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🌵 TREE 596: Jeff Gill – dangerous desert
I’m doing an autobiography thing because I think it will make you think, which is the point of TREE.
I grew up in Tucson, Arizona. My parents pastored one of the churches they helped start during their tour. The Christianity I grew up with was full of charismatic fervour that wasn’t massively popular in Tucson. Maybe it was that Tucson attracted people who just wanted to live a relaxed life in a nice medium-sized, out-of-the-way city. Maybe it was the heat.
I was involved in many attempts to evangelise the city, things like a crusade with one of Billy Graham’s second string evangelists, a ‘Healing Explosion’ with the Happy Hunters, and numerous smaller events. I remember lots of half-full venues and disappointing results. Tucsonans weren’t interested in being evangelised.
My family spent a lot of time hiking and playing in the desert and mountains that surround Tucson. It’s a good place to live. I never planned to move away. When I did, I took the chilled-out vibe, the love of being outdoors and the apathy towards evangelism with me.
I was a horribly shy child. I was afraid of all the bad things that anyone I didn’t know would do to me – kill me, probably. When I was five-ish my parents decided to save me from this fear by forcing me outside Alone to play in our front yard for every day for 30 minutes, even though our neighbour was a Homicidal Maniac disguised as a friendly hippy with an afro. It was obvious to me that anyone with hair like that was Not Good and most likely had hidden about his person an implement of violence for use on vulnerable children.
Somehow I survived.
Thanks to my parents – even though I still think people are probably going to kill me – I can play in my front garden without panicking, and I actually enjoy meeting new people when I force myself to do it.
I left for Welsh mountains instead of California grass.
What is the greatest fear you have overcome?
FFOREST is about experiencing the slow magic of life.