Like so often is the case, wounds from our childhood shape the choices we make, from adolescence into adulthood. For today’s guest, growing up as part of a troubled blended family pushed him towards drugs and alcohol. Despite the unhealthy life he was living, he always found solace in working out. Today, he’s a personal fitness trainer who is passionate about seeing others become both physically AND spiritually healthy. He’s a native of Northern California now living in Southern California with his wife, Alyssa, and their young son, Caleb. We’re excited to have Mr. Rob Decker on the podcast sharing his incredible story of faith and how he came into relationship with Christ.
Rob’s mother was only 17 years old when she became pregnant with him. Herself a foster child, she was a smoker with little education, and those were some of the reasons why she was encouraged to abort her pregnancy. Instead, she chose to give her baby life and loved him the best that she could. After Rob was born, his mother met another man and became pregnant again. This man she would marry and Rob would know him as his biological father. But while only in kindergarten, Rob was told that his dad was actually his stepdad and his sister was his half-sister. From that point on, lines were drawn and it became more and more clear who was whose. His dad was strict about rules and very tough. His mom tried to overcompensate by spoiling her firstborn. Their household was fraught with arguing, drinking, and drugs. Eventually, his mother fell hard into drugs, his dad moved in with a new girlfriend, and Rob and his sister were essentially left to care for themselves.
Beginning in his late teens, Rob was getting in trouble, getting locked up, doing drugs, and drinking. In his twenties, he continued on his reckless path of drinking and using. By his late twenties, he was heavily into cocaine and drinking vodka by the liter. His dating relationships were typically unhealthy. Throughout it all, he believed in God and believed that He was there with him, protecting him. Admittedly, he never pursued a relationship with Him. He just knew that God had been there during all of those tumultuous times, from childhood on.
After the end of a particularly unhealthy relationship, a friend and former coworker of Rob’s would try to preach Jesus to him. Again, Rob believed in God, but he wasn’t ready to commit. His friend, fully aware of Rob’s lifestyle of hard-living, remained available to help Rob and even picked him up from certain places, without judgement and without giving Rob a hard time about it. Eventually, that friend invited him to a bible study, where Rob received the Lord. His first two months as a new Christian were spent going to church and hanging out with other believers. He even tried to preach to a former girlfriend when she reappeared in his life. She was involved in the escort business and they eventually moved in the direction of restarting a relationship, with the understanding that she would begin getting out of the business. During that time, Rob found himself returning to the old ways of alcohol and drugs. This time, though, something was different. This time, he knew full well that God was present and that what he was doing was wrong.
Rob and the girl met back up over a Memorial Day weekend, after she returned from what was supposed to be one last trip with a “client”. He was in the midst of days-long partying, and they began arguing about their past relationship and her last trip. He realized that getting back into a relationship with her was a bad idea. With the Lord in his life, he could no longer continue to live this way. Unfortunately, as he realized these things, the police were pounding at the door. They were calling for him. The girl had called the police and claimed that Rob had raped her and tried to kill her. In that moment, he was overwhelmed with betrayal and hopelessness. He was still dealing with the alcohol and drugs. He didn’t have a job. He didn’t have a driver’s license. He didn’t have a place of his own. His childhood up until that moment came into the perfect storm. Rob turned around and jumped, headfirst, through a closed window. His intention was to break his neck and die in the fall. But God, He had other plans…Rob describes the moments that followed as he leaped through the glass. Lying on the concrete, broken, he opened his eyes and asked, “God, why? Why would you let me live?” So many times in Rob’s life, God had tried to reveal Himself to him. And, like Jacob, Rob had been wrestling with God. It was time for him to acknowledge the Lord in this place.
Jake Enriquez: 00:01 So Rob, how are you doing this morning man?
Rob Decker: 00:03 I’m doing well. Very, very blessed and very grateful that you, uh, allow me to come on your show and share.
Jake Enriquez: 00:09 Yeah, sure man. And we know, we greatly appreciate you coming out and spending time with us. You know, I tell people all the time, man, time is the most valuable asset that we have an, and the mere fact that you would come and spend it with us and share it means great, a great amount to us, and definitely we just want to take advantage of it now and get to hear from you. I know you have a story, but before we do get into that, just kind of briefly tell us, uh, who you are and where you’re from.
