Issue 1, Number 14: “Conflicts in My Life – Part 3”

A Christian’s Voice From Raymore – December 19, 2009

Editors Note: This is the third and final installment of an unfinished manuscript that I found recently among my father’s effects. I hope you have enjoyed reading and thanks for your indulgence in a little reminiscing. This installment is delayed a week from when I had intended to post it because I was in St. Joseph, Missouri visiting my mother last weekend. Mom was admitted to the hospital on December 4th with pneumonia and was there until today. She told me that she has had a chance to think a lot during this time about what a great life she and dad had together. She also told me, “You know the longer I live, the more perfect your dad becomes! When I think back your father put up with a lot from me.” Yes mom, I agree, he was a pretty great man!

Conflicts in my Life – Part 3

By

William C. “Bill” Sexton

THE CONFLICT BETWEEN CONTINUING A LOVE AFFAIR AND GOING TO THE ARMY!

I was always bashful, yet human, and attracted to the opposite sex. I was very awkward in approaching them and not at all very successful in carrying out my desires in talking to them. I had a few dates at 16, and I was confused about just how to act in such situations. I was, as I look back, under sever circumstances, as no doubt many are today. I had lived with rough people, where the language often was unfit for young decent ears to hear. Vulgarity and profanity was used with regularity by most of the adults I knew. Suggestions were frequently expressed that manliness exhibited itself in sexual acts being performed as often as possible. Such were constantly flowing from the voices of the male adults I knew in whose company I was often.

My mind-set was such that I thought that the manly act was to manifest one’s expectation to have sexual relations with the opposite sex, practically all the time you were with them. Yet, this didn’t seem to me to be pleasant, and even possible for me. Yet, I thought that I must be different, judging from all the “talk” I was exposed to. Later I decided that there was “a lot more talk than action.” However, the action of people is evident of what they “think, others expect of them.”

My first real love was met at a dance. It was on a foggy night, as I was attending a mid-week-dance, around the mountain from my house. We had first danced together, then I stood with her as we rode with her brother around the road toward our house. I lived about a mile and a half from her; we came by my house first, and I got off. But I felt different from before. As I laid in my bed that night, I had ideas to move through my mind that had never found place there before.

I derived some comfort and pleasure from those thoughts. We attended many dances in the next few weeks. Her brother had just returned home from the Navy. With his money he bought him an old car. She had three brothers who had returned from the service. One, I believe was in the army, and two had been in the navy. One was married, but the others were unmarried. They were on the go, “making up for lost times.” In fact she had three older and two younger brothers. Each of these were “crazy” after cars, and they would buy the older ones discarded by some one and work on them — buy new motors and run them, etc.

We spent some time together at lease one night a week over the next several weeks, it being winter time on the farm there wasn’t much to do. When we had done the chores and eaten supper, we’d get together in some home and play cards, games and have a party of some kind. In 1946 many of the boys had returned from the military services, and most of them had money; they also had a sense of “lost time” to make up for. Summer came, but long before that I would get notes and letters from my love; her younger brother passed by our house on his way to and from school. I could just about look for a letter each morning, informing me that so and so was having a party…come by. I would hurry to the end of the letter which would close with “I love you.” Then my heart would seem to beat much, much faster. I would rush back and re-read the whole, usually several times. Exciting thoughts filled my mind, as I went about doing my work around the farm, cutting bushes, milking, feeding the hogs and cattle, getting hay from the loft, and at times just sitting around, even while eating.

Vivid pictures would flood my mind — great sensations rushed through my mind. As we spent so much time together, I guess I became so convinced in my mind that I could get by with a lot of things. “She shouldn’t’ get the idea that I was willing to be governed too much by her.” So, I decided that I was going to a particular place — even after making a date with her, so I went. She was embarrassed, and a friend of mine who had a girl was alone. She went with him. The next day they passed the house together. I felt bad, but told myself that I didn’t ” really care.” Such was not very convincing, however. Looking back, here is a lesson: Never try to do things to spite another, to get even, and be honest at all times. Once distrust is set in, it can never really be completely fixed.

Time went by. We made up. But mistrust, misunderstanding existed and continued to manifest itself, from then on. Efforts to undo the harm were made by each of us from time to time, but it never really worked successfully. She’d go with her other “boy friend” some. Then one day she got sick. I was sent for. At first this made my heart rejoice. But I was somewhat embarrassed before others, as knowledge of this spread among the people in the community. Our relationship was never as exciting and enjoyable as before.

Fall finally came, and I went away with my Uncle, Bill Campbell, to pull bolls, picking cotton in western Oklahoma. We wrote every day…almost. I returned home. Fall had been followed by “winter rains,” although winter on the calendar, December 21, had not actually arrived. We were spending some time together. I enjoyed most of it. I feel sure that she did, too, but there was an undercurrent. All was not well.

