The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 31
He walked his bike to the side of the building and chained it to the railing of the steps that led to the basement. He waited until the throngs of cars had emptied its occupants and certain services were about to begin. Soon after the doors were closed the singing began. Rich walked in.
A kindly older man met Rich at the door and offered to seat him.
“I’d just like to stay to the back,” Rich whispered.
He walked ahead and had some people scoot over to make room for Rich. The old man smiled politely and directed Rich where to sit. He whispered as Rich eased into the pew, “Billy Bopper is preachin’ today.”
Rich stood while the chorus and congregation fervently and earnestly lifted their voices and hearts to heaven.
All remained standing while the preacher echoed a long winded sanctimonious prayer that would have made any Lutheran proud. At the conclusion was an “Amen,” in unison by all.
“Please by seated,” the preacher said with over dramatic sincerity.
“The Lord Jesus has sent us a blessing,” the preacher said with a strong quivering voice. “A voice has cried out of the wilderness. A voice of truth, of enlightenment, of power, and of holy spirit. Brothers and sisters, the evangelist Billy Bopper!” He gestured to his right and a well dressed man with slick greasy wispy hair stepped to the pulpit’ The choir sung three rousing hallelujahs and an organ played three corresponding chords.
Billy Bopper stared and surveyed the audience as if peering into every soul. One eye slowly squinted as though he knew something no one else was aware. He breathed deep and exhaled. As if drawn by some sort of divine influence of uncontrollable and irrepressible communication he blurted, “Great God in heaven, thanks be to Jesus the son of God who on this day brought us here together today to hear his message of salvation and reconciliation.” He paused and measured the effects of his words on the audience.
Rich looked around. They were mesmerized by Billy Bopper.
He continued, “I was not always on the side of the Lord. The Lord never truly entered my heart until my last year at the Arkansas Christian Bible Institute. Oh, I wanted to be a preacher, but I saw it as a career move. My Daddy was a preacher. My Granddaddy was a preacher. My Great Granddaddy was a moon shiner. Great Granddaddy was so effective it took two generations to win back the souls he handed over to Satan.”
Laughter erupted. Billy Bopper was pleased. He had them.
He breathed deep again. “In 1949 The Arkansas Christian Bible Institute’s “Flaming Swords” were the national champs in the American Bible Institute Collegian Athletic Conferences in basketball. We had only seven players on the squad. Every one of them a consecrated child of God; preaching the gospel, saving souls, and defeating Satan the same way we defeated every basketball team we played. Why? We had faith!”
At this point Rich wondered, “What about The Missouri Christian Bible Institute, The Ohio Christian Bible Institute, The Hawaii Christian Bible Institute, or for that fact The New Hampshire Christian Bible Institute. How was their faith lacking?” However, there seemed no dissenting eyes or wavering hearts among the souls.
“You take Lefty McCoy, all he had was a hook shot and fire in his belly for the Lord. There was ten seconds left in the championship game and we called a time out. Our coach Reverend Luscious Hightower had us say a prayer before he drew up the final play. We all prayed that Lefty did not touch the ball or take the final shot. Three times Reverend Luscious Hightower drew a play and each time the chalk mysteriously indicated the final shot should go to Lefty. We should not resist the spirit! We do what the spirit tells us to do even if in our minds it does not make sense. We were all convinced that Reverend Luscious Hightower had a stroke and could not draw anything but a play for Lefty. We tossed the ball inbounds. We tried to keep the ball from Lefty. Each time, by something more powerful than us, the ball ended up in his hands. Lefty didn’t want that last shot so he passed it away, but it kept coming back. Finally with four seconds left I had the ball. Two men were on me. I saw Lefty open at the foul line. I threw the ball to him and shouted, ’Let the Lord be with ye Lefty!’ Lefty let fly with his hook shot, the buzzer sounded. What do you think are the chances of a hook shot going in from the foul line are? Swish! It didn’t bank, it didn’t rattle, it didn’t swirl around the rim - it went right through. When the Lord does things, he does them right. That was a lesson for us all. The Lord uses only those who have fire in their belly for the Lord. That was the night I gave my life to Jesus completely and became on fire for the Lord. Now you don’t have to be a preacher to be on fire for the Lord. I look out here today and see, yes I can feel the fire of the Lord. But some don’t yet have that fire. You want that fire. You got the fuel. You just need the flicker. Today it is not a flicker it is a raging inferno that the Lord has sent.”
Rich looked over his shoulder measuring the distance from him to the door. He heard moaning, hallelujahs, amens, and praise the lord’s sporadically throughout the crowd. People were raising their hands heavenward and clutching Bibles to their breasts.
“Since I began this ministry thousands have come to the Lord. Now dear friends, lost souls, back sliders, and those wanting faith, wanting the Lord Jesus in their hearts, and those wanting the fire of the Lord in their belly - now is the time to receive the Lord.” At the snap of Billy Bopper’s finger the choir began singing Bringing in the Sheep.
That was Rich’s exit call. He stepped into the aisle and was immediately pushed forward by a mob of dear friends, lost souls, back sliders, and those wanting faith, wanting the Lord Jesus in their hearts, and those wanting the fire of the Lord in their belly. As much as he resisted, the herd relentlessly continued to shove Rich forward. He envisioned this much like the swine which Jesus cast out the demons only to hurl themselves from the edge of a mountain and into the sea. They all crowded to the front of the church. He watched as everyone got on their knees an so did Rich.