Rob Decker: 00:38 Well, I’m Rob Decker. Um, I’m originally from northern California, the bay area of San Jose. Um, but I currently live in southern California out in harbor city. It’s near Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes, in that area. I’m married to my beautiful wife, Alyssa. We just had our four year anniversary a few days ago. So we headed out to Arizona for a little spring training. She’s a Giants fan. I’m an A’s fan. We won. That’s how we do it. And uh, you know, and we have a young, a young son, Caleb, you know, we definitely gave him a strong biblical name. We actually were married on 3/16. So. Wow. Yeah. In order to honor the Lord, like we try to do those little things and that’s why we named our son Caleb. I am a personal fitness trainer.
Rob Decker: 01:28 I like to use my past and my previous experiences with people in this field. Um, you know, fitness is pretty deep, health is pretty, pretty deep and um, you know, it’s, it’s very emotional. It’s very spiritual. Um, we’re, we all do it for our own reasons and so, you know, the fitness part is covering the outside portion of it, but, you know, for me it’s always about digging deeper and really making changes within someone’s spirit and the thought process. So yeah, that’s a little bit about who I am.
Jake Enriquez: 02:03 Well, definitely. Um, you know, I did, I have looked look some stuff up on you and read about some things about what you’re doing and I was actually, I looked at some of the things on your website too, so I appreciated it, but you know, when you talk about a personal fitness, being a personal fitness trainer, it said that you specialize in, you know, the weight management, strength training, nutrition, all of those things that go together, but definitely the, the physical, in anything, eventually meets the spiritual. Those things come together and when they do come together, actually it strengthens our spirit as well. So I want you to kind of elaborate a little bit on that because I know, Rob, just by reading more about you, man, you got a deep passion for health and fitness, don’t you? So yeah, just elaborate a little bit on. Tell us a little bit about the faith in fitness training that you’re doing.
Rob Decker: 02:54 Well, I believe it goes hand in hand. It’s my left hand and my right hand pretty much, you know, and, and, um, you know, I, I’m very fortunate in the sense of, you know, I had a devastating incident, you know, where I had to learn how to walk again and um, you know, you had to eat your way to good health. I mean, you know, the physical part is a portion of it, you know, first and foremost, it’s, God gets all the glory for all that, but you know, He um, allows me to use fitness and, and I love fitness. Fitness was always a, it’s a, it’s another avenue of doing something positive for yourself that helps you clear, think clearer, helps you move better. Um, hopefully through fitness it helps you want to eat better as well. I mean, power of nutrients, you know, I mean, the thing that you put in your body are life changing, um, they’ll either give you life or they give you death, right? It’s just like, you know, with the Lord, we get life when you, when you don’t have Him, it’s death, right? So I tried to bring it all together. Um, I just, I love fitness, you know, being almost 40 years old after, you know all the things that my body has been through. To be able to play competitive softball and lift weights and throw around kettlebells and play recreational basketball, you know, these things are very crucial for me just to keep me moving. Life is movement.
Jake Enriquez: 04:22 I understand where you are now and I do understand about some things that happened in your past, but also though, from what I understand, you were into the health and fitness long before any of that, right? With you as a little kid, you liked this kind of stuff.
Rob Decker: 04:39 I appreciate you doing a little bit of research. So, yes, I grew up an avid baseball fan. I mean, I, I love the Oakland A’s I was, I grew up with the Bash Brothers. I mean McGwire was like my guy. So and Ricky Henderson as well. I wore number 24 and played the outfield like Ricky. Uh, but I always love, you know, the presence of a Mark McGwire, so yes, you know, I sports with something I gravitated to when I was younger through high school I was introduced to strength training and for me, um, to be able to mold my body and actually have an avenue of, of stress relief or um, you know, to kind of vent, you know, I use the weights to kind of like let out a lot of aggravation and, and, and hurt and confusion, you know, how utilize the fitness for all those things. So yeah, it started, it started pretty young for me. And the weight training is something that’s always pretty much stuck with me.
