July 8th, 2010
10:33 AM ET
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."
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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.