The Beginning of A New Beginning

My father wanted to send me to college, the first of the family that he could afford.  So after some delaying and negotiating I found myself enrolled  Northwest Nazarene College (now University).  I was utterly clueless about what I wanted to become in life, but it had to be cool.  I change my major over fifteen times in the first year—the best one was Psychology with an emphasis upon the paranormal.  That one got the ladies’ attention!

I won’t bore anyone about the two years I spent there.  Suffice it to say that I majored in skipping classes and playing video games at the local arcade.  The only class that I found I enjoyed was Christian Theology, a required course for all students.  Somehow theology made sense and struck a chord deep within me.  When I left that school after two years I had a 1.9 G.P.A. and I am sure that the only reason it was that high was the one A in that theology class.

I left the school in shame.  I had stolen some things from my employer and I was caught and summarily fired.  The word spread quickly through that small town and I learned the hard way how easy it is to destroy a reputation.  I could not find a new job anywhere and ended up climbing into dumpsters throughout the town to collect enough aluminum cans to keep my car payment.  In short, I was a bum.  Worse yet, a bum with no direction whatsoever.

Finally there came a glimmer of hope.  My brother, who lived in Houston, owned a small bakery.  He offered to teach me the trade if I wanted to come down there.  I broke up with my girlfriend and off I went with all my belongings stuffed inside my Dodge Omni O24.  A few thousand miles later I entered the South and began a new life.  But it was not what I expected.

The pay was very low at first and the hours were huge, between fourteen to sixteen hour days six days per week and I got 20.00 a day for the first few months.  Even after my first raise I could not afford electricity in my apartment and only ate one meal per day.  Loneliness flooded my soul and there was only one answer for it, go find a church.

So this sinning, lonely, foolish young man started looking.  I knew I wasn’t going to go to a Nazarene church ever again and I could not find any Plymouth Brethren churches.  So Baptist it was!  The first one was some little thing out in the country and everyone kept looking at me throughout the service.  I suspect I was the first new face in years in that church.  My only real memory was how bad the song leader was and how he made up for it in sheer volume.  The second church was an American Baptist church where they took an offering in Sunday School, two offerings at the main service (since they didn’t get enough in the first offering), and then another offering right after the service during their potluck.  I left and never looked back.

I finally found out there were these people known as Southern Baptists and decided to try them.  I landed at College Park Baptist Church and found some people who were friendly.  That was all this starved-for-attention young man needed.  The teaching was poor, the fellowship was shallow, but they were nice to me.  And there I met my wife, a brand new Christian who tended to stay on the edges because she didn’t fit in well with this Southern Belles.  But it was there, in that church, that the Holy Spirit began to awaken me from a long sleep.  I had a chance to teach a class and found out I loved teaching and studying the Bible.  But everything changed one day when I turned on my radio.

It was after a long night at work and I just wanted to go home and sleep.  But I found a Christian station and started to listen to some guy preach.  I had never heard the bible preached like that in my life.  This guy just explained it and opened it up in such a beautiful way.  I listened for the entire half hour and finally heard his name, John MacArthur.  I was hooked and began to order everything I could afford from him.  I would listen to twelve sermons every night while I worked and listened to them so many times that I almost memorized them.

All I wanted to do was study and listen.  I bought my first commentary and began to read through the bible cover to cover.  I found out that my soul had been parched far more than I could ever have imagined and I drank up the Word of God like a man in a desert.  I had a long ways to go, but I was back in the Word of God, I was praying once again, and I even began to witness to others.  This ol’ boy was coming alive again.

About Matt Henry

Middle-aged pastor trying to figure out how to be missional in his world. Loves his wife, his children, and his dog Bear. I have a love of woodworking even though woodworking doesn't always love me. The name is xagete but is pronounced exegete.

Posted on May 19, 2010, in Church, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Heh brother for what it’s worth I was a classic under achiever in H.S. Not sure I even finished with a 2.0. Liz on the other hand finished toward the top. At least I married well.

    As you know, John MacArthur became my radio/book preacher while we were in the throws of a Willow Creek clone. Thanks for telling your story.

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