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"Raise you hand, if you know the shortest verse in the Bible," said the Sunday school teacher. I raised my little hand as high as I could get it.

"I know the answer teacher," I yelled.

"Roger," said the teacher, “come to the front of the class and repeat it for the rest of us."

Very proudly and with a big smile on my face, I walked to the front of the Sunday school classroom.

"JESUS SAVES!" I said in my very authoritarian 9-year-old voice.

"That is correct," said the teacher.

"I know lots of other verses too," I announced.

"And you should be very proud of yourself, Roger," she added.

Very proudly, I walked back to my seat in the back of the room. As I walked, some of the boys from the orphanage where we lived patted me on the arm as I walked past them.

"I might become a preacher someday," I said as I took my seat.

"You would make a good preacher. You study harder than anyone else in the class. I bet you could become a very famous minister day.”

"I don't want to be a minister. I want to become a preacher and maybe I could even preach on television like Oil Roberts," I replied.

"It's Oral Roberts, Roger," said the teacher.

"That's what I said. Like Oil Roberts," I said again.

Several of the children laughed, but I had no idea what they were laughing about. It really did not matter to me. I was very happy that day and felt really good inside. I liked going to church, because I was really good at learning church stuff.

After church, we kids from the orphanage were loaded onto the bus and taken back to the Children's Home Society Orphanage where we lived.

After I changed my church clothes, I was told by the matron to report to the dining hall as Mrs. Winters, the head matron, wanted to talk to me. I walked across the grass circle, which lay in the center of the orphanage grounds. I walked into the dining hall and waited on Mrs. Winters.

"You sit down out there on the screen porch and wait for Mrs. Winters," said the black cook named Charity.

Several minutes later, Mrs. Winters appeared carrying a ping-pong paddle in her hand.

"I hear you have been showing off in Sunday school again," she said.

"No ma'am, Mother Winters. I just answered the question that the Sunday school teacher asked me," I said.

"BAM" went the paddle as it struck me across the face.

My head flew backwards and struck the back of the metal chair in which I was sitting. The next thing I knew, I was lying on the concrete floor of the porch. She was beating me with all her might across the back of my neck with the rubber-coated paddle.

"All I said was ‘Jesus saves,’ Mother Winters, ma'am," I kept yelling.

No matter what I said, she just kept hitting me on the neck and back. Never again did I stand up in Sunday school to repeat a verse or say the books of the Bible. In fact, until I sat down to write this story today, it will be the first time since that incident that I have ever said or written the words "Jesus saves."

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