the conversion of Mary Midkiff



I have always felt that Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are a bit bogus, especially as celebrated in the USA as holidays of consuming in one way or another.

I have made sure that my parents know I love them on these days. Yesterday I was thinking quite a bit about Dad. He died in 2009.

Dad loved this trick with babies. I think this is me with him. See comments for my brother’s correction. This is David, my son.


Yesterday I found myself thinking about Dad. I don’t really remember him on his birthday. The circumstances of his death were tough for me. Watching his personality and intelligence ebb away on a daily basis was hard enough. But also watching and helping my Mother through this period was very painful.

Eliza and Jer visit March 2006 006

So anyway, I found myself reading his sermons and his privately distributed memoir, Through Many Dangers, Toils and Snares: Chronology and Memoirs.


His memoir is helpful in that he organized it clearly with dates.  He includes what was happening in the world at the time he describes the family histories of the Jenkinses and the Midkiffs (my Mom’s family).

Christmas 1979

I have been reading and thinking about the idea of Christian conversion. Dad describes both his own and Mom’s experience.


Dad writes “[In 1937] In West Virginia, my wife to be, Mary Midkiff, became a Christian. She has said that hers was not so much of an emotional experience. She had been coached and counseled by a very intelligent and caring Sunday school teacher. She was providentially prepared.


He continues “She has expressed her conversion experience: ‘It was this time, at the age of 12 that I began to have a “God Consciousness.” I always went to Sunday School (not a lot of church) and we three children went when my folks did not. I guess I was the one who was so sold on going to Sunday School. In fact, my conversion was in my Sunday School room after class.

Mom’s self portrait vase.

” ‘I remember that I was curious in class about becoming a Christian and my teacher told me that if I would remain after class that she would instruct me, which she did. My teacher sat with me and instructed me, even to the point of kneeling for prayer. I was really not aware that a person knelt in prayer…


” ‘I remember that the day I became a Christian I hurried home to share the wonderful feeling that I had with my mother and daddy. I was always sharing my feelings and what I was doing with them. My mother was in the kitchen frying chicken for our Sunday dinner. I think my daddy was probably reading the paper. I guess they were happy for me and I must say even though they did not become Christians until many years later, they were very supportive of me.

Mary; her mom, Thelma; and her sister, Ella
Mary; her mom, Thelma; and her sister, Ella

Dad continues a bit later: “Mary was finally somewhat instrumental in the conversion of the rest of her family to the Christian faith. She has certainly been an outstanding influence on my own life.”

My Mom's Dad, Jim Midkiff
My Mom’s Dad, Jim Midkiff
Thelma 1979
My Mom’s Mom, Thelma

Yesterday when i visited Mom I told her I was studying the history of conversion and asked her about her experience. in almost the same words she told me the story above. I asked her about the emotional aspect of her conversion. She said that Dad’s conversion was not emotional. When I said that hers wasn’t as well (remembering the story as Dad writes it), she vehemently disagreed. Her experience was emotional.


“I was saved then,” she said and then a bit of the southern drawl of her childhood creeping into her voice, “And I’m saved now!”


Tomorrow the conversion of Paul Jenkins.



1 thought on “the conversion of Mary Midkiff

  1. The pic of Dad holding a standing baby is David. There are at least three photos of Dad holding a standing baby: one of him with you, one of him with me, one of him with David. The easiest way to determine the identity of the baby is by looking closely at Dad. The one with him holding you is skinny Dad in his twenties. The one with me is heavier Dad in his thirties. And the one with David is sideburns Dad in his (late) forties.

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