Jake Enriquez: 05:41 And just by doing that are being driven in that. It kind of led into something that’s naturally a love and passion. And that’s pretty amazing because, you know, when I think about that I think about how God gives us something at such a young age and we don’t even realize it’s there. You know, we later use it maybe more for glory, but even at the, at such a young age. And I, and I think about you being a youngster, like talking about Ricky Henderson and looking to those guys, man, there was something about you that says, Hey, I want to be great at something. I want to go do something. So as a Kiddo, let me just ask you about that because growing up, what was your childhood like? I know it wasn’t all sports and I know, uh, there were some other things that were involved in. I’ll let you elaborate a little bit – what was childhood like?
Rob Decker: 06:27 It was a different form of physical trauma. It was challenging. It was, it was hard. Um, you know, I love both my parents deeply. My parents, you know, my biological father was never around. I met him later in life when I was like 16 and turns out he was a big drug addict and everything. And um, you know, but my, the man who raised me, I do call him dad. I mean he took responsibility of, of me. He puts a roof over my head, food in my belly and clothes on my back. But, you know, the way my mom and dad met, you know, it started off as lust, like anything for the most part with most relationships and they hooked up and she got pregnant and you know, then he was kind of, encouraged by his family to marry my mom because it was the right thing to do and, and you know, and then have my sister.
Rob Decker: 07:25 But, you know, as we started to grow older and in the house, you know, my dad, he was like, he was a tough dude. I mean, I’ll say this, a lot of my toughness, you know, it’s something that I saw in him, you know, his toughness was almost to a fault, as beyond prideful. But, um, but I, I saw that toughness into him. He was like the marine, a heavy drinker, you know, my mom, she was, she came from a much a different background, you know, my mom, you know, and I have much empathy for a woman who was beaten and raped and, and, you know, lead down the path that she was led down. You know, I was actually, well I wasn’t supposed to be aborted, but they, she was, um, encouraged herself to, to abort me when she got pregnant because, you know, she was this 17 year old girl that was kicked out of her house and she’d gone from foster family to foster family and, you know, she started smoking young and she doesn’t have an education.
Rob Decker: 08:29 So, you know, you have these two people from these two different worlds and you know, mom just wanted someone to love, right? And that was me. So she had me because she wanted to love me and for me to love her back and I understand that and I grasped that and I, I love my mom and I understand where she was coming from. And um, you know, my dad, he was a little tougher. And so within the household there was like a constant. I’m just wanting to um, kind of give me everything and let me have my way and try to spoil me in that sense. My Dad was just like, rules, rules, rules, like, you know, and it just didn’t, they didn’t mix well. It was oil and water in our home, right. And then you throw my sister in the mix. Right. And you know, she’s always going to be favored a little bit more on my dad’s side of family and with my dad.
Rob Decker: 09:14 And so there was a lot of like pinning my sister and I up against each other. There was always kind of separation between the two. And so a lot of the stuff that happened in my household, you know, a lot of arguing, a lot of fighting, a lot of drinking, there were drugs, the methamphetamines were going on with, you know, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. So, you know, as time goes on and the issues get greater and the relationships were in the house or you know, getting further and further apart from each other. We weren’t molding as a family at all. That eventually led my mom to heavily into drugs and my dad, you know, he ended up moving out of the house and moving in with his girlfriend, you know, while he was paying rent for us to live in the house. But my sister and I were getting so much trouble in the house, um, because we really had no supervision. I mean there were times in our life where we were living in a house with no electricity, no food in the house. You know, my sister and I had a house together, basically because mom was checked out. She was somewhere, dad was checked out, he was somewhere. And so my sister and I were left to ourselves.
Jake Enriquez: 09:14 Were you guys from the same pops, the same dad?
Rob Decker: 10:23 No, no, no. So my, the, the man that I call father, not my biological mom who raised me, his daughter, he met my mom and then, you know, got her pregnant and they had my full.
Jake Enriquez: 10:41 So yeah, we’re talking about a blended family and definitely there’s going to be mixed emotions. And Man, I know all about it. That’s really, really tough thing to go through. It really is because, you know, favor is always shown to one or the other in a mantra. And even if you don’t mean to, you still do.
Rob Decker: 11:03 Absolutely. Well I was blacksheeped at a pretty young age, you know. I mean, I remember finding out my dad wasn’t my dad. I remember finding out my sister wasn’t my full sister when, uh, when I was in kindergarten, you know, so it was a lot of separation at a very young age in that house.
