Rattlesnakes, whoopin' and hollerin? Not exactly.
This involves the story of a police woman's literal visit to Hell, a reporter's contact with the former leader of the Satan's Disciples street gang, and the letters between them which show how God's love never fails.
It is more than that.
Readers will see the "more" as the story unfolds.
Let's begin it with the latest letter I received from Johnny White, in prison since 1998 for the drive-by shooting death of a young woman in Rockford, IL. At that time Johnny was the Satan's Disciple street gang leader.
He first contacted me at the News Office where I had been writing a series of articles on a wrongfully convicted prisoner who is also serving 40 years behind bars. He convinced me he knew something about that crime, so I corresponded with him.
Over the next several years, Johnny and I slowly developed a relationship of trust. His letters to me are a story in themselves, and one I hope to write some day.
Johnny responds to the blog posts I wrote about the gift of speaking in tongues, which began in December.
Thank you for sharing your personal experience with the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gift of speaking in tongues. I never told you about my own experience, but I will now.
It was 1995 and I was wanted on some warrants in Rockford, so my father sent me stay with family members in Lost Creek, Kentucky, which is up in the hills.
My great uncle Joe lived at the bottom of the holler and still drew his water up from a well. He did have electricity though. Uncle Hoe had one condition for me if I was allowed to live with him. I had to go with him to Sunday service.
My idea of church in the back wood hills of Kentucky was of rattlesnakes and people whooping and hollering. The service wasn't like that at all. It was a quiet Baptist Church, that is until a lot of the church goers would start talking in weird languages, mostly to themselves.
Being young and lacking in manners, both my cousin and I would make fun of them and laugh at their "language." At least until Uncle Joe would turn that eye on us that said we were close to gettin' it.
Sunday was the only day of the week Uncle Joe stayed sober and the one day to take him seriously.
That day, me and my cousin Tommy were being disrespectful at church again. Uncle Joe took us both outside and asked, "Why do you find it so funny that people are talking with God?"
We didn't have answer. I asked him, "How is God supposed to understand what they was saying?"
He told me, "That's God's language."
I was missing home and had been so bored that the Holler Church service was at least something to do. And instead of laughing and joking, I actually listened from time to time. One day it seemed like the Reverend spoke directly to me, almost as if he knew my past and my secrets.
I started to feel horrible, scared, and really had the compulsion to pray. I just didn't know how, or what to say. So I sat there with tears streaming down my face. I didn't even know I was speaking until after the service when Tommy began to make fun of me and say that I was just as crazy as everyone else at the service. He said I began speaking in the same way those church goers were talking when they talking.
I don't really know what happened to me that day. I was just a young gang banging punk from Rockford who was in tears from hearing the Reverend's words. I still don't get how he seemed to know me like that. I never experienced this language again, but reading your experience has given me a better understanding of what took place in my spirit that day in the hills of Kentucky.
I plan to read up on it in the Bible and it will be edifying. Edifying. I like that word and just wanted to use it. I would like to know what you described in your blog as your "Abraham moment."
Thank you for your friendship and for your words which have helped me grow in my faith.