When I Was Born Again

At age thirty-two I became born-again. It was then my wife asked me to help her with Sunday School. In fact, it was that project that lead me to Christ.
I began the project agnostic; but, over the course of about two months, found His way.
Carol had wanted a teaching tool to help the little child learn about Christ. However, she wanted something a bit different, but didn’t know what. At that time, I had recently stopped wedding photography. It seems I came home with a headache at the end of every wedding reception. The lowlight from dimly lit halls and the constant squinting to focus was wearing my eyes out. I finally gave up wedding photography as a part-time business in 1981.
About that time, I got my son interested in stamp collecting. As with Carol’s situation, I needed a subject to keep his interest. I turned to cartoon characters on stamps, generally Disney characters along with the other well knows like Bugs Bunny and many others. This type of stamp collecting was called ‘topical’ stamp collecting. Rather than collect one country’s stamps, you collected stamps (regardless of their country) according to the topic. This is also known as thematic collecting
The topical list is endless – railroads, airplanes, mountains, birds, space exploration (astronauts), specific sports, famous Masons, etc. Cartoon characters were the hot topic for youngsters. My son loved it.
When Carol brought up her idea, I remembered reading about the collectors of religion on stamps group. Theirs was a broad field encompassing thousands of stamps. Among the types of stamps would be stamps showings Popes, churches, famous paintings, angels, people mentioned in the bible, etc. However, I knew there were collectors of ‘The Life of Christ’ and began putting together a nice set of stamps.
A problem came about when it was time to put these stamps into an album. While you can go out and buy an album for U.S. stamps, you couldn’t for special topics. A U.S. Stamp album would be something like a coin album. You’d have a page with printed versions of the stamps on it. You’d put the stamp over the corresponding photo.
But with topical collecting, there was nothing like that. I was able to find some blank stamp pages. They merely had “The Life of Christ” at the top of each page with a decorative border.
My ‘fun’ project then became a huge challenge. I didn’t know the first thing about religion or the Life of Christ. I had never attended Sunday School or Church. I had never read the bible. My only exposure was in the early years of school before the atheists and liberals took over society and kicked God out of school. I can remember each morning when someone would lead the class in the 23rd Psalm and another would read any other Psalm they wanted. We would also sing a hymn.
I began reading the bible and watching religious TV shows. Putting together a nice bible library, I often visited Peter & John’s Trustworthy Bookstore on Liberty & Rolling Roads in Baltimore County. This bookstore was an extension of Arlington Baptist Church. While no longer there, it was my favorite bible bookstore. I began collecting bible commentaries and bible study aids. I also bought a few different study bibles with different translations.
My ‘fun’ project became hard (and expensive) work. For me to put together an album about the life of Christ, I needed to learn about Christ. Furthermore, just reading the bible didn’t answer all of my questions. While each Gospel tells their own story of Christ’s life, often I didn’t know the order in which events occurred. It was then I turned to another type of bible to put everything in the correct order (The Reese Chronological Bible). I also got a book detailing the ‘harmony’ of the Gospels, which fully told the life of Christ. However, even that wasn’t enough.
StationOfTheCrossStation06Veronica.jpgI discovered there were stamps depicting events in the life of Christ that I could not assign a proper scripture verse to. One such stamp showed a woman handing Jesus a handkerchief to wipe his face with. This stamp was one of the Stations of the Cross; yet, I could find no biblical reference to this event. I then became interested in what I later discovered was ‘Veronica’s Veil’. Here was an example of something in Jesus’ life that was certainly believed by some Christians, yet was not written about in the bible. While there are now different versions of the Stations, it was originally the sixth, tucked between Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross and Jesus falling for the second time.
I learned the events commonly referred to as the Stations of the Cross were more popular in some religions than in others. The Catholic Church holds the Stations of the Cross more dear to them than other Christian religions. It is also known by other names, such as ‘The Way Of The Cross’, ‘The Way Of Sorrows’, ‘Via Crucis’, or ‘Via Dolorosa’. It depicts the final hours of Jesus’ life and reminds us to commemorate his passion through devotion. The tradition began with St. Francis of Assisi as a chapel devotion and extended throughout the Catholic Church in the medieval period.
As you can see, my project became deeply rooted in research. Here I was, nearly a decade out of college, yet diving into research. I believe it was this stamp project and my study in the life of Christ that awoke my interest in research and writing.
Along the way, I learned about the bible, the life-and-death of Jesus, the different beliefs of various religions, and the history of the church.
Sadly, I did not keep up with my bible reading and research after the project was completed. However, the entire experience led me to Christ and gave me a respect for all Christian religions, regardless of their individual differences.

Leave a Reply