I was raised in the inner city of Philadelphia by a single
parent with eight siblings. At an early age my fate was determined by a vicious
cycle that fostered little or no respect for anyone. By the time I reached the
age of twelve, I was labeled a non-conformist by a psychiatrist and told by the
authorities that I would spend many years in prison. I became a total nightmare
for my mother who literally ran out of options for me.
I was taken to a boxing
show and liked it so much that I started to train. At thirteen I had my first
boxing match, and at fourteen I won a bronze medal at the Junior Olympics. At
sixteen and seventeen I made it to the Philadelphia Golden Gloves finals and at
nineteen I won the Pennsylvania Golden Gloves.
At twenty two I retired from
boxing where I represented the USA boxing team in international competition.
Upon retiring I started working as a union roofer and by the time I was
twenty-five, I was hired as a union organizer. After one year on this job,
unbeknownst to me, the FBI came into our building and placed electronic
surveillance resulting in my indictment on federal charges of raqueteering. I
was sent to prison and completed my time as well as my parole.
After being out
of prison a few years, I was introduced to a personal relationship with Jesus.
Within a year, I was given the opportunity to travel with a missions team to
Russia to take the Gospel to young boys in prisons.
Upon my return, I
immediately got involved with a prison ministry at Philadelphia’s detention
center for boys and took part in a weekly bible study there. It was during this
time that I took notice of countless young boys who were going down the same
path that I had chosen many years before. They were lacking a significant male
role model to encourage good behavior, dropping out of school, showing total
disrespect for authority, and facing many years in prison. I continually repeat
Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own
understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your
path.” At one point in my life I was a bad government statistic waiting to
happen: wayward, out of control, living by my own rules. But.... God poured out
His amazing grace on me, an eighth grade drop out with no bright future or
At thirty one I received my high school diploma At thirty seven I was
married At forty I became the father of my baby girl At forty one I became the
owner/operator of Osborn Collision Inc. Now at the young age of forty five I’ve
embarked on establishing a ministry targeting at risk inner city kids through a
sports program, as well as introducing them to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As I
look back on all of my trials and tribulations I’m 100% sure that with God all
things are possible.
I was born and raised in a Christian home. My father was a
pastor. All my growing years were spent in and around the church. I can never
remember a time in my life when I did not know who Jesus is and what He did for
me. It was at a very young age that I accepted Christ as my savior. I was so
blessed to grow up in this environment.
Now with this kind of a beginning you
would think that nothing could go wrong. This kid will probably become a pastor,
missionary or at least a Christian worker of some kind. He has everything
working for him. Yet in spite of the great beginning, my life was a mess until
around the age of thirty. Although I had given my life to Jesus early on, I
never developed our relationship. I never understood God’s grace. The obvious
question is how could this be? You had such a great start. You were surrounded
with every possible advantage. What went wrong?
My biggest mistake was that I
never read the Bible. I took my Bible to Sunday School and Church, but I never
sat down alone with Jesus and asked the Holy Spirit to speak to me through His
Word. I was a second generation Christian trying to ride on the coat tails of my
parent’s relationship with Jesus. I spent many years trying to live what I
thought was a good Christian life. I figured that if you didn’t smoke, dance,
drink or curse you were a pretty good Christian. Yet the truth is that I was not
walking in the Spirit. Things were creeping in my life that was contrary to
My early teens pornography began to creep in. By my mid to late
teens alcohol started to come in. My late teens to early twenties drugs showed
up. Along with all this came pride, lying, filthy talk and the list could go on
and on. Even more amazing is the amount of sin I might have done if only I had
an opportunity. I believe the lack of opportunity was the grace of God.
all this sin taking place in my life, things externally were going pretty good.
My high school years were quite successful. I was the class president for three
years and captain of the football team. Shortly after high school I was married
to a beautiful lady, had a cute daughter and a house. Michelle and I both had
decent jobs. I was living the American dream. Yet in the midst of all this, the
success, which came so easily in high school, now seemed to elude me. Every path
I now pursued was turning into a dead end. As each new dream hit a dead end, I
was becoming aware of a growing emptiness with in me. As time went on, alcohol
and marijuana began to take a stronger grip on my life. Around the age of 26 I
determined that the weed had to go since my daughter was getting older. I didn’t
want her exposed to that. But with a decrease in pot came a stronger dependence
on alcohol. It was not unusual for me to drink to the point of blacking out.
Around the age of 28 I found myself drinking nearly every night before I went to
bed. It was necessary in order for me to sleep. I had come to a point in my life
were I concluded that my battle with inner emptiness was a losing battle.
Anything I accomplished in life was useless because in the end I would die. I
saw no purpose in living and yet I feared death. Sleep became a rehearsal for
death. There were nights when I would lay in bed with tears streaming down my
face. How could I face God after all that I had done? Drinking before I went to
bed allowed me to escape my prison of fear, or so it seemed.
During this time,
Michelle and I were seeking spiritual fulfillment. I had never expressed to
Michelle the depth of my own personal struggle. I was just too proud and
embarrassed. We tried several churches, none of which had what we were looking
for. Actually, we were not sure what we were looking for, but we knew they
didn’t have what we were looking for. Now at this point you might say, how could
I not know were to turn. I grew up in the church, my dad is a pastor, I always
had a knowledge who Jesus is and what He had done for me; and this is true. But
I grew up on small town denomination churches. All I ever heard was what a
pastor’s kid is not supposed to do. I thought my relationship with God depended
on what I didn’t do. And since I wasn’t reading my Bible, how would I know the
difference. I did not understand the grace of God.
In the fall of 1991 Michelle
and I were invited to a baby dedication at Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia. I had
heard a little bit about the church but basically brushed it off. I left the
house that morning with a bad attitude. I was only going because it was the
right thing to do. I had no expectations. It wasn’t until we pulled into the
parking lot that I realized the church was in a mall. I could not believe that I
was going to a church in a mall. As we entered the church I had a real sense of
love. I saw people who truly loved each other. The music was beautiful. It was
pure and sincere. Then the pastor came to give the message. At first I began to
think, this guy is a pastor? He looked so comfortable and relaxed. He wasn’t
even dressed like a pastor. No suit or tie, how could this be? Then he began to
teach. He told everyone to turn to Mark 10. People began to open their Bibles
with such excitement. It was the first time I entered a church without a Bible
and was embarrassed. As Joe was teaching, I was overwhelmed by the grace of God.
Jesus suddenly became real to me. I felt His presence in an awesome way. Instead
of God telling me I blew it one time too many, He just embraced me and said
From that moment on my life has been radically changed. It is so
amazing. I had turned my back on God. I was a no good rotten sinner on my way to
destruction. But God being completely gracious and loving delivered me from the
path that I was on. Psalms 40:2 He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out
of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.