It took me awhile to "get over" my regrets and feelings about Sandy Pines. I felt like I was starting all over again spiritually. I continued going to church. Dan, Don, and I would again go to Mr. Fables Restaurant after church. Once in awhile, someone else would sit with us, and we would have a good time eating and talking. We'd also drop "tracts" off and "witness" to people. One time Dan stopped a kid in the parking lot and explained the gospel using what we called "The "Roman's Road:" (1) all people are sinners and fall short of God's glory [Romans 3:23]; (2) the penalty of sin is eternal death and hell [Romans 6:23]; (3) God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son to die on the cross [Romans 6:23]; (4) Whoever would call upon Jesus would escape the eternal fires of hell and inherit eternal life in the presence of God [Romans 10:13]. So while Dan was doing that, Don, I, and another guy named William went to the shopping center right next to Mr. Fables, and we handed out tracts to people. Everyone we talked to said they'd think about it. Some even took the time to listen to us go over "The Roman's Road."
I was also keeping track of how many people I had told about Christ. I was telling an average of ten people per week about Christ.
My friendship with Edward continued to grow extensively, and I would go over to his house frequently. Edward and I would sometimes joke about and remember Sandy Pines.
One day, I called Edward's house to see if he was home so that I could come over. His mom answered the phone, and I asked, "Is Edward home?"
"No, he's not, Robert," she said. "He's at Tommy's. Tom just got back from California."
I remembered hearing that Tom had gone to California for the summer. His dad, brother, and sister lived down there while Tom and his mom lived here in Michigan. Tom and his mother moved up here when Tom was in 5th grade. Tom went back to California every summer.
Edward would be over at Tom's every single day. I found out that Tom was Edward's best friend, and that they had been best friends for a long time. I started to get jealous of Tom because I was afraid that he was taking Edward's friendship away from me. In my mind, I knew that I had no reason to feel jealous. Nonetheless, I let it build in me. But my feelings of jealously were short lived, as I began to get to know Tom more.
One day I was over at Edward's. Tom dropped by in his new car that his dad gave him while he was in California. It was a little red Road Runner. Tom, Edward, and I started talking. We mostly talked about Christian things. Tom and I started talking about contemporary Christian music.
"Have you heard of any more groups?" Tom asked.
"Yeah," I said. "I've heard of Don Francisco, Petra, and Amy Grant, and lots of others. What about you?"
"You ever hear of Sweet Comfort Band?"
"Awww! Are they good!"
"My favorite song is 'For Annie' by Petra," I said.
Tom asked me if I knew where WYGR-AM was on the dial, so I told him. This conversation was typical of many of the conversations that we had. There was a strong focus on music. Music was very much a part of all three of our lives, and it was often the primary way that we expressed ourselves. We found and listened to songs that had lyrics that meant something to us, but that also had musical styles that we could relate to.
For me personally, music was an experience. It was something that had to touch my emotions, something that I had to feel deep inside. Many people in my church disagreed with me on this. They said that it was wrong to put the focus on the emotions. In fact, they said that one of the reasons that rock music was wrong was because it appealed to the emotions. Edward and I talked about this once. Edward said, "You're a lot like me. Music has always been a part of your life." And he was right. All through my high school years, I listened to music while I studied, while I went to sleep, and while I did almost anything. I had joined record clubs, and bought numerous vinyl albums and singles.
September started. I was hanging around Tom a lot more because he was always around Edward.
School was scheduled to start the day after Labor Day, but there were rumors of a teacher's strike. Just before school was to start, the teachers agreed to teach all that week and work something out over the next week-end. I therefore went to my new classes. Don was in my 1st hour class, and Edward was in my 5th hour class.
On the next Thursday, I received a call about my job. They told me that I had a job working two hours a night after school at my high school. I was told to report to Joey, the head janitor. However, the teachers didn't negotiate a contract over the week-end, so they went on strike the following Monday. I called my employer and asked if I still needed to report to work and they said, "No. Not until the strike is over."
So I had some time off from work and school. I spent most of the next week with Edward and Tom. One night we decided to go bowling. One of Tom's cousins came around. His name was Larry, and he drove up in Tom's driveway while Edward and I were waiting for Tom. Tom had his car stereo on while we were waiting. It was on WJBL's "Music by Request" and the volume was very high.
"What is that?" Larry asked, hearing the music.
"Christian music," I said.
"I got some good jams in my car," Larry said, referring to non-Christian rock 'n roll.
After a few more sentences between us, I asked Larry if he was sure that he was going to heaven.
"Yes," he said, "because I've asked Jesus into my heart."
Edward and I smiled. Tom then came out and started talking. He asked Larry if he wanted to go bowling with us. All four of us went bowling. On the way to the bowling alley, Tom had his Petra tape playing (the Never Say Die album), which was Christian rock. Over the summer, Tom decided that he would only listen to Christian music. He also had a strong desire to live for God. Tom told us that he had made a decision for Christ three years before, but he hadn't been very strong in his commitment until now. He said that his lack of commitment made him unhappy. Now he wanted to start serving God with all of his heart.
We bowled, played a few video games, and that was it. Because I didn't know Tom's driving very well, some of his driving moves made me nervous. Tom saw my nervousness and said, "Don't worry! I know what I'm doing!"
The strike continued into the next week. On Wednesday of that next week, at 10:45 p.m., the strike was settled and school started again the next day.