“I have fought the good fight.” (2 Timothy 4:7)
I come from a family of street fighters. Three of my uncles were competitive bodybuilders. The fourth was a bouncer at the toughest bar in Denver. The fifth was a Golden Gloves boxer, Judo champion and war hero. And all of them were men to be feared on the streets of North Denver back in the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s.
Being raised in this blood-splattered, fist-throwing, whatever-it-takes-to-win-the-fight family, I learned a lot about the “art” of street fighting. My uncles were always talking about how to most effectively choke someone out, throw a punch with maximum impact or when it was time to take the fight to the ground.
Although I was not a fighter (actually I was more like a non-atheistic Young Sheldon in the hood), I learned how to fight from listening to my uncles share their fight club secrets with each other.
For me, my brother and my cousins, there was one rule of thumb (or, more accurately, of fist) when it came to fights at school.
That rule was not, “Try to avoid the fight if possible.” Nor was it “Don’t throw the first punch.“
The rule was, “If you lose a fight at school, you’ll lose another one at home.”
My uncles, aunts, grandparents and my own bat-swinging, fist-throwing ma, wanted the family name to be held in high regard at our school. Losing a fight would be a disgrace to the family name.
My family would do whatever it took to win the fight. And they expected us kids to do the same.
When my family began to be radically transformed by the power of the Gospel in the early 70’s (I detail the whole story in my upcoming book, Unlikely Fighter: The Story of How a Fatherless Street Kid Overcame Violence, Chaos and Confusion to Become a Radical Christ Follower), a different kind of fighting began to take center stage in my family…a fight for lost souls.
There’s something in my family genes that is restless, itchy and violent. That built in adrenalin had to be focused on something or someone and, if it was no longer going to be violence in the streets against rival gang members, it was going to be violence against the kingdom of darkness for the souls of the lost.