How many times have we heard the story of a Christian servant who resolved not to serve God in a specific country, region, or vocation? Often this caveat is the pathway to God’s call and is the exact place God can best use a person for his kingdom purposes.
Born in London, England, and raised near Detroit, Michigan, Robert Young grew up in the multicultural suburb of Dearborn. The son of an English father and German mother, he grew up in a heavily Polish and Muslim community.
Robert’s parents did not encourage his inquiries regarding matters of Christian faith. His father was an atheist and his mother a cultural Catholic. Still, seeds were planted during VBS programs Robert attended with elementary school friends. Ultimately, these seeds sprouted during his senior year of high school. Robert was baptized into the Lutheran church at twenty-two years old.
Robert learned about Johnson through a promotional video sent to the son of the church’s Sunday School superintendent. Robert discovered Johnson’s affordability and that the school offered a highly rated program in teacher education. He enrolled at Johnson as a 26-year-old non-traditional freshman in 1988.
“So many doors opened for me. Just finding out Johnson existed was proof of God’s leading. And every door opened up perfectly for me as I made plans,” Robert says. “This is where I had to be.”
Although the education program was relatively new, Robert noted that “even then, Dr. Chris Templar was a legend. She worked us very hard, but we learned a lot.” Robert also appreciated Dr. Templar’s personality because they had the same “English” sense of humor.
A year into his academic journey at Johnson, Robert was convicted that his baptism in the Lutheran church was not in accordance with the scriptural language of immersion. Professor Bob Martin baptized Robert in the old swimming pool.
As a student, Robert would tell his peers, “I’m never going to be a missionary because I can never afford to raise support,” and “I’m never going to teach in a Christian school because it doesn’t pay enough money.” Robert laughs at his audacity in telling God what he wouldn’t do. “Never say never to God,” he says.
As he approached graduation, Robert decided it would be good to spend a year or two teaching internationally. After talking with Bart Newton (’90) about an opportunity at Puerto Rico Christian School, Robert accepted the call to teach second grade at the school.
Robert graduated from Johnson in 1992 and has spent his entire 30-year career teaching both elementary and high school at Puerto Rico Christian School. Currently, he teaches ninth-grade literature, history, and grammar, and he enjoys the freedom of incorporating biblical values into his teaching. Robert has also served local churches as a preacher and teacher.
After thirty years, Robert views the school as his permanent mission until the Lord calls him home. “I can’t see myself going anywhere else. Soy Puertorriqueno,” Robert says. “I’m Puerto Rican.”
Learn more about JU alumni at the Sojournal podcast.