the shape of leadership

Love in Action

A conversation with Doyle Robinson

Chris Colvin on March 20, 2019

Compassion is love in action. That’s what Doyle Robinson believes.

“You have to do something with your love,” he says.

In 2002, Robinson responded to love by founding Sox Place, an outreach for homeless youth in Denver.

Though Robinson enjoyed his job as a youth pastor in Springfield, Missouri, he knew there was more for him to do. He sensed God calling him to young people on the margins of society.

“It really got started when I was about 17 back in Fayetteville, Arkansas,” Robinson says. “God simply told me that there was someone He wanted me to reach, someone others could not. That someone was a 15- year-old girl who was unchurched and pregnant. My youth group and I just loved her into the Kingdom, helping her right where she was.”

From that experience, Robinson realized the power of Christ’s love to bring hope into even the most difficult situations. His prayer was a simple but profound one: “I just said, ‘Father, give me the ones no one else wants, the ones no one else can reach.’ I wasn’t being arrogant or boastful, just honest.”

Robinson recognized that God was giving him a heart for shining the light of the gospel in dark places.

“If a person will answer God’s call, God will answer their prayer for provision.”
— Doyle Robinson

“That desire led me to downtown Denver and the street youth, the homeless, the train riders, the addicts, the hated and overlooked,” Robinson says.

Sox Place came from the nickname Robinson received from the unchurched homeless kids he befriended. He often showed up with new socks for them, a welcome gift on the cold streets. Handing out socks was a simple way for Robinson to make connections and grow relationships.

“My youngest son, Jordan, and I opened up an outreach center in May 2002,” Robinson says. “We were very unsure of what we were doing, but certain of our calling to do that crazy thing!”

Sox Place has served more than 250,000 street youth and young adults since opening its doors.

“In those first few months, we would see about 10 to 20 kids each week,” Robinson says. “Now we see anywhere from 60 to over 100, day in and day out, come to us for a hot meal, clothes, personal hygiene products, even internet access — but most importantly, for connection.”

Connection is the heart of relationship. And relationship is how Robinson and the others at Sox Place create disciples. For them, multiplication doesn’t come through strategies, but through compassion. It’s all about putting Christ’s love into action.

“You have to physically feel it,” Robinson explains. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done and the most heartbreaking, but I’m at peace with my calling to love the unloved and embrace them.”

When Christ followers put love into action, he says, God shows up.

“Don’t just stand there,” Robinson says. “Answer God’s call. If a person will answer God’s call, God will answer their prayer for provision.”

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2019 edition of Influence magazine.


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