In 1978 I was interested in a girl. Not surprising. I was 25 years old and wanting to find someone to share my life with. However this particular girl wouldn't have anything to do with me because she said I wasn't a Christian. Well she was right but I was persistent and we had long discussions (arguments) about it. My view was that if I lived a good life and did good things, then God would have to let me into heaven. She said that I needed to be born again! So I went to the minister at my local United Church. I didn't go because I was looking for truth, I went to find help to poke holes in my girlfriend's arguments. I wanted to find a bunch of inconsistencies in this idea of needing to be "born again". That would put us back on even ground. The minister however, was also born again and spent quite a lot of time with me teaching me things that I had never heard before. She got me into their regular bible study and I even enjoyed going to them.
One night I stayed late after the bible study talking to a friend and he asked me "What are you waiting for?" I had no answer so he said "would you like to receive Jesus into your heart right now?" I surprised myself by saying "Yes" He said "Go ahead and ask him" So I bowed my head and tried to speak but I couldn't. I felt like the world was spinning around me. I gripped onto the chair to keep from falling off. Still I couldn't speak. Finally my friend asked if I would like him to pray and I could repeat it. The world was still spinning. He sounded like he was a mile away. Somehow I managed to say "OK" He started out praying the sinner's prayer and I slowly forced the words out of my mouth. I felt something inside me screaming "Nnnooooooooh" but I carried on, hardly knowing what I was saying but knowing I had to go on. Finally he said "amen" and I opened my eyes. He had a huge smile on his face and he said "Praise the Lord, now you're a Christian. You've just been born again!" I realised that I had a huge smile on my face too. And the smile wouldn't go away.
A day or two later (still grinning like an idiot) I drove down to Three Hills Ab. to see Susan who was attending Prairie Bible Institute. I was so excited as I told her about my experience. She seemed happy but wary. I don't think she really believed me but that didn't faze me at all. I knew it was genuine. I stayed there for 2 days, going to classes and attending services. She surprised me by giving me a beautiful leather bible before I left.
I was so hungry for God, I just couldn't get enough. My friend back home introduced me to several people in Saskatoon and we hung out there some. Their services were so ALIVE. I had never been in anything like that. I wanted to have what they had. He said "That is the baptism in the Holy Spirit", I said "How do I get it? I want it" So we prayed and I asked God for this 'baptism in the Holy Spirit'. They told me that early Christians knew they received this when they spoke with other tongues (or languages). So I prayed, And prayed, and all of a sudden this strange language came out of me. I learned to just let it flow and the feeling of well being was just like when I was born again. I was a grinning idiot again. But I also felt a new level of confidence. I had a new understanding when I read the bible. The Holy Spirit was giving me insight and wisdom beyond what my feeble mind could manage on it's own.
Before I was born again, the most common thing that people said when they witnessed to me was "If you don't accept Jesus you'll go to hell!" or something along that line. This was totally wasted on me because that didn't worry me at all. I had no fear of death. I would have welcomed death at many points in my life, I had no fear of it. I tried to take my life on different occasions but God had plans for me and had given me a guardian angel to protect me. I gave that poor angel quite a workout I'm sorry to say. Fear of death was not a concern for me but fear of life was. I turned my life over to Jesus because I knew that I was not able to live without His help. God convicts us all in different ways.
I married Susan in 1980 and had a son, Matthew in 1982. We moved to Abbottsford B.C. in 1984. B.C. was great. I loved the mountains and the climate. We had friends in a church there and the teaching was good there. I was hungry for God and my faith grew steadily. My business was suffering though. We were out of money and having to go to the food bank for food. One of the things I had been doing was tithing. We needed money and I had believed God in Malachi 3:10
My wife and I were not in agreement at this time. She was very definitely born again but she did not believe in the baptism in the Holy Spirit. She believed that a person was filled with the Spirit when they were born again. This was the teaching at Prairie Bible Institute and a very common belief among evangelical Christians. I was not willing to compromise my faith, when you taste of the Spirit you can't go back to a half way faith.
So we were in dis-agreement. Also the lack of money got to her and she went to Social Services who agreed to pay the rent on our apartment as long as I did not live there. They wanted me to abandon my business (I was trying to sell landscaping equipment) and sell my equipment. They didn't care that that was exactly what I was trying to do. I had also been trucking for a friend out there but the economy was so bad at that time that he couldn't afford to keep me on.
At that time an evangelist was in Chilliwack. His name was Len Lindstrom and his ministry was called World Harvest Outreach Ministry. Our church was supporting his crusade as well as many other churches in the area. I was approached by a man from our church who was driving the semi which hauled Lindstom's tent. He was not able to continue and asked me to take his place. He used the truck as a sub-ministry to reach out to truck drivers. I shared the burden for winning truck drivers for Jesus and after praying about it, I accepted. This was a voluntary job with no pay but since I seemed to be temporarily without a home, I thought it was a good option for a while. It was hard to leave but I was also excited about being involved with a full-time ministry. I accepted my church's endorsement of Lindstrom without question. . .
