When I Accepted Jesus
By: Toni Tucker
When I Accepted Jesus
It was back in 1968. I was six years old. My mother and her abusive boyfriend decided to leave Chicago, and drive to the Motor-City, Motown, better known as Detroit. My older sister was just seven and it was an adventure. I was scared. I might have developed a form of compulsive nervous disorder. I didn't like the man. He was mean. He wasn't my father, and he was ugly. He drank ferociously, and hit my mother. He never hit me. However, he did beat my older sister. I hated this guy. And to make matters worse, he called himself a 'minister.'
I remember the long drive from Chicago to Detroit. In that back-seat of the car, it was like a nervous spirit had entered me. Maybe seeing the fires, and riots, and even a couple of dead men lying on the street on the way to our destination didn't help me either. I couldn't even process what was going on and being said en route to Detroit. The Rev. just remarked that, "there's another n-word gone."
Every 10 minutes I would actually pray for a safe trip, and peace. I don't know if mom's boyfriend was aware of my actions or even if my mother was, but I had to stop and pray every few minutes, just like a compulsive person who has to check and re-check their doors and locks to make sure that they're secure. I didn't feel secure inside. Even at that young age I sensed something was wrong, beyond the obvious. We were leaving my family, friends, and the City I knew, where I felt safe and was safe. We were all packed up and on the road with a dark spirited man. A man I despised so much that at six years old, I was able to mask my true feelings about him and made him 'think' I liked him. I really hated this dude.
I remember my first day of school in Detroit. I was in the first-grade. And after being tested by the school to see where my cognitive skills were, I was placed in what was level 1. That's where the smartest children were placed. I read well, spelled well, spoke well, and could even add and subtract. But after a series of spiraling events, I soon plummeted to level 2, and by the fourth day to level 3. I froze-up. I didn't interact with the students, didn't want to read, had no desire to even act like I could think. I even got lost the very first day after school. No one picked me up, I was suppose to remember how to get home. To that dreadful beige apartment complex where every night we had to 'hit the floor.'
I remember an older girl, probably by ten years or so, walking up to me with concerned eyes and asking me, "Are you lost.?" I was lost and in a haze. Blank. Frightened out of my little wits. Where the heck was I. Who was I, what was I doing in this strange city and neighborhood.
Earlier that day during the assembly, I remember a young boy about my age with tan pants on, profusely bleeding. The blood dripped down on the floor drop by drop at first, then heavily as I starred in unbelief. I was in utter shock. That traumatized me. I was told he later died. Turns out, the blood was from a gun-shot wound inflicted on him during recess. It took the teachers probing various classes and children like myself assigned to sit around this boy several days later to jar my memory. I guess they knew I had slumped into some kind of deep withdrawal and because I sat next to him, I must have seen something disturbing. They got it out of me finally. That's why I was lost trying to find my way home after being instructed by my mother that it was a straight walk for several blocks back to the apartment. That girl could have been an angel. She was a girl I felt safe with, she was very kind and concerned about me. I recall her voice being very calming and friendly. She walked me this way and that way, and asked me, "Do you remember this block?"
I recall stopping at her home or some-one's house, and after she talked with someone on the phone, this girl walked me back to the school, where 'the man' finally picked me up and took me home. I just shutter when I think of how badly things could have turned out. That girl could have been a child-snatcher! She could have been all wonderful with me alone, but when she took me home to make that phone call, some pervert at her house could have molested me, or murdered me. Thank God she wasn't crazy nor was her family.
I only learned later that we were smack-dab in the middle of the Detroit Riots. Hearing those gun-shots every night and hitting the floor made me shell-shocked! Coupled with being up-rooted and dragged off to a strange land with a mean Reverend who beat my mother with a thick belt and tormented my older sister. This is the hardest thing to recapture in my life. I also remember a dark shadow standing over me one night and all I could do was stay still, not move, not breathe, not blink, soon the shadow would go away, and daybreak would come. I really don't know what happened that night. I was just consumed with fear.
I don't know if it was my frazzled young mind traumatized by all that I had witnessed, or if I had blocked something so horrific out, that I just buried it deep down in my mind. Repressed...never to be resurrected.
Despite the newness and tragedy, I remember going to a Sunday service at a store-front church somewhere in Motown. My older sister and I were in the same class for six and seven year olds. The Sunday school teacher was an effervescent young woman with a glow about her. She used a flannel-board with characters to witness the Gospel to the class of attentive children. She shared how Jesus loves children and loves everyone, and how he came to earth to live and die for our sins, our joy, and for eternal life. I especially got excited when she shared how he 'rose from the dead,' left, and would one day come back to rapture his children. She then poised the most important question ever to the class of eager children by asking us, "Do you want to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior?"
At that very moment something happened to me. All the fear, tragedy, compulsive disorder, memories of death, and gunshots, just seemed to dissolve. I heard the voice of Jesus and saw his beautiful face. I felt his love. My spirit concurred with his and I received him by faith and by his super-natural appearance to me. It was awesome! He is awesome! He saved me, he delivered my six year old battered mind. He loved and still loves me. Jesus came into my life, gave me real joy, washed me, held me, and transformed me with his spirit.
Right there, in Detroit, Michigan, in 1968 during the Vietnam War and after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and the riots which ensued with the ungodly lingering effects heaped on some inner-cities across the nation; God saved me, in a dark, dingy, store-front church. I was no longer lost but found!
That's when I accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior!