Posts Tagged 'May 1970'

50 Year Legacy – How I Became a Jesus Follower: Part One

My College Years

I am celebrating a Golden Anniversary!  50 years ago this July I started following Jesus. Here’s how it began in May of 1970…

We had met before like is sometimes in the case with long term relationships. We actually hung out a lot when I was younger.

My mom remembers us talking to each other from my crib. “Tish, who are you talking to? She would poke into my room to ask. I replied, ‘Jesus.’” But, as I grew older, we drifted apart. It wasn’t about him, it was about me.

Jesus was part of my childhood. I sort of “grew out of him” but held the memory dear, like the flashback of a favorite doll I received one year for Christmas. I didn’t ask him to keep in touch when I left for college. I knew I might stop by and see him at our local church where he lived on my visits home but he wouldn’t have fit in at college.

If he ever did pop in to see me, I rushed him out of the room. I didn’t think he would care for my new lifestyle or choices. No need to embarrass him. Let’s just keep the memories as they were, a childhood friendship. I was going my way and he could go his.

Turns out, my way was ending up full of potholes (no pun intended,) detours, flat tires and dead ends. Not to mention I got lost all the time. Asking for help from any others than my traveling companions on the same road seemed out of the question. Foolish even. Likely someone would tell me to just turn around and find another road. No thanks.

Until the spring of 1970 in my sophomore year of college. My new pursuits, philosophies, and relationships were crumbling around me. I longed for the “Kumbaya” nights around the campfires of my youth but they seemed gone forever.

The wheels began to fall off the bus but it would take something really big to stop me in my tracks. The something big began with the Vietnam war protests.

The spring of 1970 was filled with war protests over the US involvement in Vietnam. I can’t honestly say I did a lot of soul searching for my views on this but it certainly seemed important to join the protests which were happening all over the country. I proudly wore my black armband and chanted with the best of them as we marched around campus.

On May 4, 1970 the Kent State Massacre occurred when four college students were killed by the Ohio National Guard during a protest. That event catalyzed students everywhere and on that night of that event, the call went out to “take over” one of the main buildings on campus, Simpkins Hall. So the entire group of about 1000 protestor marched into the building and refused to leave for five days.

I remember huddled there with my group that first night fascinated and somewhat fearful about what might happen next. Speech after speech was made with lots of chants with the crowd building in fervor. I was glued to my spot on the floor. Then the local police showed up and began making their way through the crowd trying to break it up. Ultimatums were issued on both sides but no violence occurred.

Part of me wanted to run out and the other part thought what a great statement it would make to stand down, risk expulsion and possible arrest. Rumors were spreading about the presence of state police and National Guard near by. Tear gas was used at Southern Illinois University which was eventually closed by the protests.  Clearly, I wasn’t agitating at the level to get even noticed and eventually the crowd dispersed and I headed back for a few hours of sleep.

I wrote my parents about “almost getting arrested” and they showed up at campus the following Sunday, which was Mother’s Day, to have a little chat with me. Actually more like a confrontation.  “Stop what you’re doing!” I knew they were worried but didn’t see that as my problem.

To be honest, I was worried too but not about getting arrested. (To be continued next Thursday)



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