“While woman weep, as they do now, I'll fight; while little children go hungry, as they do now, I'll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I'll fight; while there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I'll fight - I'll fight to the very end.” (General William Booth, Salvation Army Founder)
Good day, all. Are you ready for a little PK humor? All in jest, of course. Now that I am older than dirt and twice as gritty, I have a few little nostalgic tales of my own to tell.
The Scripture tells us that old men will dream dreams and the young men will see visions (Joel 2:28) (Acts 2:17), so here goes my dream world, amidst a few well-placed tears.
Growing up as a Salvation Army Officer's (minister's) kid was quite an experience. Yes, that makes me the proverbial Preachers Kid or "PK" for short. Well, you might think being exposed to the Christian way of life one would have it made, with a free ticket to glory land. Not so. Even PK's have to punch their own ticket.
That old saying "From the cradle to the grave" was certainly true to form for this PK. From the very outset, I had this drug problem. You see, every time the church doors were opened I was "drug to church."
Moving around the country was normal for me while growing up in the Salvation Army (ministry). By the time I was in the sixth grade, I had been to six different cities and six different schools. One school would hold me back as I was not advanced in the school curriculum. And another school would move me ahead, due to being too advanced. Times were good however, even in the hallowed halls of the church atmosphere.
My early school years were not as remarkable as my latter ones. Once as a small child, I even told a group of my playmates I could control the weather simply by praying. I then showed them, by putting on an exhibition of praying for rain. Obviously, it didn't rain. I ended the demonstration by telling my friends my faith was weak.
On another occasion in my youth, as my parents were in charge of the U.S.O. Club, I was accused of setting fire to one of the hostesses’ tires. This was during the time of WW II history when nylon tires were scarce. Dad ended up paying for her tire, even though she continued driving on the tire forever. I plead the Fifth on this one.
My time in Washington D.C. was one of my better experiences. Dad was in charge of the Adult Rehabilitation Center, a program for the recovery of alcohol and drug abuse, and we lived on the building. Yes, my young eyes were opened wide.
Oftentimes, the setting would get a little hairy at the ARC. One incident in particular, was my brief encounter with one of the not-so-regenerated morally reformed occupants. He was sitting out on the front sidewalk, cradling his beloved bottle, when I happened to walk by. He suddenly gave me a wild stare then threw his bottle at me, which shattered directly under my feet. Dad didn't lose his religion that time, but he came close.
Often times, the wife will remind me that I never seem to cease mentioning food when reminiscing. One such occasion was a weekly occurrence at the ARC. The dining area was always closed on Sundays, which meant we were on our own. I never failed to pig out.
My time in the third grade in Washington was an eye-opener, particularly for this young southern PK. The teacher would sit us down in a semi-circle and read to us. For some unknown reason, I remember her once saying, "In the South, they grow cotton and corn.” The school year was exciting, however as when it rained, we would get out of school early on what they called a "rainy day schedule.” Yes, I caught myself praying for rain, especially, when it came to test time.
As the SA officers gain seniority, their various appointments were not as short lived. Such was the case in Panama City, Fl. Dad was stationed in PC for nine years, so most of my latter school years' experiences occurred in PC.
Panama City is where my fifth grade professional basketball career took hold. On game day, the entire school would gather around the outdoor cement court, to watch us play. It was then that my show-off days began. When I would score a goal, the cheerleaders would always yell "PK, PK!”. And PK suddenly became the iconic battle cry of all my young boyhood friends.
It was always good to be able to chow down on fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy at the invite of a fellow church member's wife on Sunday afternoon. But it was bad when I would get into trouble for the slightest boyhood mischief when visiting their home, like popping the roasted chicken's wish bone across the table. And, believe me, I would surely hear the results, when we got home, to the tune of Dad's popping belt. This memorable event was labeled "the gospel principle," as Dad would put it.
