My friend, cliff, and I we’re trying to get from Dallas to Norman, Oklahoma. We were hippies, and looked very much like hippies. A young teenage boy stopped, in a Volkswagen Van, of course. It was 1970, and picked us up. He was the very first one that ever told me about Jesus.
I had never heard. I am from Hialeah, Florida. A graduated from Hialeah High. I had lived there most of my life, and had never heard about Jesus. I had not heard about God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit or church or synagogue or temple or anything. That was the very first day, in August of 1970. He took a chance on us, and he started talking about this Jesus. I had no idea what in the world he was talking about. He said he had just come back from a youth camp. You could obviously see he was very excited. He started telling us the story, and I don’t remember anything about specifics, except something about Jesus. Then he said, when we got out of the Van. “If you ever get in trouble don’t forget to pray.” Then he just rode off into the sunset, but he had mentioned a certain denomination when he was talking.
So here my hippie friend, Cliff…-we were seventeen, between our junior and senior year of high school, were impressed enough to go home and look in the yellow pages for this kind of church. They were singing “God’s Not Dead.” Back in the seventies we used to sing songs, literally, fifty times, each chorus. I don’t know if anyone is familiar with that chorus today, but it’s,
“God’s not dead, He’s still alive. I feel Him in my hands. I feel Him in my feet. I feel Him in my heart. I feel Him in my soul. I feel Him all over me.”
They kept singing that over and over until I just ran out of that building. I threw myself on the grass at the Garden Club, and I just said, “I get it.” I had a moment with God. “I get it. God’s not dead. He is alive!” I could feel Him then as much as I can feel Him right now; the same presence of God. I threw myself on the ground, and said, “I don’t know who you are. I don’t understand this. I don’t know what’s going on. I know what people are telling me. I know what I feel.”
You see, Love, for me…”God loves you?” “Jesus loves you?”. I had people tell me, “I love you.”, then did horrific things after they said, “I love you.” So, that was very, very damaging and confusing. If you say you love me, and you do these things, and then you’re telling me, “God loves me, and Jesus loves me.”
That night I said, “I don’t know who You are, and I don’t know what this is about. Save me. Forgive me. Come into my heart. Change my life.” I didn’t know and say a fancy prayer. I didn’t have anything to look at or read, but that night in Hollywood, Florida and the grass, my life changed.
I can remember that night, dancing in the rain, It had started raining. We we’re outside dancing. I came from a situation where nothing was ever right. You could do it this way today, and that way tomorrow, and it was not right. I could feel joy for the first time in a very, very long time. I could feel happiness. I could feel freedom.
It just takes one, one person stopping in picking up this hippie, who said, “If you ever get in trouble, don’t forget to pray.” My whole entire life changed.