The fourth in this roll of hometown inspirations is a songster we’ll call James. Were not calling him James because it’s his name but to avoid prolonging his embarrassment. James was the first Christian I had ever met that I respected musically. He was an outstanding guitarist, vocalist and stage performer. I remember going to hear this guy play and being absolutely amazed at the caliber of music wafting from under his steeple.
After becoming a Christian I pursued a friendship with James hoping some of his skill and charisma would rub off on me. James took the opportunity to invite me into his life. He taught me music; he taught me Jesus and spent a ton of time with me. James became my Mr. Miyagi and I owe a lot of my passion for music and ministry to him.
Unlike Miyagi, James made some hideous moral choices that crushed those who loved him and undermined my confidence in the cloth. His choices landed him in prison and launched a domino effect of consequences that follow him to this day.
I remember standing in James’ driveway when he arrived home from his short stay in the big house. He was weeping regret on my shoulder and pleading with me to avoid the pitfalls that led him to our sorrowful meeting. The things James said to me that night both wrecked and saved my life.
So James is an important figure in my life not just because he took a chance on me but also because my proximity to his collapse educated me more about sin and faith than a reservoir of sermons and scriptures.