I remember first seeing Reggie at a Winterfest. In fact I'm pretty sure the one I was at was one he described in the book. Reggie is a big man and I remember one of his ice breaker stories consisted of him being coaxed onto a roller coaster only to have it get stuck upside down. He said it was the first and last time because all of his fat was suffocating him. His belly button was giving his forehead a hickey! I didn't realize it until reading this book, but I learned youth ministry from Reggie Dabbs. In the book, Reggie tells a few stories from the Bible to illustrate a point. Low and behold, I've told the same stories the same way and had no idea where they had come from. Winterfest wasn't the only time I'd seen Reggie. He certainly impacted me with how to do ministry and how to see beyond stereotypes. He showed me and certainly demonstrates on an everyday basis that the teens we walk past everyday are broken, hurting, and just want to be loved. I've said for sometime now that my philosophy of youth ministry has always been about the relationship. Right now i'm doing the youth at the church and I still hold to what I believe. Maybe a handful of teens will remember a message I preach them on Wednesday nights if it really impacts them, but they are far more likely to remember singing Taylor Swift songs at Dairy Queen afterwards. It's the relationships that matter . . . making them know they matter, their pain matters, their problem as insignificant and immature as it may or may not be still matters. Reggie is the king of this.
Reggie came from nothing to become something great. His mother was a high school dropout, not necessarily by choice. Having gotten pregnant before she had her license to drive, Reggie's mom left the baby boy with her parents to try and go back to school. When she returned home, her parents had packed up everything they had and moved leaving her son sitting in the middle of a bare floor crying waiting on her to come home. That's when she became the dropout. More bad choices came as she got pregnant again and had twins. This time she took up residence in a chicken coup and worked two jobs to keep the kids in daycare. It would be the only real shelter, food, or learning opportunities they would have. When Reggie's mom got sick and couldn't keep both of her jobs, she ended up being short $20 to keep the daycare bill for the month. Some unassuming lowlife offered to give her the $20 she needed to keep her kids in daycare if she would sleep with him. She reluctantly agreed and nine months later Reggie was born. Reggie's birth mom gave him up for adoption knowing she couldn't take care of another baby. She gave him to her 10th grade English teacher who had also been her 2nd grade English teacher. The teacher had told her classes for years that she was going to be there for them no matter what they were going through. This was one of those times. So Reggie found a new mom and dad. He says he's only spoken to his real mom and handful of times through the year. He has no idea who is real father is. He doesn't know who his real siblings are. But all of that doesn't matter to him now he says. He has a family. He has Christ. He has a wife and a son. He overcame a hard beginning and the doubts about who he really was and where he came from to be something great.
Reggie tells his complete life story in the book. It's definitely worth a read. Great book!