“And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.” (Mark 9:42)
About a year into my stay at the Orphanage, two boys ran away from our dormitory and the place was filled with alarm and anxiety. Old Battle-Ax and Barrel Butt Barnes paced about wringing their hands, fearing the worst. The State Troopers were called and a search was started to find those two little guys, who were no more than nine years old.
It took three days to locate them walking along the Interstate, headed for parts unknown. The Troopers brought them safely back and delivered them into the waiting arms of Miss Walker, who drew them tightly into her big bosom and acted for a minute like a real mother. She thanked the Troopers and held the boys tightly as the officers drove away.
And then all hell broke loose. Those little guys got the living daylights beat out of them. Miss Walker laid into them with her paddle – a baseball bat sawn long ways into a flat board and wrapped with duct tape to insure it wouldn’t break. Then, holes were drilled through the board which caused blisters on the skin once the blow was landed.
To a dorm filled with terrified boys, it sounded like she hit fifty homeruns that night. The rage in her voice, the sound of that board striking those boys, and their screams echoed through our dorm – aided by the cement floors and plaster walls. I have never forgotten that night. It was on that night I prayed my first prayer ever to a God I did not know, but greatly feared.
By this time I had at least figured out that God ran the orphanage. At least that’s the impression given to us by the adults who would brandish the Bible like the old Southern landowners would use a whip. That night I wanted this God to know that from then on I was going to be a good little boy. “Dear God,” I said, pulling the bed covers up about my chin like a security blanket, “I promise I will never run away.” Remember, I was only seven years old at the time.
Now, as an adult looking back all those years ago, I realize God was not behind all this nonsense. “When I was a child I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
Even then, though I could not hear His voice, God was saying, “Oh, child; this is not the way I am. And one day you will know Me, and we will walk as friends.”
(Excerpt, pg.34, Released From the Prison My Father Built, James Ryle 2010.) Get your copy today!