AlongTheWay

“Start Where You Are” - Rashawn Copeland AlongTheWay 86

March 01, 2021 John Matarazzo / Rashawn Copeland Season 1 Episode 86
AlongTheWay
“Start Where You Are” - Rashawn Copeland AlongTheWay 86
Show Notes Transcript

Rashawn Copeland learned the hard way that no matter how far away from God, you can Start Where You Are and still get back in line with God’s plan for your life. His testimony is compelling and it is easy hear the joy of the Lord in his voice and sense the call of God on his life.

https://www.rashawncopeland.me/

https://www.startwhereyouarebook.com/


AlongTheWay Links

Join My Email List

[email protected]

Become a Patreon https://www.patreon.com/AlongTheWay

More episodes and Social links for AlongTheWay

Watch episodes of My TV show RealLife & HopeToday

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/AlongTheWay)
Rashawn Copeland:

He reaches into his waistband. I didn't know what he was doing. But all of a sudden he pulls a pistol in the air. He waves it in the air. I turn it around, my heart fell at the bottom of my stomach. But here's what sadly happened. I slipped and fell, and he stood over me. Boom, boom, two golf shots ring out.

John Matarazzo:

Welcome to along the way. I'm John Matarazzo. Your host and fellow traveler, thank you for joining me along my way is to try to become more like Jesus every day. Rashad Copeland is the author of the book, start where you are, how God meets you in your mess, loves you through it and leads you out of it. He has a powerful testimony and contagious joy. If you want to learn how you can start where you are, then you are going to enjoy this conversation. I'll get to that conversation in just a moment. But as always, I want to thank you for listening to along the way. I hope that you like what you hear and that you subscribe, please rate and review along the way on Apple podcasts or wherever you're listening. All of my socials and contact links are in the show notes. And you can check out all of my episodes and join my email list at my website along the way dot media, I would love to hear from you. I also have a Patreon page if you want to help me to continue to put up these along the way episodes. If you'd like to become a Patreon supporter, simply go to patreon.com slash along the way and select the level. The link to become a Patreon supporter is in my show notes. And now here's my along the way conversation with Ray Shawn Copeland. Well, Ray Shawn Copeland, it is great to have you on along the way. Thanks so much for being here. It's quite a pleasure, I had the opportunity to hear a little bit about your story. And I am looking forward to going deeper and sharing that story with my audience here. And so rayshawn thank you so much for being here. I'd love to hear about your journey with the Lord john, I appreciate you, man. I love what you're doing. And you taking that brief moment to just share. You know, really how you got this podcast started. That was amazing man. Like we all need to have burning hearts for the Lord along the way. Amen. Amen. Amen. Yeah, you're right, Shawn is just for everybody that's listening, Rashawn is just mentioning that before we hit record, we had an opportunity to talk a little bit. And I just wanted to share what God did to really birth this podcast. And God has birthed a lot in you rayshawn. Yeah. And you've got an interesting book with, which is really your story. And it's called start where you are. Yeah. And in Pittsburgh, here where I live, we have this interesting saying, and sometimes if you're asking somebody for directions, they might respond to you with this phrase that said, Oh, you can't get there. From here. You've got to go somewhere else first. But I love that you're saying you can start where you are. So rayshawn tell me about how you started and how God led you to where you are absolutely, bro. Man. For me, for instance, I don't deserve to be where I am right now. You know, I'm shocked that I'm even a Christian to this very point to this very day, and even a Christian author, our minister, even socks we wore. But one thing that I wouldn't be hard pressed to say today is that we serve a merciful God. That who's always pursuing messy centers, like me and me, I'm in need of a great Savior. And I look that I look at myself in the mirror every day like, wow, God's redeemed me like I am a beloved child now. And I just hope everyone really embraces that, you know, those who are listening in that are along the way. And yeah, bro. So whenever I was in high school, and stuff, I was just confused about life. I had an identity crisis. I was attached to everything. But you know, God's plan and purpose for my life. I was more in tune with like, what society and culture was telling me was cool and relevant, like money in cars and in women and I was listening to the guys like 50 cent. I don't know if you know, rap rap for free. Oh, yeah. That was my guy back in the day. And, sadly, you know, me being an athlete and stuff. I didn't realize when I get to running with gang members like it's real life. And one day I was sitting in a park after dark with this young lady who had an ex boyfriend I didn't know about, but this guy calls his phone.

Rashawn Copeland:

You know, if this phone is ringing, and I look over at the girl's phone, me being a prideful, egotistical, high school football player, future college football star. I take things in my own hands and I grabbed her phone. snatch it from her. Hello, Yo, what up? Why you? Indian? I hear this then I hear this. Why are you with my girl? Why are you with my girl? And all of a sudden? You know, I'm saying I'm barking back at the guy saying Yo, this is my girl. You need to chill out and this guy. Needless to say, he provokes me to give him the address where we were at a park. Oh, wow. And that was an unwise decision because

