In my last post, “Vacation Church”, I described my memories of our family going to strange churches while we were on vacation. Strange, not because there was anything wrong with them, but because we were going to a church other than our own. I felt weird, uncomfortable, insecure, and on display.
I had an enlightening conversation with our daughter after she read the post.
“How many times did you have to go to church on vacation while you were growing up?” she asked.
I thought for a moment, “Probably twelve or more,” I answered.
“I think I got that beat,” she said. Then she reminded me of all the times I preached or we sang at churches and conferences all over the country and she stayed with strangers while we were on the stage.
I have to admit I never really gave it a thought. We put a lot of trust in strangers who watched over our daughter while we were away from her. When I think about it now, it scares me.
We worked for a traveling evangelist in Fort Worth, Texas for three years, from 1977 to 1980. Mary taught in the school owned by the ministry. I was the crusade coordinator and led worship and performed in all the events around the country.
In the summer of 1980, I decided it was time for us to begin doing evangelism on our own. We sang at a conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma in July attended by thousands of people. As a result, our calendar was full for the next six months. We literally traveled from one end of the country to the other, from Sylacauga, Alabama to Portland, Oregon.
Our normal routine was to stay at a church for three or four days, preaching and singing every night and twice on Sunday. There were times we stayed in hotels. There were times we stayed in homes.
On one occasion our daughter was to sleep in the bedroom of the host pastor’s daughter. She locked our daughter out of her room.
Most of our hosts were more than kind and gracious. That didn’t minimize the discomfort our daughter experienced while I was busy with other things.
We did have fun traveling between engagements. Our new Olds Cutlass was packed to the roof with sound equipment and clothes. Our three-year-old usually sat on the armrest between us. If she got tired she climbed up on the speakers in the back seat for a nap.
When we purchased a new cargo van she had room to play with toys while we drove. After a year of travel and unpredictable living conditions, we decided the road was not for us.
Hats off to people who live on the road and are energized by opportunities to stay in strangers’ homes.
My childhood vacation Sunday School and church visits pale by comparison.