BIG TOP (My Spiritual Journey Begins)

BigTopI never had the best mind and remember so little about my childhood.  I’ve wondered if maybe I tried to seclude myself and hide from the past and the bad memories and maybe even stashed away the good with them.  My life isn’t full of tragedy but I don’t remember much at all – kinda like I didn’t want to dwell upon reality.

My earliest recollection of my childhood life in church would include attending Victory Baptist Temple. My pastor was Carl Stuart.  I don’t remember much but I do remember NUMBERS (attendance) being the main focus.  I’m sure they talked about Christ, but I always remember the main emphasis being “how many people were in the pews”.  There were big days to draw in the crowds. There were days like Cowboy Sunday when everyone would wear their western outfits (we even got popping paper shot guns) and Old Fashioned Sunday with antique cars, old dress, and oil lamps.  And then there were the strange days like Alien Sunday when someone dressed up like a two headed alien for the children and the day that Pastor Stuart jumped from an airplane because we broke an attendance record. At times (at least to me), it seemed like church was more like a circus.

We moved to a new building and got a new pastor sometime down the road. Maybe it was because I was older, but I liked the new pastor better.  He seemed more sincere and like he cared and he called me by name. I even remember spending some time at his house with his sons Michael and Stephen.  Once again, I remember the big attendance days which included Pastor Loser eating things like chocolate covered grasshoppers and honey roasted bees as well as being tarred and feathered in a raincoat with (I think) honey and feathers – maybe it was chocolate syrup. Again though, church was a fun place because of the big events but somehow I missed the story of Christ and how I was a part of His plan and the Big Narrative.

The turning point – I attended our church school in Fifth Grade. It was different from what I was used to. We were taught a lot of Bible, but the biggest difference was the individual attention beacuse we were a small school.  I loved my teacher Mrs. Murray and have tried to search for her for many years now to tell her thank you for being a wonderful teacher and friend!  I remember a few things about my year at Victory Baptist Schools, but my two biggest memories include playing in the front yard with my friend Joey Pickett and others and acting like we found footprints and movie footage of the abominable snowman in the brush outside.  And then there was the day that a guest speaker (Evangelist Darrell Dunn) spoke about the end times and “being left behind.”  For the first time, I got scared and looked beyond the circus acts and thought about eternity.  At the end of the chapel service I went to Mrs Murray and asked her to tell me more about Christ.  She did and I said a prayer “to go to Heaven.”  Throughout my teen years, I would hear messages on the end times and hell and wonder “Am I really saved?” “Am I still going to Heaven?” “Why am I doubting it?”  (to be continued . . .)

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