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Becoming a Christian

Herbert Jones, my Dad's dad, didn't become a Christian until he was seventy-two. It's funny how it works so differently for different people. Grandpa had been a real character, from what I've heard. He did rodeo stuff for years when my Dad was younger and all sorts of wild things occurred in that life, I guess. When my Dad was really small, Grandpa would take him to pool halls, where Dad would stand on an apple crate to play pool. That may not sound so bad now, but from where I came from "going to pool halls" was shorthand for "he wasn't a good person."

My Dad tried for years to convert my grandfather, but Grandpa would have none of it. He didn't need church or God. What made him change his mind?

One Sunday morning his five-year-old, newly baptized, only grandson called him and said while crying, "Grandpa when I get to heaven I want you to be there."

Given my current understandings of theology, such a story sorta turns my stomach. It seems like this really manipulative, emotional thing. Yet all I know is that it was genuine on the side of the five year old, and it seemed to lead to a genuine change in the life of grandpa.

Grandpa called a minister he respected and asked to talk to him about God. Grandpa "accepted Jesus" and became an active churchgoer and a more kind and loving man. Grandpa and Grandma got to church early all the time. After all, it was a mile up the dirt road, and everyone knows that you should get there 30 minutes early. So, they gave him the key to unlock the place and get it ready and he was responsible for ringing the bell (yes, they still rang a bell to announce when church was about to begin).

Now I have such radically different views of the after-life and of salvation, but there is one thing I know for certain. I did see my grandpa in heaven, at least the part of it that is this side of death. When we enter into the church, we become a part of the eschatological community that is the kingdom of God. And grandpa and I walked together in the community for 9 years, and he still surrounds me as part of that great cloud of witnesses.


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they still ring the bell in milfay.


Yes, Toni, but they also still ride horse-and-buggy style to church there, don't they?

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