Who taught me the gospel? Isn’t that like asking what’s my one favorite BBQ place? I can’t narrow it down to just one and there wasn’t just one person who influenced me to be a Christian.
O.K. Here’s my list. My parents, sisters (the youngest was 15 when I was born), at least 3 local preachers, and a parade of visiting preachers at our congregation and any congregation within 50 miles (occasionally further). Back in the old days churches had gospel meetings in the spring and fall and sometimes in the summer. If memory serves me correctly, our county alone had 16 congregations so that kept us hopping.
My folks moved to Greenville, KY, just before I started first grade. Proctor Langley, one of our elders, was a great encouragement to me. If I was within five feet of him after church I could expect one of his sideways bear hugs. Proctor greatly influenced me from the beginning. As we got ready for church one morning I had my very small (in those days) transistor radio in my pocket with the ear piece in my ear. My mom told me that thing was not going to church. I said I was just going to listen to it during the sermon. She informed me I certainly was not! I told her Proctor did! Unbeknownst to me Proctor was hard of hearing and had an amplifier in his shirt pocket that looked very much like a transistor radio and included a wired earpiece just like my radio. That’s when I learned Proctor was not listening to the radio during church and I wouldn’t be either!
I guess it gets down to who influenced me most in this tag team effort. For the long haul I would have to say my parents. Running a close second would be Ken Joines, our preacher while I was in grade school and through part of junior high. He pushed, pressed, disciplined, encouraged and loved me. (And it wasn’t like I didn’t get enough of that at home!) I will always be grateful for what he did for me.
Ken baptized me.during a gospel meeting John Forgy, my brother-in-law, was preaching. It was on Mother’s Day and I was 11 years old.