How God Saved Me
I grew up in a nominal Christian home. My mom and dad had made professions of faith in Christ but God did not save them until later in life. At a young age, I can remember sitting in church with my grandmother and her pointing to the words in the hymn book as I tried to sing the songs.
When I was 8 years old my maternal grandfather, Ben Rohm, was baptized and joined Spencer Mountain Baptist Church. I also “professed” at this time and the pastor “baptized” me. I do not remember anyone explaining the Gospel to me at all.
When I was about 9 years old we moved away from the Spencer Mountain community nearer a little town called Stanley. A Baptist church not far away had an active Royal Ambassadors program for young boys. During that spring and summer, one of the men would come by and pick me up and I would go with him to the church facilities where a bunch of us boys, supervised by a couple of volunteers, would play football. One night, after our game, this kind man brought me back home and I remember that he sat with me in the car and explained what it meant to be saved. I do not remember one thing he said to me but I do remember that I enjoyed the attention.
It was through the RAs (Royal Ambassadors) that I learned about missions and missionaries and I determined to become a foreign missionary when I was old enough.
Years went by. My home life was unstable due to my dad’s drinking problem. I was in and out of several different churches and schools during those years and even sang a solo at one church when we lived in Florida. I never had a religious impression during this period. By the time my teenage years started, our family had moved back to North Carolina and I was back in Spencer Mountain Baptist Church.
The church had a youth group. The adult leaders were carnal and the youth group was carnal. We had our holiday parties with many things allowed that were simply the product of lost adult church members being in charge of lost young people.
Along with my teenage years came more freedom. I got my driver’s license. I had more time without parental control. I remember drinking with my buddies on Saturday night and singing in the choir with them on Sunday morning. At anytime during this part of my life if someone had asked me if I was a Christian I would have said yes. After all, I had been baptized. I was a member of the church and I was no different from anyone else I knew who went to church (except my grandmother! But then she was old).
I became an excellent liar. I drank a lot of gin because there was no odor to speak of and, I thought no one would know. I did sneak an occasional beer. I had a filthy and blasphemous mouth. It was how most of my friends at school and at church talked when we were away from adults.
My first year of high school was a disaster. We had to have 18 class units to graduate and my 9th inth grade year I passed only 3 classes. That meant I had to pass all five classes the next 3 years to graduate with my class. We received our report cards every 6 weeks and my first 6 weeks in the 10th grade I passed only one class. My mom and dad came down hard on me that first grading period so I decided to do something about it. I received my report card for the second 6 weeks and my grades were no better but I devised an ingenious plan (or at least I thought so at the time).
When I came home from school, I had to walk down a wooded path from the bus stop to my house. After that first grading period, I hid my bad report card in a metal box by the side of the path. I told my homeroom teacher that I had lost it. They issued me a new one for the huge sum of 25 cents. For the rest of the year I continued to fail my classes but my parents never knew. I would take the new report card issued to me and on my way home put it in the metal box by the path. I would take the original report card out and fill in the grades I wanted (I received a lot of As this way). My mom would sign the fabricated report card and on the way back to the bus stop the next morning I would deposit it in my box, take the new report card out, sign Mom’s name to it and deliver it to my homeroom teacher.
Since my parents were not involved with parent teacher’s organizations or with the school at all, no one was ever the wiser, and since this system worked so well I kept it up for the next 2 years. My real grades had been so terrible that I entered what was supposed to be my senior year as a sophomore.
I started that school year with much trepidation. Toward the end of the year, my mom started asking things like, “When are you going to get your cap and gown for graduation?” “Why is your picture in the yearbook listed with the sophomores?” With each question, I made up a lie that seemed to satisfy but I knew my time of deception was almost over.
In April of 1967 a friend and myself decided to go to California and become Rock and Roll stars. He was a fair drummer and I thought I could sing. My lies about school were about to be found out, so I thought the best thing I could do was just leave home.
I had saved a little money from working in a textile plant the summer before so I took that money and paid the airfare for my friend and me to fly to Augusta Georgia. Our plan was to hook up with some people he knew there and then go on to California. We left on a Friday morning, caught a bus to the Charlotte Airport and bought our tickets to Augusta. We stayed that Friday night in a motel near the airport. His friends came the next day and I found myself in a trailer park, at a gathering of kids with no adult supervision at all. I spent several hours here laughing and talking when suddenly the telephone rang. Someone answered the phone, and turned and asked if there was a Mike Morrow there. My heart went into my throat. When I took the phone, it was my dad on the other end. He had found me.
When I had not come home from school that Friday he and mom started looking for me. They found out that my friend was missing as well and talking to his family, they were told that he had run away before and when he did, he usually went to a certain trailer near Augusta Georgia. They had the number and when my dad called it, sure enough I was there.
Keep in mind, if you had asked me at that time if I was a Christian I would have answered yes. I was a church member, I had been baptized and I lived like most of the other church members I knew.
