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July 8th, 2010
10:33 AM ET

On the frontlines of faith

Editor's note: CNN All-Platform Journalist Jim Spellman filed this post on one of the people he interviewed for his recent report on Denver's homeless youth.

Drop by "Sox Place" in downtown Denver most days and you'll find several dozen young homeless people eating lunch, working on computers or relaxing while watching a movie. What you won't find is any outward signs that the non-profit drop-in center is run by an ordained minister of deep personal faith.

His name is Doyle Robinson. The kids on the street gave him his street name of "Sox" after Robinson spent several years passing out clean socks to homeless people in Denver. Robinson is a minister ordained in the Assemblies of God, a Protestant denomination of over 60 million people worldwide.

So why isn't Robinson's faith on display?

"If your faith isn't real it's very apparent," he says.  "It comes across fake, it comes across empty and shallow. If your faith is real you live it on a daily basis."

Robinson, 55, has a long goatee, rides a Harley and wears the same T-shirts and sneakers as many of the homeless teenagers he helps. His work is not glamorous and neither are the people he serves. 

"It's my faith that drives me," he says, "It's very clear throughout the Bible that we are supposed to take care of the poor, the homeless, the orphans, the widows. We are supposed to be the ones doing welfare."

Many of the young homeless people who come to Sox Place fled homes where they were abused physically, emotionally and sexually. Robinson says the experiences leave them damaged and hurt. Besides a hot meal and, yes, a clean pair of socks, his goal is to provide them with a safe place, a refuge from their life on the street.

"I love them right where they are, right for who they are. I don't try to change them. If they want to change we're here for them, if they don't want to change we're still going to love them. We're still going to care about them," he says.

In the era of the mega-church, Robinson's humble storefront may seem a little out of step.

"This is what we're supposed to be doing. We're not supposed to be building multimillion dollar facilities. God never said to do that," according to Robinson.  "When Jesus was on Earth he said, 'Guys, I'm leaving, I'm putting you in charge.' He said feed the hungry. It's not a suggestion."

Robinson admits that the job takes a personal toll, but his own faith gives him the strength he needs.

"Getting your heart broke is part of it. Is it enjoyable? No. I wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning just weeping because my heart is broken because we love them so much," he says.

"But shake my faith in God? No, absolutely not. Bless his heart, if Jesus walked into Denver, where would he go? Who would he hang out with? He would come to Sox Place, he would go where the hurting people are."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Culture & Science • Faith

soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. winstrol

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon religion.blogs.cnn.com and wanted to say that I have truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts. After all I'll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!

    December 4, 2011 at 5:33 am |
  2. Caitlin

    How can you all sit their and jude this man you dont know him know nothing about him beside what you have read in this VERY SMALL clipping of what he does and the jugement you take away. where does it say that its your job to judge this man. Doyle is the BEST thing that has ever happened in my life he gave me a new meaning. to life he one of the reasons i am still alive. he gave me food when no one else would i was living under a bridge next to the river! i was only a 21 year old female living alone on the streets on te heart of denver a scary place at night if your alone. he gave me a job!!!!! he is the REAL DEAL i am now living in my own aparment i have 2 beautiful daughters and i am getting married to the love of my life in june of 2011. doyle you are like a father to me and i want to thank you for everything you have done for me, my family ad all te street kids you see everyday. we love you and wish you the best with your upcoming event. we'll be down to see you soon. LOVE YOU

    September 29, 2010 at 4:14 am |
  3. Alhamdolillahkhan

    Greetings.

    Though I am Muslim but I love Jesus and all christian in the world.Being a good Muslim it is our duty to love Jesus and christian in the world.

    Contact without any hasitation.

    I love to hear from you soon.

    Regards.

    Lecturer,Alhamdolillahkhan
    Cell# +923342476787

    August 7, 2010 at 2:25 am |
  4. Faithful

    Part of the problem with the world today, is the Catholic religion. Having been a Catholic and a mother of a child who committed suicide because of one of those criminals they call priests...............I have converted to Christianity. Big difference between Christianity and Catholic Religion....... Christianity started with Christ, the "catholics" were developed 3000 years after Christ and made up their rules as they went along. They have never gone by the literacy of the bible.....and they are the biggest money making business in the world, crooked business to boot. You should try Christianity, they have special relationships with God, don't go to church on Sunday then sin all week and confess their sins to a "man" and all is forgiven, then start all over again. That is not Christian. That's hipocracy.

