Rob Mitchell: Hope Heals a Bitter Orphan
By Shannon Woodland
The 700 Club
Rob Mitchell is a successful financial planner who helps many of his clients secure their futures, a stark contrast from the world he knew as a child.
Both of Rob’s parents suffered with mental illness. His father was institutionalized. His mother died a bag lady in the streets of Chicago, but not before she dropped Rob off at an orphanage. He was only 3-years-old.
Rob: I wet the bed that night and I still remember clearly the voices of other little boys in this strange place where mother’s abandoned me, laughing in the hallway. Then my memories go blank.
There was one bright spot in Rob’s life – his grandmother, Gigi. She couldn’t afford to care for her grandson, but she visited him every Saturday.
Rob: I knew Gigi loved me, which was a gift most of the kids didn’t have.
Aside from Gigi, Rob’s only hope to leave the orphanage was living with relatives from out of state.
Rob: I remember waiting all summer for that call, ‘okay you’re going to go down and live with them.’ And the call never came.
As a teenager he enjoyed sports. But he was an angry young man. Eventually, his violent outbursts got him kicked off of sports teams and in trouble at the orphanage.
Rob: I hurt so bad. My childhood is shattered and I will not be alone in my pain; if I have to hurt like this, someone else is going to hurt too.
As lonely and angry as Rob was – there was always Gigi. She prayed that her grandson would come to know Jesus as his savior.
Rob: He got betrayed by people he should have been able to trust. That one I understood. He talked about forgiveness. He said you need to repent to God about things you thought, said and done. I was like, ‘whoa, stop the bus; I’m getting off.’ Why should I repent to a God who would let me have this childhood?
Gigi wouldn’t give up. She kept on praying for her grandson. When Rob was about to graduate from high school, with no future and no hope, God answered her prayers.
Rob: My last great struggle was, ‘why would a holy God want somebody like me? Why?’ God was offering to adopt me: a boy clothed in the ragged clothes of social and emotional poverty, whose heart was covered with childhood dirt and scars. But, just as I am, he was offering to adopt me. And in that moment, the holy God of the universe reached out of heaven and touched the life of an angry, bitter punk in an orphanage and began to change my life.
Rob chronicled his story in the book Castaway Kid. Today, he’s married to Susan. They have two grown children and he runs a successful investment business. He says God’s love released him from his painful past. Still, Rob holds on to those memories that help him reach out to the hurting and rejected.
Rob: The world is full of walking wounded people; some have wounded themselves, some have been wounded by other’s abuse or other’s apathy. If there’s a word for my life, I’d like to think that word is hope: that no matter how brutal, no matter how bizarre - that God says, ‘I’ll take you, just as you are - and let me amaze you.’
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