17: The Wild Adventures of Bubba the Okie: How God Led Bubba Jennings to Himself

The Audio

Show Notes

Today, Bubba Jennings is pastor of Resurrection Church, in Tacoma, WA, but it was a long journey to get there. Bubba was born to teenage parents in Oklahoma. In spite of partying and bouts of poverty, his parents did provide a loving atmosphere in his home during his pre-tween years.

However, after a long bout of unemployment, the family found themselves living in a shed with no heat or running water. Not long after this, Bubba’s mom left his dad and began raising the kids as a working single mom and Bubba found himself having to act as the man of the house at the age of ten.

Bubba began acting out in all kinds of destructive ways as a result of the divorce. He began having anger outbursts, randomly lying to his mother, sleeping on the street and breaking into homes. He describes himself as a teenager as “rebellious, angry and proud.”

When his mom moved out of town, Bubba stayed behind, getting an apartment and finishing high school. On the outside the fact that he got a job and went to college made him “the successful one” in his family. He was actually the first one in his family to graduate high school. Yet, it was around this point that on the inside he began to slide deeper and deeper into despair. He lost most of his friends and began doing a lot of drugs.

It was at this point that Bubba entered what he would consider an existential crisis. He despaired of life and wondered if there was any meaning to it. He thought that if there was no meaning that he wanted to destroy everyone and everything, including himself.

However, he did wonder if God existed and took a world religion class in an attempt to find out. The class didn’t cover Christianity, but Bubba did get something out of it. He realized every religion he heard about had one thing in common: they all had rules that had to be followed in order to find salvation within the religion. As someone who had lived against the grain and hated rules, this was not welcomed news for his journey of finding God.

God had a plan, though. As Bubba’s angst had led him out of mainstream interests into “underground” activities like playing in bands, God used this very thing to lead Bubba to Himself. One day a guy named Corey approached Bubba in the gym and asked if he wanted to jam. Corey had Bubba meet him in the middle of nowhere at midnight one evening and led him down a dirt road. In spite of the sketchy circumstances, ultimately Corey led Bubba to a little country church building which contained the nicest drum set Bubba had ever had the chance to play on.

This began a friendship that eventually led to Corey discipling Bubba toward following Jesus. One day, Corey suggested that Bubba read the Bible and as Bubba read through the Gospels he found himself believing in Jesus. He realized that “Jesus followed the rules so I didn’t have to.” Yet, as he saw the great love that God displayed in both His pursuit of Bubba and in the Cross itself, Bubba found himself wanting to live in such a way that pleased God.

Eventually, Bubba moved to Seattle to play music and got connected to a church that had a presence in the local music scene. It was through this church that Bubba was able to plant the church he now leads.

Listen to the full story in this week’s episode!

  • Corey was quite the character: When he first approached Bubba in the gym he randomly said, "I play Christian music! You got a problem with that?" He then flexed his chest.
  • Corey was also the perfect guy to disciple Bubba as they shared similar circumstances from their childhoods and from their teenage years. Corey even lived on his own as a teenager.
  • When Corey asked Bubba to meet him "at the Sonic" in a country town at midnight, Bubba says he called his dad and told him in case "he turned up missing" so he'd have a clue where to look for him!