MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Karate instructor who relies on donations to keep his classes going was robbed.
Robert Blackstone teaches martial arts for little or nothing. For him it’s outreach ministry.
He’s able to keep families together, productive and out of trouble. But on Saturday, thieves took his Suburban with all of his gear right out of his driveway.
“I first looked around the front of the house to make sure I didn’t leave it on the street,” Blackstone said.
At first it seemed unreal. Then reality crept it.
Blackstone’s 1997 Suburban was gone.
“We use that truck to get everything back and forth,” he said. “We parked at 10:30, woke up on Sunday at 6 a.m. and the car was gone. There was no trace of it.”
The thieves took the mats Blackstone uses for class including uniforms, sparring gear and even things that can’t be replaced like a one of a kind bo and his black belt.
“We had about $7,300 worth of equipment. It was disheartening but it didn’t stop us,” Blackstone said.
Even still, he made it to church and put on a class on Tuesday.
“There’s a lot of people who have interest in martial arts but can’t afford it,” he said.
The black belt instructor gave his life to God years ago. And since then he’s turned his love for martial arts into ministry.
“At the end of every class I present the gospel because that is what changed my life and makes it all worthwhile for me.”
Right now, Blackstone offers his classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Kirby Woods Baptist Church.
“From 2006 until now we’ve had more than 1,500 students pass through those doors of our classes.”
For now he’s a bit limited in classes but is making it work.
“We don’t have the ability to provide the rolls and falls we did when we had the mat,” Blackstone said.
He says despite the setback, he wants to keep helping as long as families keep coming.
“It was discouraging to say the least, but I am encouraged by my students.”
We have no updates from police yet. Blackstone says for now he’s just turning it over to God.