. . . THIS WAS A MISTAKE
I joined on for the last week of the crusade in Chilliwack. It was exhilarating! Fantastic things happened there. Several people were healed of deafness and crippled people threw down their crutches and some even danced across the stage. I saw one teenage boy that I had seen on the street in Abbottsford get the demons cast out of him. He was a wild eyed crazy person who had been sacrificing cats to Satan and drinking their blood. He was filthy and dressed in rags and lived under a bridge in Abbottsford. As I said, I had seen him before and I knew a little about him. What a blessing it was to see him back at the tent the next night. He was clean, had his hair cut, was dressed in clean clothes and was able to talk, something he wasn't able to do before. I was excited to be there and to be part of this dynamic ministry.
We took down the tent the next day. This was quite an operation. The trailer was a 40 ft van. In it we stored 1000 stacking chairs, a stage (in sections) about 15 ft x 30 ft, a large Honda generator, Several huge speakers, a very large sound mixer board, a half dozen 35 ft tent poles, several emergency lighting units, several folding tables, several boxes of literature and cassette tapes, amplifier and dozens of long sound and power cords, dozens of large bags containing the tent itself, bags of lime and a baseball line marker, over a hundred truck axles (used for tent pegs), boxes of tools, and of course, my motorcycle. Wasn't goin' anywhere without it!
The next stop was Vernon. I drove the truck there and got my first glimpse of the powerful statement I was making driving around with a 40 x 9 ft billboard which proclaimed "JESUS IS LORD" in huge letters! It was VERY visible and created a lot of attention everywhere I went.
Setting up the tent went like this: Pick a nice flat place. Lindstrom would have that organised by the time we got there. We would measure out the corner points and then stretch a line to form a rectangle. Then we would put a mark of lime every 4 ft all the way around. Next was pounding in the dozens and dozens of truck axles into the lime marks. Then we rolled out the tent sections and laced them together and tied the edge ropes to the axle pegs. Then we hoped for a slight breeze to help lift the tent. We would start at the upwind end and put one tent pole in and get under and start lifting. The breeze would push inside and we would follow, pushing the pole higher as we went and adding more poles until it was all the way up. Next was the dozens and dozens of edge poles and the side sheets and then tighten all the edge ropes. Then we would set up the stage and run all the wires and finally set out the 1000 chairs. There was room for about 300 more chairs and if we needed them we would borrow them from one of the supporting churches in the city where we were. We were often shorthanded to set the tent up but there were always plenty of helpers to take it down.
I saw God moving in ways that I had never imagined. I saw blind people given their sight back, lame people walking strong and sure, deaf people hearing again. I saw hundreds and hundreds of people born again and many more hundreds baptised in the Holy Spirit. And I was blessed to be a part of it and be able to pray with many of them and to watch Jesus work in them. It became my job to run the sound board in the services. One night in Kamloops, at the end of the service, after the alter call, the Spirit moved and we began praising the Lord. Nobody left the tent and it was very full. The praising got louder and louder. The band leader kept motioning me to turn up the volume. I usually couldn't turn the volume past about 6 (out of 10) because the speakers couldn't handle it and would start distorting the sound. This night I turned it up to 7, no distortion. 8, no distortion. He kept motioning 'more, more'. I turned it up to 9 and finally maxed it out at 10. Still the sound was beautiful. All the people, about 900 of them were praising God in a song in tongues in several parts harmony. The band was also playing harmonising parts of the Spirit-given song (even though they had not played together before that night) at FULL VOLUME. And as I looked across the tent, I realised that I could barely see the other side of the tent because the Spirit of God was like a thick smoke in the tent. The generator never ran out of fuel even though the praise service went until about 2:00am! I get blessed again just thinking back to that day!
I saw God moving mightily every day but I was starting to be aware of some unsettling things about Lindstrom. He always dressed in expensive clothes and his wife even more so. He ate in the most exclusive restaurants. This was all the more worrisome considering how tight he was with his volunteer help. I almost had to beg to get a few dollars for gas for my motorcycle so I could visit the different outreaches in the cities we were at.
