I faced it month after month. I prayed and prayed but nothing seemed to happen. I spent every single moment when I was home reading my Bible and praying.
We lived in a small house, and there were eight children. I shared a bedroom with my brother Willie. I would pray, “Lord, please don’t let him come in yet. Let me finish my time with You.” I remember my little brother Henry would peek in the room through a hole to see what I was doing.
I prayed earnestly for my family, even though I increasingly had nothing at all in common with them. My desires had changed.
“Benny’s gone coo-coo!” they kept saying.
On Sunday morning before I went to church, I would sneak down before anybody would wake up and watch Kathryn Kuhlman’s television program, turning the volume `way down in hopes that my Father wouldn’t come down and yell at me. I remember praying, “Lord, please keep all of them in bed.”
I lived in secret, reading the Bible, studying books, watching Christian television programs, and attending church all that I could. These were not pleasant days for me.
In fact, the first time I mentioned “Jesus” in our home after I was saved, my father warned me sternly. “Mention that name in my house once more, and you’ll wish you hadn’t. Forsake this experience, or we will forsake you!”
Riding with my father in the family car not long after our initial confrontation about “Jesus,” he tried once again to dissuade me from my stand as a Christian. He promised me this and that, trying to turn me away from what I had found in Christ. One thing was always certain about my father—he never broke a promise. If he said it, he made it very clear that he wanted me to forget “this Christian fanatical thing.”
When he had finished, he paused and waited for my response. I looked into his piercing eyes and replied, “There is nothing you can do to force me to forget about Jesus.”
The expression on my father’s face instantly revealed his anger at my response. And this wasn’t the first time I had seen that expression or felt his glaring wrath. As a little boy, I had often looked up at his towering, six-foot frame and felt the intimidation of his stern glare when I didn’t measure up to his expectations. There in the car, I had similar feelings. It was apparent that I had not pleased him; I had not given the answer he had desired. At times like that as a child, I would run and hide under the bed, but today there was nowhere to hide to escape his angry, silent glare. With nothing else to say, we drove home in silence.
Things became increasingly difficult at home. My family couldn’t find any logical explanation for the change they saw in me, so they just ignored me. I began to feel like an intruder in my own home, and the isolation became increasingly painful. My family begged me not to dishonor the family name by pursuing this “Jesus stuff.” But the reality I had found in my relationship with Jesus Christ was more precious to me than anything. Although I loved my family, I loved my wonderful Lord Jesus more. I knew that I could not turn away from Him and His love for me.
In desperation, my father tried something else. He arranged for me to work for a friend of his. Perhaps he thought if I was busy working, I wouldn’t have time to think about this “Jesus.” Unsuccessful, my father finally said in despair, “Benny, what can I do for you? What do you want me to do? I’ll do anything you want if you’ll just forget about this Jesus of yours.”
I swallowed hard and said, “Dad, you can say what you want, but I would rather die than give up what I’ve found in Jesus.”
My father’s brief moment of concern vanished and a river of angry words streamed from his lips, transforming him from a concerned father to an angry, sarcastic stranger. From that time on, and for nearly two years following, my father and I had almost no communication. It was as though I was invisible, and my presence was seldom acknowledged. Although my family and I lived in the same house, our relationship deteriorated to that of strangers. Only the love of Jesus Christ sustained me through those lonely times.