Copyright 2023, Santa Max Experience, LLC.
It is who I am. As a result of my environment as a young boy, the example of denying oneself for others which was lived out by my parents, missions and humanitarian work is who I am today!
My life and my world as a country boy radically changed when I turned 10. I grew up in tobacco and cotton country, in the rural Piedmont area of NC. In that early childhood I spent much of my time with friends fishing in a nearby creek, hunting salamanders, frogs, turtles, lizards, and snakes. Life was good.
I was raised by my blind great aunt who told me Bible stories, or read them from her braille Bible, which consisted of many large books. The other person who cooked my meals and watched over me was “Catie Bell”, a housekeeper whom I mimicked spitting colored spit (too young to understand dipping snuff) by dipping cocoa powder. Those two shared the task of raising me while my dad was away for work much of the time, and mom ran her own business. But life as I knew it was about to take a turn. In one year, my aunt slipped, fell and broke her hip, and shortly after passed away. I was devastated. My parents sold our home to move closer to the town where they both worked. We had not lived in the new location a year when my dad resigned as VP of the manufacturing company. At the same time, mom, an independent business woman (ahead of her time) sold her successful Singer franchise and fabric shop business, and “answered the call” to become missionaries to Hong Kong.
I was not happy about being a MK (missionary kid) and even more so after being there a few months. I did not understand the hatred these foreigners had for me, why I was in fights I did not want or start, why did even the English kids who looked like me were so cruel, because I was called a “Yank” and spoke with an accent. I did not understand that just minutes away from where I lived was a country suffering under the murderous Chairman Mao, the gang of Four, the Red Guards, and what they called the Cultural Revolution. It took me some time to figure out. I was spit on, kicked and once beaten literally unconscious because I was an American. I quickly learned the ways of the street and adapted by hanging out with a gang from Tsem Sha Tsui.
Within two years, my parents had lost all control of me. I hardly spoke to them, but did write them letters and tell them how much I hated them, God, and Hong Kong. They actually had no idea how dark my life had become, and that most of my friends were Kowloon gang members. I had no interest in anything but fighting, or most of all, returning to what I remembered as normal… home! I just wanted to die.