“What the hell did you just say?!”
This was commonly followed by a right cross to the jaw and a lecture on the sacrifice that Jesus made for our sins on the cross at Calvary.
Donald and I were good kids, in our way.
Just a couple of teenage punks with little to no parental supervision who got “saved” the quick and dirty way, in front of the Chic Fila at the mall food court.
We were a formidable duo.
Donald was on the school wrestling team.
Built like a Panzer tank and equally as smart.
I was skinny and cunning, a malnourished mathlete and secret honor roll student.
Leave your window cracked and Donald would toss me upwards and I would be inside and unlocking the door for him before you could say “Teenage Delinquency.”
Look at us cross-eyed and one of us would be in your face talking trash while the other sneaked around behind and lifted your wallet.
We were thugs when it was easy to be thugs, back in the days before everyone had guns.
We were more akin to The Outsiders than Boys in the Hood.
More West Side Story than Straight Outta Compton.
I was Danny Zuko and he was The Fonz.
I played Gordie Lachance to his Chris Chambers.
“Suck my fat one you cheap dime-store hood.”
We were gangsta in our tiny town, where all it took to be hardcore was ignorance and desperation.
We had that in spades.
We were tough fish in a very small pond.
Believe it or not, we were doing our best.
So when the guy at the mall told us to use our gifts to spread the word of the Lord, we did the only thing we knew how to do.
We kicked ass for Jesus.
If someone said “Goddam!!” they could expect a trip to the dentist shortly thereafter.
If some highfalutin philosophy student told us that “God is dead” then we would show him that “Hell is other people” and then showed him that “One can avoid hell through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Converts came quickly and easily.
A man down on one knee was in no position to debate the merits of Atheism or to discuss the value of the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama.
“Do you accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior or do you want some more?”
“Hit him again, Donald.”
“Do you accept him?”
“I accept Jesus Christ as my lord and savior.”
“Congratulations. Jesus loves you. By the way my name is Mike and this here is Donald.”
Not everyone saw the light.
There was the 300 lb Muslim man with the shaved head.
I hit him with all the power The Lord had given me and he was unmoved.
“You’re lucky” he said.
“Wh-wh-wh-why?” I stammered.
“Because being a Muslim I am not allowed to strike someone out of anger.”
God blessed us with the ability to run away that day.
A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, but it can also be the mustard seed by which a mighty tree grows.
Donald and I didn’t spend all of our time whoopin’ ass for Jesus.
We started to read The Bible and occasionally we even dragged our hungover asses to church.
Donald would ask me what a verse meant and when I couldn’t figure it out, I would ask the youth pastor.
We learned that Jesus didn’t want us to beat people up in his name.
We also learned that he wasn’t big on stealing, marijuana or Metallica.
Reluctantly we traded in our whisky and brass knuckles for suits and haircuts.
We traded Slayer for Stryper.
And marijuana for…
Well we kept the marijuana.
“It’s a plant. God put it here.” we reasoned.
We held doors for little old ladies and helped them with their groceries.
We witnessed to the downtrodden and destitute.
And when we passed an open window or heard someone take The Lord’s name in vain, we prayed for patience and restraint.
And sometimes it came.
And other times we had to pray for forgiveness.