Tired of Surviving, Ready to Live

“Whatever I had to do to survive is what I was willing to do during those times.”

At 12 years old, Richard Horne was left on his own to run the callous streets of Detroit, Michigan.  He only knew abuse and rejection from his alcoholic father and uncaring mother.  

“I didn't know what love was.  I didn't even understand when somebody say, ‘I love you.’ I didn't trust them.  Because one minute they say they love you, the next minute they leave you,” said Richard.

After his parents divorced Richard chose the streets rather than stay with his father.  He spent his teen years either living in abandoned homes or locked up in juvenile detention.

“I was always robbing someone, snatching purses, stealing cars, breaking into houses, stealing from grocery stores, stealing clothes from big retail stores,” said Richard.

“I didn't see a future.  I just saw today.  I just saw surviving today.”

Over time it became more than survival.  

“I felt as if now I have a voice, you know?  I could pull a gun out on you and make you do what I want you to do.”  

At 17, Richard was arrested and convicted on 11 counts of armed robbery. This time he was tried as an adult and received five years in a state penitentiary.  

“You're dealing with murders, rapists, pedophiles, people that prey on weaknesses. You can’t go on up there all soft and nice. So it got to a point where in order for me to survive again, I had to fight,” said Richard.

But fighting landed Richard in solitary confinement.

“You have a whole lot of time to think, to sit back and just contemplate on what's the next steps.  What is it that you can do to better yourself or your circumstances?  You knew you wasn't getting out, but it was possible that you could make this home a little better for you.”

As days turned into weeks Richard was losing his fight.

“I think I got to a point where I was tired of being frustrated and I was tired of being locked up.  I was tired of feeling like an animal,” said Richard.

“It got to a point where it became tiresome to survive and you wanted to have more out of life.”

It was then one of the inmates who worked in solitary began striking up conversations with Richard.

“He would constantly come talk to me about Christ.  He would pray to me about Christ.  He would offer me to come to Bible study.”

Richard accepted his invitations to go to the church services, if nothing else to escape solitary confinement.  But something was happening.

“I was being led by a positive force when I was used to always being led by something negative, “ said Richard. “I guess I felt love.  And it just grew on me. I can't really explain and it's just – it's like a transforming of my mind and my heart.”

Encouraged, Richard also started praying and reading the Bible, hoping that God had a purpose for him. One evening in March of 1989, he realized he needed to ask God to help him change his life.

“I had just wanted a change.  I was tired of the same monotonous, defeating, non-purposeful life,” said Richard.  “And when I went in my cell that night I had prayed and I heard God say to me that I was His son.  It was an audible voice I heard, but I felt it on the inside of me and I knew that for the first time in my life I felt as if someone really cared about me.”

The next day Richard went to the church service.

Richard said, “They did the salvation call and I just got up and went up there and gave my life to Christ.”

“The word of God says He'll give us a peace that transcends all understanding.  I experienced peace for the first time in my life and I wanted more of it.”  

“Once I gave my life to Christ I surely was challenged to make better decisions,  spend time with God in reading my word,  finding ways to love on people and not hurt people.”

Richard served his five years and was released in October 1991 at 23 years old.  Within months he had started his own home improvement business and met his wife Renda.

Richard said, “I knew that I wanted to do better and I knew that I wanted to have a family.  And I had prayed to God all the time that I was incarcerated, I'd say, "God, if you ever give me a wife and children, that I'll always love them and I'll never leave them."

Since then they’ve raised seven children, the youngest is still home.  Each day, Richard is reminded of how faith in Christ gave him purpose and hope for a new life.

“When I found Christ, from the very first day He's never left me.  He's always been there.  I've always had someone to talk to.  I've always got positive guidance, steered in the right direction.”

You can buy Richard's book, The Making of a Trailblazerhere.

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