Growing up in Cherokee County I find it hard to believe that anyone doesn’t accept that there is a God. It’s not that they say there isn’t a God; they just won’t concede that there is a God because science doesn’t support it. And my friend, who will remain anonymous out of respect, lives one of the most moral and ethical lives of anyone I know.
Growing up in a country Baptist church, I was exposed to fire and brimstone preaching from birth. I was also a fairly regular Sunday School goer which helped greatly in preparing me to listen and understand the sermons. The year was 1974 and I had just turned 12 years old. The Rev. Ray Mauldin was the pastor at Chalcedonia Baptist Church.
The church has had a summer revival in July since before I was born and continues to do so even today.
Summer revival began Sunday night and ended on the next Saturday night with a baptizing following on Sunday morning. The series of services were every night and every morning during the week of revival.
With that many services, pastors would invite a visiting preacher or preachers to help conduct the services as they felt led. And even if they would have tried to do it by themselves, their voices would have had a hard time surviving.
As a 12-year-old boy I had heard a lot of preaching in my short time on earth. So I had a pretty good idea what it was about.
Ray Mauldin began every sermon he preached eloquently. But when the spirit hit him, all the big words disappeared and it was just hard preaching. He would pull his coat off and his shirt would be soaked with sweat by the time he finished. His bald head would be glistening from the lights in the sanctuary.
This was before we had air conditioning in the church. We had fans with a picture of Jesus on one side, and usually the name of a funeral home on the other.
On this Friday night in 1974, Ray preached about the importance of being saved from our sins. I don’t remember the passage of scripture he used, but the message was clear.
Ray finished preaching and gave an altar call. I knew it was time for me to give my heart to the Lord. So as James Cain led the congregation in some song from the red song book, I made my way toward the altar. Granddaddy Free met me before I could get there. He walked with me as I headed to a place that would change my course forever.
I kneeled down and starting praying. There were others praying with me. The singing continued. Mom had taken me that night and Dad wasn’t there. But sometime during my praying, someone from the church went to our home and got him. I remember someone touching me on my back and saying, “Son, I am here.”
It was shortly after this that my heart lost all its fear of the afterlife and was filled with the purest love of all. My heart was filled with love straight from portals of glory. God saved me that day. He didn’t save me because I was good. He saved me because I asked him to.
Two days later on Sunday, Ray Mauldin led me and others down into the baptizing pool outside of the church. We were all immersed in the water showing the world we had accepted Christ.
My agnostic friend told me that it is hard to accept that there is a God because of the way people that proclaim to be Christians live. It’s hard to argue that point because none of us when you get right down to it live like we should. But there have been many times that knowing God has helped me through situations when I would have otherwise been doomed. How sad it is to think about those that don’t have Christ have to face life’s trials alone.
But being saved isn’t about science. It’s about faith.
I want to close with a line from the movie “Rudy.” Father Cavanaugh said to Rudy, “Son, in 35 years of religious study, I have only come up with two hard incontrovertible facts: there is a God, and I’m not him.” Amen!
Chris Collett is a lifelong resident of