#18 The Fruit Keeps Dropping

Sunday October 1978
I picked the phone up to call Sheila’s dorm room. It was 8:30 am.

“Hello?” it was Jane, Sheila’s roommate answering.

“Hi Jane, it’s Tik, is Sheila in?”

”Hi Tickie,” came the answer, “she just this minute walked out of the door. Chris [from BSU] is picking a bunch of the girls up at the turnaround [the drive at the top of the “Hill”] to take them to First [Baptist] Opelika. Are you heading there this morning?”

“Not today Jane”.

I planned on attending Bob Weiner’s “blowout” Maranatha Sunday morning service at 10:55 am. Bob was leaving tomorrow and I wanted hear every second of his preaching that I could.

“Could you tell her I called Jane.”

“Sure will Tik,” she said. “Hey, did you guys have fun last night?”

“Uh…sure,” I said.

Was she talking about the “celebration family dinner” at Maranatha last night?

I didn’t think so. I had not mentioned it to Sheila and I knew for certain she would probably not get near the MCM House anyway.

“Sheila said you guys had Smoke Rise playing at the frat house last night… I LOVE them!”

Smoke Rise was a local band and very popular with the students. They were the band I had been watching set up yesterday while I was waiting to leave the frat house for the MCM love feast.

Had Sheila stopped by the frat house last night?

Did she know that I had played hookey from the frat party?

I caught myself and thought, “Now WHY in the world am I worried about whether Sheila was at the frat house or for that matter what Jane thinks. Who cares what she thinks???”

“Well…I did not make the party; but yes SmokeRise was there… I saw them setting up yesterday afternoon.”

Silence.

“Tik, uh… of course it none of my business, but, well… are you and Sheila doing okay?”

Good Lord not her too?

What was this with everyone asking about Sheila and me, for crying out loud.? The next thing I know my Mother will be calling to ask about me and Sheila!

“Yeah- everything is great just tell her I called.”

I jumped in the shower thinking, “Now that was one weird conversation”.

My MCM chums, Fred, Robert, Ricky and Rhonda were there within the next hour to head down to the Maranatha House. I had also invited Jim, one of my frat brothers to the service. I also invited another frat brother Kent as well.

Jim was a Yankee through and through, with nasal accent and all. It is ironic that I used to make fun of his accent since I later married a Yankee and have spent most of my life post-Maranatha north of the Mason Dixon Line.

Who says God does not have a sense of humor?

Jim had round tortoise-shell glasses and his curt and direct responses like “you are completely full of [expletive deleted]”  irritated many people.

But I liked him a lot; he was full of energy and I found his very direct “good is good” and “bad is bad” approach to life refreshing.

Kent was a music major that I had become friends with at the frat.

He had turned into a real party animal, one of those Southern Baptist guys that when he had the chance, went nuts. He had gone on academic probation last year and was trying to work himself off it with little success, because he could not lay off the booze. I was pretty sure Kent was smoking dope as well. Probably late at night on the porch out back

But I really did not want to know about it, being Frat. President and all.

So we all walked down Magnolia Street to the Maranatha House.

There we found the  Praise Band in great form playing hard core Christian rock and roll  with my “friend” Ellen singing a beautiful solo. The Praise Band would be leaving with Bob after today and I was very sorry to see them go. I thought that their music and presence on stage were fantastic.

And I was sort of sad that I found little time to ever really get to know Ellen; they very person who had helped bring me into MCM.

After the songs there was a very long prophetic utterance.

This time the “prophecy” did not catch me off guard, but I could tell that Jim and Kent were freaking out; first glaring at me and then looking at each other with their eyebrows raised..

This prophesying stuff made me nervous.

First how could anyone be sure that it was of God?

Second to speak on behalf of God, in a literal sense, seemed extremely dangerous. I made a note to ask Mike Caulk or Marty about this.

Of course my gut was right.

Prophesying, is, of course scriptural. But it should be undertaken with great care and caution.

Maranatha, I will show, as well as associated groups, abused this gift and used the threat and gift of prophesying to control and manipulate people. I believe that God knows the damage false prophecy can wreak.

Regardless, the Praise Band, after the prophesy, rolled right into another upbeat song  and the ushers passed around an offering plate. The fact is that the offering occurred every night and the other fact was that I had not put a nickel in the plate.