John Matarazzo:

that's definitely doesn't sound wise. No,

Rashawn Copeland:

yeah, that was a totally unwise I'll never do that again. Especially with the yeah with the guy who's talking beat my head and you know where it's but needless to say, Man, you know, as we're sitting in this, I end up hanging up, he hung up. And then we sit in this park man, the girl we're listening to this music where the doing high school students do fogging up the windows, okay, talking crazy. All of a sudden the van pills and they pull in about 20 feet across from us. I'm nervous at this point. I tell the young lady Hey, just sit here, sit here, chill. And she thought she noticed what the car like she thought she knew who it was. And she said it may be her ex boyfriend. And I was like, oh, man, I did give him the address. So I'm getting out the car. And all of a sudden five guys jump out of the car. I'm not talking about burgers, right? Yeah. And as I'm walking towards them, my heart's beating out of my chest. My mind's racing at this point. And I'm like, What am I getting myself into as I'm walking over there. And you're how old at this time. I'm a young 17 year old at that time. You know, just foolish as ever. And as I'm walking close to them, they're walking closer to me, the short guys leading the pack. And as I get close to them, I noticed that was her ex boyfriend. Because I follow him are well, well, I was following him on but no Tim on MOSFETs I knew what he was doing. But uh, he reaches into his waistband. And I'm like, I didn't know what he was doing. But all of a sudden he pulls a pistol in the air. He waves it in the air. I turn it around my heart Bell at the bottom of my stomach. But here's what sadly happened. I slipped and fell. And he stood over me. Boom, boom, two gunshots ring out.

John Matarazzo:

He stood over you shot you. Oh, not from a distance boy. Hey, boy, he intended to kill you. Yeah,

Rashawn Copeland:

for sure. And if I had not have by the grace of God if it was only the grace of God, but if the Lord had not given me giving me these reflexes, what to move my legs up in the air quick like this to cover my chest, my vital organs, my chest, I really believe he would have hit down in my vital organs and things like that. But needless to say, I he pierced two bullets through my my leg, the back of my knee and went through my hamstring and it missed my artery by like, a half inch or so it was just something ridiculous. It was crazy. So by the grace of God, man like they ran off and they drove out and sped on the car. But I got up in this I'm running I didn't know I was shot in that moment. You know, cuz adrenaline, I thought I you know, went unscathed in a way. But I went over to the car. And when I dive at the left side of the car, the passenger side, my left, I'm looking to the you know, door, the doors wide open the young girls gone. And, you know, at this moment, I hear this van still not too far away. I was thinking someone had jumped out of the van to come over and finish me off. So I'm over here nervous out of my mind. And I don't know what's going on. But here's the way I found out. I was shot. I was laying on this coast, he meant a warm blood began to come up my back and I went and I had a panic attack at that moment. And remember, just I, I didn't know I was in such a dark place, brother. I can't even really put into words, but it was one of the saddest freak moments I ever experienced. But I did remember this. In that moment, I began to think about like, Wow, my coaches aren't here. You know, my friends aren't here. My parents are here. You know, my teammates are here in the girl, the girl that also somewhat was arguing about She's not even here right now. Like what is life been? You're all alone. Yeah, I was all alone, the darkest moment of my life. And I only had God to call out on and I cried out to the God of the universe. And he met me where I was, and I'm dazzled that he meets us, you know, the God of the dazzling mountaintop is the God of the valley man. And he met me where I was in that valley.

John Matarazzo:

So did you have a relationship with the Lord before

Rashawn Copeland:

that? No, not an authentic relationship. Matter of fact, I was more of a hedonist that I was cool to think of this idea called God, but I didn't personalize them. And nor did I care, too. It was that moment where I was like, wow, okay, I need I need help beyond what a person or even myself can do. I need God. So I cried out at that moment. And he met me there.

John Matarazzo:

And how did God meet you there? Because you're leaving as often women. You're sitting on this concrete got that you just realize that this is what's happening because you've got this warm blood that's on you now. Yeah, you can't leave us there. What happened next

Rashawn Copeland:

man, that's something that always wrestle with like, like, How did this happen? You know, because it wasn't supposed to happen. I should have been damned to hell that night. I'm just being honest. I should have went should have died that night. But here's what's beautiful in Christ gave me life in a way. But he used the man who came up who pulled up in a, in a truck. And this guy gets out. I call him an angel to this day, it was like 20 minutes later, but it felt like an eternity. But this guy, he comes up to me, and he grabs me, and he throws me on the back of his shirt on the shoulder. And he puts me in his truck, and I'm bleeding. Like, like, God knows what, right? And yeah, speeds off, and he's running lights and everything. To get me to the hospital. We pull up to the hospital, he runs around, and I don't know this guy. This was insane, bro. This was insane. It was a miracle from God. Yeah, throws me on the back of his shoulders. He runs me into the hospital. And then they got to work. And I'm never in this is what gets me. I never seen that guy to this day. I've never seen him to this day. And I'm just blown away by how God uses like moments like that to show us his mercy and kindness, man.

John Matarazzo:

Yeah. So you're a high school athlete. So you're not a small guy. And all this. You said, This guy just picked you up over his shoulder and put you in the back of his truck. Yeah,

Rashawn Copeland:

that just wow. Yeah. And he didn't seem he was definitely shorter than me. I could definitely tell that. And he didn't seem as if he was a strong guy. I don't remember wrap my arms around muscles. All I knew is that I just needed help. And someone here is healthy. Like, yeah, it was Wow.

John Matarazzo:

Did he say anything to you?

Rashawn Copeland:

It was very, what was weird about it. There wasn't many words. He said like, I got you. I got you. That's the only three words I remember. I got you. But outside of that. I mean, literally, he took me into the hospital. And they put me on like a gurney bill in. I never seen them to that point. But I do remember this. He was wearing a white shirt. It was full of blood. You know, now that I look in retrospect, just to think about like, in the same way, you know, Jesus shed his blood for us in? You know, I don't know like that. He makes her us whiter than snow, man. I don't know. I just think about that. We're covered by the blind.

