A Pastor’s Path: How in the World Did I Get Here?
Christian Faith Publishing, 2020
Hershel Owen’s memoir begins with a difficult childhood. “I became aware that our lives were in great danger,” he wrote of his growing recognition of the violence that could be unleashed by an abusive father. “This was especially true for Mama.”
Born in 1938 in the coal-mining town of Burnwell, Alabama, Owen’s early years were bereft of prayer or faith but instead were filled with deep poverty and loneliness, in addition to dark thoughts of how to escape his father’s abuse.
The first time his family had indoor plumbing came during a move to a cramped Tuscaloosa apartment when he was in eighth grade. There, a neighbor would invite him to join her each time she passed on her way to church.
“She never quit asking me to go,” he writes. Owen eventually said yes, and though he did not understand the experience, he responded to the preacher’s invitation to come forward. “When I got up from that altar, I knew I was a different person,” he shares.
Owen’s stories from these early years lead to what he sensed was God’s call to become a preacher — a call that at the time felt like “the most absurd thing in the world.” He eventually said yes and served as a pastor of churches in Alabama for nearly six decades.
“A Pastor’s Path: How Did I Get Here?” is a brief but moving account of his experiences.