Resurrection, Part IIIPosted: April 26, 2015
This is chapter III. To read from the beginning, go here.
John Wesley Reeves came home to a devout Methodist mother and a much less devout father a few weeks after he was born May 22, 1978. His birth mother was a girl of 16 from a generationally impoverished Appalachian family. She never identified the father.
It was his adoptive mother who had insisted on naming him after the founder of Methodism over his father’s objection—Magnolia Reeves can be a formidable presence when she chooses. She had decided the day he arrived he was to be a Methodist minister.
Consistent with that goal she always referred to him as “John Wesley”: “John Wesley it’s time for dinner.” “You go right up there and clean your room John Wesley.” It was her way of keeping the ministry always before him.
He hated his double name growing up. At 6 he announced at dinner he would no longer be referred to as “John Wesley,” but as “J.W.”
“Now John Wesley you have a proud, respectable, Christian name and you will be called by it, do you hear?” Maggie’s finger punched the air a few inches from John Wesley’s nose, punctuating each syllable.
“Yes ma’am.” At least at school he could be “J.W.,” even if he couldn’t at home.
As a teenager in Silerville, he couldn’t wait to get out. The last thing he wanted was to be another “John Wesley.” He began packing his bags for the University of Kentucky almost as soon as he got the acceptance letter. Major in business, minor in Poly Sci. His life was planned—he was going to start a successful business, make a pile, retire at 40, become active in politics. Maybe state senate.
This boy from Silerville was going to shake off the dust and show that little town he could be somebody.
But that was before he heard The Call.
The Call for him came at the United Methodist Student Union. It was Suzanna’s fault. Well, to be more specific, it was her hips. She walked past him one day in the cafeteria and somehow the way she walked, the way she moved, captivated him.
He jumped up from the table, almost throwing his tray at the thick woman manning the dish sprayer, and took off after Suzanna, hoping he hadn’t lost her. He spotted her just as she hopped up the stairs to the UMSU.
The next day he joined the union. “After all,” he reasoned, “it would make Mom happy.”
But something in John Wesley Reeves began to change that first semester. He began to look forward to Tuesday night 8:15 Bible Study. And not just because of Suzanna. He began to get more serious about his faith. He read his Bible for enrichment. He prayed.
When the April Student Crusade came around, he was ready to hear The Call.
Today J.W. can’t remember the name or even picture the face of the preacher that night. What he does remember is responding to the altar call and finding himself walking the aisle weeping uncontrollably.
He knew in his heart God called and he responded. That was more than 10 years ago. He finished at UK, married Suzanna and together waded through his M.Div. program at Asbury.