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Page 52

speaking to me. With my lines of communication cut off, I had no hope of making peace, or of convincing my parents to see my side of the story.

By Thanksgiving Howie had them brainwashed into thinking that I was Satan incarnate, and I guess they believed him- because they went along with him when he told me that I had a week to get out of the house.

I protested to my Mom. "Iím eighteen and I donít have a high school degree yet."

"Well, thatís your fault," she answered.

"No, itís not! I listened to you. I trusted you when you said we should move down here."

"Thatís your fault," she said. "You never should have listened to me."

Religion has been a hit and miss affair for me. Maybe as a result of this, my resolve to be a moral, God-fearing, upstanding person has also been hit and miss. Though we have some similar religious beliefs, my friend, Max, with a Mormon background, seems to be very good at resisting peer pressure and temptation. I, on the other hand, with a hodge-podge of Baptist, Lutheran, and Way Ministry teachings in my background, give into it all the time. Iím a hot and cold person. Either, Iím totally committed to doing something or totally against it- and my resolve can turn on a dime.

A year earlier I had gone down to a youth rally in Oregon. At this time I had been living with my grandparents, and the youth rally was a mainstream Baptist affair. I traveled down with Pastor Steve, and Ed and Lucy Venezia, members of the local Baptist church who had taken an interest in my well being. Between my grandparents, and their efforts they had helped me straighten out quite a bit.

This youth rally was a huge gathering with five or six hundred of us in the audience. As the speaker wrapped up, he made a call for those who wanted to come up and accept Christ as their Savior.

An uncomfortable silence fell upon the crowd and no one stepped forward. I took it upon myself to break new ground. No, it wasnít the first time I had accepted Christ as my Savior, but as I moved through the crowds to step forward, I found a new desire growing within me. I actually did want to serve the Lord and live like he would want me to. Although I would bow to pressures many times after that, and do many things Christ wouldnít have been too awfully proud of- I still had that desire lurking beneath the surface.

After the rally I made a conscious effort to behave in a Christ-like way, but was disheartened by the response I received from my peers. I attempted to start a youth group at my school, but many of the members were there for appearance sake only- perhaps to appease their parents. They would treat the youth group like a joke. When the adults were around they would behave piously and when they werenít they would act in completely contradictory ways.

At one meeting I asked Kenny, a short blonde kid with a talent for music, to say the prayer. He refused and said that it was stupid. His friend, Mike, backed him up. Yet, as a result of their acting abilities, these were the kids that were considered the most pious and most respected, by the adults of the congregation.

It was disappointing to me. Obviously, I myself, had done and would do many things that were not in line with the teachings of Christ, but by the same token, I had never attempted to deceive those around me by pretending to be something that I wasnít.

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