I went to the altar a crying, balling mess. I was slobbering all over the altar. I do not remember everything I said to God at that moment. I do remember it was pretty much anti-climatic. I had already prayed all I knew to pray days and weeks before. I got up, in tears, and approached “Brother” Gerald and told him that I think God was “calling me into the ministry”. (A Fundamentalist approach to full-time vocational ministry.) He was standing on the platform. My back was turned to the congregation. He told me that I needed to tell the people. He was grinning. I turned around and stood in the pulpit and through blubbering words I told the folks that I think God had called me into the ministry. This was the first time that my wife heard or knew of these developments. Now that is unbelievable to me today…pretty dumb actually.
The place erupted. Folks were grinning from ear to ear. The room was full of enthusiasm. It was a surreal moment. I don’t remember what happened for the rest of the meeting. After most everyone left I was sitting on the altar with Gerald and I asked him what I was supposed to do now. I never even considered the next step. All of my energies were pointed toward that moment of “surrender”, rather than what I would do after that. Gerald told me that I needed to get prepared for the ministry, which meant I needed to consider going to college for training. I was about to go to Greenville, South Carolina. At that time I had never heard of Greenville, South Carolina, even though it was only 135 miles away.
On the way home that night I was going down Olive Branch Road and I asked my wife what she thought about these developments. She said she was glad I “surrendered” because I was making things unbearable at home. I did not know how the pressure of “the call” was hurting our home life.
As we made our way down Olive Branch Road I was compelled to stop by my mother’s home and witness to her. She was not living right and I was concerned for my family. Before we went to our home I stopped by my mother’s house to share the gospel. She told me she had an experience with God some time ago. She said she was standing at the front door and was looking out over the front yard and saw the ground rise up and the sky come down and something happened, the details of which I don’t remember at this point in time. But because of that experience she knew she was a Christian. I did not respond to these statements. Maybe I should have. I went home and pondered all the events of this day in my heart. My life had just changed and I had no idea of what God had in store for me and the costs it would involve.