It was a Sunday. In Jacksonville, NC a July Sunday was likely as hot as it is today. But I really don't remember anything about the weather.
At church I had been listening as Pastor Kirk faithfully explained how Jesus died to be my Savior. And each week he invited those who had not yet received Christ to do so. I hadn't, but I would peek to see if anyone was raising their hand to ask for prayer about it.
Already in life I was intrigued about eternal life and how to get it. A couple of years earlier I had asked my mom how to get to heaven. She explained what she had always been taught, and at that point still believed. "If you'd done more good in life than bad you go to heaven." That satisfied my curiosity until at this new church we began to attend Pastor Kirk began reading from the Bible about believing in Jesus as your personal Savior. That I had never done.
He was so convincing, this young pastor. He was passionate about it. I knew he was a nice guy. His son Danny and I were in the same class at school, and I had been over to his house before. And he used to be a pro baseball player and that really made me listen to him.
A couple weeks before this Gospel of faith alone began to get under my skin. If it was true, no matter how good a boy I was, I wasn't good enough for God's heaven. Frankly I was a bit scared. Earlier that year a neighbor girl, younger than I, had been struck by a car and killed. So I knew kids didn't necessarily live to be old like my grandparents. What if I died? Where would I go?
Sometime that week I made the choice to accept Jesus as my Savior. I can't nail down the moment, but now I realize it was during that time. But what I did nail down was when I let the cat out of the bag and told Pastor Kirk about it at the end of that church service on July 31, 1966.
What I discovered was that my fear of the after-life was gone. Still is. Jesus promised me that He would forgive my sins and welcome me into His family.
I've seen lots of people make the same choice over the years that I did as a ten year old boy. Some have been children like I was, but most have been older. And it excites me every time I hear of another person who believes, regardless of their age with a child-like faith.
I haven't had any contact with that old pastor for decades. I heard he was pastor of a church in Durham, NC., but I couldn't locate him there earlier this year. He may not be living now. But I'm still grateful to him for explaining the truth about Jesus in a way I could understand it. One day I'll get to tell him so.