I grew up in church. But my experience of church growing up was more or less the same as the majority of today’s churches in the Western World. Sunday was the ‘big day’ to do your Christian stuff, then the rest of the week you pretty much blended in with the world…doing the same things they did, thinking for the most part the same way the world thinks. There were smatterings of Christianity in my home life, yes, but the devotion that the Lord would have wanted wasn’t there. But I had no clue about that at the time.
I started school in the public school system. Things went pretty well until 4th grade. Then it all went south – that’s when the bullying started. There were many days I didn’t want to go to school – many days I felt sick thinking about going – and a lot of days I stayed home ‘sick’ because I dreaded seeing the kids that were making my school life miserable.
One day in 5th grade, it escalated to the point that one boy slammed my thumb in a door. That incident was the final straw for my parents, and I was taken out of public school and moved to a Catholic school. I was raised Pentecostal, and had been going to public school, so the Catholic environment was a very different one and took some getting used to.
One big, appreciated difference was that I wasn’t bullied – as much. Another was that there were religious classes in which the children were taught doctrine. I learned a lot about how the Catholic church works and realized there were big differences between the church I went to on Sundays and the church the other children went to – if they attended.
One of the big differences between the two was they used different Bibles. I was shocked to learn that the Catholic Bible contained a section called The Apocrypha between the Old and New Testaments. I really wanted to read these books…why weren’t they in my Bible at home? So I asked the priest one day when he came to our school for mass if he could help me to get a copy (they gave a copy of the Bible to each student at 4th grade…but I started attending this school in 5th grade). He kindly obliged and gave me a copy. I studied those Apocryphal books and found them very interesting…there some problems with the texts though, so I understand them not being included in the typical ‘Protestant’ Canon.
Some of the things done in the Catholic church’s traditions and rituals were foreign to me at first. The vast differences between the formality and ritual of the Catholic church, and the spontaneity of the Pentecostal Church I attended raised questions for me and even doubts. Who was right? Were either of them really right? In school we said the Lord’s Prayer every day, and I liked that…but I didn’t like that they said the hail Mary prayer because it’s idolatry to pray to anyone else but God Himself and Mary is just a woman – a dead woman – who can’t hear or answer prayer.
Inside and outside of school though, the influences of the world were still strong and were leading me away from Jesus. I’d have moments where I couldn’t care less about God or the things of God. Then there were many nights I lay in bed thinking about God and wondering what He was really like if He was really there. I’d try to imagine what Heaven was like and wondered if one day I’d actually be there. I’d think about Judgement Day and what it would be like. Serious stuff for a 10 year old.
But, then, in the morning so many things would distract me, and I’d forget about it completely, until I had time alone, with no noise to keep my attention. All the foolish fables in books and television kept me occupied much of the time. Then in my ‘tween’ years music crept in there too – and at the same time rebellion grew in my heart.
I can remember one Sunday in particular, although I can’t remember the date, it was some time when I was around 12 or 13 years old. The pastor was preaching about the dangers of so much of the materials children were reading and watching and exhorting the parents to keep guard over their children and not let them watch and read this stuff. He mentioned Harry Potter in particular, because of how it glorified witchcraft. My rebellious heart became all the more interested in this book series, which in the pastor’s estimation amounted to pure wickedness (and it is).
And so the downward spiral began. It didn’t help that later on, one of the Harry Potter books ended up being required reading for school. I took it as an excuse to read it all the more. And then the class reading moved on to the Hobbit. And I was enthralled by these fairytales.
I can actually remember how my parents used to watch the Jack Van Impe Presents show on TV (I by no means endorse Mr. Van Impe at all, but that’s another topic for another time), and how he was always preaching that the Rapture would happen any minute and hating to hear it. The greater part of me was afraid of End Times things – I was a child and found it all scary. But two memories stand out to me in particular.
I grew up being taught the Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine. One day while listening to Jack Van Impe talking about it, I questioned it out loud. I said something like, “Jesus was born and that was His first coming. He’s supposed to come back and Rapture the church and then later on come back again for Armageddon…isn’t that actually three comings and not two?”
I can’t remember verbatim the response I got, but it amounted to that I was a child and just didn’t really understand what was being said, so I let it go and just went with the flow. After I got saved, however, my husband and I learned the real truth of the matter…and I do not believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.
The other memory of the two was as follows: My brother, my dad and I all went to see the first of the Lord of the Rings movies when it came out in theatres. At the time I loved it, and I can actually remember, coming out of the theatre and on the way home in the car thinking to myself, “I hope the Rapture doesn’t happen before the other two movies come out.”
Now there is a fine example of someone more in love with the world than with the Lord.
I look back and I shake my head at how my mind and the minds of millions of children are and were bombarded daily with so many anti-Christian values and so much sin. Even the children’s programs are full of occult symbolism, witchcraft, and so much wickedness. It’s no wonder the world is in the state it’s in! It’s no wonder so many children growing up in ‘Christian’ homes turn away from the straight and narrow path…in a lot of cases their parents aren’t really on it, either!