Glenn Cross: My Journey
I come from a family with a mother, father, and older brother and sister. As a child, I was taught the virtues of going to church twice on Sunday, once on Wednesday, and pretty much any other time the church was open. I felt guilty if I missed Sunday school, but on the other hand it was a real treat not to have to go, especially on Sunday night when Walt Disney came on TV.
There were many things we weren’t allowed to do, such as going to movies, dancing, swearing, and missing church. When all the other kids in school were telling us about the great movies like Son of Flubber, it was painful to me. I was invited to go to that movie by my best friend, but my parents said no…in sympathy to me, the boy’s mom and dad took me out to dinner instead…how thoughtful of them! But I thought I understood why we couldn’t go to movies. In retrospect, I guess we were raised in fear of what the world might do to us if we got to close to it.
Church in and of itself, was OK. I learned all the Bible stories in Sunday school, learned how long I could hold my breath during the sermons, and occasionally fell sound asleep. My only real friendships were with the other church kids. Again, we weren’t supposed to have those unchurched kids as our friends. My parents even went to the point of moving, so we wouldn’t be pressured by the many neighborhood kids who were bad influences trying to get us to do the wrong things.
At the age of twelve, we moved and I made friends with the “worldly” crowd anyway. We also changed churches at that time. My parent’s felt the pastor of the old church was starting to meddle when he said the mother’s place is at home with he kids. My mom, in an effort to help out financially had gone back to work to help feed the family. My dad went to work at the local newspaper when I was five, and stayed there until I was 16. Money was scarce, and his boss did not like Christians, especially Nazarene ones. His boss’s dad was a Nazarene pastor and this guy hated his father. So through my dad, I did learn a little about being persecuted for your beliefs. I am sure I never heard all that went on with my dad and his boss, but I am sure it wasn’t good. But he never lost heart or gave up…I am sure he offered a lot of grace in those days.
As kids, we always looked forward to Thursday when my dad would be home for dinner. He always worked the swing shift, so we never saw him except on weekends and Thursdays. We would watch the Flintstones and just be a family together. I remember Thursdays as good days. My mom otherwise was in charge, and she did a great job of mothering her family. We would help bake cookies and do those kinds of things. It wasn’t until later years that I found out how poor we really were. We did not have a lot of money to do extra things. So special things were homemade and family oriented. I can remember after church we kids would always say, “Let’s go beserky”, which meant, let’s go to the Arctic Circle for five hamburgers for a dollar. Fortunately our family had five in it, so on occasion dad had a dollar he could move from one area of spending to another. Those were good days. Bring your own jug for A&W root beer.
Prayer was always a dinnertime affair, mainly to bless the food. I don’t remember any other prayer, we might have at bedtime, but apparently it didn’t impress me much, because I don’t remember if we did or didn’t. Spiritually as a youngster, we were taught to be honest, moral, and upright. I think that is where I caught the need to watch out for the less fortunate. I have always felt that way, and am not sure where I learned it, but I must have caught it from my mom and dad.
As I grew older, I did the church camp thing once or twice, but never really liked it. I had friends, but was kind of a loner. I think I became a loner because I had internalized this concept of being in the world but not of the world so much, I was afraid to get to close to those guys. They would try not to cuss around me, and would even ask me to slug them if they did. I was never ever offered drugs or alcohol until I was in college. And that was only alcohol.
In Junior High, a guy in the church took me under his wing to teach me about electrical wiring and such…mechanical things…my dad had no understanding nor inclination to those types of things. As I did, I remember those days wiring huge chicken coops with fondness.
I also started dating around then. After some time, met a gal that was to become my wife. The one thing that made me take my walk spiritual walk seriously was when we married. On that day, I walked away from my old path, and started a new path. That was a miracle. We moved to Alaska, and joined a church and basically helped run that church for the six years we lived there. We were the youth program and just about anything else that needed to be done. Spiritually life was different in Kenai Alaska. Friends become your immediate family, because none of us had any family there. You are it! You watch out for one another, and really hold one another accountable for your Christian walk. Spiritually, life was good in Alaska.
In 1982 our daughter Kayla was born, so in 1983 we decided we wanted to be closer to home. We moved back down to the lower 48 states to Walla Walla WA.
After searching for my calling for seven years while owning a Dry Cleaning business in Walla Walla, I felt God was calling me to the mission field. We sold the business, and we were all set to go to South Africa for our church, but at the last minute they told us we couldn’t go. And I mean last minute. We had sold all our possessions and were two weeks from leaving. They told me they wouldn’t allow us to go.
After my aghastness subsided, I really felt like God was saying leave the institutional church, but find some other believers that think like you do. Using hindsight, I can see he used the selling out concept to help me to divest of my material belongings, pretty shrewd on God’s part.
A woman who went to the church told me about this women at the Methodist church I should talk to. I said OK, never intending to, since I wasn’t a Methodist.
After about 6 months, that same woman asked me again if I had talked with the Methodist gal. I said no, and she was a bit perturbed and asked if I PLEASE would talk to her. So I bit my tongue and went to the basement of the Methodist church. That is where I met Cheryl Broetje and started working for the Center For Sharing.
I developed a program called Compassionate Ministries which networked humanitarian aid to those in need around the world. After extensive travel in the developing world, I saw that something more needed to be done in order to truly liberate the poor and suffering. Through servant leadership development, God was leading me to invest myself in the empowerment of others.
I currently serve as Manager for The Center For Sharing’s Servant Leadership Development Program. I love co-teaching classes through the Center For Sharing’s Servant Leadership School, which has served the US, Mexico, Kenya, the Philippines, and India.