Our deacons were pressuring our pastor to give more altar calls. I do not know why because everyone in our congregation was saved. One night has burned itself into my memory like the flame that burned through the opening scene of the 60s TV show, "Bonanza."
It wa(more)s a small group, my family, another family and a guy in his twenties. Our pastor, a blond, anemic but good-hearted speaker, started the altar hall. We sang eleven verses of "Just As I Am," the standard altar call song, with the organist, Mrs. Russ, growing slower on every verse. We were so poor, we had movie seats for chairs one of the deacons had gotten for cheap. I was carving my initials on the arm with a penny because that was one thing you could do when you were uncomfortable. The pastor finished giving the altar call and no one came up. Somebody sneezed. Luckily, there was a fail safe. A pastor once check-mated in such a way could move his bishop by asking the congregtion to come forward if they wanted to RECOMMIT their lives to Christ. That put all the pressure on us and made us look stupid if we stayed in our seats, indicating that our faith basically sucked big and we were wafty about the Lord and not to be taken seriously.
My entire family immediately got up and went forward, my mother, my father, my brother, my two sisters, down on their knees in front. The other family soon followed. Now it was me at age thirteen and the twenty-year-old. Minutes later, he got up and went forward. And for twenty agonnizing minutes, it was just me, alone in the movie seats, not wafty in my faith at all but just shy, frozen in my chair.