I don’t remember how it happened but two big changes now take place: After one year in a Christian school, I return to the public school system. I really didn’t mind and in fact kinda liked it better – there were so many more options and creativity abounded. And we changed churches too. We became part of a church plant in Lorain, Ohio – Beacon Baptist Church. This would be the church that I attended until I left for college.
It’s not easy starting a church, but this is what my pastor (Pastor Aaron Webb) did. I remember first meeting in a hotel and an actual hotel room for Sunday School (equipped with beds, an alarm clock, and tv). We then moved on to the YMCA. My Sunday School class was in the same hallway as the vending machines (It’s hard to concentrate when the Lay’s and hot chocolate are calling out your name). We baptized in the Y swimming pool! I remember meetings in the Pastor’s house too. I looked forward to those evenings because it meant time with my PK friends (Chris, David, and Mary).
I remember dealing with a lot of low self-esteem in jr. high and high school but church did help out in that arena – I felt important and like I had achieved something through teaching F.B.I. (Faithful Bible Investigators) – a 1st through 5th grade Wednesday Bible study and also by working on a bus route and bringing children to church from south Lorain – this is how I met my best friend too!! (Alvin was totally cool and maybe me feel important and liked.)
I thought my preacher did a good job sharing the love of Christ with us, yet the rules and standards and fear exhausted from our particular denomination seemed to sometimes over-cloud God’s grace and unconditional love. I always heard that if you truly had “Christ in your heart” there would be big change and you would live, dress, talk, and think differently than the rest of “the world”. I always struggled (even though I had said “the prayer”) with wondering if I “was in” and gonna make it. Why?
Because I had grown up in a Christian home with rules, manners, and morals – so, there was really no big outward change in my life and the outward appearance and motions were emphasized a lot in church. And my inside stuff? I was a normal teenage boy that feared, didn’t like myself, had “lustful thoughts”, and really wanted to know what it was like to live like the other teenagers and “go to the movies, kiss a girl, dress stylish, tell a dirty joke, etc.” So, where was the big change if on the inside I was the same as everyone else? Was I to be non-human? Anyway, lots of doubt followed me because I knew I wasn’t perfect and that was God’s standard right?? Or was it???
(to be continued . . .)
Dialogue from SAVED (2004):
Hilary Faye: Mary, turn away from Satan. Jesus, he loves you.
Mary: You don’t know the first thing about love.
Hilary: [throws Bible at Mary] I am FILLED with Christ’s love! You are just jealous of my success in the Lord.
Mary: [Mary holds up the Bible] This is not a weapon! You idiot.