John Matarazzo:

Absolutely, absolutely. You know, Jesus took our sins upon himself for us. Wow. So how long were you in the hospital? What What did they do there?

Rashawn Copeland:

So I was in the hospital. It was at least two weeks or so two weeks in? Tons of morphine. But I remember you were in really bad shape. Oh, yeah. Yeah, for sure. Definitely. And I thought I didn't think I was gonna make it do like this. The amount of blood loss alone. I wasn't supposed to be here. What was amazing, was when I see my dad come in, I'll never forget that he's the stern military officer. You know, he's this guy that never would cry guy have great bravado and things like that, but I seen him walk in that night I got shot with tears flowing down his eyes and and I just never forgot that. I was like, how much more wasn't this my Heavenly Father? You know, cry out that I know him and then I walk in what I'm supposed to walk in, you know? Yeah, his purpose for my life. So yeah, so after that, dude, I realized who my friends were, you know, a lot of guys who were supposed to be my friends I've never heard of even the schools in one of the toughest things is when our idols start to get stripped the things we we love so much is taken away overnight. That was football for me like the big scholarships that I had. Overnight, taken away. They was like, we don't want gang members on our on our team. And well, there was one coach I heard specifically said that, but a lot of other scholarships were taken in it. Yeah, it was just it was sad news for me. But at the end of the day, it got me back into the Word of God, you know, and because I grew up in the Baptist snitch, and I heard about God I knew about we have Bibles all around the house. I just never read them. But that forced me to get back in there when you are left to no resources. Right,

John Matarazzo:

right. Everything else fails. So you said you got back into the Bible with that point. Where did you get a Bible? Because it seems like you hadn't been around a Bible in a while judging from what you were just talking about? Love it.

Rashawn Copeland:

That's a great question. And so what even compelled me, you know, because it hasn't been the grace of God, and the voice of God calling me in that hospital room because he use a nurse. This nurse wrote down a song, and she says something like, it was just something so powerful, but I'm trying to remember she said something like you have never been forsaken. You have never been left. It's like a Mercy Hospital type deal. Like a capital, okay, but she was a Christian girl, and she hands me over a note and I'll never forget that and that was the first thing that sort of plant the seed that needs to get back into the Word of God and like it was so weird, because I will see Bibles around, but I'll never get into them. But whenever my resources failed, and I died with them, I only collect to what they would call to book a life man. And I opened it up and I never looked back. Well, I didn't look back I did pay. But the thing is I there was something that was continually willing me over that time I was a false convert for sure are either practical or really bad political sign after that, but God really got me later in LA, though, so

John Matarazzo:

yeah. So you mentioned something in passing when you said about your dad being this military dude. Yeah. So did you grew up traveling all over and moving in different places and around the country? I'm sure that your dad, he ran a tight ship, I'm guessing at the house.

Rashawn Copeland:

Yeah. My dad boy, he was. We were four boys too.

John Matarazzo:

Okay. So he needed he needed some authority there. Yes.

Rashawn Copeland:

And everything. Throughout my life, I felt like it was so Performance Base, and it was in pretty much was bad. Like, their love was there. But it felt like, dude, I have to do this right. Are I'm gonna be I you know what I mean? So I struggle with that a long time. And you know, I couldn't help because he grew up without a dad, he wanted to do a great job of raising great boys. But the problem is, we need grace. And the greatness doesn't come from us, you know. So yeah, that's grown. And that was something that I had to do by getting acquainted with my Heavenly Father, and still honor my dad, the best I can. He did the best he could as a father, I could say that.

John Matarazzo:

Yeah, that's great that he was able to be there at the hospital that night just to see you. And yeah, that you have that memory of him shedding a tear for you somebody that you didn't think that that was something that you'd see very often, you know, that he loved you at that point, for sure.

Rashawn Copeland:

So true. Rather, yeah.

John Matarazzo:

So tell me about you. You got this Bible, and you started reading it. But when did you encounter Jesus? And when did that change happen in your life? Love it. So years later, you know, I

Rashawn Copeland:

