A year later, the summer after my high school graduation, I was preparing to go on to Wingate College. It must have been the perfect time in my life for a change in direction. Everything around me was in transition.
During that summer, I'd been betrayed in a very painful way by a couple of people in my youth group at Parkwood Baptist Church. Additionally, my parents were building a new home and preparing to move away from the community in which I was raised. I'd just completed high school at C.E. Jordan in Durham -- and I had honestly hated it. I'd become quite fond of the philosophy of existentialism during this time, and it was no wonder. Life did indeed seem absurd. Yet, I sensed that there was something more.
My best friend at the time, Phillip Knight, had just returned from his freshman year at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. He'd invited me to get away from the turmoil I lived in that summer, and attend "The World Congress of Fundamentalists" held at BJU in August, 1983.
Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. I now look at my attendance at that event as a mixed blessing. But there is no denying that attending that "congress" changed my life. First, though it may seem odd, it was at that congress that I truly discovered the power of the Holy Spirit to guide my life. Before, I'd just bumbled about, making it -- or not -- by my own wits. But at this conference, I actually sensed His presence. I understood where I didn't understand before. No, this wasn't a "pentecostal experience" as such. There were no tongues -- not at Bob Jones!! But I felt as though I'd been introduced to the Holy Spirit in the truest sense at this time.
But I also heard, for the first time, that the Bible was true -- that it was authoritative, and perfect. That it was inspired, and "inerrant." In my church experience, I'd never heard such before. I'd never been taught, for instance, that creation was actually true -- even in church, it was allegorized, and evolution was assumed. Now, its important that I note, my parents certainly believed in the Scriptures, but they never engaged me in deep theological discussions. As a teen, they just wanted to be sure I had down the basic salvation message -- with good reason.
The theme at the World Congress that year was "The Authority of Scripture." I'll always be thankful that God used BJU to introduce me to this truth. It has made all the difference in my spiritual walk up to this present moment. When I consider that God used BJU to teach me these things, I think its a wonder, because there are so many things I've come to regard as less than Christian about the type of "Fundamentalism" such schools espouse. But certainly, this was another step in God's work of forming me into the person he wanted me to be....