gillisAt sixteen months old, Robert was found by authorities in a dresser drawer. His body was malnourished and covered in rashes. His teenage parents were heavy drug users and headed for prison, leaving Robert in the hands of Canada’s child welfare system.

The twists and turns of Robert’s life would lead him to rejection, heartbreak and a life of crime – but also eventually the discovery that he could be welcomed into God’s family.

Shortly after landing in child welfare, Robert was adopted into a religious family. He went to church regularly but he said he didn’t know God.

“Growing up in this new family was difficult,” Robert said. “I was told by them at a young age that I was adopted. There were times when they would use it against me when I would misbehave. I remember my mother telling me, ‘If you don’t listen, I’ll send you back where you came from.’”

By age ten, Robert said he became very rebellious, running away from home, stealing and smoking.  “All this was happening but I was still going to church,” Robert said. “I knew I was doing wrong, but I rebelled to receive Jesus as Savior.”

Around this time, he was arrested for breaking and entering and sent to reform school. In his teenage years, Robert fully embraced his life of crime with several return trips to reform school and eventually receiving adult jail sentences.

“My life was full of hurt and resentment as I knew at a young age I was adopted,” Robert said. “Years went by and nothing changed in my life. I knew there was no hope for me. I was in jail more than I was in society. I was hooked on drugs, alcohol, gambling and crime.”

When Robert was out of jail, he would sporadically attend church. One night, there was an altar call at the end of the church service.

“I repented to God and asked for forgiveness,” Robert said. “I left there feeling like a new man. I was in my early 20s, and all things seemed new. I was in awe.”

But Robert said he didn’t know how to follow Jesus and he wasn’t being discipled, so he soon fell back into his former lifestyle.

“I ruined my marriage, lost contact with our children and sunk deeper into a life of hopelessness,” he said.

Robert was unable to keep a job and found himself traveling with no destination. “I was looking to find something or someone to make me feel good. But nothing was satisfying,” he said.

By 2004, Robert’s life of crime landed him in prison – this time a lengthy sentence. But while incarcerated, he found a Bible study and started attending chapel. Robert was connected to some correspondence Bible studies, including Crossroad Bible Institute.

“As I read and studied, I realized where I went wrong. When I had asked Christ to be Savior of my life before, I had not continued to obey Him or His word. I had not put Christ at the center of my life,” Robert said.

Robert again repented and this time committed to pursuing a real relationship with God and studying His Word.

“CBI has been a part of my weekly studies for some time now, and now I pray daily, read, study and fellowship with other believers,” Robert said. He now shares his faith with anyone in prison who will listen.

Once a child, abandoned by his parents, Robert was adopted into God’s family and became a child of God. Once a criminal, Robert found forgiveness of his past and is now a light in the darkness in prison. Once following his own, self-destructive path, Robert now walks closely with Jesus.

“He brought me through many dangers, toils and snares that were caused by my own ignorance as I walked my own way,” Robert said. “But I am happy Philippians 1:6 says, ‘He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.'”