Sunday, April 26, 2009

Banana Splits, Bible Studies and Life Changes

Okay, so I know you're wondering," what in the world does banana splits have to do with bible studies and changing lives?" Well, I'm so glad you asked. My Dad was a minister and a missionary to Scotland. I'm sure you 're asking yourself "what's so amazing about that?" Well my Dad did not become a christian until 1970, and the only reason he agreed to attend a bible study with my mom was because they were serving banana splits, his all-time fave dessert. He started attending the study on a regular basis, and church, and was baptized soon after. It was the banana split that attracted him, but God that kept him there. Unfortunately, as happens with many of us, he strayed from the flock. He would return and leave again many times over the years. He would struggle with alcoholism and child abuse issues.

My grandpa was an Alcoholic. An illness that my father also suffered. Don't get me wrong, neither dad nor grandpa were a mean drunk. Quite the opposite. They were both the life of the party. Grandpa drank his 6 pack a day and I don't remember him being mean or ugly. When I was in 8Th grade grandpa suffered a massive heart attack and passed away. A few months prior to that we had begun attending church again on a regular basis. I remember the last time I saw grandpa was at my baptism, September 25, 1982.

As it happened, dads company announced it was closing in the spring. Dad had felt the call to ministry for many years, but had run as hard and fast in the opposite direction as he could, using every excuse he could find to not answer it. " I have to support my family" "I'm too old to go back to school" "I didn't graduate high school" and so on.... Needless to say the excuses were no longer valid. He now had a nice severance package and quite a bit of free time on his hands. So in the spring of 1983, Dad and Mom travelled to Joplin, MO to the campus of Ozark Christian College to check out the campus, purchased a trailer on the campus and enrolled as freshmen for the fall semester. Little did they know how much our lives were about to change. Dad quit drinking completely...cold turkey...never again took a swallow...same thing with the smokes...he was done. It was that simple. Once he had finally made the decision. He trusted that God would get him through. Mom did not have so easy a time quiting smoking. Satan really worked her over...had nightmares that she drove to the store in the middle of the night...naked...and bought cigs...yea...not an easy time for her. But God was faithful and she did get through it. Now having a family of 6 living in a 10x60 trailer with a room added on was an absolute matter of trust, faith, and anything else you can think of. I was a freshman in High School, Terri was senior, Chuck was in 6Th grade and Missy was in 4Th. There was absolutely no privacy. No place to call your own, no place you could go to just get away and think or be still. No place for Mom and Dad to study, except the kitchen table, which was tiny, and if someone was sitting at it you could not walk through there to get to the bathroom or the bedrooms. It could get very frustrating. It was also a time of fun and connection and closeness. The campus had a beautiful wooded area with 3 crosses and benches that you could go and meditate at, that I found a great place to be still and just be able to get away.

Terri moved into the dorm the next year when she started as a freshman at OCC. She went on to graduate with a bachelor of biblical literature. Dad graduated with a bachelor of theology and Mom graduated with a certificate of biblical literature and certificate of missionary computer technology. I regret that I chose not to attend OCC. I don't stew over it and let Satan steal my joy...maybe one day I'll go back. I had some of the most amazing times of my life there.

When I think about the time we spent at OCC, and think about all the people I have met and the impact they have had on my life, it just astounds me....then I remember how it all started with banana splits and a bible study.