    July 14, 2010 at 12:33 pm |
    • Ichthus

      As a point of fact it as been around 2000 years since the events in the NT happened. Catholic tradition began as a result of Constantine making Christianity the state religion of the Roman empire in the fourth century, that is the 300's.

      July 19, 2010 at 2:28 pm |
  5. Andrew

    This guy is awesome.

    July 14, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
  6. Surthurfurd

    It is frustrating to me that there are those who loose the message of Christ. I wish them well. I am sure that God loves them also. Yet, among those who miss the message of Christ is a huge percentage of people who call themselves Christian.

    Christianity is not a social club or an organization that passes out "get out of hell free" cards. It is a realization of our connection to the creator and the responsibility that we are handed with that realization.

    July 14, 2010 at 11:04 am |
  7. richunix

    I'm the messiah!.....right now I'm eating a sandwhich....I wonder if I will see Elvis in it@

    July 13, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
  8. Guster

    This man is true example of living the Christian faith. Amen.

    July 13, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
  9. Tiger

    Jesus Christ was a true saint, and harbinger of faith and spirituality.
    He is what the world should be following.

    July 13, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
  10. karek40

    Lets see am I going to believe and support David Johnson (or the Mick) or 44 different authors from all walks of life, writing on the absolutely the most controversial subject there is without contradicting each other. With such continuity it becomes evident to an honest evaluator that the 44 authors were guided to write down exactly what they wrote down.

    July 13, 2010 at 8:20 am |
  11. The_Mick

    sheetiron wrote: "The Bible says he said it, therefore he said. You may find this contradictory and insane, but that's your affair." +++++ The Bible, for 2150 years, had a mistake in the passage of King Saul defeating Nabash, King of Ammon. The correction, which cleared up a very confusing passage that didn't make a lot of sense, was found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. If that's been allow to be there, why not other mistakes. And note there was no one named "Jesus". The man from Nazareth whose philosophy changed the world was named "Yeshua" – as was the leader of the Hebrew tribes we call "Joshua". It sure seems like the Bible isn't infallible. On top of that, we know now that the Pharisees were a tiny, very unimportant Jewish sect in "Jesus's"' time. Why were they made the all-important Jewish-leading bad guys in the New Testament? In Matthew's time and place, the Jewish communities north of Judea, the new Christian movement was competing with a certain Jewish sect for converts: the Pharisees! Any wonder they're portrayed as the bad guys?

    July 12, 2010 at 9:04 pm |
  12. Brisonc

    Christ fed the poor and clothed the naked, but also preached the salvation Had come to provide. When He asked his Deciples to feed the hungry with fish and bread at when He gave his great sermons; he fed those attending so their minds wouldn't be on their empty stomachs, but instead on what He was wanting to teach the people. Christ never said to separate sharing his message of salvation from the acts off feeding and clothing that that were in need. Christ did the same thing. Everything He did was to allow Him to share the message of His salvation.

    What good is it to feed and clothe the bodies of humans only to have their souls not find salvation? Sharing the message of Christ(preaching) is always part of any ministry. Mother Teresa did this when she fed the impoverished.
    All Christians should do the same.

    July 11, 2010 at 11:38 pm |
    • Reality

      Brisonic and Mr. Doyle, from a contemporary historic Jesus exegete: The formation of this bread and fish story derives from the needs of the community. Its historical value is nil. Anyone is free to accept the table fellowship of Jesus and his followers as a starting point for the rise of this story. But that is rather different from the feeding of the 5000.

      From another exegete, the Gospel stories of Jesus feeding a multitude preserves a tradition about "some especially memorable communal meal of bread and fish" but does not think it possible to offer a judgment on whether anything miraculous was involved in the meal event

      July 12, 2010 at 12:19 am |
    • Reality

      Brisonic and Mr. Doyle, The "miracle" of the bread and fish replication does not pass historic muster as per many NT experts. References about this topic continued to be blocked by some strange blog program that does not allow the use of words like professor, book and/or page numbers.

