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Man who lost family finds peace in helping others

  • Story Highlights
  • Robert Rogers' wife and four children died in flash flood five years ago
  • Rogers chose not to "wallow in pity" and became a minister with a message of hope
  • His mission is to establish five orphanages in five continents to honor his family
  • One named after his wife, Melissa, exists in Russia, another planned in Rwanda
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(CNN) -- Five years ago, Robert Rogers was driving home with his family from a wedding when a flash flood took his wife and four children from him in an instant.

Robert and Melissa Rogers with their four children before they died in August 2003.

Rainfall from a torrential downpour swept the Rogers' minivan off a Kansas highway. As water filled the van, Rogers kicked out a window in a last-ditch effort to save his family. Instead, he and his wife, Melissa, and daughter, Makenah, were sucked out of the van. Hours later, the bodies of children Zachary, 5, Nicholas, 3, and Alenah, 1, still buckled in their car seats, were found inside the van.

Rogers survived. Instead of falling into despair, he became a minister dedicated to honoring his family by preaching messages of hope in the face of adversity.

"It was a huge choice of faith," Rogers told CNN. "It was a determination to live life to honor God, to honor my heavenly family, and to make something productive out of it and not just to wallow in my pity." Video Watch the story of the Rogers family tragedy »

Rogers' mission manifests itself in a variety of ways. In the past five years, he estimates he has told the story of his loss at least 400 times to more than 120,000 people. The message behind his story is to live life with no regrets by embracing your family and faith.

"People have responded to me that they want to change the way they live their life. They want to have a personal relationship with God and they want to get right with their spouse and children," he said.

In addition to his speaking tours, Rogers has established a ministry dedicated to serving orphans across the world. Rogers also traveled to Haiti and tsunami-ravaged parts of Asia to minister and deliver aid to orphans. Video Watch Rogers talk about his ministry »

His mission is to establish five orphanages in five continents to symbolize the five family members he lost. One, called Melissa's House, already exists in Russia, where eight orphan teens live with a married couple, and another is under construction in Rwanda.

"We dedicated it in honor of Melissa because she loved being a mom and I hope she is a role model to these girls," Rogers said.


Since that fateful day five years ago, Rogers has begun to heal. He is married with one child and another on the way. More than anything, he hopes his story will inspire others to live each day to its fullest.

"We are not guaranteed the next five seconds," Rogers said. "Life is very fragile and I hope my stories and inspirations are compelling people to live that life of no regrets."

CNN's Kyra Phillips contributed to this report

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