Archive for April, 2009

April 25, 2009

April 22, 2009

I have mixed feeling about writing this blog. There are so many blogs and so much information on the internet that I had to question my purpose in adding to this swamp. But then I realized that writing that comes from the heart is as valuable and unique as every person on this troubled planet. So after praying over this I concluded that this blog would have two purposes which I would aim for. I want to explain how I went from a Catholic-born unbeliever to a Christian. Some of my friends do not yet know that I gave my heart to Jesus, and I hope they give this blog a chance so that I may give a reason for the hope that I and my fellow Christians have. Secondly, I want to provide evidence for the reliability of the Bible. I am not a scholar and I will not attempt to sound like one; but I will give you reason for my faith.

April 2004. As I landed in Mexico City, I had no itinerary. I’d never traveled further than the U.S and had never taken a plane. And there I was in one of the most notorious cities of the world–without fear (courage or foolishness, I still wonder about that one…) and nothing but a backpack filled with some clothes, a book by Dan Millman, The Way Of The Peaceful Warrior, and a Lonely Planet guide in which I’d written down an address given to me by Nella, my TESOL teacher. She’d given a course in Vancouver and had referred me to a student who’d just moved to Colima with her family. She’d spoken to her and the family had offered to meet up with me should I go to Colima.

I was walking out of the airport and I still didn’t know where I should go. I knew I should take a registered cab if I wished to retain all my internal organs and return to Canada, so I took a cab to the bus station. The driver drove like a maniac. I reached for the seat-belt and realized there was none. But I was so happy to be in Mexico that I enjoyed the ride. As we zig-zagged through the highway I took delight in the bright pastel colors of the buildings (sorry, no much else than concrete in the heart of Mexico City).

Let me tell you about my beliefs at the time. I was running away. I wanted purpose in a world which seemed to have none. I generally and passively accepted the pseudo-bhuddist view of living in the moment with no thought to the consequences of my choices. Outwardly I was a “nice-guy”, but inside I was brash and arrogant, selfish and full of rage.

As a child I always prayed to Jesus. It was second nature. He was my friend. I’d never read the Bible. In 1999, I burnt-out. One morning I though of suicide. I went to the Church and saw the priest. I forget what he told me. Then I went to the river in front of our home and wept. I stomped the ground and contemplated ending it by jumping in the rapids. Answer me!! I yelled out loud. Then I felt alone. Prayer doesn’t work, I thought. The feeling came down on me and I felt dead. I remained that way for years, bitterly struggling to create meaning for my life. So I concluded that there was no such thing as a personal God who loved me.

Starting in 2004–on that very trip–and ending in sometime in 2007–He answered in ways which I could never reject without rejecting my very soul.

I soon learned that the Milecs were Christian missionaries working with orphans. Instead of being grateful for their hospitality, the first thought that came to my mind was “I hope they don’t impose their views on me, cause I’m gone.”

I left Mexico City at 8pm. The bus ride is approximately ten hours. Eventually I fell asleep, bent like a coat-hanger. Went I woke, all I could see were mountains and soon we arrived at the bus depot. After sleeping a few hours in a ten-dollar hotel room, I stepped out into the heat of downtown Colima.

A few hours later I met with Sandra. We spoke about many things, but there’s one conversation that I’ll never forget. It was the beginning of God’s answer to me, although I had no clue at the time. We were walking to Soriana, a type of Mexican Loblaws, when the topic of spirituality came up. I called it religion. She called it God. Anyway, the conversation went something like this:

“Do you believe in God?” Sandra asked.
“I believe that god is nature.”
“You think?”
“Yeah. I don’t believe in organized religion. I believe in metaphysics.”
“You don’t think there’s more, something after this life?”
“No. You do?”
“Yeah.” She said with a radiant smile.

Those three questions left me scratching my head. As much as I tried to suppress it, the voice of my conscience kept on resurfacing. Who am I? Why am I here?

When we returned from Soriana, Peter and Rinata–her parents–came in from the orphanage. As I got to know them I realized that I’d been wrong in stereotyping them with my view of evangelism. After chatting a bit they offered me to come stay with them. I accepted the offer.

