By Allison Hurtado
Paul Robinson was sitting in a classroom at Kansas State University, listening to a presentation by a Target executive. He and his classmates were confused. As construction/architectural engineering majors, Robinson and his fellow students found it odd a retailer was their speaker. As it turns out, Target has its own in-house team of engineers, and the speaker was one of them. Robinson applied for an internship at Target and got it. After he graduated from college they offered him a job in the property development department.
“I grew in that role and did some design/builds across the United States and, when they expanded into Canada, I was part of that team,” Robinson said. “It was a really cool opportunity. As a young black male coming from the north county of St. Louis, it was amazing and truly a blessing.”
Robinson continued to climb the corporate ladder and found himself facing an internal struggle between purpose versus profession. During college he accepted his call into ministry, but couldn’t give up his career just yet. He didn’t know what ministry would look like vocationally. For six years he stayed at Target, then God changed his career trajectory.
“I was on a business trip when I read a quote that said, ‘The purpose of something is the reason for which its made, and its design is determined by its purpose,’” he said. “When we are created, God has a specific purpose for our lives, and that stuck with me. I knew I was created for ministry.”
Robinson broke the news to his wife that he needed to leave Target to pursue ministry. It went over better than he thought.
“I got a lot of, ‘Are you serious? Are you serious?’” he said. “But one of the beauties of being equally yoked is that Ebony went to God and realized that while it didn’t seem like the right way to go, she trusted God because he told her I was trusting in him.”
While Robinson was attending Bethel Seminary, he started a non-profit called Kingdom State University in 2008, but soon put it aside. When he graduated from Bethel Seminary in 2011, he revisited Kingdom State University and restructured the organization’s vision, purpose and target market.
Today KSU focuses on leadership development classes for young adults. The 16-week program instructs them on topics such as marriage, parenting, discovering purpose, servant leadership and financial literacy. Robinson says many young adults are giving up the church, but not giving up on God.
“The purpose of KSU is to raise awareness, educate and inspire,” he said. “I want young adults to value their relationship with God so they will integrate him into their life. How can we tailor ministry and programs to deal with exactly what they are going through?”
The curriculum is biblically based. The classes look at what society thinks is the right way and juxtaposes it with what God says. Robinson is developing partnerships with other faith-based nonprofits in creating a path for graduating high school seniors entering college.
It wasn’t until 2013 he finally accepted his calling to be a pastor. In college he regularly preached the Word, but was reluctant to pursue a pastoral position. In 2014, he and his wife Ebony moved back to their hometown of St. Louis, taking the KSU programming with them, along with the idea of a church plant.
“God was calling us to start a church in St. Louis,” Robinson said. “We started KSU, and I was tailoring everything to build up to a church plant with Sunday services.”
On September 27, they officially opened the doors to Kingdom State Church. With over 60 in attendance, the congregation wasn’t made up of only young adults.
“Young adults came, but their parents were seeing a difference in their children who are attending KSU,” he said. “The kids brought their parents with them.”
Kingdom State Church launched in a high school very familiar to Robinson and his wife. It was where
“It was a really full circle for us,” he said. “Our high school is where God started working on me. It’s good to be back.”