When we went to Smithers, one of the main supporters ran a steak house and told us he was looking forward to treating the whole crew to several meals over the week we were going to be there. Lindstrom however, stood up the first night and announced that he was going to fast for revival to come to Smithers. And he went so far as to say that his entire staff was going to fast as well. He had not asked us if we would be in agreement. He had not prayed with us about it. He just announced it. So no one would feed us. We were ordered to obey the fast even though he made several day trips and came back looking very well fed. We were looking forward to the end of the week when we could leave Smithers. I had another reason for wanting to leave. My wife was about to give birth to our second child and I wanted to go home. After each service, Lindstom would come and ask what the 'take' was. When we told him he would start complaining that people weren't giving enough. The next night he would go on and on about "You can't out give God." Every night he would take it up another notch. "God will give you back a hundredfold for what you give to God tonight!". Finally on the second last night he came in and asked what the 'take' was. I think we were at about $10,000. by then. He said "That's not enough, I want another $5,000. and we're not leaving until I get it". The next night was supposed to be our last night there but Lindstom got up and said "I know that God wants to bring revival to Smithers and God has told me that we should stay here until we have triumphed over the devil and all the forces of evil in this city and revival comes to Smithers". So we stayed and of course the fast continued. My wife gave birth to a baby girl who we called Shelah but Lindstrom refused to let me leave, even though I promised I would come back to help make the move to Edmonton. We stayed another week in Smithers. We stayed until Lindstrom had his extra $5,000.
We moved on to Edmonton but Lindstrom still refused to let me leave. I would have just left but my motorcycle badly needed a new tire and I had absolutely no money. On the first night in Edmonton, Lindstrom stood up on the stage and boasted that his staff was so dedicated to his ministry that one of his staff members (me) had a baby at home that he hadn't even seen yet but he wouldn't go home because he was needed at the crusade. As it happened, a good friend of mine was at the crusade and he asked me about this. I told him the truth and he said "I believe God wants me to bless you with a new tire and enough cash to get you home!" PRAISE THE LORD and thank you Brian Larson. I will never forget what you did for me. I pray that God will continue to bless you.
My daughter was two weeks old by the time I got to hold her. I was a broken man. I wept as I sought some answer from God. I asked God how he could use a man like Lindstrom when he was such a liar and con-artist. I knew that God was there in the crusade. I had seen miracles happen. I couldn't understand how God could allow such a corrupt man to represent Him. I was OFFENDED AT GOD and this became my stumbling block.
I moved my family back to Saskatchewan, took up farming and went through the motions of life but I refused to seek God. I walked my own path and although we went to church some, I no longer trusted God. I had no doubt that on the last day I would go to be with God but until then I was not willing to accept His guidance.
This situation lasted 26 years. During that time, our third child was born. We called her Amelia although she likes 'Amy'. Eventually my wife left me when we had some hard times on the farm. She couldn't understand what I was going through and she had never forgiven me for moving her back to Saskatchewan. My whole life was slipping away from me, it had lost it's meaning. Now don't get me wrong, I didn't backslide. I didn't abandon God. I didn't tell Him to go away, I wouldn't have anyone to argue with! And argue with Him I did, although it was just me arguing and Him listening, being patient. No I wasn't backslidden, but I was out of the will of God - ON PURPOSE! Have you ever been furious with someone that you love and you know that somehow you have to work things out but you are just too angry with them to deal with it yet? That was me. For 26 years!
Eventually I tired of the loneliness and started praying to God to show me a way back to the happiness that I remembered when I had walked with Him. I had another woman by then. Her name is Joni, and although she tries to make me happy and would do anything for me, she could not fill the emptiness that I felt. I knew that I was missing the closeness that I once knew with God. Jesus is Lord, but He wasn't Lord over my life. I no longer trusted Him but I missed Him. I knew He was right beside me but He wouldn't talk to me and I seldom acknowledged Him, and I was too proud to admit that I might have been wrong. I didn't think I was wrong but there was a small nagging feeling that I might have missed it somehow.
So I prayed that He would show me a way back. For months I prayed. Then I kept remembering someone I haven't seen for years, and not knowing what might be up with him, I started praying for him. I still pray for him. I started praying for other people too. I started hanging around with some fellow bikers who were also great men of God. And slowly I felt my heart softening. Softening and then breaking. And in my broken condition I shared with a friend why I was so offended with God. He had a simple observation which I had never considered. He said "Did you ever consider that maybe it was God who got you out of that situation?" It shook me to the very depth of me. I don't know why I had never seen it except that maybe my pride didn't want to admit that I had missed God's plan and I had gone out with Lindstrom against God's will. God had rescued me and I got offended. And He waited patiently for 26 years for me to wake up from the dream (or should I say nightmare?) I had been living.
And so I woke up from the dream and I find many things that I have to deal with. God did not force His will on me, but rather walked alongside of me until I finally stopped. I made all the decisions for the last 26 years. Not a recommended plan. Some of these decisions need to be corrected, some I have to live with and some I hope to live down! lol
Let me finish for now by saying "I am so glad that God didn't give up on me, I am so happy to be back where I belong, with Jesus. And I am looking forward to what God has in store for me in the future!"
Praise the Lord!