Jake Enriquez: 11:16 Wow. Well, what were your thoughts, you know, going through that now I want to take you back to this for just a moment because as kids is where all of our thoughts kind of start to develop about, hey, God and where we came from and all that good stuff. What we thoughts about God at the time? Did you have any, did you even have a curiosity? Were you guys in church or maybe you didn’t think about it. What were your own thoughts on God at the time?
Rob Decker: 11:37 It’s very interesting because God was not ever relevant and I in our household, but I’m the same incident where I had found out that my dad was not my real bad that day when I found out. So the way that it went down was that I came home with a certification that had his last name on it, will redraw it home and brought it home and I’m, his mother. And my grandmother were like, you know, Robert’s not one of us, you know, he’s not such and such. He’s, you know, so that day it was like, well, here’s the deal, I’m not your biological father, you know, which makes your sister not here or where the sister and we’re going to change your last name, so I was eventually given my mom’s last name. Well, after I found that information out and this I believe wholeheartedly that the Holy Spirit, many years ago brought this back to me was I was walking down the street.
Rob Decker: 12:28 And um, I just remember telling myself like, you know what, it doesn’t matter if he’s not my real dad because God is my father. And my mom had grown up in a Catholic background and I don’t know if my dad had much religion, but it was not something you ever talked about. So for that to even be present within me, I have no idea. No idea where it came from. I can only say that it was by the Holy Spirit, that, that was a revelation that was given to me. So that was my first, um, God experience. I would say.
Jake Enriquez: 13:00 That’s incredible. You know, and I, and I love to hear that because I know, as I think about it and I listened to your story unfold, I know the God was with you all that time and preached that he would share. He would surely show you so much more. So I tell you what we’re going to do, man. I really want to hear a lot more from you, Rob. We’re gonna take a really quick break and then we’re going to be right back. Welcome back. Guys were hanging out with Mr. Rob Decker and Rob was just telling us about childhood and you know, we all have a childhood man. We all come up a little bit different and our struggles may be different, but really all in all it’s the same. Everyone struggles through something at some different time or another. But I can assure you in this day that the Lord has always been with us and draws us home. And actually rob was just opened it up a little bit about how God had already showed him some things. He’d given him an insight at a very young age. But Rob, I got to tell you, man, that’s not where life ends and it keeps going on from there and we get to experience so much more brother, you know, you already know that. So how did it appear to you? How did God reveal himself to you? Where is the testimony and revelation when you really found out, hey man, God is real.
Rob Decker: 14:14 It’s a really cool story. You know, his crazy, my story is extremely like wow, like um, but you know what, in that, wow, his goodness just explodes all over the place. Absolutely. You know, virtually what happened was, is, you know, in my late teens I was getting in trouble, getting locked up, drugs, alcohol, all sorts. In my twenties, I was still on this reckless path of drinking and using and you know God, to me, He was there. Um, I just didn’t have that relationship with Him. I never really truly pursued it or anything like that. But, you know, as went on and things got a little bit crazier within my head and in my lifestyle, you know, God was always present because He always put me in loving homes. Um, he, uh, you know, I had these great people in my life that, that really, you went out of their way to take care of me and I’m very close with their family.
Rob Decker: 15:12 They’re my family. And so God was always kinda there protecting me. But, um, it was hard to protect me from me and I was constantly like, I’m doing drugs. I was heavily into coke in my late twenties. I was up to drinking a whole bottle of vodka, like the big 1.75 liter. Like I could dust one of those in my, in like one night by myself, you know, and it was getting pretty nasty and I was losing jobs and getting in these, they weren’t all bad relationships, but I was the one that was extremely self-destructive or those kinds of relationships in my life. Well, I finally met this one young lady and we started dating and it was really, really, really unhealthy. And we ended up having to, we had to break up, we had to break up. It was just, it was, it just wasn’t a good relationship.
Rob Decker: 16:09 Well, um, during that break up, one of my buddies who I previously worked with at a, at a gym, he was always trying to preach Jesus to me. And here’s the deal. Like, it’s not that I never believed in him because I totally did for whatever reason. Once again, I really believe that God with his word in our heart and the Lord is the word. And so I believed in him. I just wasn’t ready to commit. And sure, my buddy, you know, he knew my lifestyle. He knew that I was sleeping around. He knew I was drugging it up. He knew I was hitting the bottle, but he witnessed some of that stuff. I mean, my, my guy used to come pick me up from places just to make sure I was OK, but he never grilled me, never, never judged me, man. He was like, you know, he, he stayed in my life.
