The second semester of my Junior year (11th grade) in high school began in late January. A couple of my classes changed, including my 5th hour class changing from "Science Fiction / Mystery" to "Composition I." I walked into the composition class while not really paying attention to where I was going. After I took a seat, I turned around and was surprised to find out that I had sat right in front of Dan, the friend that Don had brought to my house to talk to me about Christ.
"Hello," he said.
"Hi," I said back. I was friendly, but I was thinking, "Uh-oh!" I didn't really like the idea that I had just sat in front of Dan. I was afraid that he was going to start preaching at me, or something. Mrs. Williams, the teacher, made the seats we were sitting in permanent ones. So I was "stuck" with Dan behind me for the whole semester. It didn't, however, turn our as bad as I thought it would. Dan and I ended up getting along great! He never pushed anything on me and hardly ever argued with me. He just told me how he felt and why he felt as he did, and he left it at that. I actually enjoyed coming to 5th hour because I got a chance to talk to him about the Bible in a positive way.
Jack, a friend of mine who was in 10th grade, sat next to us. Dan ended up talking to him about Jesus. Jack and Dan then bowed in prayer during class time and Jack prayed to receive Christ as his Savior.
Even though I was beginning to enjoy Dan's company, I gave him some hassle now and then. One day I took a sheet of paper out of my notebook and I wrote down all of the rock groups that I could think of. Knowing that he would be offended by this, I then passed the list back to him. On Another day, I found a magazine picture of an attractive woman in a bathing suit, and I flashed it back to him. He got angry at me for that.
"Do you do that just to offend me?" he asked
"I don't know what offends you," I lied. I, of course, really did know that he would be offended, and that was why I did it. After I flashed the picture of the woman at him, he talked a little about the sin of sexual lust. I did regret trying to offend him, and I wanted to become more mature in my faith.
One day at another school assembly in the auditorium, Don and I sat next to a guy who I didn't know. I wanted to talk to this guy about Christ, but I was afraid to because I didn't know how he would react. I expected that Don would tell him about Christ just like he had told me. When I saw that Don wasn't doing it, I said, "Are you gonna' talk to him?"
Don then turned to the guy we were sitting with and said, "If you were to die right now, do you know for sure that you would go to heaven?"
"Yes," the other said.
"How do you know?" Don asked.
"Because I believe in God."
"James 2:19 says, ' . . . the devils also believe, and tremble.'"
"What? Are you trying to preach to me?" The guy sounded angry.
With that, Don quit talking. Later, Don told me that it was just as hard for him to talk to people about Jesus as it was for me. I was surprised to hear that!
Lunch period in the cafeteria started to get interesting. Shortly after the beginning of the second semester, more of my friends (and some who weren't my friends) began to sit at the table with Don, me, Lou, and Jeremy. Don kept "pumping" out his fliers (which he called "tracts").
Friction and conflict over Christianity soon began to emerge. This tension would eventually split us into two groups. My friend Matt began to mock Don and I because some of his friends did. They'd even joke about us in classes. As Matt told me on the phone one day, the following conversation took place in a "Woods" class:
"Hey! Did you hear about Don and Robert?" one said.
"They say that if we don't accept Christ, we'll go to hell!"
"Well, at least we'll be warm!"
The whole class cracked-up laughing. (It should be noted that the things Matt said to me may not really have happened. Ten years after we graduated from high school, Matt accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. He then confessed to me that he was a story teller in high school. He was a chronic liar. Thus, the story described above may or may not be true. I never knew that Matt was a story-teller because his lies were always believable. He never told far-out, unbelievable stories.)
Because of the conflict over Christ, all of those who mocked Jesus Christ (or at least mocked the way that Don and I were beginning to live out our faith) went to another table. Matt went to the other table.
Matt and I would still talk. We still got along, but only when he wasn't with his friends. One day, Matt told me that he went to Allen's house and told Allen that I had become a Christian. Allen said very angrily, "G*d damn it! I knew it! I offered to smash that Don kid's face in! I warned him, but he wouldn't listen!"
Matt's and my friendship slowly dwindled away. (It is worth noting, however, that Matt and I are friends today.)
Edward, yet another friend of mine, was in the same 4th hour chemistry class that I was in. We would frequently make a lot of noise in that class, and then go to lunch right after it was over. After lunch, we would always go to a certain bathroom where we, along with Jack, would toss wadded-up toilet paper over the walls of the toilet stalls to see if we could make it in the toilet. One day when we were doing this, we somehow got to talking about God.
"Do you know if you're going to heaven?" I asked Edward.
"Yes," he said. "I've asked Jesus into my heart!"
My mouth popped open in shock. I couldn't believe that he was a Christian! I blurted out in a state of disbelief, "You can't be! You never act like it!"
"I keep it to myself," he said.
"No!" I said. "You can't do that!"
As I continued to talk to my friends, I found that most of them professed to be Christians, but didn't really allow Jesus to have much of an influence on how they lived their lives away from a church. They did what they wanted to, not really asking questions about what God wanted for them.
Dan and Don kept asking me to go to church. I kept saying, "No."
"Church is boring," I'd say.
"Not our church," they'd say. "Our church is exciting!"
But I kept saying no.
In early March, I joined a science fiction book club with my friend Jerry. I'll write more about him later.
I had received a gift subscription to Campus Life Magazine back in 9th grade, which was a magazine for teen-agers. I never found out who bought me the subscription. The magazine had a Christian perspective. I had renewed it a couple of times, and was still subscribing. I began to read more of it than I used to and I began to focus more on the spiritually-centered articles. I had always liked the stories in the magazine, but I did not necessarily care for all the Christian stuff until now. Christ was beginning to have more and more meaning to me as I grew in my faith.