A CHURCH, A CHAIR, A BOY AND A PRAYER
There comes a time in life when one is moved to reflect upon major events in his or her life as old friends, relatives, family members “cash in their chips” and depart the game of life. As the days, months and years come and go, the hectic responsibilities of life take the greater majority of a person’s time to give much thought to details of a full Christian life being lived. When the Lord has given a person four score and more years of life, each remaining day becomes more precious. And so it is, as I take time to reflect on a most important event in my own life. How, where and when I became fully aware of the price my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ paid for my sins, past, present and future as well as those of each and every one of us and of His assurance of life everlasting guaranteed through Faith in the Grace of The Man born in Bethlehem.
It was during the “war years” when a young boy, then a bit more than six years of age came to know Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. This writing is, in part, a tribute to all the Sunday School and Vacation Bible School teachers who tell and teach “the old, old story of Jesus and His Glory” In my case, her name is now known only to God, but the role she played in my life is as part of me as the blood in my veins. In short, I can not say it was on that day and at that time and in the place I “found God”, because he wasn’t lost. Rather, that a young boy “found out” about God” in a way, at a time and in a place I will always remember.
With loving parents, I lived at 1635 East 4th Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A very modest dwelling but one filled with a measure of love not nearly enough children today are fortunate enough to experience. A few years later, my one and only sister was born and the four of us shared the three room side of a duplex which might still be standing. We were poor, but didn’t know it, because all of our family friends were in similar circumstances. While we didn’t have much, we had something in our lives which provided hope as well as happiness, we had the love of one another and that of God Almighty..
Down the street and around the corner, about a city block away and well within walking distance was a church at the corner of 3rd and Trenton Ave, it was then a United Brethren of Christ Church. On important dates, my family attended services at church, but since my Dad worked long hours, Sundays were essentially the only time my parents had alone. More often than not, I went with my pal from across the street, Tommy, to Sunday School, Church and, in the summer months, Vacation Bible School. I’ll mention Tommy later as this story unfolds in greater detail, but for now, walking to “church” and to Jefferson Elementary School were part of the bonding process of two guys whose fathers worked at Continental Oil Company as truck drivers..
It was during a Vacation Bible School session, a volunteer teacher had each of the young people attending her class, to kneel down, in front of a folding chair, fold our hands and ask Jesus to “Come live in our hearts.” We all knew the “Christmas Story” and also the “Easter Story” in the rather simple terms understandable by young children but the full impact of the significance of those events to each of us personally, really had not theretofore made a lot of sense.. We had learned John 3:16, but the full meaning was a bit beyond the grasp of little children….until that day, at that time, in that way and in that place, each of us had our own epiphany. It was at the UB Church at third and Trenton streets, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, kneeling at a folding chair, asking Jesus Christ to come and live in my heart I came to know and fully understand what many years later I referred to as “Everlasting Life Assurance” and how it became the center of my life as a man, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a businessman and additionally as leader of men in the military. Thanks be to God!.
A couple of months ago, while trolling the internet, I asked Google about the church mentioned above. It is now referred to as The Church Studio. You can see a picture of that place which later became the “Historic Recording Studio of Leon Russell” and one that played a significant role in American Music History. The story of how that structure sat empty for years after Russell’s death, how it was purchased by Teresa Knox, how it became a National Landmark and what is in store for the future of that special place can be found by logging onto The Church Studio on Facebook. But like another Tulsa Central High School graduate many years before me – Paul Harvey would say at the close of his broadcasts, “And now you know, The Rest of The Story.”