Tyrone Flowers: Blinded by Vengeance
By Rob Hull
The 700 Club
CBN.com -“When I was young and I told people I wanted to be a doctor, a lawyer, a fireman, a police officer first thing they said is, ‘You can’t do it. You gonna be dead or in jail by the time you’re eighteen.’”
Tyrone Flowers grew up unwanted and poor in a Kansas City ghetto. He spent his entire childhood fighting to survive. “My mother made it very clear that she didn’t want to be a parent, and my grandmother stepped and took custody of me and raised me with her twelve other children. Living in a home with rats and roaches and no air in the summertime. Sometimes you would have to borrow food from your neighbors or your friends just sometimes to have a meal for that day.”
His grandmother worked two jobs in order to make ends meet. Tyrone was left in the care of his aunts and uncles. “Basically my parenting came from teenagers so at an early age I was exposed to drugs, sex, and alcohol. I can remember getting high at the age of six. Everything that they exposed me to I wanted to be, because I thought that was success. I thought that was positive.”
When he was seven years old his grandmother became too sick to care for him. Child protective services removed Tyrone from her custody. He spent the next three years in foster homes. “The first thing I can remember being told was that I would never amount to anything. It seemed as if they were trying to tear me down. I was abused physically, mentally and emotionally. Their form of punishment was to place me in a basement overnight with cobwebs and concrete. I remember bamming on the door at the age of eight just asking, ‘Please let me out. I won’t do it no more.’”
Tyrone became a ward of the state. He was transferred to eight different group homes in six years because he constantly fought with residents and staff. “I became very angry at this point, because I didn’t understand why I was not living with one of my relatives and my family members.”
“I was labeled with a learning disability, behavioral disorder, emotional disorder… I had a strong authority problem. That meant that I wasn’t gonna listen to nobody. I was constantly getting kicked out of school. I was very defensive. I was taught all my life, ‘Defend yourself. Don’t let nobody talk bad to you. Don’t let nobody walk over you.’ I thought it was me against the world.”
The one bright spot in his life was his ability to play basketball. At 17 he was even offered three college scholarships. But one day he got into an argument with a teammate off the court that changed the course of his life. “I threw up my guards thinking we were gonna fight, and he pulled out a 357 magnum and shot me three times. I just thought, ‘Ok I’m just gonna go to the hospital. They are gonna patch me up.’ I was just trying to be strong. I said, ‘Everything’s going to be fine. I’m going to heal and then I’m gonna get him back.’”
But a bullet had struck Tyrone in the spine and he was paralyzed. He was told he would never walk, much less play basketball again. For the next two years he plotted his revenge. “I have to get this guy back and I was blinded by that. I just couldn’t wait to get through the healing process, so I can plan to either kill this guy or put him in a wheel chair. And it was a two year process of trying to figure out how to get him back and not go to jail.”
During that time, he started going to church. For the first time he saw men that he could look up to. Tyrone wanted to become a Christian but knew there was something holding him back. “Part of salvation is forgiveness, and I wasn’t ready to forgive the guy who shot me so that I could be forgiven by God. And If I wanted to have that relationship that I longed for as a kid and fill that empty void, I had to go to God on his terms.”
That afternoon Tyrone talked with God. “’God I really want this relationship with You. I want it to be authentic. I don’t want to be a hypocrite.’ So I decided right then and there, I prayed, gave my life to Christ and I forgave the guy that shot me. And then the next day I called him up on the phone and told him, I said, ‘On my end, I’m letting it go.’”
“Once I received salvation I was really big on finding my purpose because I truly believe God saved us for a reason. Because I realized I couldn’t use my body to be successful. I had to use my mind, because I wanted to get out of poverty.”
He went to the University of Missouri and discovered that he was a natural leader. Tyrone earned a law degree and eventually started Higher Impact, an organization dedicated to helping at-risk urban kids in Kansas City.
“Now when the kids I work with say, ‘I want to be a doctor or a lawyer.’ I am that living testimony that they can do it… And I always tell people, ‘The only time you’re disabled in life is when you’re working outside God’s purpose, because whatever God calls you to do He will enable you to do it.’ So I’m perfectly able to do what God’s called me to do.”
Tyrone says his decision to forgive the man who shot him opened the door for the good things in his life today. “Out of the 22 years I’ve been in this wheelchair, me and the guy who shot me have been friends for 20 of those years. Living a life of revenge, anger and frustration does you no good. All it does is eat you up on the inside. You’ll never become whole by getting someone back. You become whole by accepting Jesus Christ into your life.”
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