On occasion, when we kids would just happen to snap our bubble gum in church, Dad would stop the service, walk down in the congregation, and pass a church bulletin around for us kids to deposit our gum onto. Dad would then return to the pulpit, never missing a sermon beat. There again, just a display of the "old time religion."
At one point, we had a bakery in our neighborhood that would give the SA leftover pastries at day's end to feed the less fortunate. I would catch myself praying the bakery would have a bad day, so we could get more pies. I later prayed that God would understand and forgive my childhood selfishness.
We were lucky to have a large group of young people in our congregation, and as the PK, I had my pick of puppy loves. We would sit in church and silently send "Puppy Love" messages back and forth by pointing to hymn titles, only to be called down from the pulpit by Dad's persuasive facial expressions, again a display of the "Old Time Religion."
When I came of driving age, I was allowed to drive the church van in taking the young people home from church activities. I always managed to take a certain gal home last. Can you imagine that?
Once when I was helping my Dad count the money donated through the SA Red Kettle Christmas Drive, I noticed a puzzled look on his face and asked what was wrong. Dad said he found that he was a coin short, when wrapping the pennies. I replied by simply asking," Why not just add a penny and move on?” Dad replied by saying, "No son, this is God's money, donated by a special person for God's business.” A strong lesson was learned that day. And, oh yes, the penny was found under the table.
My best friend, who was also a member of our SA Corps (title given by the SA churches) took on a Saturday paper route, delivering "The Grit" newspaper. I would befriend him on his route. My help didn't last long though, as his Mom told me I had to stop helping him. Together, we were eating up all the profit. Each time we would collect, we would stop for soft drinks and candy.
Another memory growing up was the missionary programs. Sitting through those 125-count missionary slide presentations were quite impressive. However, I was profoundly amazed as to what the missionaries went through in giving the gospel throughout the world. They would all stress God's command, as stated in the Great Commission (Acts 1:8), and they all seemed to have such strong faith in their mission.
Well, I said all that to simply say this.
Looking back, growing up as a PK, the most important message I remember was the strong, but simple evangelistic teaching which states, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no one should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9) And I hold to that message today.
Additionally, in support of the evangelistic message, was the old-fashioned church altar. I know the physical make-up of the altar was no different than any other construction. However, that old fashioned altar was very special for me, for that old altar was where I was first introduced to the Living God.
Yes, I am of the yester-year church generation. A church dinosaur, if you will. I still believe in that Old Time Religion. I can't help but ponder those old brush-arbor revival meetings where the "Amen's" and the "Hallelujah's" echoed, as the Spirit led.
I must mention, however, even a PK doesn't always obey the teachings of Christ. But, praise God, we serve an all-knowing, all-understanding God. And His Grace is sufficient for all our needs and reaches to the uttermost. He will forgive us of our sins (I John 1:8-9).
Well, those were the good old days. Sorry, they can't be relived in the flesh. But we all have to move on in life, you know.
So, if you will allow, I'll simply sit back in my old "Fraser's Dad's" aged, faded green recliner rocker, you know the one held together with duct tape, and ask Alexa to tune to the 50's radio channel.
After I have had my daily Bible study, that is. Amen!
Some may not be aware that The Salvation Army is actually a Christian origination which holds regular church services. It is an evangelist-based movement which originally broke from the Methodist church in London, England. It started as "The Christian Mission" and then later was renamed "The Salvation Army.”
Reason for the departure from the Methodist church was that the established church powers didn't want the SA to preach to the poor and down-and-out citizens, which went against the intent of the SA to reach out to all mankind.
Its mission: (taken from the SA) The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.
My parents held the high ministerial field ranking of Brigadier, active and retired, until being promoted to Glory. I know some day we will all be reunited in Heaven, along with all my other loyal SA comrades. And yes, it wouldn't surprise me if they all were still proudly wearing their SA uniforms, displaying the "S" collars representing "Salvation" because that's what it's all about.
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