JerryGod gave me a little red shovel when I was three years old. I remember it to this day. Dad and I went to see baby Jesus at the big grey church, and He was giving out shovels that day. I remember Mom being there. The choir was singing Christmas songs and we could hear the ringing of the church bells. A year later, I was sitting in a big rocking chair looking at pictures. I was looking at pictures of angels, pictures of God, and also one of the Devil. These pictures were in a book called "My first Catechism" or something like that. The picture on the front cover was one of the Holy Virgin Mary. She had a blue and white robe and her hands were together, as if she was praying. I was scared of the one of the Devil. He had horns on his forehead, a pointed chin, and a tail. He was standing in fire and smoke up to his waist, holding a long pitch fork. Mom came to ask me if I would like a baby sister. I said yes! She told me to ask baby Jesus for a baby sister. I don't think I did, but guess what? I had a baby sister! Not only could He give out shovels, but He could give out babies too.
When I was a child
My Grand-Father was living with us at the time, and one day, he asked me to go down the basement with him, to see what we could find down there. He took little pieces of wood and made a bed for my plastic baby Jesus. Then, I started thinking; if my Grand-Father, and my Mom and Dad care so much about baby Jesus, it's OK for me to like Him too. I didn't know if I liked Him because He was a baby or because He gave me a shovel, but I liked Him anyway. I also knew that I didn't like the Devil.
I remember people wearing nice clothes on Sunday. Mom wore a dress or a skirt and Dad wore a suit with a white shirt and a tie. I remember thinking that when I get to be big, I'll have nice cufflinks too.
My first Communion was an event that I never forgot. We were not allowed to chew the Host (bread) and it got stuck to the roof of my mouth. I could not touch it with my fingers either, but finally it melted and became loose. Thank God! I couldn't figure out how Jesus could fit in a little piece of bread like this.
My Confirmation was also an experience. I remember wearing brown pants, a white shirt with a bow tie, and a very nice beige tweed jacket. We were standing in the middle aisle of the church. The girls looked very nice with their veils, and we had some kind of a bow made out of white satin around our left arm. When I got in front of the Bishop, he made the sign of the Cross on my forehead with some kind of oil or water, and tapped me on the left cheek. Why he had to hit me in the face, I don't know. All I knew, is that I was confirmed.
I had a weird feeling about the Bishop. I had never seen him before and all the priests were like flies around him. He seemed to be quite important. One year, during Lent, my friend Richard and I would get up early to attend the seven o'clock mass every morning (40 days). The only reason we did that, was to get a star beside our names. At school, the teacher gave out little shiny stars every time you went to church during Lent. It was kind of a competition. After proving ourselves, we stopped.
Confession was the worst! Before going to church, the teacher would make us lean on our desk with our face down on our arms, as if we were crying. During that five minute period, we were supposed to remember our sins since our last Confession. The truth of the matter is, if we couldn't remember any bad things we did, we made some up. We were actually lying in Confession! Once, I told the priest the truth about one "sin" that bothered me and he said "What?"... He didn't make the sign of the Cross with his hand, which meant that he didn't give me the absolution. Well let me tell you that I was devastated. If we were not forgiven for our sins, we would have to go to "purgatory" our hell when we die. What a scary thought! That's when I decided to tell God myself about my sins, and if I couldn't remember them all, I'm sure He could. I started to go to Confession less and less after this. Somehow I knew that I had a direct line to God.
When I was in the seventh grade, the Head Brother (Principal) of my school came in our classroom, and asked the teacher if anyone was good at reading. The teacher pointed my way and said "Lemieux!" I thought to myself; I must be getting some kind of an award or something. The Brother told me to come with him, and that's when I found out I was going to read a passage of Scripture in church the next morning. Wow!... I was all excited and felt kind of special.
One of my best friends René was an altar boy. He found me a black robe, and the shorter white one that was worn on top. I actually looked like a priest! I did pretty good at the reading, but when I heard the echo of my voice in the church, and saw all the students of two schools including girls, that's when I got nervous. So... I put my finger under every word I was reading. I didn't want to skip a line or anything like that. I wished in a way that Mom could have seen me, but she was at home doing what mothers do. I felt quite important in my black robe. For a second, I even thought of becoming a priest.
At bed time, just before going to sleep, I would say three "Hail Mary" and one "Our Father". If I remember correctly, the reason for this was if I was to die during the night, there might not be enough time for a priest to come and give me the last Rites. Also, I had a hard time understanding why I would say three prayers to Mary and only one to God. Maybe God was too busy, and she could pass in my requests when He had a spare moment. I became so good at saying Hail Mary's, that I was trying to say them as fast as I could, as if I was going to break the record. Sometimes I would also say the Act of Contrition, just in case.
