I was born in Michigan, year 1951, into a staunch Roman Catholic family. I was sent to a Catholic school through the eighth grade, and we faithfully attended Mass every Sunday morning. I remember, as a young boy, being very awestruck by the Liturgical ceremony and the very idea of God. I took very seriously my “First Holy Communion” and my “Confirmation” ceremonies and had a significant fear of God at an early age, considering that it was established entirely upon ignorance. I thought it a great honor to be selected for training as an Altar Boy and served for some time in this position with great reverence and respect. The Masses were all conducted primarily in Latin, which of course, I did not understand. The Scripture reading and the “homily” (sermon), which were given in English, may as well have been done in Latin, as the priest was from Yugoslavia; and I was unable to understand his English. Needless to say, there was little to no light. I remember remarking to myself in later years (after becoming a believer) that even through all those years of Catholic school, and after many Masses, I did not understand the gospel; nor do I recall ever hearing the gospel clearly spoken or taught.
As I moved into the high school years, I became disillusioned by all of this and drifted away from attending Mass and, with the allurement of the flesh, drifted into the typical careless, sinful life of an unbeliever. Having had some exposure to the idea of God, however, and being convinced that there was a God and some kind of holy standard, I knew that what I was seeing in myself and in those around me did not measure up. I became very cynical, and after having read some books on homesteading in Alaska, I became convinced that getting away from people would provide a better life, so I took my young bride and only son to Alaska with the intent to homestead. We arrived just after the state of Alaska had placed all lands that were available for homesteading under a “freeze” until the native land claims were settled. (Obviously, the Lord didn’t have the same thing in mind for us). We stayed on an abandoned homestead in Alaska for almost a year and then moved back to the “lower 48.”
After several more years of frustration, we settled in Bend, Oregon. Shortly after arriving there, my wife, Cindy, began attending a Bible study, heard the gospel, and became a believer. This added a new stress to my life, as I saw in her, over the next several months, a new peace and strength that I did not have. It frightened me! I enjoyed reading books, and I remember, at this time, noting that everything I read seemed to have something about Jesus Christ in it. One day as I was sitting in my living room reading “Robinson Crusoe,” I was amazed that I was being confronted again with Jesus. It was then that I came to the very clear conviction that I needed to read the Bible and decide whether I believed it or not! This I did right away, and began by reading through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. As I read through these scriptures, the Lord very powerfully revealed to me that I was reading the truth, that these scriptures were the Word of God, and that Jesus Christ was who the Scriptures said He was. At that point, I trusted the Word of God and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. I soon began to realize the source of Cindy’s new strength and peace as my own.
When I read through the Scriptures as a young believer, the Lord impressed me with this scripture: Isaiah 40:11: “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” My God has fulfilled this scripture these many years since that time and has given Cindy and me ten children and ten grandchildren (so far!). I served as an elder with Bend Bible Fellowship for ten years and have been serving as an elder with Bible Family Fellowship in Mollala, Oregon, for the last seven years.