I was born in Jackson County, Oklahoma, the youngest of six children. My father was a dry-land farmer struggling, like so many other people at that time and in that place, to get by. We did not know, however, that we were poor as many others of our neighbors were in the same boat. When I was four, my mother, whom I don’t remember very well, died leaving my father with a huge responsibility to manage alone. I am told that my mother was a strong, hard-working Christian lady raised in the church by a godly mother (I can still see my grandmother setting in her rocker reading the bible). Unable to feed and clothe a large family, I was frequently “farmed out” to relatives and acquaintances for most of my young life up to the 10th grade. I never objected to this arrangement because I understood the struggles my father was experiencing and I wasn’t old enough to work and contribute like my older siblings. In many ways, I was blessed because God put me in the homes of loving families that always seemed to care for me. I never felt unloved or unwanted any place I lived.
One of the families I spent a lot of time with was an aunt and uncle. They had two sons and one of them was about my age and my best friend. My uncle was a country preacher and as would be expected we were in church on Sundays and Wednesdays. My uncle witnessed to me on many occasions but never pressured me to make a decision. He explained to me that I could invite Jesus into my life to be my Savior at any time and any place (even in the privacy of my room) and that I could do it by praying to God, admitting that I was a sinner and lost, by believing that Jesus died for my sins and that He rose on the third day and by making Jesus, my boss. He was also faithful to explain to me the consequences of not being saved. I must admit hell did not seem to be a place I wanted to go. One night following a discussion centered on Biblical truths I felt a strong calling to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. My cousin and I were in bed. I got on my knees and invited Jesus into my heart. I can remember my cousin calling to his dad with the words “he did it dad.” I was probably about 10 years old, but don’t remember the date. I know I felt a sense of relief and excitement that I wouldn’t be going to hell and that I would see my mother in heaven. The following Sunday I made my public profession of faith in that little country church in Southwest Oklahoma. While I don’t remember being baptized I am sure it was in a stock tank or muddy creek.
I can’t say that my life was changed immediately following my profession of faith and I confess that I have not always had God first in my life. However, looking back over my many years I can see God’s direction in my life. He never gave up on me and I don’t believe He is finished with me yet.