answered the promise that, um, you know, sin, it promises us a lot of stuff, you know, even fun, it delivers on a lot of that stuff to find, but here's what it doesn't show you that it also delivers emptiness. So, years after, you know, one going to college plan sports, sleeping around acting a fool even spending time selling drugs with some of my guys in college, just because the Pell Grant wasn't enough for us, right? I go off and I have the secret life where one side of me is this ROTC cadet doing great in academics go on to Army Medical School, but the other side of me is going to strip clubs at night doing whatever I can to fill that sort of deep longing that I can only find in Christ I wanted, you know, that longing for to be seen successful in the side of the world. But here's what's wild about that, bro. Um, after getting into Army Medical School being there for a while, I realized that do my cousin is out in LA. He's in big movies, like with Zac Efron, the lucky one, like an American Reunion in American Pie. He's like, the only black guy in this movie. And I'm, like, envious. But I'm excited for him one another side of me. And I'm like, No, I gotta get out of this uniform. You know, this as an army officer, I'm done. I don't want to do this anymore. I want to get out now life and live up, live it up, right? YOLO you only live once. So I ended up saying to my commander, after I graduate or in medical school, I want to go out and join the reserves and go out and chase and pursue what I want to do. And so the army allows me to do what I want to do in a way and get out and go to reserves, and I go out to LA and finally, when I get there, I get around my cousin. He's already with other celebrities in these influencers. I start riding a rocket ship with social media fame, start getting a name out there. I was doing it for the vine in my social media platform start growing up. I was working with all these different major like the Oprah Winfrey Network, and I was doing some things with Soulja Boy as a height man. I mean, living in a nice home in a valley had a G wagen. You know, I was in meetings with people who would wear PJ's just getting off a PJ and private jet. I mean, wow, life was good. But at the end of the day, I was miserable. I was empty on the inside, like on the outside people can be like he's wearing a branded clothes. He suited and booted he looks good. He's on Hollywood Boulevard at night with the stars. But deep down me I was scarred man up. I remember being in my room wrestling one night. Here's where The Jesus moment came. I'm wrestling with, you know, God didn't even know I was wrestling with God. But I was just saying, Why am I here? You know, that famous line? Why am I here? Yeah. And I remember what sealed the deal was, I got a message from a friend, you know, and this was guys I loved and I cared about and to struggle with this rejection that they gave me, you know, was just terrible. They was just like Russia, we don't with you, bro. We found out that, you know, this or that. And really, it was also envy because my platforms were growing bigger than them. But they were good friends of mine from high school. And they were in LA trying to pursue, but I just knew that they wanted something from me. So I was like, Nah, I was holding off on them, but it just tore up our relationship. So the end of the day, I was struggling with them walking away from me, me being good friends with them for so long. And not only that the girl that was my dream girl had walked away from me that same week, and I was like, Okay, I'm about to take my life. I'm done. What's going on? Yeah, so I walked down the hall. And I go into the room where the pistol was, and I unlock it, I get out the pistol I walked down the hall, it felt like an eternity. And as I'm walking into my room, I go get on my knees, and I put the pistol in my mouth and I'm shaking, and I'm sweating at this point, like, at this point, I'm just my heart's beating out of my chest. I don't know what's on the other side of eternity, right? So I put the gun down, I put it back in my mouth. I'm shaking, I put the gun down, put it back in my mouth. I'm shaking. I did it so on and so on. But there was two thoughts that came through my mind. Number one, if I were to shoot myself right now, and I were to live, I thought Can I go through the same pain that I went through when I was a seven year old boy like I don't want to go through that again when I had got shot down? No. So but if I here's the second thing, I thought if I were to shoot myself and I were to die, am I ready to meet this? This loving this all knowing, all seeing God whose infinite wisdom and knowledge and understanding but yet still wholly in raffle? Am I ready to meet him? Because I read about it. I heard about it. Am I ready to meet them my maker. So I was wrestling between those things. But all of a sudden, when I go to put the pistol back in my mouth, I see my phone lit up. I seen the light, right. I thought on the pistol, you know, slowly but surely. I didn't really throw it down. But I set it down. I picked up the phone. And I click you know the notification and there was a verse, there was a young lady, only Christian girl that I hadn't knew that wrote this. Oh, how wide how deep, how vast the love of God is and nothing in all creation can separate us from this love this found in Christ Jesus was like when I was reading and reading up again weeping and weeping. And that night I unload my heavy soul to the God of the universe, man and he met me there. That was the wild part about it. And I remember I mean, you don't go from sunshine, you know, dark darkness, the darkest Valley to sunshine and rainbows in a given moment. You don't go to church like that. So I wrestle with God that night. But I remember just having this again, peace. But then I wrestled in, I fell asleep. I ended up falling asleep. But this is where it got me mad. As I'm sleeping. All of a sudden I wake up it was like maybe four in the morning or something. And I have this urge to look underneath my bed, which is really weird. And I go over and I turn on the light. And I go back to the bed, though the covers over my head and like look underneath the bed. And then I finally I go to look underneath the bed. And there was a suitcase I had never seen before.

John Matarazzo:

This is your bed.

Rashawn Copeland:

Yeah, this is my bed. But however, I was working for an agency called for Breazeale agency out of New York that would bring talents in and out of this home and artists or actors everything okay, and I've never seen the suitcase before I pull it out from underneath the bed. Doom Doom, open it up. And there you go. Some dirty clothes, some stinky clothes, but on top of the trash. There was a treasure. It was a book guess what book it was?

John Matarazzo:

I'm gonna guess the Bible.

Rashawn Copeland:

That's it. The B I B L E Yes, that's the book f me. I stand upon the Word of G d is the BI ble. And when I beg n reading it, it began the read me and I opened it up and I go to the red letters bro. And those red letters stuck out ike a semi truck 100 mph and it me head on man and and as read it, it was these wor s. If anyone wants to be my dis iple, they must deny themselve pick up the cross and follow e but it said he did. wants t keep his life must losing but h that loses his life for my na esake child gain it. And then th s was all the marbles for a l the jewels all the go all et rnity right here. Well I laid d wn on these words. And they said this, what does it profit a an to gain the whole world, b t yet lose his soul? That spoke to me like no other brawls like, like, my whole life, I've been r nning after things, pursuing t ings. And at the end of the day, is it worth my soul My eternity, and I just turned my my life ov r the best I knew how, you k ow, I didn't have the words t say. But I literally worked y way out of that home. Immediat ly, I felt just God compelled me to pack up, which was only on book bag. And I stole that Bibl that night. Matter of fact, s the number one phone book n the world. And I got this. An they look back this read the ord

John Matarazzo:

Wow. So I can't leave this part alone. You said you got a random text message with a Bible verse. Were you texting with this person beforehand? And they just are it was just like, God told them to send rayshawn this verse right now

Rashawn Copeland:

what's wild about it? So that would have been really careful with the text. But it was actually a notification out notification from Facebook, that, you know, Genesis, which is her name, have posted that verse. And then I was like, oh, wow, yeah. And I was so weird that I clicked on it. But I remember her being one of the most contagious people I had ever met. Whenever I was out at my brother's football game at Baylor University, we were at a party that happened to be a Christian party, you know, full of Christians. But I remember it being so different from the girl, she was so different from the girls, I will see it in LA, you know, in they, the women in LA, they'll overlook you. And they'll look pass you to the door, making sure no one someone else famous. They'll see if they walk in and this and that. But she was intently that night looking at me and she wanted to know, like, was my soul care? Rather, she wanted to know if I was okay. And she wanted to know me for me. Yeah. And hear from me. And you got a notification that she posted that Bible verse. Yeah, page everything.

