I grew up in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, and life had not been good. My mother and my biological father had split up shortly after I was born. A sister of mine had died and the house was full of recriminations. My mother married my step-father when I was still a pre-schooler. He had a lot of things going for him but even when I was very young he was well on his way to becoming an alcoholic. Their marriage was stormy and short and ended with me being raised by my step-father. I sank into what I later realized was depression and became disconnected from those around me. The years from my parents’ divorce to my high school graduation were long and desperate. Once I reached eighteen I was ready to put it all behind me. To start my life over. That was what a move to Whitehorse, Yukon offered. I moved there because someone had offered me a summer job. I was at a turning point.
I had family in Whitehorse and began meeting lots of new people. One was a neighbor, a Pentecostal woman, named Lisa. She talked with me at great length, telling me what the Bible teaches and how the Spirit of God moved in her church. My childhood in a mainstream church did not include much in the way of Bible teaching. I had been allowed to skip church altogether from a young age so I was curious about the many things she told me. People were ‘healed’, people ‘danced in the Spirit’, they were ‘filled with the Holy Ghost’ and ‘spoke in other tongues’. She showed me accounts of miracles which had happened in the Bible, and she then explained that they still happened at her church.
With my curiosity aroused I decided to attend a service at the First Pentecostal Church of Whitehorse on the last Sunday of July, 1981, to see for myself. Even though I sat at the front, I spent much of the time watching the congregation worship. The Holy Spirit was strongly moving on me, and the very next week I returned to church and repented of my sins and was baptized by immersion in Jesus’ name. The church was constructing a new building, and I participated as much as I could. In the last service at the old building I went to the altar, and asked the Lord to fill me with His Spirit. I was filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with tongues, just as the church did on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2).
The year I spent in Whitehorse was the most important one of my life. I became a Christian and I met my future wife. In time we moved to Victoria, BC, to raise our family, and so that I could attend university. There were many blessings, particularly the birth of my two daughters, but there were also some hard trials. The hardest came in 1989, when my marriage ended. When we separated, my wife took the girls to her home in the Yukon, and I found myself sinking back into the same depression that had stolen much of my adolescence years.
When I became depressed my views and behaviour was undercut by feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. It destroyed all of my motivation and prevented me from reaching out or appreciating anything. Often I would question the value of serving the Lord, because my darkened mind rejected everything. But thankfully my earlier experience with the Lord prevented me from walking away. By that time I had lived for the Lord for the better part of a decade. I knew the truth of God’s Word and I knew the Lord personally. Even feeling that I was without hope, I knew that I had experiences I could not deny. In the Bible, when people began to be offended by Jesus’ teachings, many stopped following Him. He asked the twelve if they too would go. Peter answered, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.’ (John 6:68) This scripture was one that spoke to me again and again throughout this period. Even though I didn’t feel I was currently getting anything at all out of my spiritual walk, I knew that there wasn’t anywhere else to turn which would offer me anything more than I’d already experienced in Jesus. I was fully persuaded!
After about a year of suffering, during some special services our church hosted, I went forward and asked for healing. As hands were laid on me and I was prayed for (1 Peter 2:24, James 5:14) the spirit of heaviness was lifted by the power and presence of the Almighty God. A couple of months later I recieved custody of my daughters. There were still trials ahead, but freed from the deadening, crippling depression, I was able to see past my circumstances. ‘[W]hen I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.’ (Micah 7:8)
Today I can look at where the Lord has me brought and appreciate all the blessings He has given me, including a strong family and a happy marriage, and the knowledge that His hand is on my life. Today I am setting down deeper roots in the Lord. Challenging myself and finding out that richer, greater levels of commitment are always met by a richer, greater flow of His Spirit in my life. When things are dark and I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, I know that He knows and that He will be there for me. It’s a question that was settled long ago and continually is bearing fruit today!