Speaker 2: 16:54 And eventually after the breakup, he took me to a Bible study and invited me to this Bible study and it’s where I received the Lord in the midst of all that. It was a very unique experience because I was shaking and I was sweaty and it’s not that I was thinking about anything and you’re in an air conditioned room, but something powerful happened that day. And um, and I accepted the Lord and I was coasting for like a month or two. I was going to church with these guys, I was good, you know, everything’s fresh, like you’re a baby right here. And uh, you know, I know how I treat my son – that little dude is spoiled. So God was doing the same thing to me.
Rob Decker: 17:33 And um, yeah. And then she, she came back into my life, man, you know, uh, she came back into my life and, and um, now that I had God, like here I am trying to pour into her and preach to her. And I just found out that she was escorting, you know, you know on Craigslist. It’s a choppy story. But my buddy, my buddy who was on craigslist and doing some stuff he probably shouldn’t have been doing and um, saw her advertising herself and you hit me up and he was like, Eh, you know, I cared, I cared. So I reached out to her and we started talking again and you know, the deal was that, you know, over time she would start to get rid of all her clients and we would try to work something out. And um, there was this one last Hurrah, like from my understanding, I don’t know if she ever had this one last guy, but from my understanding it was just one last guy.
Speaker 2: 18:26 Well, while she was on a trip with this guy, you know, she’s calling me up. She’s apologizing for anything that has ever happened to our relationship, the way that she treated me and it went, it was two way street, man. It’s not like she’s held the plane, but she, uh, she was sending me pictures of black eyed and she was telling me how the guy was disrespecting her and forcing himself and all that stuff. So here I’m like, she’s getting beaten and raped, like that’s my interpretation of this whole situation. And um, so, you know, uh, she was to come back home Memorial Day weekend and that’s what she did. She called me up and I was hanging out with a friend’s house. We’ve been drinking and I’m sure I was partying pretty heavily a few days before and um, she picked me up, we head to liquor store, get some more alcohol back to her place or her place.
Rob Decker: 19:13 We get into a conversation about everything has happened and you know, it’s supposed to head in a certain direction as like relationships do, and I just couldn’t, I couldn’t, I couldn’t go there. I couldn’t get intimate. I was like so overwhelmed with, you know, now I haven’t been God fact and I know everything I’m doing even though I’m hitting the bottle, like I know that, one, that’s about idea, but being in that relationship with a really bad idea of being met with a really bad idea and um, and we got into an argument, you know, and I couldn’t get over, you know, what happened to her over there. And what previously happened in our relationship, you know, and now God’s, you know, present in my life or at least I’m more aware of him and uh, I go downstairs, have to shake it all off and to close my eyes and I hear this banging on the front door and it’s the police department and they’re just like, oh, Robert Decker, we know you’re in there, open up.
Rob Decker: 20:08 And I’m like, I’m tripping. I’m like, what is this, you know? I, you know, no one wants to be woken up to the cops banging at the door, screaming your name. And uh, she comes downstairs and I looked at him like, what’s up? And she looks at me and I just, the look, I’m, she says, I called the cops and I told him that you raped me and that you tried to kill me. And in that moment I just, I just was so overwhelmed with betrayal and hopelessness. And you know, it’s interesting when you get put in a position like that, the amount of spot that goes into your mind that through you in such a short period of time, it’s pretty intense. And there’s a lot of it, at least that’s the way it feels and I’m in that moment. I just looked at her and I was like, I just can’t do this anymore.
Rob Decker: 21:02 You know, I was, I was still, I was still dealing with the drugs and the alcohol even though I was going to church, you know, I mean, I was still so fresh in this. I’m sure you know, I wasn’t working. Um, you know, I had no income. I wasn’t driving, I didn’t have my license. I was, I was couch hopping virtually, like staying with different people in the midst of all this. And fitness was like the only thing that I really had. I mean, I, I still found a way to get into a gym and work out with my friends. So a, uh, but in that moment I’m just like, I’m done. Like, I can’t do this. Like I just can’t live this life anymore. I mean, my childhood up until that moment just came into the perfect storm of events and being accused of those things.
