A Child Was Born Chapter 1
In order to give you an understanding of what shaped and molded me into the individual I am today, I must take you back to my beginnings. My parents relocated from the midwest, Des Moines, Iowa to California in search of a better life. They settled in Oakland, and rented a small flat on the west side of town; which was walking distance to Oakland’s downtown business district. They didn’t own a vehicle at the time, so this was a great location. I am told by both my mother and father that he walked for miles every day come rain or shine, looking for employment. Eventually, he found a job at the naval shipyard in Hunter’s Point located in San Francisco. He was hired as a pipe fitter to maintain the upkeep of all the docked warships. He was proud to have worked on the Enterprise, affectionately known as the “Big E”. His job required him to climb into the bough of these ships to work on the plumbing. He describes the crawl spaces as being small, dark, and wet. He says some spaces were so small, to the point that he could hardly fit into them with his torch, which was needed to work on the pipes. I can’t imagine working under such adverse conditions.
One day, my dad was approached by a co-worker who introduced himself as Frank. They became quick friends, and regularly lunched together. During one of their lunch breaks, Frank began to share his faith in God with my father. Although as a child, my father’s family were practicing Methodists, as an adult, he rarely attended church. He knew of God, but didn’t know God. Over time, my dad and Frank would begin to meet daily for lunch to discuss and yes, at times debate the Bible. During one of their luncheons, Frank presented my dad with a Bible as a token of their friendship. He had taken the time to mark the Bible. He had color coded it to connect the passages which supported whatever was being studied. This was done to make it a study Bible, so the reader could understand, and navigate his/her way through the Bible alone. This is when my dad began to love the “Word” of God. One morning, while working on one of the ships, my dad fell from the top deck. Because of the height of the ship, my father could have been killed, but he escaped with minor injuries. To this day, he believes it was the Bible, which he always carried in his coat pocket, given to him by Frank, that saved his life from that fall!
On March 28th, 1960, a bouncing baby boy was born to Marcus and Fannie Carnie. The doctor told my parents that when I was born, I was ready to take on the world because my hands were up and clenched into a fist. They named me Jeffrey, which means “Gift of peace, or peaceful one”. I would later come to understand and appreciate how a name can, and does define an individual. At least in my case it does!
When I was three years old, my parents finally joined a church. Yes, it was the same church that Frank attended. My parents loved their newfound family. It wasn’t long before they both began to serve in the church. My father was a “youth leader”, while my mother worked in the “children’s ministry”. Church was fun growing up. We would be one of the first families to arrive, and the last to leave. Being an only child, I enjoyed having so many kids to play with. Back then, church was an all day event. After church we would always have potlucks. That was great also. Because our church was so culturally diverse, we would experience food representing all parts of the world. Let’s see, there was Samoan, Philippine, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and yes, Soul food! It was a banquet fit for a king. To close out the day, everyone would gather together and sing songs; each in their native language. As I reflect back on that time, for me it felt like a piece of heaven on earth. This explains my strong commitment to, and passion for diversity. There is nothing quite like it. It taught me more than tolerance; it taught me acceptance and appreciation of our differences. More importantly, it taught me to “love”. Bump de Bump!