      July 12, 2010 at 12:22 am |
    • Gary

      Agnostics like myself do the right thing. I dont cheat,steal,kill, stone people I give to charity,have volunteered ect...religion has nothing to do with being a great loving person.

      July 13, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  13. HeIsGod

    Amen! Those who live day by day without Faith are living in vain. We all Jesus Christ to guide us in our daily lives, for without Him, we are nothing. May God richly bless Sox in abundance for his love and Ministry!! What an awesome Article!!

    July 11, 2010 at 4:43 pm |
  14. connie

    This man IS a true Christian. Most churches today are just one more element to have to "fit" into, mold yourself to your surroundings and hold tight. He has his priorities in order, he knows the word, and he practices it. Bring yourself, open your heart and feel the spirit. It is truly a blessing to read this story.

    July 10, 2010 at 9:29 am |
  15. Joyce Kingkade

    My husband and I went to school with Doyle, and I am sure he is the real thing. The reason we believe the Bible is because it is alive, Jesus Christ is the living Word. When you do what it says and ask in faith believing, according to the will of God, stuff happens! If you deny the validity of the bible, you deny the Son of God. Way to go Doyle, you're not in this for attention, you're just being Jesus, with skin on!!!

    July 9, 2010 at 11:32 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Joyce Kingkade & @Lynn...........Interesting to find someone that knows him personally. Sounds like a very caring and giving man.

      Bringing in the christian religion into this is another matter.....

      But the fact he is serving and helping is what matters to me....

      People can make their own decisions about their own personal faith without it getting pushed on them..

      Peace to the both of you.....

      July 10, 2010 at 6:33 am |
    • Reality

      Hmmm, nice but was Jesus really all that Paul et al made him out to be? According to most contemporary NT exegetes, he was not. It is just as easy to label missionary Christianity "the Santa Clause Syndrome" generated by the embellishments and resurrection and deity myths of Paul et al.

      July 10, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Amen! The Word of God is Alive and True. Miracles happens and when we call things that are not as if they were in the Name of Jesus Christ, we see His Manifestation in the believer's life! Praise God. Doyle is representing our Lord and Savior, Glory to God's Name, the Great I AM, Jesus Christ!!!

      July 11, 2010 at 4:48 pm |
    • Reality

      HelsGod noted: Doyle is representing our Lord and Savior, Glory to God's Name, the Great I AM, Jesus Christ!!!

      Jesus never saved any one:

      Once again:

      "Moreover, an atonement theology that says God sacrifices his own son in place of humans who needed to be punished for their sins might make some Christians love Jesus, but it is an obscene picture of God. It is almost heavenly child abuse, and may infect our imagination at more earthly levels as well. I do not want to express my faith through a theology that pictures God demanding blood sacrifices in order to be reconciled to us.

      Traditionally, Christians have said, 'See how Christ's passion was foretold by the prophets." Actually, it was the other way around. The Hebrew prophets did not predict the events of Jesus' last week; rather, many of those Christian stories were created to fit the ancient prophecies in order to show that Jesus, despite his execution, was still and always held in the hands of God.

      In terms of divine consistency, I do not think that anyone, anywhere, at any time, including Jesus, brings dead people back to life.

      July 12, 2010 at 12:26 am |
    • RDM

      Reality-
      Qoute, "'Moreover, an atonement theology that says God sacrifices his own son in place of humans who needed to be punished for their sins might make some Christians love Jesus, but it is an obscene picture of God. It is almost heavenly child abuse, and may infect our imagination at more earthly levels as well. I do not want to express my faith through a theology that pictures God demanding blood sacrifices in order to be reconciled to us. '"

      God the Father did not force His Son to set aside His glory and come to earth as a sacrifice. God the Son, Jesus, came to earth as a willing sacrifice under His own volition. Furthermore, God the Creator is not reconciled to His creatures, we the creatures need to be reconciled to our Creator God.

      From your previous posts, Reality, you seem like a sensible person. May I suggest you humbly read the Bible for yourself asking God to reveal these truths to you and then with God's help think them through for your self?

      July 12, 2010 at 8:30 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.