John Matarazzo:

We know that we get a lot of notifications on our everyday thing. But I definitely know that God allowed that one to rise to the top to get your attention at that right time.

Rashawn Copeland:

Yes, sir. At that time,

John Matarazzo:

so that same night that you had that gun to your head, you had that experience? What when did how long from that night until you bought the bus ticket

Rashawn Copeland:

literally the next morning, so that happened about four in the morning, I end up just may have to make a split decision like am I going to stay here? Or am I going to respond to a God who is you know, revealed to me in this moment, and I was like born again, I seen everything different from that moment on it was like something turned in my life. So I went and I grabbed that Bible, I put on my book bag and I just left I left the G wagen I left the house I left all my possessions. I jumped on the city bus that late bus at this point, that bus will run all the time and I will see it all the time but I never noticed this park but you know this bitch bus bench goes right by my house. But it stuck out to me and I just sat there and the bus came and I just start riding on that bus for like four hours bro. You know a lot of people you know we read through the Bible and we see Jesus mean people like Galilee, the Samaritan woman you know mean people everywhere but he truly meant me on that bus bra start reading the words of Jesus like no other for like the next four hours. And I was all over the city. I did several transfers the different buses I ended up downtown later that day, probably around three or something pm. Because I got off. I walked around a bit and I got on another bus but I finally get downtown at about 3pm and all of a sudden here the Greyhound bus where there's a whole bunch of homeless folks and I began to talk to them about Jesus. And you know of course I got my first you know bit of persecution. Thankfully not like Steve and I and get stoned to death for now but I started sharing what I what I knew like have you heard of this, this and that. So I got my love for the homeless there. And I ended up getting with the guy on the Greyhound where I was just like okay, let me just go back to Oklahoma. So I get on the Greyhound bus and literally wrote that bus for the next 20 hours. By that time my phone was dead. I didn't really have any money on me. You know besides my debit card and and things like that, but I got on the Greyhound bus and we get past Phoenix, Arizona and I remember just weeping. And I remember just putting even a logo, a black logo on all my social media profiles at that point. Like, I'm ghosts, I'm like out, I mean, I'm blacking out of all this. And I stayed off social media for like, at least the next few months, and I just got myself before the Lord. Wow. And it was sort of like what Moses did when he left.

John Matarazzo:

His You know, he left Egypt, in other words for 40 years. Yeah.

Rashawn Copeland:

So that was that was something that God just he was just working in me to do that. So it wasn't even a desire, necessarily for me at that moment to not even in my interest, but it was just something that I was compelled to. And it became a desire. Yeah, it was God's desire for me. So

John Matarazzo:

So how did this I mean, you you wrote a book you you're a pastor, now you're you've got a lot of things going on in ministry, fill in the gaps for me, how did you get there

Rashawn Copeland:

to this day, I still think about it. Like only God could take a high school student, who essentially had a lot of DS and all this stuff, have a terrible report card and turn them into an author. You know what I'm saying? I've never mentioned that my fourth grade teacher told me never pick up a pen and write again. And I held on to that for years. Like I was haunted by that. But it's something so beautiful, how God literally rewrites our story. He does. And I love how he makes all things brand new. Like he gives us new taste buds on the tongue of our heart. You know, I was a hedonist man, but he made me basically what john Piper was, say a Christian he didn't it's like a heart for God that is most satisfied. When you know, yeah, when him in him.

John Matarazzo:

So how did you get into ministry what you said that you have a love for the homeless, but let me hear about the ministry that God's called you to

Rashawn Copeland:

perfect. So as I'm there, you know, didn't know nothing about ministry. alayka you know what it looks like to minister even though I was being ministered to like my whole life by the nurse at the hospital, you know, by the young lady that came out of nowhere through social media posts. But Dude, I didn't realize what ministering was until I was ministered to by God when I was in the lonely trenches of my bedroom. And Jesus met me there when I was actually it was my brother's bedroom when I had got back from that Greyhound bus, right? I went and laid on my brother's floor for for several months, and I got planted in a church. And when I got planted in the church, awesome man of God came around me guys who are so devoted to Christ and who loved the Lord not perfect by any means. They share a vulnerability and authenticity, their brokenness, but yet they have this joy for God and for the kingdom of God and for his people in this love that just shook me and left me in awe. And I started following them as they follow Christ. And all of a sudden, God has given me favor to go speak into inmates like he opened up the door for me to go into prisons, and juvenile detentions to start sharing my faith in it was a little bit you know, tough and sticky at times, because I just didn't know how but I just started with my story. So we all can, you know, along the way, open up our mouth and share what God has done in our life. And that's where I started man. And what matter of fact, what purpose this book was when I was at the Big Joe, I'll work I ended up loving it so much ministering there I got a job there's a deal detention officer in really, bro, here's what stuck out john, I will see women who had just can't come in there, you know, one Thunder cheerleaders, NBA cheerleaders, who had just come in there before DUI. And I would also see folks in there for murder. And I would ask them the same question like, Would you ever consider coming to Christ like he loves you to try to share the gospel the best I knew how. Right they would all say the same thing. They would all say do you see my life? Do you see where I'm at now? I gotta get my life together first or like they will say things like that like no matter of fact I just read the other night in his baby Krishna right like that Jesus you know he didn't come for those who have it all together but for those who are sick and need a doctor he came for you and it took a while to get the understand that you know one man plants a seed up another waters but God makes it grow. Yeah, yeah, I would be discouraged some time when they didn't respond. But yeah, thankfully the word never returns void. You know,

