MOBILE, AL—Hugh Thompson's personal relationship with God entered the public sphere once again Monday, when the 48-year-old born-again Christian shared word of his devotion with shoppers at Dorman's Supermarket.
"You're wondering why I have such a big smile on my face today!" Thompson said, attracting the attention of several shoppers in the cereal aisle. "It's because I have allowed Jesus into my life! Wherever I go, He is deep inside my heart."
According to family sources, Thompson's relationship with God began 14 years ago, when the then-alcoholic businessman was born again into the First Evangelical Free Church of Christ. After he entered into a pact with Jesus to renounce sin and, in turn, receive salvation, Thompson's bond with God grew so intimate that he couldn't help but share it with his family, his friends, people who sat next to him on airplanes, and strangers he met on the street.
Donald Gaston, who shared an elevator with Thompson yesterday, was able to elaborate.
"Hugh's got a very personal, private relationship with God," Gaston said. "He told me all about it."
As a member of God's personal flock, Thompson said he has been "called upon to spread the word about God's righteousness." Thompson has placed "WWJD" and "I'm Saved... Are YOU?" bumper stickers on his family's two SUVs, filled both floors of his home with religious iconography, and placed a large silver cross on his coat lapel. He has referenced his relationship with Jesus while dressing down hungover employees, and frequently relates his journey into the Lord's house.
"I was talking to the Lord the other day," Thompson said. "He said, 'Hugh, I know you're tired, but I want you to drive on down to [local AM radio station] KTXR and tell the people your story—and, by extension, Mine.'"
"Tired as I was," Thompson said, "I listened to my Lord. I put on my Sunday suit, and I drove down to KTXR, where I talked about my darkest days and how I found the light. And people tell me Mary Sue Patton's Sunrise Witness show that morning was one of the finest ever broadcast."
Thompson said he is especially proud of the good works he and God have accomplished on the local school board, by working as a team.
"Teamwork," Thompson said, holding up a copy of Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast Of Champions. "I asked Jesus, 'Jesus, do you want trash like this at the library?' Jesus didn't even have to take any time to think! He said, 'Hugh, no book filled with drawings of women's privates and people's behinds belongs in a library!' I move we do what Jesus would."
Thanks to the combined efforts of God and his friends in Mobile, Vonnegut's book was removed from shelves.
According to Thompson, the only regret he has about his personal relationship with God is that he is unable to share it with more people.
"If I could, I'd tell the entire country about the message of salvation God has shared with me," Thompson said. "With God's guidance, I've become the wealthiest chicken-feed wholesaler in the entire state. Maybe someday, I'll be famous enough to be on television. I sure do have a truckload of respect for people like President Bush, who aren't afraid to talk about how they've come to know the Lord. If only I could proclaim my private faith to as many people as the president has, I know that God would be so proud of me. And, ultimately, that's who this is all about."