I was 10 when my mother died of cancer. My father worked for you, and your crusades were my introduction to something bigger than us and I remember having to attend one right before she died, and being extremely angry. Why did I need to go listen about God when he clearly wasn’t listening to our prayers to save our mom? How could this happen to a woman so devoted to Him, with 7 children? Your testimony that night was about suffering and even at 10 I got something greater than all my pain and anger, as I actually walked up alone with tears running down my face and did the alter call. You called and prayed with Rosemary right before she died, and it was the first smile I’d seen on her face in a long time. Thank you for that.
I spent the next 8 years angry, rebellious and on my own at 14 trying to find my way. Without God, without anyone. And I failed miserably. When suicide also failed I finally got it. And all of that upbringing and past experience became my lifeboat. Faith is what healed me, and faith is what gives me hope and happiness today. And that sermon on suffering still resonates with me today because it was my experience. It’s what enabled me to appreciate the light, the blessings and the spiritual strength that is ours for the taking. Though I am embarrassed by the example Christianity has taken at times, I’ve learned it’s not about that, the doctrine or man’s interpretation… and that the spirit is separate from that and in many forms. And we can still find it everywhere, in a million ways.
Love you Billy. You and Ruth have been the role models I wish every family could have.