At the age of sixteen, I became quite good at forming my own opinions about things. One Sunday morning I went to church, and the parish priest (Curé) gave the people a real hard time. He told us that he didn't receive enough money in last week's collection. He was mad! He was also trying to put guilt on the people, so they would give more. I must tell you that I wasn't impressed and didn't care for his attitude one bit. He was arrogant, and that's when I started to ask myself a few questions. First of all, I knew that he had made vows of poverty and chastity etc. He was driving a big Oldsmobile 98 of the year, and also had a maid cooking all his meals. How can a man portraying God, be mad at his people for not giving him enough money? Was money more important than God?
Remember, I was only sixteen!
A little later, we had electric guitars and drums at Mass. That did it for me! I knew then that it was all a show. The last thing I wanted was to be entertained in church. I wanted to learn about Jesus! I didn't want to sing songs and listen to guitars. I was "hungry" and I was not getting fed. How we go to Heaven was never explained to me. Nobody seemed to know for sure if they were going to make it. We hoped we did more "good" than bad, so that when the Judgment comes, the scale would tip on the "good" side....... At least that's what I thought!...
There is no Life like it !
At the age of 18, I quit school and joined the Canadian Armed Forces to become a professional musician. I started to play trumpet at the age of seven. My parents had bought me a trumpet for Christmas and I was taking lessons on Saturday mornings. Our next door neighbour Mr. Lachance was a musician, and he taught me a few things for 50 cents an hour. Mom knew that I had some talent and she never had to push me to practice. I played because I liked it and I was very happy doing my own thing.
A few years later, I managed to learn the saxophone. In High School, I learned to play clarinet, and from there I joined the town band (L'Harmonie de Thetford Mines). In the Armed Forces, I learned to play bassoon. I became pretty versatile and even played a little bit of flute and fooled around on the piano. Some people would tell me how talented I was. I knew that I wasn't too bad at music, but I couldn't understand why some people couldn't play anything.
One day, Mom came back from shopping and she had bought the music sheet for a tune called Wonderland by Night. I would listen to this tune from a Bert Kaempfert album, and go down the basement to play it on my trumpet. Mom asked me to come upstairs to read the notes. She wanted to know if I could read music. I started to read the notes but I was so busy concentrating on the notes, that my sound was not as good and my playing became very choppy. So I decided to forget about the notes and pay more attention to the tune. As I did, my playing got better and Mom looked at me. "Are you reading the notes?" I don't remember if I told her the truth, but she knew that I was using the talent God gave me.
I trusted my talent more than I trusted myself reading notes. When I played by ear (as we call it), it was so easy, but if I had to read the music, it became a chore. Later... I learned to put the two together and I made a living at it. I thank the Lord and my Mom and Dad for that.
In 1973, I was posted to the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry Band in Calgary Alberta. I turned 21 in July of that year and I had just graduated from the Canadian Forces School of Music in Victoria B.C. The TV commercials were telling the truth. "Join the Canadian Armed Forces! There is no Life like it".
During my first year in Calgary, the Band went over to Europe for a 5 week tour in Germany. It was a real eye opener for me! I had never been to Europe and everything was different. The food, the cars, the way the women dressed not counting the language and the money. I really enjoyed it! On the way back, we had to stop at CFB Trenton in Ontario.
That's where I saw my wife for the first time. She and her sister were waiting to board our plane. As I was looking in their direction, Verne my roommate, who was also a musician in the Band, came over to tell me he knew these two girls. "I'll go talk to them" he said. A few minutes later, I was in the washroom when he walked-in to let me know that the girls were moving to Edmonton Alberta. When we stopped in Winnipeg, Verne went to talk to them again and came back all excited. "I talked them into moving to Calgary instead" he said. "You're joking?" I asked.
After landing in Edmonton, he and I had some time off and decided to keep going to Victoria B.C. to visit some friends at the School of Music. The girls took our places on the Band bus and left Edmonton for Calgary. A few days later, after coming back from Victoria, I was just coming out of the shower, when there was a knock at the door of the apartment. It was the girls! My roommate Verne had given them our address, and told them they could probably find an apartment around that area. In fact, they found one in the building next door. They came over to borrow a screwdriver, if you can imagine!
