As with any story, it is best to start at the beginning:
Here is Part 1 of My Hitchhiking Adventure With God (not to be missed!)
The first ride, oddly enough, took me from the Colony, where we lived, and placed me just a few blocks away from the church where my mom was at her Bible study. I thought for a moment how easy it would be to give up and just catch a ride home with my mom, but I pressed on, walking down the side of Interstate 75.
(My mom told me later that some friends of hers from that Bible study drove past me as I was walking and thought I looked like an angel.)
The next person to pick me up swerved across a few lanes of traffic in his old beat up Volkswagen. He was nice enough to take me to the East side of Dallas to Hwy 80. Once there I didn’t have to wait long before a van stopped.
I had recently read No Compromise, which is the biography of Keith Green (Which I would recommend you read – it looks like you can pick it up for a penny at Amazon). Keith and his wife had started a ministry called Last Days Ministries near Tyler, Texas (about 80 miles East of Dallas). I felt that the Lord was telling me that this was my next stop.
Well, after asking directions I ended up at the place where Last Days Ministry used to be and where Teen Mania now is. This was the ministry I had mentioned where my friend Neal had found the Lord and freedom from drugs. I was turned away immediately at the front gate and was directed down the street to the YWAM (Youth With A Mission) Mercy Ships Ministry.
The YWAM Mercy Ships training facility was fairly empty at the time because all the students had just left for a mission. Two women named Marilyn greeted me. I thought this was funny because my mom’s name is Marilyn as well.
After explaining my story, one Marilyn thought I was off my rocker and needed to go home. The other Marilyn actually believed I was following God’s call, even as crazy as it seemed.
Finally they drove me over to the other YWAM Twin Oaks Ranch in Garden Valley and got me set up in a bunk house and introduced me to some of the guys in the Discipleship Training program.
We had some really great fellowship for the rest of the day. When I shared what I was doing they were excited for me and told me about the YWAM base in New Orleans. They called them up, told them I was coming, and gave me their address. Then they invited me to join them on a witnessing mission they were planning for that evening. They were planning a trip to downtown Dallas to witness on the streets in Deep Elum.
I then called my mom. When she heard I was coming back to Dallas, she said, “Great, I will come and pick you up.” I told her that I wanted to see this thing through to the end and that I couldn’t back out now.
So there I was, back in Dallas, witnessing on the streets with my new-found friends. We had such amazing fellowship that night! Let me tell you that the friendships we can have with other believers are like no other friendships you will ever have. With Jesus as the bond between you, friendships can happen quickly just like when you made friends as children. It’s such an amazing thing when the Holy Spirit brings us together in perfect harmony!
The next morning I set out on the road once again. The first ride took me as far as Shreveport. But this was only after I walked a long time. As I walked, I talked with the Lord, and sang Christian songs. It was then, as I walked along that road that the Lord told me to buy a bus ticket and move to Wisconsin when I get back home.
Once I made it to Shreveport, getting a ride South out of Shreveport proved difficult. I walked for most of the day and I was exhausted. As the sun was setting, a man finally stopped to pick me up. He was on his way to an evening worship service at a Pentecostal church in Alexandria. I agreed to go with him and he said that he would do what he could to fix me up with a place to stay that night at the homeless shelter called the Grace House.
The church was bizarre to say the least. There was a woman playing the keyboard with several other people dancing around on stage. As she played, there was another woman saying something about Ruth’s sister-in-law becoming the great-grandmother of Goliath while Ruth went on to be the great-grandmother of David (which is pretty ridiculous).
There were a large number of people at the front of the church all jumping up and down and yelling, supposedly speaking in “tongues”. Though “la, la, la, la” doesn’t really seem to say much of anything – not even for a toddler. Forgive me for saying so, but it just seemed like madness to me. While all this was happening on stage, there were many people in the back just looking on seeming disconnected. I went back to visit with them.
After the service another man drove me to Grace House. Along the way he asked me the details of how had I been baptized. He wanted to know what was spoken over me when I was baptized and I told him, “In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” He then went on to explain to me that this wasn’t good enough and that what needed to be said was, “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
He then offered to take me to get baptized right then and there so that I could get my salvation put in order. As I started to decline his gracious offer of salvation, he became quite hostile with me just as we were walking into the Grace House. I started to try to explain where I was coming from but he cut me off and started yelling at me. “If you don’t let me baptize you proper, then yer faith is worth less than a nickel!” he told me.
Exhausted from the day’s walk as I was, this confrontation put me over the edge emotionally. I pulled out my Bible and was starting to share with him what Peter had to say on the subject. “But Peter says, baptism is not the removal of filth from the body – about taking a dunk in some water – but of an answer of a clean conscience toward God.”
“…and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ…” (1 Peter 3:21 NIV)
(Even as I write this I am struck with a new insight into the significance of what Peter has to say and what this means. I remember the apostle Paul talked on several occasions that he strove to maintain a clean conscience before God. It seems to me that this is the essence of healthy spirituality – maintaining a clean conscience.)
On the verge of tears, I finally found and read the Scripture verse in 1 Peter. I looked up, however, to see that the man had already left and that about twenty guys were staring at me wondering what in the heck I was ranting about. It was in that moment that the subject of baptism became very important to me.
To be continued…
Stay tuned for a blog on Baptism and then the continuation of the story. If you have enjoyed this story, feel free to share it and subscribe to this blog! Leave me a comment below!