Christianity is a big thing in my family. My father is a choir master and supposedly a big man in the church. His sister is a priest. My mother is an avid churchgoer. My father would sometimes read the bible with me but very rarely. He mostly told me the stories of Anansi the Spider before I went to bed.
As a child, Christianty made sense to me. There had to be something to protect us all. I didn’t want to go to hell. I had to be a good boy.
And I was sometimes. I would go with my mother to church. I didn’t enjoy it very much. It was a Methodist Ghanian church. There was a lot of singing and dancing. They spoke in the Ghanian language. The music was loud. And they always asked for donations. It wasn’t very fun to go every Sunday night with my mom for three hours.
My mother got me to join the youth club. She bought me a bible. I remember getting there very early. It was just the pastor, his wife and me. I told her I had just gotten this bible. The pastor told me to start reading some chapter. His wife told me not to read it like a storybook. I never understood what she meant by that.
She died shortly after that talk with me.
I remember once the school year had started. The pastor had a sermon about making sure that the devil didn’t tempt any of the congregation’s church. He had all of us kids line up and chanted sayings like “Get out of this child! By The Blood of The Christ! This child is saved!” I remember when he grabbed my forehead. He told us to close out eyes before hand. An image of the devil in the sky rising from my body entered my mind.
I was never baptized as a baby.
As a child I used to pray to God. I’d say, “Please protect my brother, my mother, and my father.” I would begin the family prayer before big meals.
“May this food be bountiful for years to come and may you protect all of us. ” My family loved it.
In 2004, we switched churches. My mother stated the pastor of our old church was deeply saddened and shocked by the untimely death of his wife. We joined another Ghanian Methodist Church. I remember me and my father sitting in the car parking lot, December 31st. My father told me that 2003 had been a hard year. I didn’t understand how it could have been. Smackdown Here Comes the Pain had been great. After the clock hit midnight, he brought me inside the church.
We went up and sat. I looked around. There was a chair with a man’s name on it as well as his date of death. I had to sit and look at it. I thought about how I would never meet this man. All I would ever know of him was his name. That I have now long forgotten.
The sermon was in a language I didn’t understand. But then there came the time for first timers to come to the front. There were several of us. I remember my father saying that free time for me was bible study time. I did no such thing. It’s always puzzled me why he said that.
Going to church was always a big hassle. I’d have to be woken up by my dad far earlier than I wanted to be. He’d get really angry if he had to wake me up three times. That’s my dad’s life code. If the first two times, he tells you to do something he’s calm. But that third time, now he’s losing his temper. Some would believe this to be a fair system.
You have to dress nice to go to church. I’d wear my Sunday best just like all the other little boys and girls. We’d go to church and then I’d sit and not understand anything being said. There would be singing of songs. Some of the songs were nice to listen to. The church was adamant about getting everyone to stand and dance. If I didn’t dance I’d be yelled at by my mom or dad until I stood up.
The new church had youth sessions too. I didn’t know any of the other kids well. I didn’t talk to anyone but this one kid who liked video games. He told me he could fix my Pokemon Silver which for some reason didn’t save anymore. I found out years later there was no way he could have fixed it. I’m really mad he still has my Pokemon Silver.
The youth sessions were always about getting us to talk or watching a video. We once watched a video of Adam and Eve. I noticed both of them had pale skin. I asked then where did black people come from if they are both white.
The other kids gave weird answers like Adam actually being rainbow colored and appearing white. I remember the overseer for the kid’s youth group touching me on the arm in a very weird way. He wasn’t like a pedophile. He was just weird.
I didn’t have many interactions with the other kids. I learned one day what they thought of me. This girl thought that I thought I was so good because I carried a bible around all the time.
I didn’t have a choice of going to church or not. When my father would go too early to take me, he’d leave it to my mother to take my brother and me. Rarely I would get out of it. When I did, I would be punished. My game controllers were taken away. So most of time I ended up sitting there and not understanding what was said.
Then the pastor started having english sermons. Jesus was a protector. He was there to save me. He died for my sins. The devil was there to make sure I went to hell. But with Jesus and I could be saved because as my mom’s favorite church song goes,
God you are wonderful oh God you’re so good.
Hell seemed like a scary place to be. Infinite torture. Fire. Not a desirable end. So I was on Team Jesus.
It’s funny the little things that can make a crack in your faith. It’s probably because my faith was never based on anything stronger than what I was told to believe in.
As a kid, I had a friend named Joe. I don’t know what he’s up to now.
As a kid, Joe was a pretty cool guy.
In 6th grade science class during a talk between he and I, Joe V told me he didn’t believe in anything without seeing it for himself. I was baffled.
“How can you not believe in God?” I asked him.
This idea became the foundation that would cause me to question things.
In religion, people don’t like it when you ask questions. I learned this the hard way.