I was not raised around my extended family, but they were there, and when we came back from overseas, I met them. Some of them were Christians, and some of them weren’t. You see, neither of my grandparents in Oklahoma were Christians. My grandparents had been rather rowdy people, and they raised some rowdy kids. However, some of the kids had become Christians, and that is why my aunt had taught my mother about Christianity. My grandparents had twelve kids, and all those kids were out there living their own lives. Some were looking for good paths, and others weren’t. One who called himself “the black sheep of the family” was in jail when I first met him, one of my mother’s younger brothers. He just flat caused trouble where ever he went.
He had been involved in a liquor store robbery at seventeen years old. That is why he was in jail. He had spent time in California, and gotten in trouble when they moved back to Oklahoma. Jail didn’t really rehabilitate him. He was just as rowdy when he came out of jail as when he went in, but he never tried to hold up a liquor store any more after that. There was a time he broke parole, dyed his black hair blond, and went on the run. Another time, he got drunk and caused a fight when the family got together. He pulled a knife on his brother and while they were fighting, his live in girlfriend had to separate him from his brother with a gun. Another time, he got mad at my parents and threatened to blow their house up, and they knew to take his threats seriously. My dad sat outside guarding the house all night hoping not to see my uncle coming through the yard with sticks of dynamite. This guy just had an explosive, crazy personality.
When I was nineteen years old, I had had to drop out of college because I had no money. I went to live with my grandmother to work in a dress factory. My crazy “black sheep of the family” uncle was living there too. He was constantly mad at the police because they had his number. They were constantly stopping him and searching his pickup looking to make sure he didn’t have a gun. He worked as a welder, but every evening, he was at the bar playing his guitar and singing. He always took girls from the bar to hotels after singing in the bar and slept with them. He knew what he was doing was wrong because he was always after my grandmother saying that he could do the crazy things he was doing because he was young and had time to repent, but that she was old and needed to go to church. I came home one day with him screaming and yelling at my grandmother about her going to church, and she was sitting in a rocking chair crying.
Once, I was dressed to go to church, and I was walking because I didn’t have a driver’s license. He offered to give me a ride to church, so I let him give me a ride. On the way, he tried to talk me into going to the bar with him instead of going to church, but I never went to a bar. Church was where I belonged.
One evening, Grandma had fixed dinner. The three of us were in the kitchen having dinner. He was busy telling a story about how a black man had come into his bar. When he saw the black man, he beat him up and threw him out of the bar telling him it was a white bar and that blacks weren’t welcomed there. I had to say something to him. I told him is was wrong. I told him that no one should be beat up and told to get lost because of the color of their skin. He tried to turn it around on me. He looked at me and said, “Are you a women’s libber?” I wasn’t a women’s libber. I was a Christian trying to do the right thing. Women’s lib had nothing to do with what I said, so I told him I wasn’t a women’s libber, but that what he did was wrong.
I wasn’t trying to convert him. I was just “drawing the line” in the right place for him. I really didn’t know what to do with that guy most of the time because he was so erratic. However, from what I understand, he was listening to me and watching me. Later, he was trying to figure out the difference between right and wrong and beat his wife up because she was wearing shorts, and he told her that my mother nor I would wear shorts, and she was not to wear shorts either because he wanted to be “respectable.” After that, he decided to turn his bar into a “church house,” but it didn’t work because he had no idea what he was doing. Finally, one of my uncles who was an elder in the Pentecostal church took him to church with him, and my erratic uncle became a Christian at the Pentecostal church before he died. He played his guitar at the Pentecostal church. I was young, and he scared me, so I ran away from him. or I might have been able to do more than just have influence on him. My grandmother went to church with me, and before she died, one of my aunts took my grandmother to the church of Christ, and she was baptized.