Coffee and Shoes in the Doorway

There I was, at the age of 17, sitting on the hood of Joey Moratta’s brand new ’72 Firebird in the parking lot of our local ice cream parlor restaurant. This was the most popular teenage hangout in my home town of Pompton Lakes, New Jersey where every Friday and Saturday night anywhere from 50 to 100 of us could be found. I was sharing a six pack of Michelobe with my two drinking buddies, Joey and Pud, scanning the crowd for any available females when a red Volkswagen van pulled up and stopped in the middle of the crowd. The side door of the van flung open and out stepped two guys and a girl. They were sort of hippie looking, as were most of us those days. The guys both strapped on guitars and the girl had a tambourine in one hand and a megaphone in the other. They started singing and playing and were actually pretty good. “Turn, Turn, Turn” by the Byrds and “It Only Takes a Spark” were two of the songs I distinctly remember them playing and in between the songs they took turns preaching about God’s love, how you could get saved and how to get “ high on Jesus”. After a while some of the kids yelled obscenities at them, some even threw beer bottles at them, but they continued. They handed out Bible tracts and talked with a lot of the kids that night. Joey, Pud and I sat for a long time listening and observing without speaking, then finally Joey turned to me and said “Ya know Eddie, they’re right, don’t ya?” Pud and I both said “yup” in harmony as we nodded together in agreement. About a week later, after contemplating all that I had seen and heard, I was invited to a rap-session with a group of some of the kids that had become “born-again”, whatever that meant. The invitation was to come and get “high on Jesus” and I thought I’d like to see what that felt like so I went. The rap-session was in someones candle-lit living room where about 10 kids were sitting in a circle on the floor. I joined in and we read verses from the Bible and rapped about what it meant. After about an hour, the leader had us join hands and asked if anyone wanted to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. A number of us said “sure” and he led us in a prayer surrendering our lives to Jesus that night. I remember telling God “ I don’t understand all that this entails, but I know that I’m a sinner, I know I need a Savior, I believe that You are God’s Son who died to pay the price for my sins, and I give my life to you right now! At that moment I sensed an incredible change come over my entire being. I felt the overwhelming love and forgiveness of God. I felt a peace inside that I had never known before and amazingly, I suddenly knew the reason for my existence. Everything began to make sense. I was so excited I began to tell everyone, my Mom, my Dad, my brothers and sister, store clerks, teachers and anyone who would listen. The Bible began to make sense, too, where in the past it just seemed so complicated and boring. I couldn’t get enough of it. I was like a sponge soaking in every word. Pud gave his life to Jesus that week, too, and about ten years later, Joey called me up from Florida, a “born-again Christian”. The Jesus Movement, which they ended up calling it, rolled on through and sort of dissipated, but Jesus has not. His love has remained throughout my entire life. I’ve had ups and downs, trials and struggles, but Jesus has been faithful and true. (I’m 45 now.) God has blessed me with an incredible Godly wife whose name is Kellie (we just had our 23rd anniversary). I have 2 awesome sons, Anthony 17, and Nick, 14. I was ordained as a minister in 1991. I served as associate pastor/worship leader at Vineyard Christian Fellowship and for the past 5 years have been pastor of River City Fellowship . Romans 10:9-1,9 says that “If you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” What a promise, what a God. I’m so thankful for His overwhelming love, and His endless mercy, and I will always be “High on JESUS”!