Tuesday, May 15, 2018

On My Knees in a Cute Boy's Bedroom

Brainerd, Minnesota, June 1976

Every year the family spends a week camping somewhere in the northwoods, fishing, swimming, hiking -- and, on Sunday, finding the nearest Nazarene Church.

Even when it's in Brainerd, Minnesota, an hour's drive away.

"But Nazarenes can't eat out on Sunday, so we'll have to drive back here and cook dinner!" I protest.  "It will be after 2:00 when we eat!"

"Jesus prayed and fasted all night," Mom pointed out.  "Besides, there might be some cute girls there."

I sigh.  Not the "what girl do you like" litany again!  What about cute boys?

"And what about the soulwinners? We'll be mobbed!"

"Oh, stop complaining.  We'll just call ahead and tell them we're coming."

The most prestigious thing a Nazarene can do is soulwinning, talking sinners (which basically means all non-Nazarenes) into accepting Jesus as their Personal Savior, thereby winning their souls for our team.

We take classes in soulwinning, hear sermons about it, read stories about it, evaluate scenarios.  Our Sunday School teacher often asks "How many souls did you win this week?"

Usually none at all.  It's not easy.  When you were 14 years old, would you have been able to walk up to this guy and say "Hi, do you have a moment to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ?"

If you aren't "spiritually mature" enough for soulwinning, you can witness instead: tell the sinner that you are ecstatically happy every moment of every day because you're saved, or just demonstrate with a broad smile.  The sinner, immersed in the unrelenting agony of the unsaved life, will eventually want to know more.

Soulwinning is so prized that casual visitors to a Nazarene church can easily be mobbed by people grinning at them and trying to start soulwinning conversations.  Unless they come with a member, signifying that they are "taken," or call ahead.

When we walk through the foyer of the Brainerd Church of the Nazarene, looking for all the world like a family of sinners who stumbled in by accident, we are nearly mobbed, but the Sunday School superintendent, the one we called earlier, comes to the rescue.

"This is Brother Davis and his family, from the Rock Island Church of the Nazarene," he announces, and the wannabe soulwinners back off.

But in my Sunday School class, they haven't gotten the word.

Ten or so high schoolers are sitting on folding chairs or chatting before the class begins, and every one of them looks up and flashes me a toothy witnessing grin.  Two girls and a boy approach, intent on starting soulwinning conversations.

"I'm from Rock Island..." I begin.  Then a tall, black haired boy with a strong physique, obviously church royalty, leaves his cluster of admirers and exerts control.  The others back off.

"Welcome!  I'm Roald," he say, offering a warm, tight handshake and a more subtle witnessing smile.  He's done this before!  "Is this your first time?"

This could work to my advantage!

"My parents made me come," I say, which is true.

"Well, sit down over here by me.  I'll tell you how everything works.  If you have any questions, just ask."

So I sit thigh to thigh with a cute boy, who helps me hold the hymnal and shows me how to find Bible verses.

The lesson is about how God has a husband or wife planned out for us, so we should keep ourselves pure and not kiss before marriage.  Standard Sunday school stuff, but I'm already annoyed by Mom's "there may be cute girls there" crack, so I stare at the floor.

Roald thinks I'm "under conviction" and puts his arm around me.

Then we have to hold hands for the closing prayer.

This could definitely work to my advantage! 

I sit with Roald and his friends during the church service, too -- fortunately for me, unfortunately for him, no altar call.  His soulwinning plan thwarted, he asks "What are you doing now?"

"We have to drive all the way back to our cabin for dinner."

"I have an idea -- why don't you come home for dinner with us?  I'm sure Mom and Dad won't mind."

"Well, I'm with my family...."

They get invitations, too.

"See?" Mom asks, "You had nothing to worry about.  The Lord provides."

I glare at her for wrecking my cover, but Roald doesn't notice.  I guess he is so used to that sort of language that he thinks even sinners talk that way.

Roald's family lives in a big two-story house on a cul-de-sac, with a separate family room and bathrooms upstairs and downstairs.

Dinner is the standard ham, baked potatoes, green beans, and jello salad. My parents must have outed themselves during Sunday school, since they get no soulwinning conversation; they talk about boring adult things, money and politics and room additions.

Roald glances at me and makes a face.  I giggle.

"Roald, if you boys are finished," his Mom says, "Why don't you take Boomer swimming out on the lake?"

Swimming?  I was hoping to watch tv, or listen to records, or read comic books, anything but more time on a lake!  "I just have my church clothes," I protest.

"Oh, I'm sure Roald will lend you a pair of his swimming trunks."

We go up to Roald's bedroom.  I get a pleasant view of his hard, firm chest and shoulders as we strip down, and a nice sausage sighting -- he's bigger than me, thick and ruddy.  But I want more.

It's time to play my Ace.

"Gee, you're always so happy," I offer, sitting down on the bed in Roald's spare swimsuit.  "How do you manage it?"

Seeing a soulwinning opening, he sits  next to me and reached on his nightstand for a Bible.  "It's because I'm saved.   When you have Christ in your heart, you're happy all the time.  There's not a single moment of sadness or anger, ever."

I know the script!  "Yeah, but there's just so many problems.  I have hassles with my parents, my brother is crazy, my teachers are crazy, and there are so many temptations at school...dancing, movies, rock music...."

"And girls, right?"

Girls, girls, girls!  Is that all anybody ever thinks of?

He puts his arm on my shoulder.  "When you accept Jesus Christ as your savior, none of that bothers you.  It's impossible for you to ever feel pain again."

"But it's just so hard...."  Suddenly I really am feeling sad.  The "what girl do you like?" interrogations, wanting to go to college when Dad insists on the factory, the boy in my class that I like but can't say anything, my horrible future with a wife, kids, job, and house....

Suddenly I am sobbing.

Roald puts his arms around me and draws me to his chest.  I hold him tightly.  "It's just so hard!" I repeat.

"Do you want to pray right now?"

I nod.  We get on our knees and hug and pray, but for different things.  Roald prays for me to get saved, and I pray for an answer.  An escape from the constant girls, girls, girls.  An escape from my wife-kids-job-house destiny.

Two weeks later, at music camp, I have my first sexual experience.  An answer to my prayer?

See also: Spending the Night with Todd; and A Naked College Boy in My Room


  1. You're probably wondering where my brother and sister were during this story. They were in their own Sunday school classes, and after dinner they played with Roald's younger brother and sisters. There just wasn't room in the story for 11 people around the dining room table.

  2. In retrospect, soulwinning is a lot like cruising. Both involve starting a conversation with a complete stranger, checking his body language, judging his availability, and gently guiding him toward a pre-determined goal: to get him on his knees.

  3. When you saw his attractive cock and body did YOUR cock rise or were you too anxious and that kept it under control?

  4. "But it's so hard..." I'll say!

    I always assumed that creepy happiness bit is an act. Missionaries as a whole set off my Uncanny Valley.

    I always find your disdain for labor and owning your own living space amusing. It's symptomatic of one reason the Orange Devil became president, but amusing.

    1. It all worked together, wife, kids, house, factory job, four facets of heterosexuality.

    2. And that's a problem right there, internalizing stereotypical gay professions.

      Sadly, I don't have time to animate a full-on tongue-in-cheek musical number. I would, though.



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