Where it all began

I first found out about the love of God in a police car in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. It was 1973 and, at the time, I was thirty-three years old and a four year veteran police officer with the city of Oak Ridge; who didn’t trust or love anyone; not even myself.

The shift Lieutenant had ordered me to take a new rookie on patrol with me and, in his words…”This guy is a new Police Academy graduate. Teach him to forget all that crap and how to do the job.”

The new rookie was Jim W. and when Jim hopped into the passenger seat, he had a big smile on his face and I said, “What the @#$%^ are you smiling about? He closed the door, plopped a book on his lap, and said, “It’s a great day; praise the Lord.”

I looked at the book and saw Holy Bible. Jim said, “It’s my law book.”

And I said, “You keep that stuff to yourself; I don’t want nothing to do with it.”

Jim said, “But I love the Lord and He loves me. He loves you too.” Just like that, this guy gets into my car and right away starts preaching to me so I had to shut him down before he went too far. So I said, “Nobody loves me and I for sure don’t love nobody; so you keep that stuff to yourself. I don’t want to hear another word about it. You’re here to learn to be a good cop and that’s all you’re here for.” I looked him right in the eye with the meanest expression I could muster and said, “You got that? You shut up about that stuff.”

“Yessir,” he said, and stuffed the bible into his bag.

Three days later, we were sitting at a corner watching traffic when I looked over and saw him smiling. He was always smiling and it got on my nerves. I asked him, “Why do you always have that goofy smile on your face?”

“I’m sorry, sir, but you told me never to talk about it.”

And I yelled, “Answer my question!”

And for the next 15/20 minutes I heard stuff like John 3:16, 1 John 3:10 and something called the Roman road. It’s been so long that I can’t recall all that he said. What I do remember is, I was having trouble holding back the tears. This guy was really getting to me and I suddenly remembered what my older sister had said three years earlier.

She had been writing to me from Her home in Arizona about how she had been “saved” at a Billy Graham crusade. She was really getting on my nerves with all this Jesus talk. I thought she had lost her mind and when I told her to stop with all this garbage, she said…”OK, I will but I am going to pray and ask God to send someone to you who you will listen to.”

And that’s what I was thinking about as Jim kept on. “Is this an answer to her prayer? What’s going on here? Maybe I should shut him up.” But I didn’t have to. He said, “I see the expression on your face and you know what I think?” He didn’t wait for an answer; he said, “I think you should go to church.”

I knew a preacher who worked at the stables shoeing horses; he pastored the Nazarene Church up on the hill not far from the police station. So I went there; about a week after that. I’m going to forgo all the details and get to the meat of this.

I was so impressed by what Gene Tarter, the pastor, had to say and how I was treated by the seventy/eighty people at the church that I went back several times and on the 5th week, at the Sunday evening service, I found myself at the front of that little church; crying like a baby and praising God.

And that’s where it all began for me. I’m not going to tell you that it all became a bed of roses because that is far from the truth. My trust issues got in the way and I struggled for many years but I will always remember these words from my Lord. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Praise the Lord my friends; read the Word and trust Him. I guarantee you won’t be sorry.

2 thoughts on “Where it all began

  1. What a powerful reminder of how God uses others to bring us to Christ. It seems that your sister had as big of a role in your salvation as did Jim and Pastor Gene!

    You have a good way of writing and sharing your stories … please keep doing so!


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