Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Before I Changed My Mind

I was brought to the Assembly by the efforts of Jim Sears.

I had become a christian in the spring of 1972. That was the spring I and my brother had attended WHLO Radio Appreciation Day at Lake Chippewa, in Ohio. It was an all day music festival, filled with music and drugs. I was on my third hit of acid, taking it all in.

The Glass Harp hit the stage. Phil Keaggy, dressed in a brown velour or suede blazer...sweeping his arm across the crowd seated in the field at the outdoor stage. "It's a wonderful day", he said, in the bright sun. "God made this day." He said...and the band began to play. Amazing music. Across the field of music fans, Jesus Freaks began to stand up and raise their hands to the sky, with eyes closed. It was surreal. I wasn't high anymore.

A spectator, taking this all in...after the concert a pocket of christians standing off to the side on the midway.
A middle-aged couple kneeling while christians laid hands on them.

"What are they doing?" asked my Thai friend, recently in the country. The friend who'd explained to me a about Buddah a few days before. "It's some kind of religious thing. They are praying to God"

Keaggy, playing his acoustic guitar...the first time I heard the song "They'll Know We Are Christians by our love"

Later, at the waters edge on the lake shore
Phil Keaggy, sitting small on his guitar case...playing his martin acoustic...testifying to his faith.
...the sinners prayer...me raising my hand...looking around to see who was watching...repeat after me...
the next day at home "Mom, guess what? Tom got saved!"
Her indignant Roman Catholic reaction.
Tom's denial...my silence about my own sinner's prayer.

a couple of months later...more acid...a church group witnessing at a carnival in Baltimore.
me saying the sinners prayer again. This time I was serious.
Not waiting for the "repeat after me"...but just going headlong into my own prayer for salvation.
Months of being a newby christian...sampling all of the community churches...I wasn't exactly methodistpresbyteriancatholicpentacostaletc... just a Jesus Freak.

During that summer...I began to receive letters from an old drug buddy...Jim Sears. Jim had really flipped out on acid
He'd thought he was Jesus. The last time I spoke with him was in his acid crazed talk of his vision of the Electric Church.
He'd climbed the stairs to the Electric Church in the sky...he saw Hendrix there.

The letters sent from Tulsa showed a lucid, healed Jim
Letters fill with scripture...doctrine about forsaking all
telling me how if I want to be a perfect christian, I need to follow Jesus like the apostles did.
months of letters...and I was convinced that I needed to go on to the next step in my christianity.

without ever having seen the brethren, or JR, or experienced their lifestyle, I left to join the brethren in Gainsville, FLA (hitchhiking in December in a snowstorm from Wellsville, Ohio to FL).