I was born in Portland, Oregon, moved to the Rockwood area (east Portland) when I was four, then east of Gresham when I was seven. I loved living in the house east of Gresham, which was “out in the country,” but only five miles or so from city.
As a teenager, I did farm work in the summers. Besides picking berries, I planted and harvested broccoli and cauliflower, as well as sorting potatoes unearthed by a digger, to prepare them for distribution. When I was 19, after my first year of college, I worked in a 7-11 store, where my most vivid memory was being robbed at gunpoint. I also worked at a chemical plant that produced Parsons ammonia, where my most vivid memory was running for the doors when the ammonia vats spilled over.
Where did I spend most of my free time? Playing army in the wheat fields around our house, playing football and basketball at the local grade school (Orient Grade School), and going to the Hood Theatre and Multnomah County Fair in Gresham with my best friend Jerry Hardin.
My dad grew up in Emboden, Arkansas, moved to Texas as a teenager to run a pool hall with older brothers. Then he moved to Oregon and had a grocery store, then became a tavern owner who also supplied amusement machines for other taverns. Our house was the repository for several pool tables, two or three juke boxes, pin-ball machines, standing shuffleboards, foos ball, etc. (My friends liked to hang out at my house mainly for that reason.) Dad was strict and very resistant to the gospel, and at first was very resistant to my faith in Christ and was disappointed that I wanted to go to Bible College instead of to the university where I could “make something” of my life. But Dad paid my way through Bible College and I am grateful for his support. By God’s grace, he came to Christ as an 85-year-old, when the doctors thought he was going to die. But he lived another four years, and in that time we became much closer.
My mom grew up in The Dalles, Oregon, and worked at the Charles F. Berg clothing store in Portland, then became full time mom for me and my brother Lance. She came to Christ a year after I did. Mom encouraged me in everything, including in my service as a pastor (she was part of our church) and my article-writing (it was years later I wrote my first book in 1985). Mom died in 1981, only four months after our daughter Angela was born, and when our daughter Karina was two and a half. Every Monday my mom had Karina stay with her for the day and they were extremely close. My Mom was one of the closest friends I’ve ever had, and I can’t wait to see her again in the presence of Jesus. On our website there’s a video in which I talk about my mother.
I talk about both my Mom and Dad, and their deaths, in my book In Light of Eternity. In the same book I have a chapter about Jerry Hardin, my close friend, in which I tell more things about my childhood than in anything else I’ve written.