There was a third person in my life who added to the pressure, my mother. She talked to me a lot, and her evaluation of my love was not what mine was, and the story I told her was stronger than the one I told myself. It was clear that mother thought I was too serious, and she thought that I needed to look more realistically at the whole of my life… I was only 17 and there were many good girls. I’d need not be bossed around by this one, I should show her…, etc. This was a pressure. I wanted to put up a front — that all was wonderful, and I was not really concerned. But inside I was a lot less sure, determined. There was a conflict between my heart and my mind — what logically I felt I should do and what emotionally I felt that I’d like to do — if the reason hadn’t interfered.

The war was over, and many appeals were made to enlist the young men. I went to town, that day–I am not sure just what day of the week it was, but the one which the recruiting

officer was in town ( he would come down one day a week from Ft. Smith, I believe). I went to his office. He talked to me, giving me a couple of stories and gave me an aptitude test. I passed. That was good, for many were not qualified to serve, so I was lucky, according to him. We drove out to my house, about 12 or 15 miles in the country, on the mountain top north of Ozark. He told my parents a couple of stories, about how he got in the army and the great advantages he had… After a while they signed the papers, after they had the affirmative from me to the question was I “sure that this is what you want?”

I left town that night without telling my love “bye.” I think. I spent some sorrowful moments and sad nights, feeling ashamed of myself. I felt that I had chosen this way as a way to get rid of her, yet I didn’t really want to. Here was a great conflict — fighting within; once I had committed myself, however, there was no turning back for 18 months. I served my time, but not too admirably; yet, I did get discharged with honor. Nineteen months of my life had been spent, the fight, conflict and flight was still there, now more than ever — more trouble had come. The two of us — my love and me.

THE CONFLICT BETWEEN TRUTH AND RELIGIOUS ERROR

I was born in East Central Oklahoma and reared in West Central Arkansas, North of Ozark and Clarksville. I had no religious training as I was growing up and never attended “Sunday school.” Only occasionally did I attend meetings as they were held by different denominational preachers who would come through the community. The site of these services often was one of the school houses, at Liberty Hill, Union Grove, White oak, or Oak grove near where I lived.

I entered the Army at the age of 17 and served for 19 months, 9 of those in Germany. Shortly after returning home from the Army, I met a young lady, Lois Keech and on February 14, 1949, her 19th birthday, we were married. We arranged to have Judge Ford perform a double wedding with our friends, “Hazel” (Harley) Dickerson and Marie Cagle, in Ozark Arkansas. Nine months and Eleven days later, November 25, our first child was born, a son whom we named Randall. Later three daughters were born to us, Betty on July 7, 1953, Geneva, on October 7, 1954, and Sheryl on June 30, 1958. Our four children have produced us nine grand children.

In the summer of 1954, I began to read the Bible. Lois had started taking Randall to Sunday School at Sunflower Kansas and some people at work had given me some tracts, Having had no religious training, at first reading the Bible made little sense. As I read the gospels, I began to see that some of the same events were recorded in more than one book. I then began to read the book of Acts and could grasp the narrative fairly well. Yet it took a good while before it came to take on real meaning.

Having moved to Kansas City, Missouri in August of 1954, a Baptist preacher came by and asked me and the family to attend the Randolf Baptist church. Upon attending I was welcomed; I liked it and began to attend regularly. After awhile I was concerned that I wasn’t a Christian, never having professed to be anything religiously. One Sunday morning I rose from my seat and went forward when the invitation song was sung. I was asked, “Have you accepted Christ as your personal Saviour?” I responded: “I want to but I’m not sure that I know just how.” The Baptist preacher took me into a side room, read John 5:24, and then I was told that I was saved the moment I got up out of my seat and started forward, because that was the actual moment when I placed my “trust in Jesus.”

I felt wonderful and began to tell others of my new experience. Some began to ask me questions, “thank God,” now that I look back that they did, and I began to study and talk to others in the church and to the preacher.

Others began to ask me about baptism and passages that taught on baptism, especially my brother-in-law, Raymond Keech, who lived next door. Well, I told them that baptism was “important” but that you did not have to be baptized to be saved, because I had not yet been baptized. I had been told that there were some “formalities” that they, at the Baptist church had to go through with, and for me not to think too much about it. But then some discussions came which forced me to focus on Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38 and other passages, and I thought that I’d better get the Baptist preacher to come an explain them. I felt sure that the preacher could. I was too inexperienced and ungrounded in the scriptures to find all the passages and to explain them correctly. So I turned to the Baptist preacher.

On Saturday morning the preacher came to the house around 9:00 AM and he was still there late into the evening. What the preacher said, it took awhile to sink in: I was told that Mark 16:16 was an “addition” to the original scriptures; that Acts 2:38 was a mistranslation, meaning something quite different from what it sounded like on the surface; and that other scriptures on baptism meant that you were saved before and without baptism. However, the Baptist preacher insisted that baptism was important if you were to please God, but one must know that baptism has nothing to do with his salvation. This was somewhat confusing, and as I look back misleading, but it kept me from seeing the truth for awhile.

