Joe Callison

Meet Joe Callison

Throughout my childhood our family was completely linked to church life. That’s what you did in the 40’s and 50’s in Missouri farm country. My father and sister sang in the choir, we did Sunday service and Sunday school, Wednesday night prayer meeting Sunday evening worship and all the social outing with potluck dinners. I was baptized when I was 10 at the First Christian Church in Sweetwater, Texas. Upon moving back to Missouri, after my dad died, we continued to be active in church at the insistence of our blessed mother.  Youth groups and summer camps at Christian College were on the gotta do list through junior high and high school.

Sounds familiar to many I’m sure, as does the next part of my story as it sadly reflects what happens so often, even today. A “way too wise” 18 year old fool goes off to the University of Missouri. The roots of doubt found fertile ground and were fed by all the typical lies of the flesh that fill the heads of sophomoric young people. As is my nature with everything I did, I went “all-in” with the Godless college crowd. Won over by all that, I proclaimed all the anti-religion rhetoric and shut God out of my life as I deemed Him irrelevant.

The next 30 years were filled with marriage, 3 daughters, successes in a career, and world travels. During one such trip to Europe, we visited the Colosseum, thanks to Cecil B. DeMille, etal, visions of the Christian persecutions that happened there stirred something in me. The next day was a tour of the Catacombs.  Our group was assigned an English-speaking tour guide who, coincidentally, was a Korean priest.  After we wound our way underground we finally came to a cave-like room. We entered and our guide pointed out that the walls were comprised almost entirely of bones, stacked bones of the Christians that died there, in the catacombs, during the great period of persecutions in Rome. Our guide called on our group to hold hands while we prayed for their souls. Succumbing to public pressures, I joined in. Standing there in the circle surrounded by the remains of those long dead Christians I was overcome with a strong urge and said out loud“I am one of these people!”.  Alice turned to me and I repeated, “I am one of these people”.

That day opened my heart and led to a beautiful journey back into the arms of Christ. The return trip has many inspiring facets and so many blessings that I’d love to relate but for brevity, I want to sum up my story to this point. I think back to that day in the catacombs and it was like God was standing right behind me and gently tapped me on the shoulder and said “I’m still with you”.

What an awesome testimony to God’s Faithfulness! Through all those years I was “in the dessert” He was patient and kept me under Grace until the moment I came to my senses. Truly as promised the Holy Spirit had dwelt in me from the time I accepted Christ as my Savior as a 10 year old boy. God clearly had been with me the whole time and remained faithful even while I was full of doubt and denying Him openly. I now praise God every day for His wonderful Faithfulness!
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