And this was for one simple reason: I did not have a nickel. No money. I am not exaggerating. Later I will cover my expenses and how Maranatha almost shipwrecked me both financially (which was not hard to do since I was penniless!) and scholastically.

Then Bob Weiner got up and lit into one of the most fast paced scriptural wind sprints I have ever seen before or since.

First he launched into the evilness of man. That, he said was scriptural and self evident. How man was rebellious and hated God. Then Bob charged through the third chapter of Romans.

“There is non- righteous NOT ONE. No fornicator, adulterer, drunkard, homosexual or liar shall enter heaven. ”

“In fact,” Bob shouted, “Jesus says that if you even HAVE a wicked or lustful thought it is as if you ACTUALLY committed the sin and the act.’

“Hh oh,” I thought.

“I say again no homosexual, no deviant, no liar, none who have sin shall enter the Kingdom. But let me give you a warning.”

He stopped. Dead silence. Not a sound.

Only the breathing of the crowd.

Then a whisper, “Jesus says that it is better to be cold and in sin, completely in sin and rebellious than to be a pretend Christian. To go to church on Sunday, or a Bible Study and then to engage in sinful acts the rest of the week in secret. But nothing is secret from God. Not one thing.”

He was hunched over almost double speaking into the microphone as he whispered this.

Then he jerked straight up pointing his arm into the crowd with a flourish.

And he shouted “Jesus says it is better to be HOT or COLD for if you are LUKEWARM I WILL SPEW YOU OUT OF MY MOUTH!!!!! He will say DEPART FROM ME FOR I NEVER KNEW YOU!!!!”

He stood stock still. Silence again. One…two…three…

Then in a low voice “If you are in sin, if you are leading a double life, if you want to avoid the wrath of God that is coming in these end times- then you MUST take a stand. What better time than now. Because none of us knows what will happen today.”

“There is a person here, who is engaged in sexual deviancy, I tell you that God is telling me that unless they repent today they will be struck down and spend eternity in hell. This IS a life and death matter.”

The Praise Band took the stage and started playing one of their softer tunes as Bob spoke in a whisper.

“You must take the first step. Jesus died for you. Don’t ignore Him. Come now. Don’t ignore what might be your last chance.”

I begin praying and closed my eyes.

After about two minutes I looked up and Jim my Yankee frat brother was up front talking to the counselors. And believe it or not there was standing room only at the stage. At least 20-30 people, probably a good 10% of the audience were up front kneeling or crying.

It was incredible.

Walking back to the frat house Fred, Robert, Rhonda, Rickey, Jim  and I were all talking about Jesus. Jim was ecstatic and had gotten a copy of the Red Book and was going to go through a couple of studies that afternoon. He was scheduled later that day to meet with Sam and he told me that he wanted to be Baptized that night. He was yammering away on being committed and being a radical Christian.

I was beside myself with pride.

Six people brought to Jesus in my frat in just over a week.

Bob seemed to have the right of it. God was doing a mighty thing at Auburn and I was part of it.

Maybe even at the center of it.

I walked down the hall to my room just as  Mom was sliding a note under my door.

“Wacha got “Mom?” I asked.

“Sheila called about a half hour ago and she spoke to Jenny. She tried to call your room first and ended up calling mine. She wants to know if you could meet her for lunch at noon on Monday at the War Eagle, that’s all.”

I took the note. It was in Jenny’s handwriting.

“Oh Tik,” Mom said, “did you know that Sheila was hanging around the frat house all night? ”

He was eyeing me up and down. “You did not stand her up again did you?”

“No Mom I did NOT know she was here last night (or did I?… exactly what had her roommate told me??) and besides I had no plans to meet her. Look it’s a free country,  Sheila comes to our parties all the time!”

“Hmmmph,” he grunted, “well…she looked mighty lonely last night. You need to help that girl out, know what I mean, Tikie?? Young nookie is wasted on the young!” and he laughed as he made an obscene gesture with his hands.

“Just shuddup would ya “Mom?” I exclaimed as I wadded up the note and threw it at him.  I then told him to try to keep clothes on  Jenny when she walked down the hall to our shared bath; if that was not too much trouble.

I tried calling Sheila’s dorm room, but there was no answer. I headed to the engineering lab to try to figure indeterminate structures out.

I sure wished I had figured it out before Dr. Carl’s test on Friday.