I went to hear Wayne Flynt talk about his latest book ( Keeping the Faith: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives ) last week. It is a memoir and to hear him speak, it was very painful in the making. He dug up events that were very stressful and unpleasant as he recounted [his] history from his viewpoint.
After he talked a bit about himself and the book and finished reading a section , the floor was opened for questions. One struck question and answer struck me deeply.
Wayne comes from the Deep South. He worked registering voters in Birmingham during the Civil Rights Movement. He has worked with the Southern Poverty Law Center. But, this was not the mindset of the community into which he was born. He was also a Baptist minister at one time in his life.
The question: “What event had the most profound impact on your life?”
His response ran something like this: That would have to be my conversion.”[Remember he is a Southern Baptist flavor of Christian] My conversion experience caused me to no longer fit in with my church or my community. I could no longer reconcile my own beliefs with those of in my church community or my family.
There just simply are not that many people who can say that — it is difficult to be transformed, difficult to allow God to touch me so profoundly that I no longer fit the mold. This simple witness was not preachy, but the simplicity and honesty of his statement dug deep. No apology, no brow-beating — just truth.