It was too nice to be true! The nice looking girls we saw at the Airport in Trenton, were now living next door. Wow! ... I had told Verne in Winnipeg that I liked the one with long brown hair. Trudy is her name. He had met her sister Susan during his Basic Training. They were the daughters of the Base Chief at CFB Cornwallis, Chief Warrant Officer Austin better known as "Mick the Stick."
I wasn't going to church during that part of my life, but I was still saying my bed time prayers before going to sleep. Somehow, it made me feel secure. I was far from home, and I missed my parents and my sister Lyne an awful lot.
When I became a father !
Trudy and I started to go out together, and I fell in love with her instantly! She was a bit older than I was and seemed very sure of herself. I found her very attractive and she was a fantastic cook! One day in April, Trudy went for a routine check-up at the doctor's office. On that day, I found out I was going to be a father! I could not believe that it was happening to me! "Other people, but not ME!" It took me a few days to realize it. Trudy was very happy about it! I must tell you that I was terrified! Not of being a father, but of telling my parents. They took it well. Of course it was a shock to them, but they never judged me or say anything to make me feel guilty. As a matter of fact, my Dad said; "Son, if you need anything at all, don't hesitate to call." That was a big relief for me and we were married a month later.
Our son Patrick was born, followed by our daughter Stephanie. Verne and Susan got married the year after us, and they too have been blessed with two beautiful children.
Trudy and I decided to have the children baptized. Patrick was already three years old and Stephanie was just a baby. They were baptized together by a Roman Catholic priest at the Base Chapel.
The reason we did this was mainly to please our parents. Although it was nice to see my children being baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I had mixed feelings about it.
We were raised believing that if you died without being baptized, you would go to a place called "Limbo". That's why babies were baptized only a few days after they were born.
Deep down, I knew that if one of my children was to die, God wouldn't just sit there and say; "Sorry little one, but your parents didn't get you baptized!"
Later on, I had the pleasure to hear Mr. Billy Graham "live" at the football stadium in Calgary. It was fantastic! Just the sound of his voice in those big speakers made me feel good. I didn't give my life to Christ that day. Shortly after, we were transferred to Victoria, and I was going to teach bassoon at the Canadian Forces School of Music. It was hard for us to leave our friends, but we were kind of excited to go live in the most beautiful city in Canada.
People often made jokes about Victoria, calling it a city for the newly-weds and the nearly-dead. Ha! Ha! The pace of living was much slower than Calgary, and it took us a good year to adjust.
The day I was stuck for words !
One day in September of 1982, I came home from work and our neighbour was having tea with my wife. Trudy introduced me to the lady, and her name was Marie Rudderham. She was what we call "petite" and delicate. She also appeared to be quite friendly.
Trudy mentioned that they were talking about some stuff I was interested in, "Oh! What's that?" I asked. Marie said; "About Heaven and stuff!"... I was curious to know what she thought about Heaven. I sat down with them for a cup of tea. We talked for a while and Marie asked if she could ask me a question. "Sure!" I said. "Are you certain to go to Heaven when you die?"....... I thought for a moment and said; "I think so!... I hope!... Well....... What do you mean?....... Heuhh....... I'm Catholic!...
Ladies and Gentlemen, I could not say yes or no! I was stuck for words! Marie didn't laugh, smile, or say anything to make me feel stupid. She just sat there with her Angel face. I knew then, that she knew "something" I didn't know anything about.
The conversation continued, and she explained to me that a person must give their life to Jesus, and must receive Him in their Heart as their Saviour, to have Eternal Life. She said it was called being "Born Again". I must tell you I didn't have a clue what she was talking about! "How do you do that?" I asked. "Oh, we do that in church" she said. "What church?" I asked. She told me about a Baptist church she attended. Then, she asked me if I was interested in coming to her church, just to have a look.
It took me a few seconds to answer. I was a bit hesitant because of the fact that I was brought up Catholic, and when I was young, all other "religions" were wrong. But something inside me said; "Go for it!"
I was curious to see how it was in her church. "Yes! I'd like to." "Good! How about this Sunday?" She asked. "This Sunday is fine!' On that Sunday morning, we all went with Marie and her husband to their church. It's a good thing we had a station-wagon! Ha! Ha! There were some people standing at the entrance of the church when we arrived. They shook our hand and welcomed us to the service.
There was a place for the children to go to, and we divided ourselves into little groups to study some passages of the Bible. I must say that I felt stupid! I didn't know the Bible at all. As a matter of fact, I didn't even own one. Nobody made me feel stupid, I just felt out of place and I didn't like that feeling. We also sang some songs (Hymns) that Trudy and I didn't know. "My God!" I said to myself. "How come we don't know any of this stuff?"
