I played around with Christianity as a teenager and college student in a very liberal church, and even considered myself a Christian, but this seed had grown on rocky soil, and my college and early working years were definitely not spiritual. I lived a selfish and immoral life and often took advantage of people, while maintaining the appearance of a clean-cut kid. When I met the woman who would become my wife, she wanted me to go to her evangelical church. I resisted, but eventually relented, and when I learned that not all of the people matched my stereotype of the holy-roller, I was willing to start really asking questions about whether God was real. I prayed for God to show Himself to me in one magical appearance to prove it, but when that didn’t happen, I made the decision based on a balance of probabilities that He was who He said He was, and I was the person in need of Christ He said I was.
I was baptized at Estevan Alliance Church, and five years of discipleship and service later, this excitement as a new believer took me and my family to serve as missionary teachers at a Christian international school in Taiwan for 15 years. I served and led frenetically in many roles at the school, a local missionary seeker-sensitive church, and alongside the real-deal missionaries. It was exhausting, but it was the most rewarding time of my life, as I knew I was serving God with my gifts and my weaknesses, and I lived in very close community with fellow believers, living out the many “one another” passages of Scripture.
However, for reasons I did not seek or anticipate, I found myself separated, and despite attempting to identify and deal with what personal weaknesses led to this and seek reconciliation, I was not able to avoid divorce. I still do not really understand or accept this, and it has been a major challenge to my faith, as it seemed that prayer was not effective. However, I have chosen to continue be like the father of the mute child who cries out: “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
I am thankful to God that He continues to lead me in paths of righteousness. I have many years of having pride and a bad temper and some years after that of being bitter and critical, and I am thankful God is slowly working in me to bring me self-control, humility, thankfulness, and grace for others. I often read Psalm 85:10 “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” This passage reminds me of one of those tensions Pastor Bruce talks about — that while we are called to live holy, righteous lives, we are to be exuding grace and love to others, not condemnation.
When I moved back to Canada last summer, I knew I wanted to continue to be in close Christian community with believers living out authentic lives together, not only in encouraging each other in holiness, but in being the hands and feet of Jesus to the poor and the lost. I had never stepped into a Mennonite church until last summer, but I’ve known of your solid theology, strong community, and commitment to missions and evangelism and knew that’s what I wanted.