As Bob progressed beyond spring, he shares experiences of growth that allowed him to come alongside others who needed to experience the same divine intervention he experienced as he continues to proceed from spring and beyond.
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SPRING and BEYOND
By Robert C. Hollingsworth
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2012 Robert C. Hollingsworth
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe events of February 2, 1939 caused no small stir for bob and Marjorie Hollingsworth.
The residence at 52 John Street in Oakville Ontario became a hub of activity at the birth of their first son, bobby.
The earliest memories I have of my young life was the first day of school. My Mother escorted me to school on that first day. This would be the first of three occasions that my Mother would have to escort her 'boys' to school. My two brothers are four and eight years younger than I am.
That first day of school saw me very impressed. In my mind Westwood Public school was the largest school in the world. Miss May presented an image that left an indelible imprint on my mind. Miss May was Albino. She had pink eyes, and had to wear sunglasses at all times to protect her eyes from even the lesser rays of indoor lighting.
My introduction to the world of academia was in all likelihood no different from that which was experienced by other 'kids' my age. I sailed through elementary school passing from grades one through eight without difficulty.
In looking back to this period of time, I remember quite clearly the setting in my home. We were living in my grandfather's home. My Father worked in a factory during the early days of my youth. My grandfather proved to be a very difficult man. Tension and strife caused us to leave the residence in Oakville, and we moved to Hamilton. My Father secured a position with the C.N.R. as a porter. His run was from Toronto to Winnipeg. My Father was on the road most of the time while I was growing up. For the first 14 years of my life, we moved back and forth from Oakville to Hamilton almost every year. My Mother was very concerned with the health of my grandmother who was a 'brittle diabetic'. We would move back to live with my grandparents, and then My grandfather would display inappropriate behaviour, and we would move back to Hamilton. You can imagine the unsettledness that was evident in our home.
Due to everything we had to deal with including my Father away from home so much, I really did not come to know my Father that well. Any interaction I had with him was very surface with little to no depth. We never had heart-to-heart talks. It seemed as though in the interest of time, the relationship I had with my Father was a 'quick fix'. When wanting to learn to swim, I was thrown off a pier and had to sink or swim. Fortunately, I swam. As a young child, I had fear of storms. My Father took it upon himself to help me get over this fear. My grandfather's home had a sun porch that was surrounded by glass windows on three sides. My Father happened to be home when a severe storm took place. Now was the time to help bobby get over his fear of storms. I was made to sleep in the sun porch throughout the course of the storm. I don't have a fear of storms today, and the experience did not as far as I know, raise other concerns. I make reference to these two experiences to underscore the surface relationship I had with my Father.
My Mother was left with the responsibility of instilling within me respect for authority. She took advantage of a situation to drive this into my mind in a very definite way. I had joined a baseball team, and on this particular Saturday, a tournament was being held. We had been successful in winning the number of games that allowed us to continue in the tournament. The tournament started quite early on this particular Saturday morning. I left before my Mother began her day. My Mother knew of the tournament, so my going did not cause any problem. Running on the same Saturday however (in fact at the same location as the baseball tournament) was a hobby show. I knew a number of participates in this hobby show, and after the tournament was over, I wandered into the hobby show and looked at the number of exhibits. I had not taken a lunch with me, and by now the supper hour was approaching. I think I was offered something to eat for supper, but other than that, I did not have anything to eat. I finally left to go home after 10:00 that night. I arrived home about 10:45. I opened the side door to go inside, and as I opened the door, I heard a voice that came from the basement. "bobby, is that you?" You have to know, that my Mother stood about 5 feet 2 inches, and at this point, she weighed I would say, no more than 100-125 pounds. I answered, "Yes Mom". I was invited to join her in the basement. I saw a lady who stood about 10 feet tall, and weighed 300 pounds. She brought me through the door of higher learning as she proceeded to teach me the importance of telling her where I was going, how long I would be there, and what time I would be home. She taught me to respect my elders that I have remembered to this day
With so much tension and anxiety in our home, music played a very important roll in helping us keep our sanity. We would gather around the piano and get out our instruments, and sing for long periods of time. Music became very important not only for ourselves, but we were very active in providing the ministry of music in various churches as we traveled throughout Ontario. I would sing with my parents during the worship services and with my brothers during the opening session of Sunday school. We traveled extensively for a number of years.
