Monday, April 06, 2009

Telling My Story: Part II--growing up

So I find myself as a young man that had no real knowledge of the Bible. I knew some of the stories and I knew what it is about...but I had never actually read my Bible. This practice was not encouraged in the Catholic Church at that time. (I don't know if it is today or not.)

In any case, I was starved for some real knowledge and understanding of the Bible. I started to read. I remember spending a lot of time listening to Christian radio stations...not the ones that played music, the ones that have program after program of preaching. I was ashamed that young kids had Bible verses memorized and I didn't know even one from memory--not even John 3:16! I felt like I was so far behind and that I really needed to catch up on my Bible knowledge and on my understanding of who God really is. In many ways, God (as a personal God) was way different than the God that I had learned about in the Catholic church.

Chris and I joined a small church in Merrillville, Indiana. They had a men's discipleship study that I joined. One emphasis of the group was scripture memorization. This was the first scripture that they gave to all new members (and the very first verse of scripture that I ever memorized): "But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today, lest any of you become hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." Hebrews 3:13
It was a reminder that we need to encourage each other and a great verse to learn and understand the truth behind it.

Chris and I didn't stay there very long. We packed up our stuff and moved to St. Louis. We were young and foolish...we had the promise of jobs and a lease on an apartment. We didn't have any friends or family there...we just wanted to move to St. Louis. We found a great church home in South City--Christy Park General Baptist Church. It was a little bit odd that we didn't think much of the pastor. Our Sunday School class was great. The love of the people there was great. We felt like we belonged there. Eventually we had to ask the pastor to come visit us so that we could ask about joining the church.

It was at Christy Park that I really grew up as a Christian. I learned about loving and serving others. I learned about reaching out to unbelievers. I learned about personal discipleship and about teaching others. I met a man that would have a greater influence on my Christian development than any other. It was at Christy Park that God began to prepare me for a ministry that was still many years down the road.

After several years, a couple of job changes, buying a house and starting a family, life found us in Oklahoma City. I was trying to pass the screen to become an air traffic controller. Half of the 220 people that started went home without jobs. I had no choice but to pass. I had quit my job. We had a 2 1/2 year old and a newborn--and a house payment. It was the most stressful time of my life. I prayed--hard--everyday before I went to class. For twelve weeks I was focused on ATC. My baby girl didn't know me. She just cried whenever I would hold her.

That was 17 years ago. Today I'm counting down the days to retirement--2 yrs, 9 mos, 1 day!

I was assigned to a tower in Waterloo, Iowa. (yeah, I had to look on a map to find it, too) In Waterloo, I met a couple of guys that helped me continue to grow in faith. More about that in the next post.

John <><


Amanda said...

Hi John, Thanks for sharing your story. I have enjoyed these two posts very much.

Mike said...

"We packed up our stuff and moved to St. Louis."

So THAT'S what happen that day.

Wv: ragirte - Italian food that doesn't stay down very well.

fiona said...

I'm intrigued and thoroughly enjoying
these posts, keep them coming :-)

Anonymous said...

Hello John !
Thank the Good Lord the Catholic Church does encourage reading the Bible! (Although a few years back, it wasn't encouraged as much as it is today), to all Catholics and all people in search of truth, read the Bible and be filled with the Holy Spirit !
God bless us, everyone !