Todd Gobeille: A Pimp's Redemption
By Tim Smith
The 700 Club
CBN.com -As a little boy, Todd Gobeille was like most children. Playful and happy. All of that changed when he was put in daycare.
“I was abused for quite some time,” says Todd. “At a daycare center type of place, a preschool type place. And I knew that was wrong. I didn’t know why exactly. Obviously, at that age, I was a little too young to understand what any of that meant. But I knew something was wrong.”
The woman who abused Todd also threatened him.
“She told me that if I didn’t go along with this, and go to where we were to go, she would tell my parents. And it was one of the most amazing cons of all time. Because I believed that and was scared, and thought I would be in big trouble if my parents knew what was happening.”
The abuse continued for over a year.
“I ended up feeling unsure about sex stuff, and didn’t know what was right and what was wrong. It didn’t feel like it was ok to think those thoughts, of being sexually attracted to somebody, or having those first young initial sexual thoughts. Guilt and shame came up. It felt like it was something that wasn’t ok.”
In high school, those feelings turned to rage.
“I began fighting in school, getting in trouble for physical fights. I was in a whole lot of trouble.”
He started experimenting with drugs and alcohol.
“The second that I tasted alcohol, I didn’t know it at the time, but I was an alcoholic. And from the first sip, it had me, and that was just the ultimate thing to dumb my emotions and feelings. And by the time I was half way through my freshman year in high school, I’d gotten into a physical fight with a teacher and was expelled from the school district, and I wasn’t in school at fifteen, and all I really clung to was drugs and alcohol.”
At seventeen, Todd met a high school senior who was making several hundred dollars per day - as a pimp.
“He would come one day in a Porsche, the next day he would come in a Cadillac, the next day he would come on a super bike motorcycle. And we said, ‘Boy, I don’t know what he’s doing, but we want to do what he does.’ So I reached out to him, and we instantly became best friends.”
Todd quickly learned how to lure women into prostitution.
All mental manipulation. You say, ‘You got to trust me. I’m your man, but I’m also your manager. I can see past this curve in the road that you can’t see. So you’re going to have to trust me and put your faith in me. It doesn’t seem right now, but it will seem right in the future. You’re just going to have to trust me on that’.”
“I had absolutely no respect for women. It was this weird paradox where we looked at them and considered them names I wouldn’t say on camera.”
Enforcement was a pimp’s primary responsibility. His girls had to perform and his customers had to pay. One day, a customer refused payment.
“I went into a blind rage, and I grabbed a hatchet, a machete type of thing, and I went ahead and went back to his house and I attacked the man, and began to chop him up with the ax. I was arrested, and I was charged with attempted murder, robbery in the first degree, because I was demanding money inside of the man’s home.”
Todd was sentenced to four years at a correction facility. After he served his sentence, he wasted no time reviving his criminal skills. Todd committed a string of violent crimes, and was in and out of jail for nine years. After his last release, he returned to Bend, Oregon, where he grew up, for a fresh start. A friend of his father heard about Todd’s criminal past, and wanted to help.
“He said, ‘What you’re doing, you’re on the Titanic, and the ship is sinking, and you are rearranging the deck chairs, so you’re in a different position, but you’re still going down.’ And for some reason, that analogy just super hit home with me. And it hit me hard. He took me out here to these mountains, that are The Three Sisters, that you can see from Bend, and he said, ‘You see those mountains, how they are white, covered in snow? That’s how god looks at you, regardless of what you’ve done.’
“What moved me so much was that major contrast between what I felt inside me, and my insides. I felt like if you could rip open my chest and look at my insides, it looked like one of those smoking commercials for someone with lifelong black lung. I felt so dirty and decrepit inside. And looking at this mountain, it was this contrast, I thought, that’s the opposite of what I am. To think that God looks at me like that, that seems impossible, but yet.super profound at the time. It was so amazing.
“He led me through the sinner’s prayer and he led me to Christ that day, and I wanted Jesus in my life. And it wasn’t that I had turned a corner to be on fire for the Lord whatsoever, but I knew that what I was doing didn’t work, and the thought and idea that maybe there was this glimpse or glimmer of an idea that I could be forgiven.”
Todd says he sincerely asked Jesus into his heart. But he still struggled with his old lifestyle. He didn’t know what to do, or where to go so he decided to go home - to his parents.
“The idea that I could come home, and my parents would treat me like I was the prodigal son, and they wanted to roll out the red carpet for me? I knew one thing. I didn’t deserve it. But they did. And they showed me the real love of Jesus. These people that I used to hate, and think were full of it, actually got more love than I could ever show any human being.
“My dad’s testimony consisted of twenty years, on his knees, praying, every single night, waking up at two o’clock in the morning, going out to the living room, pleading with God, begging God to change me, being angry with God. I could never imagine having someone put that much dirt on my life and on my family and my name, and have him come back home, and treat him as though he was some kind of prince.”
Todd’s father, David, remembers it well. “There are times when you take your child and you just lay him on God’s altar, and say, ‘That’s it. I’m done. I can’t do any more.’ When you finally release everything, and lay your child up on God’s altar, I think that’s when God does his best work, and when we see those miracles really take place.”
Today, Todd is married to Sarah, and they have a son, Alonzo. Todd owns a graphic design agency, and he and his family live in Bend, Oregon.
“I think god pursued me the same way he pursues all of us,” says Todd, “because he loves us so much. In that way, I’m not any different than anybody else. God pursues us, and he continues to. He looks at us like his own children, and so there’s absolutely nothing you could ever do in your life or that could have been done to you that can change that fact, that can make God love you less, or make God not want to pursue you, and love you, and have something for you.”
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