As well as singing with my family, I began to be very active singing solos. I remember beginning to sing at the age of seven. I thank god for the talent of music He blessed me with. Some would say that the genetic link had much to do with my ability to sing. I would have to agree to a point, but beyond that point, I have to return to giving god thanks for His blessing.
Upon entering Oakville Trafalgar High School, I began to experience a deeper appreciation and desire for stability. We continued to live with my grandparents, and in a word, there was the sense of agreeing to disagree. Many changes began to take place in my personal life. Even though I had been raised in a Christian home, I did not experience the reality of the love of god for myself until the age of fourteen. This was the turning point in my personal relationship with the Christ we sang about. I started high school as a born again child of god. My focus in high school was towards music. I began to learn to play the baritone horn as well as sing in the choir. After my first year of high school in Oakville, we moved back to Hamilton. Enrolling in a city high school was much different than what I had experienced in the town of Oakville. Here I was in the 'big' city. I soon became involved in the music program of one of the larger high schools in Hamilton. I joined the concert band and became part of the choir. The director of the choir was also a music teacher in her own rite, and she tutored me often for which I am thankful.
I developed an interest in the technical courses that were offered, and thought that maybe I would become a printer, a cabinet maker, or a machinist. I received instruction in each of the 'shops' offered. A problem surfaced in which I struggled. I had difficulty with the formulas in mathematics. This difficulty was exacerbated by the approach my math teacher took. Mr. Scobie would assign homework, and the next day, we would be asked to go to the front of the class and write it on the blackboard. My turn came and I had difficulty with this particular question. Mr. Scobie came and stood beside me, looked me in the eye and bellowed; "Mr. Hollingsworth, what is this?" being nervous would be an understatement. I didn't learn much in that class.
During my time in Hamilton, I became very active in a rather large church, and over a period of time, I entertained the thought that maybe I should attend bible school. I was encouraged by other believers including my parents, and began to seriously consider this possibility. A friend of my parents was on the evangelistic field, had graduated from a school in the States. This school was unique. The motto the school held was; 'The school that faith built and faith maintained'. When it became definite that I would attend bible school, I began to investigate other options as to where I could attend. A school in Ontario, not far from where we lived was considered, but the cost was prohibitive. I inquired about attending Zion bible Institute in East Providence Rhode Island. I was accepted as a student of theology and began to study. Did I receive a definite 'call' to enter the ministry? At this point in my life, I could not say I went to bible school because I felt 'called' to the ministry. My interest was more a result of encouragement by those who considered my musical talent to be something that could enhance the work of the church. As well, I was a young man without any clear direction for my life.
I arrived at Zion and was introduced to all the school offered. I was given a room in the men's dormitory, and shared a room with three other students who lived in the states. They were actually from new York State. I came to understand that Zion was known all over the world. There were students from the 50 states as well as from Greece, Africa, the British Isles, South America and Israel. It was quite an adjustment for me. This was the first time I had ever been away from home and from my parents. To be thrown into a situation were I had to share living accommodations with complete strangers was very interesting to say the least. I was forced to address relationships in a way I had not experienced before. I was very young and very immature when I started Zion. It became clear early on, that there were many lessons I would have to learn if I was going to benefit from being in such an environment.
During this time, white bucks were in vogue as part of a young man's attire. I wonder what went through the minds of both faculty and older students, when they witnessed this 'young kid', running across the campus with his books tucked under his arm, wearing white bucks. I must have made quite an impression.
I applied myself to my studies, and found the subject matter very interesting and intriguing. There was created within me a quest and strong hunger for the things of god. Even though I was immature, my heart was sincere before god. I threw myself into the life of the school and joined the choir, the orchestra, and became very involved in the music program. I was called upon numerous times to minister in music.
One outstanding quality I gained from my parents was that of individuality. As far back as I can remember my parents drummed into me the fact that I was to project myself to the point of being accepted or rejected on my own merits. Being a person 'of colour', did not pose a problem for me. This was a position I had taken all my life and continue to take even today. If you had a problem with someone else who was a person of colour, I insisted as much as possible that you regard me on my own merits. Growing up, we had never been rejected as to where we lived, or where we worked or played. This was the attitude I displayed at Zion.