John Matarazzo:

that is so true. You know, it's it's great to know that you just had this passion to then share your faith with other people. Yeah. And even though you didn't have, you know, the probably the four spiritual laws memorized or all these other ways that you share the gospel and, you know, you don't have a theological degree you you know, you were just telling people about this Jesus that you met, and He changed your life. And he can change your life to a that's all that's as simple as it can be. And that's just awesome that you just took whatever opportunity that you could to share your faith like that. Yeah. And so do you have any stories of somebody that has like that their life has been turned around? And because of a simple invitation like that,

Rashawn Copeland:

love it. So yeah, I can matter of fact, I'll stay right in the county jail. There's been many times many times that I've seen people as a corrections officer, yes. Not

John Matarazzo:

in the county. Whoa, just making that clear. Everybody's wondering, making that clear. No,

Rashawn Copeland:

thankfully, I wasn't an inmate man. No longer a slave. But you know, I'm saying but, but anyways, I was working there one day, and you know, I was a baby Christian still. And I had just printed out this, you know, awesome book, I wouldn't share it around our right little letters across the Joe's really fun times. But one day, one specific day, I was discouraged. I went to the bottom of the jail. And I had to just pray to God like God, you know, I need you here today with me and, you know, walk, show me where to walk. And I'll go, and needless to say, I finally get to the 12th floor, he led me there. I walk in, the big door opens up. And it's allowed sort of one of the craziest places disciplinary segregation is the Gil within the jail where the rotten sort of apples are up there. And as I'm walking around ministering to folks and talking to them, I finally get to cell number 12. And there was a young man who's in there, and I knew about him, I knew of him. And needless to say, as I'm going to go talk to him and to minister to him, he says, cope, cope. Hey, bro, go go over there to the middle of the pod, go over to the middle of the pot. And there's a book, grab that book for me. And as I get over there, they're lifted up and it's a Quran, you know, and I thought this dude, I know he isn't a religious man. So he must be just pulling my chain right now. Something you know, is up. So I'm walking back over towards them. And I opened up the little cubby deal where you put the tray in the tray. And as I open it up, all of a sudden, he throws this warm liquid out at me, guess what it was? I can't joke about I can laugh about it today.

John Matarazzo:

But Whoo, boy, we're laughing that

Unknown:

Yeah. Laughing man,

Rashawn Copeland:

I want it to matter of fact, I wanted to speak in a tongue that needed no interpretation. And I remember being so frustrated, but I wanted to because everyone knew me as the joyful kid, the man of God, have in that pod, but somehow, someway, God gave me the shit not to like outbursts or curse him or to do anything belligerent. And what I decided to do is calmly walk out why the whole places laughing. I mean, they're laughing guy, he got pissed on pisspot new boot new boot. They're calling me new boot because I was pretty new, still working, okay. And I get to the door. And as I'm walking out, I'm just like, God, I'm like, in a way, just arguing with God. Like why why God I told you I'm having a terrible day. Like, why this why now? And I get to the little elevator takes me down in my supervisor, I guess they seen on camera. What happened? He meets me towards the door where I was gonna walk out of I was just gonna quit. And he was like, No, let's talk about this. Let's write a report. Let's talk about it. We'll get you squared away. I was like, No, I'm out of here, Bs. And I finally get out to my car and he's walking with me out to my car and let's talk about it or Shawn. And I'm like, No, I quit. And then I get in my car and I go to drive out uphill out. And as I pull off and I get over to the the light that is down the street from the jail. All of a sudden I hear the voice of God tell me to go back in at this moment. I was just like, okay, no, why go back and I was like, okay, God, and then all of a sudden, because I was all over the place. And I was like, Okay, I'm gonna do it in blind obedience. I went back, I parked the car. I went downstairs into the laundry room, and they gave me a new outfit, cleaned up a little bit. And I went, I felt compelled to go back up to the 12th floor. So I get back to where this homemade is they're laughing at me. They're like, you know, just making fun of me. I'm walking towards the sale. I get to sell 12 a look in there. And the man he's just like, Yo, what you back for a coat? Why you come back? You want some more bro? And like he has this face on them? And I'm like, No Matter of fact, I want you to know dude, I love you and I forgive you. But more importantly than that, God gave me the power to tell him this. That Jesus loves you so much and he died on the cross for your sins and like he's not done. With you, I said something along that along that you may have given up on him, but he's not done with you and I walk away and I'm like trying to get out of there, why they laughing and stuff. But all of a sudden, as I get close to the door, I hear this, you know, code, yo, cope, come back, come back. And he stops him in my tracks, and I turn around and I walk back towards tell to him like, why does he want me to come back? It's so weird, though, as I'm getting over there, and I look into the window. tears are flowing down this man space, tears are flowing down this man face and he said, You know what, man, no one's told me in a long time, they love me, man. And that they care for me. Um, and come to find out as I was speaking to him, he told me that, you know, from the moment he was born, he was in a foster home, like, and he was always rejected by his parents. His mom had died at a young age, his dad went off to prison and died in prison. Like it was a whole bunch of stuff mess in his life. And he was a liquid and depraved almost his whole life. And I remember just ministered to him about the Lord and how God is close to the brokenhearted. And, you know, he's with those with a contrite spirit. Like, do you have a contrite spirit right now he wants you and like, ministering to this kid. And soon enough, he traded the Quran. For the book of john, we got into the Gospels. And and I stayed there with him for hours that night, talking about the love of God through Christ Jesus who came to die for sinners like us, who rose again, on the third day, he's not still dead. He rose again, with all power in his hand so we can now live in and give his life. So what's amazing, bro is that he gave his life to Christ. That night. He beat his case, several months later, and he became a preacher on the south side of Oklahoma City. Now he's preaching in LA right now, brother, and he has these outreaches that are huge in our city. Right now for gang members. He's going to all the dangerous neighborhoods, and they don't several it's called bangin for Jesus in Oklahoma City. He's doing amazing things for Christ. Now by the grace of God.

