The next morning was a day I will never forget. May 7, 1988. That morning, as I finally crawled out of bed with a new joy in my heart, my Mom called me into her room. She was on the phone with my Christian Aunt back in Florida. My Mom asked me, "So, your Aunt wants to know how the concert was." I gulped. I muttered the response, "It was really good." Before I could walk away, she followed up with, "Did anything happen during the concert?" No wiggling out of this one. I had to confess that I had become one of those born again Christians. This was about a year after the Jim Bakker scandal became public. Now I was "one of them"? I recalled a conversation that took place at my Grandmother's house maybe two years earlier. My Mom said, "I hope my kids become religious, but just not fanatics." I'm sure my Aunt was about to be thrilled, but what about my Mom? I don't remember my exact words, but it was something like, "I gave my life to Jesus and became a Christian." My Mom simply smiled and said, "Oh, OK. You can go now." She went back to talking to my Aunt and I went to the living room frightened by the conversation that was sure to soon take place with my Mom when she got off the phone.
|Valley View Village Church|
From our first visit to Valley View, we fell in love. I was immediately embraced by the youth group and the people were warm and friendly. The preaching was like nothing I had ever heard before. The pastor, Larry Bennett, taught from passages of the Bible, explaining what they meant and applied them to life. I didn't know the name for it was expository preaching, but I knew I loved it. I was learning so much, I was like a sponge just taking in everything I could!
|Pastor Larry Bennett|
On September 25, 1988, during the Sunday night service, my Mom and I were baptized together. Those first few months at Valley View developed a foundation of discipleship in my life that served as a source of strength and encouragement as I began high school that Fall. It wasn't a perfect summer, though. I wrestled with the pressures of my new life in Christ surrounded by friends, and a girlfriend at the time, who did not quite understand what had happened to me. It resulted in the end of that relationship and kept me out of the loop when I started football camp that summer. But, I still used those opportunities to tell my friends about Jesus. I got weird looks, but that was fine. I had a new group of friends who were there to support me back at church.
By the end of 1988, my brother and my Dad had also come to Christ. I can remember being at church one Sunday morning when my pastor gave an altar call for people to come forward to receive Christ during the final song. I was looking at the hymnal and not paying much attention when my new girlfriend from the youth group began poking my side frantically. I turned and saw my Dad walking down the aisle. I cannot describe the joy that filled my heart my morning.