Told from my perspective growing up in Pentecostal churches with emphasis placed on my father, everyone called Brother Buddy.
Poor, born in 1930...attended some grade school. His father and alcoholic, my Grandmother divorced after three children. The man she married I call my Grandfather.
This was during the depression and my Grandfather never attended school. My Dad refusing too, ended up in reform school. Mom and Dad married in 1947. Their first child died at the age of two. I was born in 1951, my brother in '50. My sister born in '55 died in '57. I have three younger siblings.
Buddy drank a lot, spending much of his time in bars, never keeping jobs, and money was scarce. A product of his upbringing. Having buried two children and a friend to suicide after the man shot his wife(my father shared the blame by driving the man to the scene of the shooting...can you imagine that everlasting image?).
Dad waited outside, hearing the shotgun blast too late...the burden he carried...wow!
We began services in a rural Pentecostal church where my Grandparents attended. Small, primitive...outdoor bathroom. We became regulars.
Dad held a job. Drinking stopped. A different man and financially the best I remember him.
Pentecostal religion is very lively...singing, dancing and when the "spirit of the Lord" was with them, my Grandma would dance and shout "Hallelujah" and "praise the lord". Christians having a good time.
I observed wide-eyed but stayed close to mom. Little did I know this was mild in comparison to what lay ahead.
Sometimes prayer would become intense. "Speaking in tongues" often happened during these "spiritual highs". Not uncommonly someone start uttering an unknown language that only a handful of "men of God" are able to interpret, or so they believe.
Attending Pentecostal churches, ministers preached "Hell and Damnation"... to repent before God and be saved or face an everlasting hell. We started going to larger venues featuring traveling "evangelist" Oral Roberts along with many others whose names I have forgotten, in Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Louisville with worshipers from hundreds to a few thousand...theaters to tents.
The most popular and charismatic evangelist of that era was A. A. Allen. Preaching with fire, laying on of hands...he "cured" everyone. As this preacher worked the eager Christians, the offerings "Runneth Over".
Dad settled in at a new church, a preacher himself now and assistant pastor. One day while visiting my Grandparents, they asked Dad to join in prayer for a friend who was there. Nothing unusual. I went outside and Dad locked the door. Grandpa regularly recorded prayers and services, so he pushed "record".
After a length of time the prayer session turned devilish...called "casting out a demon". Verbally troubling...animal-like, hair-raising screams were coming from this person. A demon battling God's own for her soul. Roberts and Allen had spoken about demons. The unimaginable was there.
I heard this tape more than once. I suppose Grandpa thought he had captured something special. NO child should ever hear something like that. During the "casting out", the demon vowed to get the three "people of God".
"Brother Buddy' was never the same after that. Slowly backsliding to the man he once was...however mentally more troubled'
Buddy passed away at age 55, trying numerous times to regain his lost spirit, in vain. Was it "doubt or demon"that destroyed him?
Buddy was dealt a cruel hand. "Brother Buddy" rose above, through "faith".
Do you believe what you see and hear? Do you believe in your parents and Grandparents? "OF COURSE" we trust them completely. Buddy, was challenged by lack of his real father's love and by life itself. He found a new father through the Pentecostal religion...feeling safe and wanted. He believed with all his heart. When evil challenged, he lost the battle. "Doubt" destroyed Brother Buddy.
I have spent a lifetime trying to understand my childhood in the Pentecostal religion.
These lost souls need "God" to get through their everyday life. At the age of 58 I write this perspective interpretation, I believe that heaven or hell is the here and now. We educate ourselves by living our own lives...our own spirituality. No one can take away our own uniqueness and our own beliefs. That is the Quest of life.
G. E. G.