After thinking, reading, and praying for some time, I called the Baptist preacher and went over to his house and we went over the points again, to be sure that I had actually understood him correctly. It was hard to believe that the preacher would take this view on the passages, for I had seen him stand in the pulpit and hold the Bible high and claim it to be the Word of God to be conformed to. In the end this really was his claim, inconsistent as it was! I am glad that I stayed around long enough and studied hard enough to see and understand what the Bible really teaches and how it differed from what the Baptist church teaches! I knew the “faith only” passages backward and forward because I really wanted to be convinced that the doctrine was scriptural.

I asked the Baptist preacher if he would baptize me “for the remission of sin,” as Peter had said in Acts 28. The preacher said: “No. If I did, that would indicate that I thought baptism had something to do with your salvation, and I don’t.”

In the meanwhile, I continued talking and studying with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Raymond and Delphia Keech. Her father was a member of the church of Christ in Fort. Smith Arkansas. These studies were usually not too systematic. I was trying to out argue them. The study was long, intense, and sometimes “loud.” Lois and I began to attend the church of Christ on North Cherry Street, and some of the members had come and talked to me as well.

Slowly I began to realize that baptism was a step in the plan of God to SAVE. In January 1955 I heard Bill Humble preaching on WHB, and I began attending the services at 39th and Floral. At the end of the sermon one Sunday morning, I went forward and made the confession and was baptized. However, shortly after being baptized, as I continued to study and talk more orderly and calmly, I became concerned that I still had not understood that baptism was absolutely essential, So I called Bill Humble and he baptized me again, being sure this time that I was fully persuaded that I knew what I was doing and why.

Six months after my conversion, however, I fell away, stopped attending and became concerned about what seemed to me to be “inconsistencies” between what some members said and did. Looking back I see that there were a number of things which contributed to me falling away, however. There was much that I didn’t understand; and I had over estimated the purity of character of some who claimed to be “faithful” members.

One year after my baptism, I realized that there were and always will be “human weaknesses” in character. Also, I came to recognize that it behooved me to do first what I know to be right, and then I could go about trying to correct wrong that I saw in others. I was restored in January 1956, repenting, confessing my negligence, confusion, and inability to tolerate others and giving up, and that I was determined to do my best. That was the “first day of the rest of my new life.”

From that day forward, I attended regularly, studied hard, and participated when I could. I attended several special classes offered by the Vivion Road congregation, as we had moved from 41st and North Cherry into a new building that we had erected at 2026 Vivion Road. I attended several Men’s Training classes. I began to speak at mid-week services, and preach in the absence of the regular preacher, when I had an opportunity.

In June of 1957 I began to preach in the Kansas City area, having been urged to do so by Cecil Willis. First I preached at Holt Missouri, some 35 miles north east of Kansas City, while working on my regular job as a welder. Then, after driving to Holt every Lord’s day and Wednesday night, for several months, I resigned that work. I then, began traveling to Chillicothe, Macon, Purdin, Tremble and any other place within a 150 miles of Kansas City, to preach on Sundays. I began to preach at “Francis School House,” a few miles from Kansas City on a regular basis. In 1961, I began to work on a regular basis with the congregation at Kearney; they had just build them a new building. I worked with them until November 1962.

In November 1962 I was invited to come and work, on a full-time basis, with the congregation meeting at 1111 Harrison in Lowell Indiana. I quit my welding Job, and moved to work there, receiving $75.00 a week plus house and utilities.

In June of 1966, I moved to work with the 10th and Lincoln congregation in St. Joseph, Missouri. In 1973, I moved to work with the Southwest congregation in Wichita, Kansas. in 1975, some of us started the Westside congregation which gained the place to meet in at 3500 South Meridian, Wichita. In 1979, I moved to Manhattan Kansas to work with the congregation which began to meet on Poyntz, there. Later we purchased a building at 1112 Pierre Street. In June of 1983, Lois and I moved back to Wichita, having been asked by some of the people I knew real well, to work with the Southside congregation on South Seneca street. In May, two years later, in 1985, we of the Southside congregation merged with the Pleasant Valley congregation, meeting at 3317 N. Amidon.

July 13, 1985, I moved to work with the Roan Ridge congregation, 6403 NW Roanridge Road in Kansas City, Missouri but It was September 1 before we got moved in at 4400 NW Gleason. I worked with the congregation until the last day of May 1994, serving as an Elder with brother Ray Harris and Kenneth Young for about three years, until I resigned to move to Van Buren, AR.

End Note:

The manuscript ends with the following, “It is now 2000, November, so I’m nearly 72 years young, retired, but running more than ever. After working with the Van Buren church of Christ, from June 1, 1994 until November 15, 1998, when Randy Cavender came to work with the congregation…… Now as I pick up on this, it is June of 2006, and I am working with tI church in Waveland Arkansas, 60 miles from my home.”

Dad passed from this life on May 8, 2006, as bladder cancer moved unexpectedly and rapidly to attack his physical body. He misidentified the year on his last update to this manuscript. There are also entries that show that he intended to continue to update with headings for “The Conflict between my wife and parents” and “The conflict between secular and religion.” Dad lived a full life and left a legacy for which I give thanks to the Lord. I hope to see him again one day to hear him complete this unfinished manuscript ….

–Randy Sexton

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