Friday, July 6, 2007
[Inset- I am in the two tone jacket on the left; Lee Becknell leads us in song. Do Lord, oh do Lord, oh do remember me; look away beyond the blue. This picture was taken in my junior year at Ridgeview High School.]
It was a defining moment in my life, one that I shall not forget. For here, in a unadorned, wooden building (no drywalls!) which was owned by a local scout troop, on Liberty Guinn Drive in Sandy Springs, I heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ and made a leap of faith, inviting Jesus into my heart and believing that He died for me. My life has never been the same.
That was when I was 16 years old, almost 30 years ago. I went back there after my college years, to look around. The old scout hut where we used to meet, and where I hung out with high school friends (many of which went to rival schools) was gone, replaced by apartment buildings. It was a trend that would continue. The horse pastures next to Perimeter Mall, the freindly neighborhoods next to Guy Webb Elementary- gone forever, a sacrifice to business expansion, but the precious memories are still there within the special places of my heart. Just like this old photograph, they become grey and faded with the passage of time, but remain a part of me.
Lee Becknell was the lead youth minister for a program called Ranch. He was young himself, only 21 or 22 at the time, but he took time out from his schedule to hang out with lowly high schoolers, an investment for which I shall be eternally grateful. He was the son of a local minister, Bob Becknell, of Calvary Baptist Church, Dunwoody Georgia (not the large church, a somewhat small one). At Ranch we played volleyball, had special all-you-can-eat pizza nights, hamburger and hot dog cookouts, and hung out and socialized. It was here that I met people like Eric King, Bruce Dennis, Brannon Becknell, Wesley and Weldon Smith, Laura Vansant, Vernon Terrell, Mike Edwards, and Dan F., who were a blessing to me in my adolescence. I continue to stay in contact with Dan after all these years, and his love for Jesus and prayerful support for me has not waned.
My point behind this biographical story is that one can never tell from planting a spiritual seed what will come of it. Some folks grow and thrive spiritually; others soon wither and dry up, forgetting their spiritual life in pursuit of more immediate physical, materialistic goals. Others are like me, who grow in spurts, being hindered by issues which seem beyond our control. To Lee, and to Pastor Bob, and to all the others who were there, I just wanted to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart.