The 700 Club with Pat Robertson

Dave Bruno


Author, Reggie: You Can't Change Your Past, but You Can Change Your Future (2011)

High School Motivational Speaker, speaks to more than two million each year

Saxophonist, played with Whitney Houston, CeCe Winans

Graduated from North Central Bible College, Minneapolis, MN

Married to Michelle, 1 child, Dominic


Reggie Dabbs:'Change Your Future!'

In second grade, Reggie Dabbs noticed that his parents were older than the other kids’ parents. When he asked about their age, Reggie learned that he was a foster child. “My heart sank when my mom uttered those fateful words to me, ‘I’m not your real mother.’

“To a second grader, what could be more devastating than to hear that the woman you have always looked to as Momma is, in fact, not your real mother?” says Reggie.  He was crushed and forced to face the realities of a harsh world. Reggie felt hopeless and rejected from the one who was supposed to love him the most.
Over the following years,

Reggie learned the full story. At age 15, Vera, Reggie’s mom, was abandoned by her parents to care for her three children alone. She moved into a chicken coop with no water or electricity and worked two jobs as a waitress to survive.  In desperation, Vera went to a friend for help. Reggie says, “My mother’s ‘friend’ told her that he would give her the twenty dollars she needed to feed her babies if she would sleep with him…I learned what the world thinks about my value. I am the son of a desperate, unwitting prostitute, who slept with a selfish man for twenty dollars to feed her babies.”

When Vera now 18, found out that she was pregnant with her fourth child, she remembered her 10th grade English teacher - Mrs. Dabbs - who had offered to help her students if they were ever in need. Vera called Mrs. Dabbs who went to Louisiana and brought her back to Tennessee. Mrs. Dabbs and her husband, whose six children were adults by this time, took Vera into their home and cared for her until after the baby was born. They continued to care for little Reggie as foster parents until he was in the fourth grade, and then they officially adopted him, giving him the Dabbs name. “I can only imagine what my life would have devolved into without the benevolent and undeserved love of that overly kind tenth-grade English teacher,” shares Reggie.

Despite his healthy surroundings, Reggie had a hard time handling the truth about his past, “The shame of it all still managed to seep into my bones.” He felt abandoned and unworthy of love.  “I was a castaway on a deserted island where even my own father and mother had no interest in finding me.  Somewhere out there, I knew my father existed.  I had been looking for him intently,” reveals Reggie.  

In 4th grade, a well-dressed man passed Reggie at a bus stop downtown and said, “Excuse me son.”  Reggie’s heart leaped, “Could this be my dad?”  Reggie secretly followed him to a large building with glass doors at the entrance.  As the man continued to walk out of sight, Reggie collapsed in disappointment. He realized he was completely alone.

When Reggie was 12, he heard someone preach on love and acceptance. “These were topics I had heard of and had indeed experienced through the gracious actions of my adoptive parents.  However, that large hole within me was still gaping with emptiness. The rejection and shame of who I was and where I came from taunted me. I knew my adoptive parents loved me, but their love just could not fill my void....out of nowhere, the speaker changed tones and looked directly at me.  ‘You!  Jesus loves you!’  ‘Me?’

 The preacher made his way over to Reggie’s pew and said that Jesus loved him. Then something happened on the inside of Reggie. He says, “It was internal. Eternal. Paternal. I had heard that Jesus loved me my whole life, yet that was the first time it was spoken somewhere louder than my ears could hear. Louder than my past. Louder than my pain. I made a choice that day, mainly because I found out that Jesus had already chosen me.  Me! ... I realized that, if I chose to accept that love, I would never again stand alone… I would have a Father about whom I would not have to wonder. His identity became clear that day.  He was not ashamed to call me ‘son.’  He was not far away; He was speaking directly to my heart.” Reggie vowed to dedicate his life to helping other orphans of this world find that same love.

After graduating from college, Reggie began his public speaking. During one speaking engagement, his host asked if he would be interested in addressing a high school assembly. From that small beginning in 1987, Reggie has become a popular public school speaker. He speaks to over two million each year through school assemblies and other events.  

When addressing students, Reggie shares how his adopted parents ingrained in him the fact that in every situation he faced, he had a choice. What he did with those choices was entirely up to him. He talks to the kids in a humorous style about choices each of them has when faced with drugs, alcohol, suicide, etc. Reggie gets in kids’ faces and tells them that he never smoked a cigarette, never did drugs, and never drank alcohol, because he chose not to. He assures them that they can make the same kinds of choices. Most of all, Reggie drives home the fact that "You can never change your past, but you can change your future!"

In the sixth grade, Reggie began playing the saxophone and hated it. At the insistence of his parents he continued to practice and to play. Not until his freshman year in college did he actually enjoy the instrument. Today he is an accomplished saxophonist.

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