SAME STAGE, BIG CHANGE

HERITAGE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL, WEST ALLIS, WISCONSINSome background: I was invited by one Bill Sargent to join a number of other Christian artists (bands, solo and duo, Celtic Dancers, choirs, etc.) in a two-day benefit concert for their school (elementary through senior high). A common friend told him about me and the fact I do blues music. So I agreed to come and do a set for them in the effort to raise money in their financial crunch. What he didn’t know prior to our chat on the phone is what I’ll explain now. He ended up laughing about the wisdom and move of God in all this… and so did I!First, A Bit of Old News-In 1965 I was a very lost young kid. My family had largely fallen apart, Mom divorcing Dad when I was nine, my sister married and out of the house, older brother out doing his thing, myself the youngest at home with my Mother when she wasn’t working or out with her boyfriend.We had moved from a very little town in south central Wisconsin to “the big city”, actually a working class suburb when I was nine. I attended grades 3-6 at Walker Elementary (public) school, walking the six or so blocks from our little second-story flat.Graduating to Lane Jr. High for grades 7-9 made life simpler as the campus was right across the street from our flat (1109 S. 109th St.) and when we moved into a little house a block north, it was still nothing to walk to and from school each day (921 S. 109th St.).I had begun singing, playing guitar and teaching myself drums, bass and a bit of harmonica from 12 years of age. I think the band I was in at the time was The Lost Souls (not to be confused with others of the same name as it got used in other places too!). But in any case, we’d done one or two basement birthday parties, and then at 13 yrs. old, we were part of a talent show at Lane.By ’65 I had learned how to fight (on occasion), swear, smoke and had been sexually active since about 8 year of age. Getting addicted to drink and drugs came about three years later… but by the time I’d transferred to Lane Jr. High I had learned to be a “greaser”, very much into blues, soul and r&b music as a musician and fan of many bands of that sort.A good buddy of mine tossed a live .22 rimfire round into the metal shop kiln at that school. I was suspended twice in those years for fighting, eventually being called to spend the last hour of the day in the principal’s office and then given the task of collecting all attendance for all classes that last hour… where I learned I could simply get my friends to skip that hour from time to time and nobody ever knew about it.In short, I was a messed-up kid living for sex, music and popularity. I was always overweight and insecure but had a lot of friends and was focused on fun, just getting by in my classes so I wouldn’t flunk out. Sure enough, I survived and graduated from Lane to Nathan Hale High where I went on to finish by the skin of my teeth, drinking, drugs, helping with an underground paper for a while, continuing in sexual and other addictions.Half way through my senior year and just before my eighteenth birthday I came to know Jesus in an intense, powerful encounter the night my uncle Gene (also my godfather) died. I was still living at 921 S. 109th and did so until the end of that summer (1971) when I had graduated high school. I’d asked my parents for two gifts, one from each of them: a full Bible and a cross. Mon got me one, Dad the other. All I said as I crossed the stage at Hale to receive my diploma was “Praise the Lord!”.By September 18th I had fully moved into the Jesus People of Milwaukee’s brother’s house and have been in fulltime ministry ever since.Prior to asking Jesus to forgive me and beginning my journey of faith with Him and many good Christian people I had overdosed three times and had tried to take my own life. Let’s just say that there is nothing but grace in my story as no one was more surprised than I was when I woke up to God’s love and began following Jesus, reading the Bible daily and quietly (at first) sharing my faith with those around me at Hale High. I’d been dealing dope off and on. So many of my friends were at least (if not more) as messed up as I was.In a public school (I never attend any other kind) and especially with all the pressure to “be cool”, even my excess was largely thought of as hip by most of the kids. Being a musician was a big deal as well. And I lost so much weight between my 10th and 11th grades, many people didn’t recognize me, girls started flirting with me (and I was clueless as that had rarely happened before) but I was so very sick, lost and in deep trouble and knew it. Jesus changed all that… and I surely never could as I had really tried.The Other Good News-Wendi and I met at Jesus People in Milwaukee, married June 1, 1972 and after a short honeymoon immediately went off with the U.S.A. Traveling Team (from JP Milwaukee) which continued on as Jesus People U.S.A. (based in Chicago’s inner city since 1973) after JP Milwaukee closed.Yet my Mom still lived on 109th St. for several years and we of course visited her there.During one visit I noticed Lane had closed up, and remained empty for at least a couple of years.Then, as we drove by during a visit to my Mom’s, the building had new tenants… and by now you’ve likely guessed it’s Heritage Christian School. What an amazing trip both myself and that old building ended up taking!The other night I shared many old (and mostly naughty) memories with some of the current staff and present students there. A kind, current student who was quite aservant to me, walked me through both old and new buildings, and I shared a number of stories from my younger days there.The Lord made it clear to me to emphasize to the many who showed up for the concerts as well as to staff and present students that one never knows what God may do to change a young, lost life… and that at 1109 S. 109th and a block north at 921 where I ended up on my knees surrendering to Jesus Christ, there were others in the area just like I had been-  just as lost NOW as I had been until I met Him. I encouraged them to follow Jesus and understand that a truly surrendered Christ-follower can make a huge difference.I recently stood on the stage where I had sung a song (the first one I ever wrote, called “Don’t Lie to Me”) at least forty-five years earlier as a lost kid -and now spoke and sang about Jesus, about caring, about love, about walking our talk. What a difference God makes!Ha, not only was I converted, so was the building and it’s use, there at 1300 S. 109th St., West Allis, Wisconsin.Have a look, make a donation, change a life!  http://www.pleasesaveourschool.org   http://www.heritagechristianschools.orgWith Love, For Jesus Forever, -Glenn

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3 thoughts on “SAME STAGE, BIG CHANGE

  1. I attended two Christians schools growing up, my parents sacrificed dearly finacially and otherwise to make it happen. I am thankful that Christian schools are now more ‘open’ to allowing and promoting more ‘culture current’ Christian music to TEACH and give opportunity to accept Christ as Lord and Savior..it wasn’t so 30 yrs ago…had it been some of my friends would have had less destructive paths I’m sure…thanks Glenn for your obedience to His calling…and don’t let Mr. Hammers my old principal hear this but ROCK ON BROTHER!!! [cue Alienated]

  2. Thanks for sharing, Glenn. In 25 years of having known you, privileged man that i am, i’ve never before known your testimony of conversion. What a blessing! Your old, and getting older all the time, friend; Steve G

  3. Glenn, this is so cool! Thanks for sharing it… God is faithful, He sees the end from the beginning

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