Dad told me that when I had not come home from school they had called and found out all about my lies. And then dad did something I had never heard him do before. He began to weep. He asked me to come back home and at least finish high school. Since my money was about gone, and since mom and dad already knew about my double life, and since dad had not threatened to kill me, I decided to go back.
My friend and I rode a bus all night back to Gastonia, N.C. and mom and dad met us at the station. The only thing my dad said to me was that if I ever decided to leave home again be man enough to tell them before I left. I promised him that I would.
It was during this time that a new pastor came to Spencer Mountain Baptist Church. His name was Arson K. Dixon. He preached in a way that I had never heard before. The Bible was his textbook and he made it come alive (or rather God did through him). One Scripture he quoted quite often was 2 Corinthians 5:17 where the Bible says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Brother Dixon would stress the point that if a person was truly saved he would have undergone a great change. He could no longer live in sin and be happy. I had been living in awful sin; hypocritical sin. God began to deal with my heart in conviction.
I did not know what it was at first. I thought that what I needed was to reform my life. Since mom and dad had been so good to me in allowing me to come back home, I decided I would become the model young man, but I found it impossible. I would make up my mind that I wouldn’t drink anymore, and someone would invite me to a party and all my resolutions would be gone. I would respond to many invitations at the end of church services by “rededicating” my life to God, but I just could not make it work. All the while Brother Dixon was preaching his heart out, and I listened.
In July of that year our house burned. I was asleep in my bedroom when explosions in the next room awakened me. (Shotgun shells exploding from the heat.) I had been working in the textile factory from 10 at night until 6 in the morning so I was sleeping that afternoon. After waking up, I started to open the door of my room and noticed the smoke. I climbed out a back window. The house had been struck by lightning and was on fire. I ran the quarter of a mile to my grandmother’s house. Thankfully, mom was there and dad was at work. No one was hurt but we lost everything. We moved into a little house close to my grandmother.
It was on a Thursday evening in August of 1967 that I became so agitated and restless in my heart. Because of my lifestyle my parents had stymied my partying. I remember asking my mom if I could take the car and see if I could find some of my friends at Shoney’s Restaurant. It was in Gastonia and most of the time there was somebody there cruising between Shoney’s, on one end of town, and R. O’s. BBQ on the other end.
She said no. I was so frustrated. I wanted to get away from the house so badly. Then it dawned on me. Some men from the church usually went visiting on Thursday nights. I could go visiting with them…after all… I was a Christian and a member of the church. It would give me a good excuse to get away from home for a while.
When I asked mom if I could do that, she seemed a little stunned (I had never shown any interest in attending visitation before) and she gave her permission.
The men were meeting at 7:00 P.M. and it was a little before that when I drove into the church parking lot. As I sat there, a battle began to rage in my heart. Something said in my heart, “You are lost and what you really need is to be saved.” I thought to myself, “This can’t be right, after all, I have what all these other Christians have. I have been baptized. I am a member of the church.” The Voice spoke again, “Yes, but what you really need is to be saved.” I thought, “I am going crazy, I am hearing voices.” (Now mind you, I was not hearing this voice with my outward ear. All of this was going on in my mind.) The Voice persisted, “What you really need is to be saved.” I remember hitting the steering wheel with my fist and saying, “I am hearing voices, I must be going crazy. I have got to do something.” Just as soon as I said “I have got to do something” the Spirit of God said to me, “When the preacher comes tell him that you are lost and everything will be ok.” Almost immediately, brother Dixon drove up in his car. I got out of my car and went over to his. He invited me to get in so I did. As soon as I sat down, I said to him, “Brother Dixon, I am not sure I am saved.” He looked at me and said, “What?” I repeated my statement. His reply was “Well, son, come on in the church building and we will make sure.” So we went inside. We went to the front of the building in the altar area and we knelt down. He read to me from Romans 10:9 that says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. Verse 10 says, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Then Brother Dixon told me to tell the Lord what I wanted.
For the very first time in my life I realized I was a sinner before God and that Christ was who the Bible said he was. He really was the Son of God who had died on the cross for my sins. In faith, I cried out to Him to save me. What happened next has never left me. It seemed to me that a great white hand reached down into me and took out all the sin and filth I was guilty of. I knew that God had forgiven me and cleansed me and saved me for Jesus sake.
I didn’t cry physical tears. I didn’t shout. I probably couldn’t have explained all the theological ramifications of what had just happened to me but I did know that God had forgiven my sin for Jesus sake. I had just been saved.
Brother Dixon and myself along with another man went visiting that night and everything seemed new to me. God filled me with a great desire to tell others about what the Lord had done for me and I exercised that privilege that very night as we visited in a lost man’s home. About a month later the Lord called me to preach. He gave me my wife and my 3 great children and now 4 wonderful grandchildren and how each of those things happened could themselves fill a book.
In the year 2000 I became the pastor of Union Baptist Church in Crittenden Co. Kentucky. I am where I hope to be when the Lord takes me home. It has been a hard, happy, sad, joy filled journey so far…but my heart sings enthusiastically “All the way my Savior leads me, what have I to ask besides?”
God is so much better than Good.