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Finding Peace in the Wild

Remi Adeleke remembers, “I would see these music videos of these young African-American men who looked like me, and they have the cars and they have the girls and they have the gold chains and they have the money, and I'm like, ‘That's what I want.’”  

Remi was born to a wealthy Nigerian entrepreneur and his American wife.  Up to the age of five, Remi lived in the lap of luxury.  But when his father died unexpectedly, his mom moved Remi and his older brother to the Bronx, and a life of poverty.  But money wasn’t the only thing he missed.

He explains, “For me to not have a father to affirm me, or to guide me and provide for me and my brother, I began to search out father figures.”  

His mom was a Christian who took them to church and taught them to follow Jesus.  Instead, Remi looked to street hustlers and rappers as his role models and his way out of poverty.

He says, “I just wanted my life and my brother's life and my mother's life to be better than it was.”

As a young teen he went from petty theft, to selling drugs.  During this time he also saw two films by director Michael Bay that showed him he could aspire to something better.

Remi says, “The first one was Bad Boys and the second one was The Rock.  'Cause that was the first time I saw two African-American men, in Bad Boys, who looked like me, but they were still cool, and they were heroes.  After I watched The Rock, you know, I filed away deep down within me this idea that I would be a Navy SEAL one day.”  

But for a teenage dealer and scam artist making thousands, that dream seemed far out of reach.  Remi knew, “Chance of that happening is absolutely slim to none, right. And as time passed, that idea faded away.”

That is, until a drug dealer came into their home, threatening to kill Remi.  Remi paid him off, but it was the wakeup call he needed.  

He says, “All of these years I'm doing this dirt, and not only did I bring this dirt into my life, but I brought it to my mom's doorstep.  I made the decision I'm getting out of this life.”

But now nineteen, Remi had no idea what to do next, until one morning in bed he heard a voice he didn’t recognize.

Remi says, “And this voice said to me, ‘You need to join the military.’  And I was like, ‘What?  Heck no, I'm not joining the military. Absolutely not.’  And I popped up and I looked around and I said to myself, ‘Remi, what else do you have?’”  

Remi joined the Navy and signed up to be a Navy SEAL.  He passed the grueling training and earned his trident.

He says, “Especially coming from the background I came from and now achieving what I achieved and graduating from SEAL training - probably the most elite military program on the face of this planet - I was just, I was very, very prideful, especially because I had achieved ‘greatness.’”

But Remi still had an emptiness that needed to be filled.  He recalls, “I was in the clubs every weekend, sleeping around, partying.  You know, I was vulgar, combative.  I was out of control.  And, uh, I had a girlfriend at the time.  You know, I cheated on her.  I mean, I was just a bad dude towards her.  And she wouldn’t leave me.  And, uh, she would take me to church.”

During their relationship, Remi’s team was sent to the Alaskan wilderness for cold weather survival training.  Alone on a hike, he again heard a voice, but this time he knew who it was.

He explains, “I remember just walking through the wilderness and just mesmerized by the nature, the beauty, the silence.  But in the midst of that silence, God began to reveal Himself to me.  God showed me what I had become.  And I just remember feeling disgusted with what I saw.  I decided, ‘You know what?  I'm gonna fix myself.  I'm going to change myself.’”

Once back on base, he called his girlfriend and told her, “‘I just want you to know that when I get back, I want to marry you.  I'm gonna be a better man.  I'm working on myself to change myself, but I'm gonna be better.’  And she said, ‘I’m leaving you.  It’s over.’”

Remi continues, “I fell into a deep depression.  And then I remembered my brother told me, ‘When you hit rock bottom, ‘cause it's gonna happen, cry out to Jesus.  When you've tried everything and nothing's worked, cry out to Jesus.’  I finally said, ‘Jesus, I need your help.’”

But he was still reeling from the breakup, and called his ex when he got home.

He says, “‘Cause in my naïve crazy mind, I felt like the answer to fixing my problems was her taking me back.  So I said, ‘Please take me back!’  She was like, ‘No, I won’t take you back!’  I said, ‘Okay, if you won't take me back, can you at least take me to church?’  And then she paused, and then she said, ‘Okay, I won’t take you back, but I’ll take you to church.’”  

Remi says that at church, “I just got up and I said, ‘I need something greater than me and if this Jesus is greater than me and if He's real, then that's gonna be my solution.’  And so I went to the altar and I surrendered my life Jesus.  Instantaneously, like, my life changed.”

Over the next three months, Remi let his heavenly Father bring healing to his mind and soul.  Remi says, “His presence was so tangible to me that I looked to Him.  This is my Father teaching me how to treat women.  This is my father teaching me how to be a man now and what real manhood is.”

In 2016, Remi left the military and started a consulting business.  One day, he got an unusual call.  They were filming a new Transformers movie and needed someone with his expertise for a small role.  The director was Michael Bay.

Remi remembers, “I was like, ‘Wow, this is crazy!’  Because this is the guy whose first two films inspired me to be a SEAL.”

Today Remi is still in the film industry as an actor and screenwriter.  And he’s enjoying his greatest role yet – as a husband to his wife Jessica and father to three sons.  In his book Transformed, he shares how God has guided his life, even when he didn’t realize it.

Remi says, “I can go to my heavenly Father to get direction, whether it's through prayer, through fellowship, or through the scriptures, you know.  I have a Father.”

Preorder Remi's book at www.transformedstory.com.

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