The first memory I have of God was when I was five, my older sister told me that God was stronger than Superman. I couldn’t believe this! “Is he even stronger than Under Dog?” “Yup, even stronger than Under Dog.” Wow! God revealed the mystery of his might through my sister.
My Grandfather was a Baptist minister, pastoring a little one story white brick church on Dettman Road in Michigan Center. My second God-memory is of Grandpa preaching about the lost sheep. I had a distinct image that in heaven, we would all be turned into sheep and that God was going to be a Shepherd.
My parents attended church sporadically through the years, and somehow God sneaked in a few foundational Bible truths through my Grandparents. In middle school, one day a brief thought entered my mind that if I were gone, no one would notice or care. I remember a deep abiding peace as God profoundly assured me that there was purpose and meaning to my life. I held fast to that deep, gut truth, even though I didn’t understand it. I felt the tug to go back to church every now and again. I even walked, all by myself, to Ganson Street Baptist Church. I’m not sure why I did at the time, but now I see God was constantly calling, and on occasion I responded. In High School I was genuinely searching for purpose and truth, but doubting Christianity. My good buddy Jim convinced me to buy a super expensive hard-cover study Bible. He claimed that if I just read the Gospels, I would become a real believer. I read them. It didn’t work. I didn’t understand how Jesus’ death on the cross 2,000 years ago could connect with me. It was so foreign. Odd. Remote. Unattached.
In the years that followed God allowed me to entertain lots of different religious thought, as I dabbled in Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Judaism and the New Age. I stubbornly stated that I would never be a traditional Christian. I spent quite a bit of time at the Unity Church with friends; yet I oddly found myself turning to the pages of the Christian Bible from time to time. God was hovering and waiting patiently. I married Amy, a good Catholic girl, and thanked God (well, whatever I believed of Him) for our new life and for the launch of a terrific career in drug abuse prevention. On October 14, 1994 I was experiencing some mounting anxiety. A Catholic friend, Marjy, suggested I go to the “Healing Prayer Group” at Queens to let them pray for me. For some odd reason, I went. God aligned everything that Friday afternoon. My entire life shifted on the seismic moment when God unveiled His over-powering love to me through beautiful, believing, praying, elderly Catholic folks. I was forever changed with an outpouring of love and acceptance and joy and truth and meaning; all that I had ever searched for. Among that group was a faith-filled couple from St. John, Dora and Jack Henderson.
Over the next three years God guided me through the search for a Church denomination that would best align with this experience. I did NOT want to be Catholic; but the books God opened before me, and the people God introduced me to were soooo Catholic! I frequented that same little prayer group and learned so much walking alongside seasoned Catholic prayer warriors. God led me to orthodoxy with authors like Dr. Scott Hahn and Dr. Peter Kreeft who kept pointing me towards Rome. I began a deep dive into Scripture, discovering the depth of Catholic commentaries from St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. I felt a stronger and stronger tug on my heart to receive Jesus in Communion. God literally opened books before me of the Early Church—especially Justin the Martyr; I was seeing that the first Christians were historically Catholic! Individual meetings and sessions with the Pastor at Queens, Fr. Mark, on and off for three solid years, finally sealed the deal. My entrance into the Roman Catholic Church was on Amy’s birthday when our firstborn, Erin and I were baptized together. Almost immediately after the Baptismal waters splashed, I took on what was supposed to be a very temporary interim role with Youth Ministry. I was hooked. God nudged me forward every step, and lit the path with the light of dozens of faithful believers. I marvel every day the way He has used others as a tool for evangelization, and now uses me. Someday this vast, wide story will be completed and we will see how, in God’s
Providence, our lives intertwine and weave into the lives of countless of others!