John Matarazzo:

Yeah. Because God spoke to you as you were peeling out trying to leave. God said, I'm not done with him yet. And you went back and you forgave him. And his life turned around. That's amazing. Yes, bro. That is amazing. See?

Unknown:

Wow.

John Matarazzo:

Wow. So tell me some of the message that you have in start where you are? Because it seems like you You know, took you a little bit of time to get started. But it didn't matter where it was that you started us just started?

Rashawn Copeland:

Yes. In here's the thing, brother, like, just like you wrote, john, I know you have a place where you have to start and God had to meet you there like no one else could, you know, you had it all together, your life was together, like no one can tell you nothing. We I think we all get to that place where we're a good person, whether or not we others, believe it or not, or whether or not we believe we are. But I think what's so cool about it is like, Jesus doesn't turn you know, us in a perfect Christians. But he turns us into beloved children, like we were slaves. And now we can experience this sonship. And one thing that I can say for myself, personally, is that those who are gonna read this book or pick it up is we all need mercy. We all need mercy for our mess. We're all sinners, who are in route to a place called hell, you have to speak on that without the mercy and grace of God. And I want to just encourage someone out there today is that God loved you so much, He sent His Son to die for you. And he loves you deeply no matter where you are today. And he wants you to receive that message, you know,

John Matarazzo:

so we're getting close to the to wrapping up here. But I have to ask you, you know, just like the disciples were walking with Jesus along the way. And they didn't realize that it was him until they sat down at the table and Jesus bless the food and breaks the bread, and then poof, he's gone. And they turn to each other and realize what would happen and they said, weren't our hearts burning within us along the way? You know, rayshawn where was a moment that your heart was burning, but you don't realize it until you look back? You know what,

Rashawn Copeland:

a lot of times for me personally I glazed over the fact that the scripture reveals the greatest burning heart ever, which was Christ when I realized his heart and how it burned for me, that changed everything. When I realized that all while was a sinner, Christ died for me. And I make it personal like what Paul says. It's no longer I who live, but it's Christ who lives in me and the life that I now live is by In the Son of God who loved me, that passion, who loved me is personal for him, and gave himself up for me. That changes everything when I realized his love for me personally, to have the wrath of God poured out on him. For me, it changed everything. I don't need no more fire from nowhere with this effort to see the heart of God for me. And that changes my heart to be on fire for him. And I gotta go share it with the world, though I'm indebted. Well, to me, if I don't preach the gospel, pass it, I gotta go share the Word of God.

John Matarazzo:

So your heart is definitely burning. And I can I can tell that just from our conversation here. And you know, other places that I've seen you as well, too, but kind of my follow up question to that rayshawn. If you could have a time machine, and get in that time machine and go and visit little ratio on somewhere along your own timeline. And give yourself some piece of advice. With the wisdom that and the knowledge that you have now. What stage of life would rayshawn be in? And what would you want to tell? Tell the younger version of yourself? What's that advice? And also, what's what would be happening in in, in young Ray Sean's life that you need that information to? Wow, that's

Rashawn Copeland:

a good question. So honestly, I would pray on before I even go talk to the younger son, I would pray understanding that he would have a heart of understanding over him because I blocked off so many people, so much wisdom, so much loving advice and truth that was spoken to me my whole life. So I would pray understanding. But the second thing is, I would definitely hope that God will take that restaurant to a broken place faster, me like that, it will turn my heart. Because here's the thing, what I've discovered, brother, that brokenness is the place that stops us, it halts us, it kills our progress. So we reach a dead end, though there's nowhere else to go right. In that we realize we come to this realization that all that we have all that we are all that we are trying to become outside of God in and of ourselves is utterly insufficient. That's when you find out in that place of brokenness. That's why I love what David said. David said this after, you know, Psalm 61, after he committed those acts against Bathsheba and killed Uriah. He said, this brother, he said, Let these bones you have crushed, rejoice that chant when I read that, let these like, God breaks us to save us literally. And I pray that that rashaan could when he experienced because it's coming when he experiences it, that he would have understanding, to walk with God through it and acknowledge God with him through that brokenness, in walk, follow after him. And that's all I got, man. Because outside of that, everything else is going to be insufficient empty in a dead end.

