Your gifts sow seeds of hope into the lives of the broken
Sixteen years ago Robert was living at the Nashville Rescue Mission. He was a drug and alcohol abuser with no hope for the future andeven less self-esteem.
“I’m amazed sometimes when I see how far God has brought me,” says Robert. At age 40, Robert feels blessed as God entrusts him to farm more than 480 acres of corn, wheat and soybeans on his South Guthrie farm. “The good Lord has sure blessed me.”
The farm has been in Robert’s family for over 120 years. His great-grandfather, the original Robert Lee of the family purchased the first 140 acres of land in 1889. Twenty years later he built the frame house where Robert now lives with his wife Stacy of 17 years. They have three children: Robert Alen (16), Racheal (5) and James Owen (3).
Robert admits the string of family farming was nearly broken in the ‘90s when he began running with the wrong crowd. He developed a substance abuse problem and had a less-than-stellar relationship with local law enforcement.
Peer pressure led Robert to start drinking at age 14. He progressed to drugs by the age of 16. He received tickets for speeding and reckless driving, and after a couple of DUIs he lost his driver’s license. Despite his upbringing in the church, Robert was on a road headed in the opposite direction. It wasn’t until the court stepped in and ordered him to rehab that things began to change.
“Initially, I spent 35 days in a rehab program in Nashville that insurance paid for,” recalls Robert. “After that, I knew I couldn’t go back home to the same old way of life. I tried to get into a halfway house, but it was full. I wasn’t sure what to do or where to go since I didn’t have any money and insurance wasn’t going to pay for anything else. I heard about a program at the Nashville Rescue Mission and decided to give it a try.”
Season of Change
Robert spent the first couple of weeks of the program not really listening to what anyone had to say. Eventually, he realized if he didn’t straighten up he would wind up dead or not amount to anything. He started listening, learning and changing.
“I had gone to church most of my life,” recalls Robert. “But I never really got it. It took me going through all of this and winding up at the Nashville Rescue Mission to truly understand. I was baptized and surrendered my life to the Lord at the Mission.”
While in the program, Robert was given the opportunity to attend auto body school. “I learned how to paint and fix cars, which would give me something to do when it was time to go home. I could keep myself busy and help daddy on the farm.”
But something unexpected happened when Robert returned home a year later—what once was a dreaded chore—farm work—began to take on a curious appeal. Robert became very interested in agriculture. He spent time talking to area farmers, gathering information on how to grow various crops and eventually convincing his father to let him try his hand at a few acres.
“I was finally turning my life around for the better,” shares Robert. “Stacy and I were married in 1995. We have three wonderful children. God has blessed us more than I could ever have imagined.”
Robert has gone from troubled teenager to community leader. He has been selected Outstanding Young Farmer by the area Jaycees twice and by the Montgomery County Farm Bureau three times. He and Stacy are very active in their church. They have taught Sunday School to second and third graders for many years.
“I’ve never regretted anything I’ve been through because it has all led me to where I am today,” says Robert. “I am thankful for the time I spent at the Nashville Rescue Mission. It was there I gave my life to Jesus. The hard times I went through make me appreciate what I have even more today.”