Rev. Bob McGee courageously shares about the dysfunction of his childhood and how Christ miraculously redeemed his life, setting him on the path that eventually led to ministerial leadership. Make no mistake; there is power in the simple words, "Jesus loves you."
I must admit that I do feel a bit of reluctance about revisiting the dysfunctional parts of my upbringing as this is a very personal and difficult story to share. However, I believe God is in the business of redemption; so if my story has any chance of helping or inspiring others, then I am more than willing to share.
When I was young, my family lived in Seattle, but when I reached the second grade, my mother left all of us-my brothers, my sister, my father, and me-and even gave my sister away to to someone else.
As you could imagine, this was very confusing to me. I could not understand why my sister was no longer living with us or why my mother hadn't come home. Now I know my mother just wanted to go and live her life and be free of any responsibility, and she didn't want anything to hold her back from doing as she wished. She lived a hard life. She was active in drugs, alcohol, and promiscuous living for many years, which left my father to somehow provide for and raise my brothers and me by himself. Looking back, I don't remember there being any talk or conversation of God in my family. I think my dad may have known of God, but he did not share any of that with us. Needless to say, we did not go to church while I was growing up.
After a period of time, my dad decided to remarry. My stepmother had other children, which was fine except that they resented us for coming into the family. She was a truly wicked woman and abusive to my brothers and me. Being the oldest, I received the brunt of her hatred. She would not allow me upstairs with the rest of the family, forcing me to stay in the cold basement. At times the basement would flood, and I would have to prop my bed up on stilts to avoid the standing water. She did many cruel and manipulative things. She taught me how to steal just so she could turn me in to the authorities. She would not allow me to come into the house to eat, so I would have to go to friends' houses at dinner time in hopes that I might be invited to eat with them. I ended up getting a paper route just to make a little money for food and toiletries.
Certainly on cold days, but really whenever possible, I would spend my time at the YMCA; it was like my second home. The director befriended me and offered to give me a little money to help him clean up at the end of the day, which allowed me to buy some snacks out of the vending machine. One night while I was at the YMCA, a church youth group came to visit. One of the students told me that Jesus loved me, but that if l didn't accept Christ before I died, I would go to hell and burn forever and ever. This was a conflicting message. Burning forever and ever was a wake up call to say the least! But more importantly, at the age of 15, this was the first time I could ever remember being told that someone loved me. I never had any hope in life. But because of that prevailing message of love, later that night, while walking home in the cold misty rain, I looked up to Heaven and said, "God, if you're really real, I sure would like to meet you someday."
The next day, I went to the Goodwill and bought myself a white shirt and some slacks. I started going to different churches looking for God. Unfortunately, I did not find Him. The abuse from my stepmother accelerated until one day I saw her with a butcher's knife and heading for my dad's back. I yelled out to warn him, and he turned just in time to stop her. I couldn't take any more. I had enough, so I told my dad that I was leaving. He said in response, "Wait, and I will go with you." So we got my brothers and left for Oregon where my grandparents lived.
I attended high school in Oregon, and one night on my way home (which happened to be after the school dance), I walked by a country church. It was PCG. They were singing and seemed so happy. I stopped and stood outside to listen. Six months later someone from school invited me to visit their church-that same little PCG church I would pass by while walking home. I accepted his invitation, and it was there where I finally met the God who totally changed my life.
Two years later the superintendent of the Oregon Southern Idaho District, S.L. Corley Sr., took an interest in me. He recognized a call on my life and recruited me to attend Pentecostal Bible College in Livermore, California. I was hungry for God and believed he had a plan for my life. Even though I did not know what that plan was, I wanted to pursue the calling. My journey continued to have many ups and downs, but God's hand always covered me. Even when I took time off from school after being drafted into the United States Army for service in Vietnam (I was a gunner in an artillery unit), God protected me and brought me home safely.
Shortly after returning home, I married the pastor's daughter at my home church. I was so thankful to finally have a family, a home, and a place to grow into my calling. Eventually, we had our first child, Troy Lee McGee, and though he was born with progressive cystic fibrosis and congenital heart disease, he was the light of our lives. He progressed well despite his birth defects, but at 21 months old, he died unexpectedly in my arms. I can still remember him saying, "Amen, Daddy," whenever I had a chance to preach. That night after our best efforts to save his life, we drove to the church, and I walked inside alone to grieve and pray.
"Lord, the things I told you I would do if you saved my son, I will still do them. If anyone is going to raise my son other than his mother and me, there is no one better than You. Lord, I will do what You asked me to do, just don't let me ever be a beggar and don't ever let me feel alone." Even as I expressed my hurts to the Lord, I felt a warm cloak wrap around me and move all the way through me, and it gave me serene peace in my heart and mind. I knew without question that I was experiencing the comforting power of the Holy Spirit.
Two weeks later at our district convention, I was voted in as the district youth director of Oregon and southern Idaho. When they introduced me to the convention, I felt that same warm cloak descend upon me. It gave the comfort and confidence needed to fulfill the call that God put on my life.
At the time of Troy's passing, my wife was already four months pregnant with our first daughter, Ronda. About two and half years later we had our second daughter Racheal. God was growing our family, and He was also blessing our ministry. I served as youth director for five and half years before pastoring in the district and then eventually serving eight and a half years as the district superintendent of Oregon Southern Idaho and seven and a half years as assistant general superintendent for the northwest division of the Pentecostal Church of God. In 1995, we moved to pastor a church in West Plains, Missouri. We pastored there for 12 years before being elected as district bishops in southern Missouri, where we have been serving for the last 15 years.
Through it all, our focus has always been on becoming "Kingdom Builders." In ministry there are always trials and tests, but my philosophy has always been: 'Tm either up or getting up. Even if it takes all day, all week, all month, or all year, with the Lord's help, I will get up." Regardless of life's circumstances, God will prove Himself faithful.
I have revealed all these things to you to let you know that no matter where you are in life or where you have come from, God has a plan. And it's a good plan. No matter how dysfunctional and heartbreaking life may be at times, God is still present through the everlasting comfort of the Holy Spirit. Our hope is in Him alone. Know that He desires relationship with you, and as you follow Him, He will work to orchestrate and direct your life to the fulfillment of His good and perfect will.
I have also shared my story to remind you of the power of an invitation. Christ's mission on this earth is yet to be accomplished, so I encourage you to take the time to be that someone who tells another, maybe for the first time, "Jesus loves you!" Just as those three words spoke to a young 15-year-old boy, they could possibly change the trajectory of someone's life for the better. Aren't you willing to take that chance?
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