My upbringing wasÂ nothing remarkable. I wasÂ just like any other boy inÂ the neighborhood. I wasÂ raised in the CatholicÂ faith in a small townÂ in Eastern Quebec. MyÂ parents attended massÂ each Sunday. As a youngÂ boy, questions of faith,Â salvation, eternal life andÂ the issues of God were notÂ relevant to me.
We had catechism classes in schoolÂ where we were reminded of the need toÂ prepare the next generation of priests. IÂ considered priesthood for a short timeÂ because they always seemed to haveÂ so much money! I grew up receivingÂ the sacraments: First Communion,Â Confession, and Confirmation whereÂ the bishop supposedly gave you the HolyÂ Spirit. I never gave any thought to whatÂ receiving the Holy Spirit would mean.
One of the boys always left theÂ classroom during catechism. Before myÂ confirmation, when I was at his house,Â his father asked me what I thought of it.Â I told him it was just receiving the HolyÂ Spirit. He said, I didnâ€™t need to go toÂ confirmation to receive the Holy Spirit.
In 1982, the Charter of Rights andÂ Freedom was enacted, so the contents ofÂ the catechism started to change. Slowly,Â the curriculum contained more socialÂ studies and less religion. Soon we wereÂ discussing acceptable behaviour instead ofÂ talking about God.
As I grew up, we went to church lessÂ frequently, and I questioned the validityÂ of our religion. I lost interest in the churchÂ altogether. I knew about Hell and Heaven,Â but where I was going never concerned me.Â I joined a reservist infantry regiment inÂ the military. In the summer of 1990, I wasÂ sent to CFB Farnham to be trained as a Â field medic. I learned about anatomy, bodyÂ functions, and the various systems in ourÂ body, along with how to administer medicalÂ care. It was my anatomy class that made meÂ really aware of God. It wasnâ€™t the complexityÂ of our brain, or how the organs workÂ together that amazed me. It was a tiny littleÂ bone, no bigger than a nickel that preventsÂ the hyperextension of our arm at the elbow.Â I realized through it, that God was inÂ control. It was impossible that we were theÂ products of millions of random mutations.
Later that year, when I was visitingÂ my former college, the guard on dutyÂ introduced me to a girl named AnitaÂ Batchelor. Because it was dark, he askedÂ me to walk with her to meet her friends. IÂ was happy to do that, and when we partedÂ I asked if I could meet her again. She saidÂ I could.
Anita always seemed happy. She sharedÂ her faith with me, and told me that theÂ Lord Jesus Christ had died for our sins. WeÂ need to put our faith in Him to be forgivenÂ and be ready for Heaven. Well, that wasÂ something different! One Sunday morningÂ she invited me to go to a church service,Â so I went. It was nothing like what I wasÂ accustomed to, but I enjoyed the preaching.Â Later the minister talked to me about theÂ things of God. Still I wasnâ€™t getting it, orÂ didnâ€™t want to get it. I wasnâ€™t changingÂ religions! If one hadnâ€™t done anything forÂ me, why would another? It took manyÂ more months of talks to get it through myÂ thick skull that it wasnâ€™t religion that wasÂ important, but rather a relationship withÂ Christ, the Son of God. I started reading aÂ Bible I bought at a secondhand bookstore.Â Our family had never had one.
I was living in a suite with a friend whoÂ was reading dark, spiritual books andÂ listening to dark, metal music. I had readÂ some of his books and I came under strongÂ spiritual attacks.Â e more I tried to readÂ my Bible, the stronger the attacks came Â at night. Nightmares of evil witchesÂ would haunt my sleep. Anita and herÂ family were praying for me. I wantedÂ to be freed from this influence.
One day in February 1991, IÂ prayed and asked the Lord Jesus toÂ forgive my sins and save me fromÂ the evil I was under. ImmediatelyÂ I felt a great liberation and peace.Â Even though I didnâ€™t fully realizeÂ the impact of what I had done, IÂ knew that the Holy Spirit had comeÂ into my heart and that I was free. IÂ told Anita that I had accepted theÂ Lord Jesus into my life. She wasÂ very happy for me! The Holy SpiritÂ freed me from the desire to smokeÂ cigarettes and drink beer – twoÂ bad habits I had picked up in theÂ military – and I could sleep at night.
My troubles werenâ€™t over yet.Â When I expressed my intentionsÂ to be baptized, my mother accusedÂ me of denying my original baptismÂ by which she thought I was made aÂ child of God. I explained that whenÂ I received the Lord Jesus as myÂ Saviour, I became a child of God. The Bible says â€œAs many as receivedÂ Him, to them gave He power toÂ become the sons of Godâ€ (John 1:12).Â I was being baptized because I was aÂ child of God.
Anita and I were married onÂ May 16, 1992. Since then God hasÂ blessed us with three beautifulÂ children and has kept me safe. IÂ am now secure in the thought thatÂ whatever happens, I am Godâ€™s andÂ He looks after me. Some day, I willÂ be in His presence forever.
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