© 2017 Bill Murphy
I’m certain this writing assignment was expected to invoke responses such as: Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men or The Old Man and the Sea. But the one book that had the most effect on my life, is the Bible. To be more specific, a small red Gideon’s New Testament, which I was given in 1951 – and I promptly read. ￼
I was in George Elementary School in Jackson, Mississippi at the time. George was a neighborhood school, in walking distance for the students. We had no school buses, and – I can’t remember a single child being dropped off by automobile.
I was a ‘Safety Patrol Boy’ that year. Every intersection surrounding the school, and for a couple of blocks beyond, was manned each morning and each afternoon by a patrol boy, to insure that the smaller kids got safely across the street.
Early that year, the Gideon’s visited to our school, and passed out small red New Testaments to the students. I still have mine.
At the time I received my Testament, I was assigned to a rather dull and boring intersection – with few students to monitor. Morning and afternoons, I spent my time reading. I finished the entire book before my intersection assignment changed.
I was raised in a Christian home. We were not just church members, but church attenders – Sunday mornings as well as Sunday nights. Dad was on the Board of Stewards, and Mom was the head of the Primary Department. Needless to say, my sister and I received our fair share of perfect attendance awards. But one does not become a true ‘believer’ by osmosis.
As I read my little red Testament, the words seemed to come alive as never before. Something really weird was happening, something that I couldn’t at first understand. And then it came to me – my Eureka moment.
Before, because I was so closely associated WITH church, and thoroughly indoctrinated with the teaching of the church – and because our church was a Christian church, ergo – I must be a Christian. But for the very first time in my young life, my heart was called upon to decide – did I really BELIEVE all this small red book was telling me – or didn’t I.
That was 66 years ago, but I can remember the morning as clearly as if it were yesterday – the day that I determined in my heart and in my mind, that YES – I believe. And belief, prompted by that tiny book, changed my life forever.