Orphan Survival Stories Index |
"Your soul is damned to the depths of hell, if you feel the spirit and you don't come forward," screamed the preacher.
One by one, people rose from their seats and began to walk to the front of the church.
"Should I go forward and be saved?" I asked the matron. “I got a feeling real deep down inside of me."
"You just stay seated and keep your big mouth closed," she instructed.
"But I got the real strong feeling and the preacher says I'll go to hell and damnation, if I don't come up there," I said.
"Sit down, before I knock you down," she replied.
Slowly, I sat down on my seat and folded my arms across my chest.
"You ain't got no feeling," whispered my roommate from the orphanage.
"Wayne, I really I do," I said as I shook my head back and forth.
He rolled his eyes toward the ceiling and then stuck his tongue out at me.
"You’re a jerk, just like all those people who walked up there," he said.
"PRAISE! In the name of Jesus!" screamed the preacher once again.
All at once, I stood up and raised my hand in the air.
"Come forward, young man. God only gives you one chance," said the preacher as he held out his arms toward me.
"Roger Dean, you have had it," said the matron through closed teeth.
"Come on, boy. Walk forward and accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your savior," said the preacher.
I looked up at the preacher and then over at the matron's face. She was about to explode. I lowered my arm and then I sat back down in my seat.
"You go outside and wait for me. Now!" said the matron as she jerked her head toward the large wooden doors in the rear of the church building.
I got up from my seat and walked outside. I stood there shaking for several minutes, before the door opened.
"Come here, young man," she said as she walked toward me.
BAM! She struck me across the face with her Bible. It hurt me so bad that I could hardly stand it, but I stood my ground and moved not a muscle. BAM! She hit me the second time. This time on the top of my head.
"You little bastard. You had best listen when I give you instruction. Do you understand me? she asked.
Still I moved not a muscle.
"But I couldn't help it, Mother Winters. I had the spirit feeling."
I closed my eyes as she drew back with her large, black Bible to strike me in the face again.
"That boy said he's got the feeling," said a man's voice.
I opened my eyes to see a tall, thin man standing next to the matron. He had grabbed hold of her wrist and was twisting her arm toward the ground. As I watched them, her Bible fell to the ground. The wind blew it open and her papers flew in every direction. I ran as fast as I could to pick up the papers for her. After I had chased down the last of the papers, I started walking back toward the matron. The man was nowhere to be seen. I held out the papers and the bookmark, which had golden strings on it. She just dusted the sand and dirt from her Bible.
"So you got the feeling of the Lord this morning?"
"Yes ma'am," I replied.
"Well, good for you," she said as she patted me on the back.
I stood there somewhat confused. She now acted as though what had just happened never actually happened at all. She never did say another word about what happened inside the church.
My face was quite bruised and I had a black eye for about four days. I told my teacher at school that the door at the Swain Memorial Methodist Church hit me.
I was 9 years old when Mrs. Winters hit me with her Bible. For more than 20 years, I walked around wondering if I might be sent to hell, all because I did not have the nerve to walk up to the front of that church on that summer Sunday morning.