Hampton University

student spotlight
Sean Robinson stands in front of Hampton Memorial Church. Photo by Heather S. Hughes, The Daily Press

Photo: Heather S. Hughes/Daily Press.

HU freshman and his father escape violence in Kenya

Stray bullets. Bloodshed. Death. No, this not the scene from the next summer blockbuster to grace theaters. This was how one Hampton University freshman was forced to spend his New Year's Day while trapped in a foreign country with little hope of survival. Sean Robinson and his father, the Reverend Gerald Robinson, were on a missionary trip in Kenya when violence erupted in the African country. This was Sean's first missionary trip.

"I was scared at first, but once that adrenaline begins to pump in you, you just go into survival mode. The thought of not seeing tomorrow obviously ran through my mind. But you gain comfort when you realize you can't run from death and everything happens for a reason," said Sean, a freshman business management major from Burke, Va.

Sean Robinson

“To see Africa itself and the violence, it was definitely hard and it forced me to appreciate where I am in life now. Some people who are older than me in Africa don’t even get a chance to live like me. I am just thankful for everything.”

~Sean Robinson

Violence in Kenya erupted when conflicts over the recent presidential election resulted in a deadlock between the president and his chief rival. Presently, there are believed to have been over 500 deaths since the bloodshed began.

The two were alerted to the ensuing violence when Sean rushed over to his father, who was on the telephone, and told him of the gunshots that were seemingly getting closer. Even through the chaos, the elder Robinson is still impressed by his son's behavior throughout the ordeal.

"Everything prior to the gunfire was relatively calm. Then I heard the shots which were about two to three miles away, but it seemed like it was coming towards us," said the Rev. Robinson, founder and president of Know The Truth Ministries. "My son's maturity level through the whole situation was phenomenal. He looked like he had been doing this kind of work for years."

Know The Truth Ministries is a non-profit organization that mobilizes, trains and equips churches and individuals for short-term missions. The Rev. Robinson has more than 25 years of experience with foreign missions travel that has taken him to places such as: West Germany, Brazil, Hong Kong and Paris.

The Robinsons returned home on Jan. 5, but not without optimism that Africa is still a beautiful continent which is painted in a negative light.

"If there has ever been a time that help is needed or hope needs to be spread, it's now. There is so much potential in Africa that can be harnessed. There's so much more than the killings that are reported," said the Rev. Robinson.

Sean said the one thing he learned from his brief stint in Africa was the appreciation for his life here in America.

-Justin Tinsley