquent to Disciple, startles the reader in the way it depicts a once-devastated individual who was spared and eventually empowered to do great things.

James uses a variety of references from the Bible in his vivid true story. Throughout the memoir he quotes verses that relate to his life experiences and the many challenges he faced. 

One of the first references James uses is in his Introduction. It is from the book of Romans. He pinpoints chapter 8, verse 28, which says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, and to those who are called according to his purpose.” James explains that he did not always understand the Bible until he looked deeper at what happened to him during the course of his life. 

James’ next biblical reference is from Philippians 4:19 which states, “God will provide you with everything according to His riches and glories in Jesus Christ.” As poor as James was when he was young, he tells the reader that there was never a time he did not have food and shelter and that God always provided for him and his family.  The reader starts to see that James has a strong belief in God, despite the many misfortunes he and his family endure.

Another reference he used in From Delinquent to Disciple comes from Exodus 20:3 which says, “Thou shall not steal.” James describes how he learned this lesson as a young child, but that negative peer pressure influenced him to break this commandment. He relates that one should never allow peer pressure to compel one to do things that go against God’s word. James describes how his friend Carlton influenced him to steal. Even though James was taught by his mother and grandmother that you were not supposed to take things that didn’t belong to you, he fell to the peer pressure and stole things anyway. From boxes of pastry off of a shipping dock to cartons of BBs at a salvage store, James let Carlton influence him in a negative way.  James almost went to juvenile detention after an officer traced him to the stolen BBs, but, as James describes, God was always watching out for him and he was let go.

James started drinking as a teenager.  He quotes Ephesians 5:18: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the spirit.” James describes the many times he drank as a teenager and how he knew he was breaking the law, but did it anyway. He believes that “drinking comes with responsibility and responsibility comes with age.”

Many chapters of From Delinquent to Disciple are about James’ seventeen-year addiction to drugs and alcohol. All the while he is doing the things he knows are wrong, he describes how amazed he is that he came away almost unscathed by everything he did. He continues to credit God for always taking care of him and alludes to his belief that God always had a greater purpose for him.

Next, James quotes the first book of Timothy 6:10 which says, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” In this chapter, James depicts his experience with dealing drugs. He describes how hustling allowed him to pay all of his bills, buy new things, support his drug habits, and still have money left over, even though he knew all along how bad it was.

In chapter 13, James refers to Ephesians 2:8: “For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” Here, James describes how God always kept his best interests at heart no matter what he was doing. He conveys to the reader how he was able to overcome his long addiction to drugs and alcohol. The birth of his second child inspired him to quit drugs and alcohol. He began to turn his life around. He was given the opportunity to teach Sunday school and help some area teens with similar addiction problems. This confirmed James’ belief that God had a greater plan for him. He was able to stay off of drugs and alcohol and begin helping others turn their lives around. 

James’ reference to the 23rd Psalm is very appropriate at one of the darkest times in his life: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for You are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me….” This famous verse helps put in perspective how James was able to finally quit his job at Siemens, which he had wanted to do for some time. He secured a long-awaited job at Ford Motor Company, which laid the groundwork for what would become one of James’ greatest moments in his life. As the story comes to a pinnacle and then a closing, James patiently depicts how he helped initiated a successful class-action law suit against Ford Motor Company for racial discrimination, a grueling experience which James feels was one of the greater purposes God had planned for him.

In From Delinquent to Disciple, James L. Robinson, Sr. uses many different verses to tell his life story. Through scripture, James is able to show the reader his deep relationship with God and how, despite many perils throughout his life, God was always with him.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Here is a video interview with author, mentor, and youth advocate, James Robinson, conducted by   RED! in 2010.

Regina Newman has been an operating room nurse for 20 years. She works at Mercy Hospital – Western Hills (Cincinnati, Ohio) and is a student at the College of Mount St. Joseph, working toward a BSN degree. Married with four children, Ms. Newman also serves as president of the Southwest Community Basketball Organization in Harrison, Ohio.