Rob Decker: 21:45 I mean, crazy thing is that a couple of weeks prior to that, my buddy had told me, be careful that woman, like he spoke into my life, be careful about woman because she’s the kind of woman that will say that you raped her. And it was the craziest thing and I kind of move out because I’m like, dude, that kind of stuff doesn’t happen to me, man. Like I was that guy. Definitely that guy in that moment. And uh, and uh, in the midst of all that, I turned around and jumped, headfirst, ran, jumped headfirst through a closed window. And I remember just the breaking of the glass and it was “Operation Snap the Neck” – let’s die, we’re dying today. I’m not even doing this. I’m not going to prison for something I didn’t do, you know, especially something so nasty. [Jumped right through the window.] Jump, Superman’d it, Superman’d it right through the window.
Rob Decker: 22:38 And uh, yeah. And on my way down, my foot clipped an awning and changed my fall. And I ended up landing on left side of my body for the most part, and uh shattered, completely shattered my left arm. Like it was mangled, it was just, it was, it was, it was like if you took some branches in your hand, you snap them like 40 times [just shattered to pieces] for sure. And uh, I broke my right wrist because it partially, I guess, wanted to catch the fall, and I collapsed my left lung because of the impact of the concrete and I, I severed my L2, the really big vertebrae in my lower back while I cut it right in half and moved it all the way to the right side, like I in my x rays because I posted my x rays and stuff like that. But you can see my, my vertebrae is shifted to the right side. They never straightened that out again. And, and there I was, there I was all mangled on the concrete. And um, I remember being in this, this pain that I can’t even begin to describe, and I remember these shallow breaths and opening my eyes and looking up at this broken window that I just jumped out of. And uh, I just asked God like, why, why would you let me live? And uh, you know, then came the cops and the ambulance and they take me to the hospital and in that moment,
Jake Enriquez: 24:06 You know what, let me, let me ask this because when you’re in that moment, and how many stories was it?
Rob Decker: 24:11 So it was a three story loft. So I don’t know if you know how the loft works, but you know, they have the super high ceiling, right?
Jake Enriquez: 24:22 Hey, one story is tall, so three stories, I can only imagine, but. So you in that moment when you hit the ground, we just go into numbness, knocked out for a moment or what, how did that
Rob Decker: 24:37 All’s I remember, I don’t remember the fall. I don’t remember the contact. I remember opening my eyes and then I remember the shallow breath and the immense pain that I was in. Like I think that I was in so much pain that it was almost numb without being numb. Right, right. Yeah. And I couldn’t move. I couldn’t move. I was just kind of, there, you know.
Jake Enriquez: 24:57 And then you ask and you ask God why?
Rob Decker: 24:57 Yeah, as I was painted to the concrete down there. Yeah. Yeah.
Jake Enriquez: 25:07 And, and the reason why I ask you that because there comes a time in all of our, in our lives somewhere, I’m, I’m a firm believer in this. OK? And maybe I shouldn’t just blanket everybody, OK? So I’m not going to blanket everybody. So a lot of us, OK, let’s just put it that way. A lot of us, when we wrestle with God and when I hear you up until this point, I hear that you have wrestled with God for quite some time. In other words, He’s showing you try and reveal Himself to you and you’re getting it. You’re getting it slowly. But then you make a decision to turn back and do some of these things. And I understand. We all do that thing, rob. I’m not sitting there saying, hey, you did that. Whatever. We all kind of do these things. And then God reveals himself to you. And you know what you remind me of when I hear that story? It reminds me of Jacob.
Rob Decker: 25:07 Yes! I was just going to mention that. Yes, thank you, yeah.
Jake Enriquez: 26:06 Jacob, you know, in Genesis, uh, I think it’s 28:16. He says that Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it, and he was afraid and said how awesome it is in his place. Now at that moment you weren’t saying how awesome it is right here. Surely seeing that, hey you, when we get that, when we hit that spot, we cry out to the Creator. But, definitely. So there was a spot right there that I think about for you and your story that God is truly reveal Himself.