Having said that, there were times when I heard derogatory remarks about the colour of my skin, but that was not my problem. It was the problem of the person who had uttered those remarks. When those remarks were directed at me, I internalized it and moved on. I find it difficult to explain exactly how I would transmit this unpleasant experience back to the person making the remarks, but this was my response. I would then move on.
Up to the time I started to attend Zion, my Father had cut my hair. Here I was over 500 miles from home, and I was in need of a haircut. What was I to do? I'll go down to the local barber shop and get a haircut. In theory that made sense, but in actuality, it didn't turn out quite that way. I sat waiting to be invited to sit in the barber's chair, and the invitation did not come. Instead, I was escorted outside the barbershop, and was directed to get my hair cut down the street in the direction the barber pointed. I never found the barbershop that was supposedly pointed out to me. I was made to understand that the only place I could get a haircut was from a barber in the 'coloured' section of Providence Rhode Island. There was no opportunity to negotiate. Welcome to the United States of America. Lest I give the impression that l was a renegade; I was not willing to allow the status quo to have a negative effect on me personally. It became very clear that the students of colour from the southern states, had difficulty with my position in regards to developing friendships. It was unfortunate, but very educational for me. I had always positioned myself alongside anyone that felt comfortable with me, and that I felt comfortable with. There was never any restriction of acceptance based on the colour of my skin. There seemed to be an expectation in the minds of the students of colour from the southern states, for me to distance myself from any close encounter with those whose skin colour was different from mine.
My first year at Zion introduced me to the presence of god, and the manifestation of His Holy Spirit I had never experienced before.
During one chapel service, the one leading worship that morning felt impressed to ask for an offering. Funds began to be collected, and many students left the chapel and returned with personal items they began to place on the altar. More and more students began leaving and returning with personal items. The items were redeemed at a value of $25,000.00.
On another occasion, I remember lining up in the hallway prior to going down into the dining room and being told there was no food for the meal. We prayed, and while we were praying, a truck pulled up to the door with a load of groceries. This happened many times especially during my first year at Zion.
I am thankful for the measure of good health I have been able to enjoy most of my life. This was certainly the case when I entered Zion. I never remember being prayed over for the healing of my body. I did however, become troubled by sties. One morning I woke and my eyes were severely swollen. I had to wear sunglasses in the class room due to the light burning my eyes. After the last class in the morning, I went to the optometrist located not far from the school. He told me there was nothing he could do for my eyes. After receiving that news, I returned and took my place in the chapel. During the service, an invitation was extended to anyone in need of prayer. I raised my hand and made my way to the front of the chapel. When the hands of faith were placed on me, the power of god knocked me to the floor. I don't remember how long I lay on the floor, but when I did stand up, I was healed of this eye condition, and have not had another bout of sties since. That first year at Zion is a year I have not forgotten.
At the conclusion of my first year at this school of faith, I returned to my parent's home in Hamilton. My parents were renting an apartment in Hamilton at the time. I received a job to finance my return to school. I became a locker-room attendant at a golf course in Burlington Ontario. I enjoyed that job, and between ministering in music with my parents and working at the golf course, my summer was quite busy.
I returned to Zion for my second year, and began to fit in once again to this environment. My second year was different from my first year. We were in the middle. We had gotten over the freshness of the school, and yet we were not seniors. My second year was a year of introspection. Questions came to mind when we realized that the following year if Jesus was to delay His return, was the year we would graduate and leave to go where? I personally had to come to grips with my future. What was I going to do?
I completed my second year and returned home. During my time away, my parents had moved from Hamilton, and had purchased a home in Burlington. It was a bungalow situated in a subdivision in the town of Burlington. This was the first home my parents had purchased.
To say I was impressed would be an understatement. I even had a bedroom to myself. This was a first for me. My brothers and I had always shared a bedroom. At one apartment, my two brothers slept in 'bunk-beds' in one room, and I slept in the dining-room on a sofa that made up into a bed each night. To actually have a room to myself was, WOW!
A new congregation was formed in Burlington, and our family was one of seven families that started this new church. You can imagine the excitement the congregation experienced as the church began to grow. The youth group was made up of a cross-section of ages. They welcomed me warmly into their group. My Mother had taken me aside and told me of this young girl who had recently come to faith in Jesus, and that she was my age. My Mother thought it would be helpful if I befriended her.
Excerpted from SPRING and BEYOND by Robert C. Hollingsworth Copyright © 2012 by Robert C. Hollingsworth. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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