Peter and Rinata had escaped communist Czechoslovakia in the late eighties. They came to Canada with refugee status. In 2003 they sold and gave away everything they owned in Calgary to come work as Christian missionaries in the orphanage in Colima. I stayed in Colima four weeks. During those four weeks I saw how they lived in prayer and joy even though they had nothing but a van and a small apartment.

I remember thinking that all this was nice and noble, but it was just a belief. I wanted to go through life “experiencing” things. I don’t think I ever had any hostility toward the Christian faith. Since my burn-out I just thought it had been to good to be true. And how sad, I thought, was it that these people gave away everything for a lie. As long as you don’t physically harm someone else, what you do with your life is your own business, I thought at the time.

Once I sat down, reading. Rinata asked me what I was reading. I told her all about Dan Millan’s Way Of The Peaceful Warrior, how amazingly wise this man was. I forget the rest of the conversation. But one thing she said I clearly remember: Picking up her Bible, she said “There is only one book.” I humored her but didn’t ask further questions. Inside ,I scoffed.

Speaking about the Iraq war and the deepening political crisis around the world following the sad events of September 2001, she said “But we have Jesus and that is all we need.” I thought to myself, “These people will be disappointed. There is no God.”

I took a 40-hour bus ride back to L.A. Then I took another bus ride to Fresno to see my girlfriend. When I arrived at her apartment, I broke down into a heap of tears and snot. “What ‘s wrong?”, she kept on asking, hugging me. I said, “I don’t know.” But all I could think about was Jesus, I need you. I had no clue why I was crying; I was on this amazing trip, and I missed her so much and I was very happy to see her, yet I was weeping thinking about Jesus.

Sometime later I found myself on the beach in Baja California reading a copy of the Bible I’d bought in Fresno. What makes a family give away everything they have in Canada to go volunteer in Mexico with orphans? Aren’t they being a little hasty in their beliefs? I kept on asking myself these questions.

Around that time, a tug of war began between my pride and my conscience. I’d party and drink every night thinking, I deserve this. Life is beautiful. Live your life just the way you want it. It’s about the experience. Follow your heart.

But in the morning the anxiety and utter boredom and the lack of a purpose would hit me again. What’s the point of living if my ancestors-somewhere down the line-are apes? One day, the good times always end. Those were my thoughts at the time.

At the end of my trip I went to B.C to see my friend Larry. He took me in and we had a good time. We’d always had deep conversations in the bowels of the hospital where we both worked. One night, I told him I was starting to believe Bible prophecy. I don’t exactly remember what he said but I remember he didn’t agree. I didn’t argue but I somehow kept on believing the Scriptures.

I returned home overweight and missing Soo. I read Jack Kerouac and other beat authors to console myself. I hadn’t committed myself to the Christian faith because I still thought it was still too good to be true, but I was interested. The seed was planted and slowly it grew.

One night in 2007, alone in our living room, I thought about the growing evil in this world, and I thought about how strong my friends in Mexico were in their faith and love for others–believer or atheist, rich or poor, rude or polite. If this is the example of a true Christian faith, then I want it. That night, I accepted Jesus Christ as my redeemer, truly believing that He loves me and that He died for my sins. I’m not talking myth, here. I believe He physically rose from the dead , and that is what I will address in other entries–amongst other things. And when I accepted him by saying a sincere little prayer in my heart, I need you, Jesus. I’m a sinner. I thank you for dying for my sins, I felt like my backpack had been lifted , my wounds healed, and I felt the deep love of the One who created me. Everything went blurry and tears rolled down my face and onto the journal in which I’d been writing. That night I slept about three hours and when I woke up I felt more rested than I’d been since I was a young child. Sometimes we carry more in our backpack than we realize, and it’s only when the weight is lifted that we realize how heavy it was.

Communion with my Heavenly Father has been the most incredible thing I’ve ever experienced. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t thank Jesus. John 14:6: I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Who ever spoke with such authority? I will forever worship Him and I love Him with all my heart, mind, and soul. The offer of forgiveness is open to all, provided you humble yourself and believe in Him. It is a choice. The whole New Testament is rife with the words believe and faith and trust. You either do or you don’t. I believe I’ve made the right choice.