"PHIL: Right. So you went to college. You went to a Christian college.
JOHN: I did. My Dad wanted me to go to Bob Jones University. I didn't want to go. I wanted to play football and baseball and basketball. They didn't have any athletics.
PHIL: Was it difficult giving up sports? I mean, that was a priority.
JOHN: Oh it was very difficult. It was very difficult. I mean, I...in my high school days I basically, you know, lived to compete. And...
PHIL: How many sports did you play?
JOHN: Well, I played in high school, football-baseball-basketball and I ran track, I was a sprinter.
PHIL: And from what I hear, you did excel in football.
JOHN: Well I got a lot of scholarship offers in basketball, football, even baseball.
PHIL: So you turned down scholarship offers in order to go a school with...
JOHN: With no athletic program.
PHIL: Now you said you traveled with a quartet and sang and preached. Did you enjoy preaching in those days?
JOHN: Yeah, but I was really bad at it. I mean, I didn't know how to do it right and I...the first time I preached, they took me to a bus depot in Spartanburg, North Carolina...or, South Carolina. And they dropped me off, these older students, I was a first-year student, and they said, “You go in the bus depot and get a crowd and preach.”
JOHN: And so they did, they dropped me there and I went in there, had my Bible in my hand and I walk in to this bus depot and there's... a lot of people in those days travel by bus. I'm in there and I'm looking around this motley bunch and so I just started preaching, you know, a gospel message. And you could just see people looking at me saying, “The poor kid, he looks intelligent, it's so sad, you know, he's got some kind of defect,” or something. And I thought, “You know, this doesn't make any sense at all. And so I did it for about ten minutes and then I walked out the door and I went down the street to a kind of a dance hall where they're having a high school dance or something and I just sat outside and witnessed to kids as they went in and out. Which I thought was much more sensible but...I mean, that's where I first got my start preaching. And then sometimes I would go to some mission to preach, or go down to some base where the military were to preach, or some school to preach in a chapel, or something like that. That's where I started.
PHIL: So after two years at Bob Jones University, what happened?
JOHN: Well, the short version is I transferred to Pacific College for a number of reasons. One, they had recruited me like crazy for football. And they would take...the second reason, they would take my credits from Bob Jones which were not transferable to any place because they were a non-accredited school.
PHIL: So you didn't have to start over.
JOHN: I didn't have to start over. I had an opportunity to go to USC and play football there, but they wouldn't take any credits. And so I thought, “Nah, I can't go back and do my whole education.”
So, they wanted me badly to play football, they had developed a pretty extensive football program. They had a great basketball program and baseball program. And they wanted me to participate in everything, which is what I had waited to do. I had been through a horrific car accident after my freshman year. I shouldn't have survived. I should have been dead. I was thrown out of a car going 75 miles an hour. I survived that. That's one of the reasons I went back the second year, I felt like the Lord was dealing with my heart. And it was during that summer of my first and second year that I really knew that I was called to the ministry. And that particular call to the ministry was so firmly established, I thought, “Well maybe that's the reason God sent me there the first year, I'll go back the second year.” But after the second year, it was apparent to me that that was not taking me anywhere I needed to go.
What I am grateful for is ten units of Greek the first year, and six more the second year. So after two years, I actually had already under my belt sixteen units of Greek which equipped me for my emphasis on the New Testament. But then I went to Pacific College in order to participate in athletics because they would take all my credits."