John Matarazzo:

Yeah. So you're saying that little rayshawn wouldn't have been able to detour that, you know, go different direction. Yeah, he needed to go. You needed to go through that stuff. Yes, you? Yeah. You just wouldn't you just wanted it to happen quicker,

Rashawn Copeland:

quicker, quicker. But here's another thing, like, when I was there, I didn't have the knowledge or the understanding our wisdom to know that it's, it's not when I'm in the place of brokenness, it's not for me to to look at myself. That's why a lot of people struggle with depression. I've struggled with depression, where I'll put myself in a little box, and it's all focused back on me. Like in when we're no sorry, places those broken spots, we tend to focus on ourselves or we focus on others or circumstances. When we miss God. I will pray that young boy or Shawn with fixes eyes on God have a perspective of prayer praise, you know, that's empowered by prayer in no one the person of Jesus, amen. Amen. Amen.

John Matarazzo:

You know, Rashad, you've talked about a lot of different times that the Bible has come alive to you in different areas. Do you have a verse that you would consider like a life verse that you just hold on to right now?

Rashawn Copeland:

Yeah, I'm in it. For me, it goes back to Psalm one. I'm a psalm guy,

John Matarazzo:

but it's good man. It's a good book.

Rashawn Copeland:

I think it's just so valuable. Um, and psalms one is so timely for me because one blessing is he says, this blessing is he I want to be a blessing. Blessing is He who does not walk in step with the wicked, nor take the way that sinners take nor sit in the company of mockers, but bless it is he who delights in the law of the Lord. You know, for he will be prosperous, successful and all he does. The Scripture says that's not so for the wicked. The wicked is like chaff. He's blown and tossed by the wind my whole life. I was blown and tossed by the wind. But

John Matarazzo:

yeah, you're when you're anchored in God, you'll be a blessed man. And whatever the light far this world brings you. You can weather the storm with him being anchored in him. Amen. Amen. You know, at the beginning of our conversation, I made mention of that little phrase that's often used here in Pittsburgh, of, you know, somebody asks you for directions, and you get the response. You can't get there from here. I am so so glad that God doesn't tell us we have to go somewhere else before we can before we can meet him. You know, I want to right now. rayshawn give you the opportunity to talk to somebody that's listening, that says, I don't think I can start right here. Hmm. Encourage them to meet Jesus and to start where you are. Amen.

Rashawn Copeland:

So if you're listening in right now, I just want to encourage you listen, Jesus didn't die for the perfect version of you, okay? You don't have to be perfect He died for not who you pretend to be but who you actually are. And we actually are broken and sinful people, whether we like it or not, we've all lied, cheated, stolen on some degree, right? We've done something that is lower than what God has for us that is, is lower than the standard he's laid out. And I want to encourage you today Jesus, is that perfection for us and you can choose him today No matter how messy Your life is. And not only will he change your life here, but he'll give you everlasting life and I want to encourage you with that,

John Matarazzo:

you know, and hey man could you pray for somebody that that's that wants to make that decision okay

Rashawn Copeland:

definitely So Father God I thank you for our listeners whoever's listening in right now specifically driving in their car. Maybe they're on a train right you know where they are, Lord are their head on the pillow got remind them that you own a cattle on 1000 Hills, you're providing for them. But Laurie, you gave them the best wishes your son in through his death, his resurrection, and the life that he gives. They can have eternal life right now. So he that here's me, Jesus said He that believes in he who sent me will not be condemned, or cross over from death to life. I just pray that they would have ears to hear from you. Today as we end out this podcast this episode with my brother, I just pray that you would move in their hearts move in their lives to crossover from death to life, from hopelessness to pure joy. In Jesus name, amen.

John Matarazzo:

Amen. Amen. Thank you, Shawn.

Unknown:

Thank you know, I've

John Matarazzo:

really enjoyed our conversation here. And I want to also ask you to tell the listeners here, how they can get ahold of you how that where they can find your book, your websites, videos, whatever it is, what do you got? Tell us how to find you

Rashawn Copeland:

love it, bro. And I need to get you on the podcast soon. Man. I get you on my show. Once we get going again. But uh, you can find me anywhere on line on social for sure. At rashaan koechlin. I'm a books called start where you are, you can go pick it up at the Barnes and Nobles. Martel's wherever you have books are online at Amazon. And yeah, check it out, start where you are a man how God meets you in your mess, loves you through it and leaves you out of it. Absolutely, brother. Thank you so much, john, you are a joy. Man. I really enjoyed you.

John Matarazzo:

Thank you, man. It's been it's been a pleasure to have you. And I will be putting links for all of those things that you just mentioned, and how to get in touch with you in the show notes. So if you're listening, and you just want to find out more about rayshawn just scroll down wherever you can get to the show notes. And there will be a link right there. And you can just click that and see more about how rayshawn is being used by God in this day and age and what the next things that he's doing and you can follow along with him is as he's serving the Lord and so rayshawn I want to thank you for just taking some time and allowing me to join you along your way. I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Rashad. He is so full of joy and I am sure that you picked up on that too. I was encouraged talking with him. And if you want to know more about rayshawn then I'll be providing the link to Shawn's book, website and podcast in the show notes. Thank you for listening to along the way. If you've enjoyed joining me along my way, please share this with a friend who you think will be encouraged by this podcast. Also, please rate and review along the way on iTunes that helps more people discover along the way and subscribe to this podcast wherever you're listening. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and through my website along the way dot media. I hope that you've enjoyed this part of my journey and may you realize when Jesus is walking with you along your way. Along the way is honored to be part of the charisma Podcast Network you can find tons of spirit filled content from their vast catalogue. podcasts including my Monday through Friday news stories for the charisma news podcast. Go to CPN shows.com to see the full list and latest episodes