At http://paulaharrington71.blogspot.com/2010/02/faith-of-our-fathers.html, Paula Harrington wrote a touching tribute to her father's influence in her life. Then, she asked readers to write a "Passing the Torch" post about ministers or teachers who have made a positive impact in their lives. This is my attempt to meet her challenge.
I grew up attending Sunday school and worship services. When I was young, my parents were at church services every time the doors were open. They read Bible stories to me and my younger sister. They prayed before every meal. As an early elementary-age child, I remember my dad walking down an aisle at a church meeting in Inola, Oklahoma to be baptized. Our family helped start a small congregation east of Catoosa in the late 1970s. Before we had a church building, the congregation met in various homes...sometimes in our home. I had the advantage early in life of parents who taught me about Jesus. They instilled within me a respect for God and his word that stays with me to this day.
However, I did not become a Christian as early as one might have expected. At the age of 12 or 13, my parents divorced. My mother did not go to church anymore. My father would take my sister and me to worship services on Sunday mornings for the next few years (until I was old enough to drive), but Christianity was no longer a central part of our lives. I became the typical self-centered teenager. I had a Christian background, but I knew for certain that I was not a follower of Christ. I really was not interested.
Eventually, God captured my attention. Several key events occurred that changed the direction of my life. Someday, I may write more about those events, but today I will focus on one: John Hurn became the preacher for the small congregation that my family helped start. John was a different preacher than others I had heard. He was not a professional. He was a high school science teacher with a doctorate. In his spare time, he preached for small churches that could not afford to pay a professional preacher.
However, his secular job did not impress me. I was truly impressed with his Christian character. He would preach the Bible with concern and kindness. He wanted to be "conservative in doctrine and liberal in love" (as he once told me); and he achieved his goals. He would laugh and enjoy life like no minister I had ever encountered. He made Christianity more attractive to me than any preacher I had ever known.
At the age of 17, I could not resist the urge any longer. In large part due to John Hurn's influence, I placed my faith in Christ and turned to him for the forgiveness and hope I needed. On August 18, 1985, John Hurn baptized me in the name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Today, the influence of my parents and John Hurn remain with me. I continue to follow the early example of my parents in raising my son. Like them, I have also been involved in the start of a new congregation. Like John, I have attempted to enjoy life, to be kind to others, and to be "conservative in doctrine and liberal in love." I may not always live up to their standards, but their examples are constantly before me.
(On a side note, my mother returned to following Jesus after being away from him for 13 years. She continues to live for Christ today...17 years after returning to the Lord.)