(Presented in church Nov 2016)
This is something that I don’t often talk about, and therefore please bear with me.
In Psalms 51:10-13 David writes: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You.
I was, and I am a sinner and on April 10th 2014 I reached the lowest point of my life! On that date I was sentenced to one year in jail to be served at the Regina Provincial Correctional Centre. I was immediately whisked away from court and lost all freedom. Fear and uncertainty was all that I saw ahead for the next few months. I was placed into a relatively safe and quiet unit, but was still fully controlled over most of my actions throughout the day; Most of the day was spent inside, with only one hour per day being designated as outside exercise time! The unit that I was in consisted of 20 cells, 16 of these being single cells and the other four being double cells. Although I spent about a month in a double cell, prior to being assigned to a single cell, I was fortunate to have never spent even a single night with another person. During my whole incarceration, I was the only person who had this experience. So I was always able to find a place of seclusion and solitude when I needed it, and that was quite often!
About a week after arriving, I was looking through the bookshelves in my unit for something to read, and there were numerous copies of a strange looking book with nothing written on the spine. I pulled a copy out and read “The Key to Freedom” on the cover and realized it was a copy of The Bible. Something prevented me from returning the book to the shelf and I carried it back to my cell and began to look through it. It was written in contemporary English and therefore really easy to read and understand. It also contained many pages of “helps”, one of which was a one year reading guide, and after a few days of glancing through and picking and choosing passages to read, I committed to myself to read through it completely prior to my release. I also began to have discussions with other inmates and eventually a prison chaplain. I reached out to Judy in my many letters informing her of things that I would find in The Bible that spoke to me.
Days turned into weeks and before long it was May 27th 2014, a day I was dreading. I was about to turn 50 years old behind bars, not in my grand life plan! One of the things I did in jail was to write letters, many letters, to Judy. On my 50th birthday, I was writing a letter to Judy and told her, before I told myself, that I was submitting my life to Christ. It’s hard to explain how it happened, but on my 50th birthday, I committed to completely changing my life. I began the change from an angry, self-centred person with a foul mouth and foul mind to the person I want to be, a God-fearing Christian who loves and respects everyone. I still have daily struggles, but each day with God’s support I get better and better.
On Nov 7th 2014, I was released from jail, one month ahead of my scheduled release, something that again rarely happened according to all those involved. It was only at that point that I could prove to those around me, and especially Judy, that I was no longer the person who had entered jail 7 months earlier.
On July 16 2016, Judy and I attended Pastor Ricardo’s Ordination at Whitesands Camp. We also witnessed a number of baptisms in the river, including one by Pastor Troy Guderyan from Regina who baptised his own daughter. Pastor Troy was introduced to me via Pastor Ricardo and visited me a number of times while I was in jail in Regina. Seeing him baptise his daughter was very moving to me and actually brought tears to my eyes.
After seeing those baptisms take place, I decided that the next step for me was to be baptised. In Acts 22:16 Ananias speaks to Saul saying: And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptised, and was away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord. So I am waiting no longer. I have spoken to Pastor Ricardo and have decided that I’d like to be baptised this summer at Whitesands Camp and would like the blessing and support of the church.
During my jail time, you all helped Judy through some tough times, and upon my release you’ve welcomed me into your church family and for that I am forever grateful. May God bless you and thanks to all.