NEWBERRY — Local minister and retired Newberry County sheriff’s deputy Clyde “Bobo” Bowman added the title author to his resume this year.
However, he said the book he wrote, The Salvation Story, Life Before and After Salvation, is not about him or his writing. Instead, he sees the text as a tool to point others to Christ and the gospel’s message of redemption.
In fact, he never planned to write a book. He only did so at the encouragement of his daughter.
One point he made clear s he’s not trying to be entrepreneurial and going around with books in the back of his car.
Instead he realized he needed a tool to reach out to the lost as part of his ministry.
Bowman made contact with friends from his youth in New Jersey and realized to his disappointment that some of those contacts did not know who Christ was, nor did they have church homes.
“I got in touch with some friends (recently) some 40-year friendships and realized those people (for whom I care deeply) remained in a spiritual dry zone due to what I see as a lack of knowledge and understanding about salvation,” he said. “I felt it was my responsibility to share with them about the Lord, (so I put together an audio CD of homilies and content with that message in mind).”
Current NCSO Chief Deputy Todd Johnson, who also is a Baptist minister at Master’s Baptist Church in Whitmire, listened to the CD at Bowman’s request.
He liked the way Bowman laid out his thoughts, and encouraged him to pursue the project as he felt God called him to do so.
“The Holy Spirit draws people to God but the issue is if people don’t accept the knock on their hearts they can be self willed and stiff necked. If they accept the call of God, more spiritual gifts come. People don’t realize it (often) but even the power for us to get up in the morning comes from God (and not from ourselves),” he said. “God’s way can bring a joy, peace, happiness and satisfaction that we cannot find any other way. I want to get to the mechanics of what goes on inside people who had not heard or people who had heard of Christ but lack the understanding to explain the Lord to others.”
Bowman does not espouse the gospel of Prosperity which states if people pray on something and believe enough then they will be materially blessed in this life.
Instead, he knows from a childhood as a minister’s son who grew up in poverty that riches might not be reality for some of God’s faithful people. That reality, he said, led him to resist the call to pastoral ministry for many years.
“As a man today, all that (struggle) was good for me,” he said. “After all, coal does not become a diamond until pressure is applied to it.”
A career of service
Bowman earned a double major in sociology and theology in 1977 from what is now Rowan College. He also attended Boulden Academy Seminary in Delaware.
His early career included a stint at Camden County College in New Jersey as a college campus career counselor. Later he expanded into juvenile counseling for the Office of Youth Services. He later worked in the office of child protective services.
With over 18 years in counseling he felt an ongoing tug to enter into ministry. He wrestled with the call for about a year, struggling with his faults and his belief he was not holy enough to become a pastor.
Finally, Bowman accepted the calling, but he decided unlike his father who gave up a job to be a full-time pastor that he would be a part-time pastor alongside another career.
A move from New Jersey to South Carolina so he help take care of his father meant a career change. But during that change, he said, he was blessed with a way to keep using his life experience and God-given gifts.
He found work as a substitute teacher and then as a teaching assistant. At Mid-Carolina Middle School he became familiar with School Resource Officer Jim Murray and learned the sheriff office needed another SRO. Bowman said his prior experience counseling youth was an intangible that worked in his favor and he was hired on as a reserve deputy.
He completed the SC Criminal Justice Academy in 1998 and after working for a while as a road deputy, he entered into the SRO program.
In 2006 he started a church in his house. Until then he said he had been trying unsuccessfully to find peace for his soul. At his father’s urging he chose to start a small non-denominational church, though he has a Methodist background.
From house church to writings for in the home
With a sense of purpose and a strong foundation in the Logos Word of God, he gathered with a small group of committed Christians each week.
He poured his heart into delivering Biblically based messages rooted in a theology of love, acceptance and also prayerful service to others.
The small congregation, mostly retirees on fixed incomes, tithes and then donates to causes as the spirit leads them. They have helped fund a well in Africa, adopted a child in Haiti, supported prison ministry by supplying Bibles, and donated money to St. Jude’s children’s hospital, among other outreach efforts.
The book is a primer for folks new to the faith, a way for people to learn the gist of the Christian faith claim and its message of salvation.
Bowman does not claim to have all the answers but he does claim to have written a starting point whereby people can engage in the process of faith formation and come to Christ.
He said it is his turn now to share the story of Christ the same way Christians before him did whether they led house churches (such as leaders in the early church) or were theologians such as Martin Luther, etc.
“People need to know what the story is all about. Then they will change inside. That change can happen quickly but the changes in the world around that person, the surroundings and influences from friends and culture take longer to change, I think,” he said.
“In my opinion, everything is out of balance (in this country and in our Biblically illiterate society) but time with God and time with God’s son (in prayer and worship and Bible study) can help even things out.”
That belief is why he put pen to paper. Bowman sees this as his beginning work. He may expand it into other opportunities as the spirit leads but for now he is getting his feet wet in the area of writing about faith formation.
He said three people who accepted Christ because of the CD have requested copies of the book. The CD is not for sale but he shares it with people upon request. With large font and ample space for note-taking, the 60-page primer was written for young and older audiences.
People who are interested in The Salvation Story, Life Before and After Salvation can find it for sale online.