Yes, it was a small town called Columbia, MS. This is where I found my beginning. A place so small that most people would not know of it unless you already lived somewhere in Mississippi. Suffice it to say, it was small town living. Barefoot playing. Dirt roads. Country grammar. It was enjoyable to say the least.

While growing up, I was primarily familiar with two sides of the Allen family (mother’s side). There was a group of relatives that were the party people and another group that were the churchgoers. I was born to the side that was the partiers. Since I was the product of a teenage pregnancy, I was introduced to a myriad of emotions that accompany a teen mother. I am sure she struggled with emotions ranging from guilt, shame, condemnation, and rejection. In addition to that, the emotional and physical unpreparedness made it difficult to grasp the fact that she was bringing a child into the world.

On the other hand, there was side that were the churchgoers. These were my mom’s first cousins. Since all of us lived rather close together, I would always find myself playing with my 2nd cousins. When you are a kid, you often compare the way your parents did things as opposed to how your cousins were living. I recall their environment drastically different from mine. Their parents were extremely strict while mine were liberal. They had strict rules and boundaries whereas I hardly had any. One of the many rules that my cousins and I often joked about was secular music. I grew up listening to all types of R&B and rap music. Whereas, my cousins would be punished if they were caught listening to what their parent's called 'Jukin music'. When I think back now, our parents parented on two opposite extremes. There was no middle ground.  

As I aged, I would spend a lot of time with my cousins. It was always fun to hang out with them. Most times, I would be over their house until the street lights came on since I had to be home by then. On this side of the family, there was my great aunt (Arleatha Allen) whom would always joke with us but would often seem to find a way to work Jesus into the conversation. At that time, I had never gone to church while my cousins never missed a Sunday. Jesus at that time to me was a foreign concept.  My Sundays would often consist of sitting on the front porch shooing flies away while we ate on some juicy, sweet watermelon.

Ms. Arleatha, which is what I called her, would always be pulling me to the side telling me why I needed Jesus and how I needed to come to church. When I think back, I was such a terrible kid because I often responded with a rude, smart alleck tone when declining her offer. I had a bit of a smart mouth at that age. I knew early on the power of words and have often used them to demean others. What amazes me even to this day is the fact that no matter how often I would reject church invitations.  She would still maintain her position with love and gentleness while reminding me of God’s love for me. I am convinced that those little talks saved my life! My introduction to Jesus’s love, character, nature, redemption was through a church mother. After multiple declines, I finally took her up on her offer and I attended church. I really enjoyed the vibrant atmosphere. It was refreshing for me. Eventually, I gave my life to the Lord. After some time, I begin to serve as an usher by helping to seat people and holding the basket for the tithes/offering.

However, things would soon take a dramatic turn. I was serving at one of the revivals and then…

Prophet Marcus Allen

Marcus Allen