Then the Pastor came to the front and asked the people to open their Bible to a certain passage. He read it loud while everyone read it silently. He then put his Bible down and started to talk about that passage. I had never heard anything like it! I was very impressed with his presentation. The Pastor was explaining things and teaching the word of God. My eyes were wide open, and I remembered back when I was 16 and wasn't getting fed. "This is what I need!" I thought.
Closer to Jesus.
During the following week, Marie came to ask me if I wanted to be Born Again. I was all excited and decided to go for it. The Pastor asked if anyone wanted to come forward and I did. There was music in the background and the Pastor asked me what I wanted. With my shaky voice, I said that I wanted to be closer to Jesus. He took my hand with his right hand, and when he put his left hand on top of mine, I felt an incredible sensation (like electricity) coming up my arm. My body was trembling,... I had tears in my eyes,... and it was something I never felt before. At that moment, he and I said a prayer and I don't remember much after that.
I remember another man sitting beside me, and he too had accepted Jesus in his Heart. We were both very emotional.
After the service, I noticed that Marie and Trudy had been crying also. We went home and I felt very different. I felt very good inside and I was so relaxed. I was at peace! I know God touched me that day. I was Born Again! A few days later, Marie and I went to a Christian book store to pick out my first Bible. I was just like a child in a candy store. Marie suggested one that would be easy for me to read. I had told her that being French speaking, I had a hard time with the "Thou" and "Thy" version. The Living Bible was the one I bought. It was in plain English and easier for me to read. Over the next few days, I started to read it quite often. I left it in the living room. I guess I wanted everyone to see it, and it was my way to say "Hey! I'm not the same, ... I'm changed!"
Then I wrote a letter to Mom and Dad, asking them what they would think if I changed religion. Well let me tell you that I got a reply back from my mother...... (9 pages long)! I think that I must have shocked her a little. In her letter, she was asking "why?" and "isn't it the same God?" "What do they have that we don't have?" I wasn't expecting a response like that at all. I felt that she was defending the Catholic church, and I couldn't understand why. So...I didn't change religion and didn't go back to the Baptist church. I just didn't know what to do. I wanted more teaching of the Bible but I didn't want to hurt my parents. In the meantime, the Pastor with one of his friends came over to the house one night, and that's when Trudy received Jesus as her Lord and Saviour. Trudy felt pressured by all of this because I was going full speed ahead. It was too fast for her, and I don't think she really meant her prayer that night. So I started to read the Bible less and less. I was hurting inside.
Going for a walk.
While I was hurting spiritually, my Mom and Dad started to ask themselves a few questions. I didn't know that talking to them about myself being Born Again would have any effect on them. Dad started to read the Bible and Mom did the same. I was thrilled that they were reading the Bible. We were still living in Victoria at the time and I was talking to God every time I would go for a walk. I took the dog for a walk almost every night! Mom and Dad started to read the Bible from the beginning. In the meantime, I got my hands on a magazine called the Plain Truth. I read some of the articles and found them pretty good. I told my parents that maybe, they would be interested in it. Dad liked it and Mom was ordering all the free booklets that were advertised.
Here is what happened! The booklets that Mom was ordering from the Plain Truth, told them they were to observe all the "Holidays" of God from the Old Testament. Dad even kept the dates in his wallet! My parents were now trying to save themselves more than ever. They were trying to do the right thing and also trying to please God. This went on for quite a while. Then they started to question some of the doctrines of the Catholic church. During that time, we were transferred to CFB Borden in Ontario. We stayed there 2 years and transferred to Halifax Nova Scotia.
Mom and Dad were still under the Law of the Old Testament and I wasn't growing much on my own. I didn't know what to do! Dad would say; "This is what God said and we must do this for eternity!" He read it in the Bible and there was no other way.
Then the Devil started to work on me. I started to think that maybe my parents could be right. But there was "something inside me" that didn't feel right. I knew it!
During that time, a new Chief came to the Stadacona Band (Navy Band), and I worked directly for him. I found out that he was a Christian and I told him that I was one too. I told him about my experience at the Baptist church in Victoria. From then on, him and I became good friends. His name is Wayne Richardson. The two of us can stay up for hours and talk about the Lord. He told me that his favorite preacher was John Hagee.
Wayne knew a lot about Christianity and he taught me a lot in a very short time. I told him about my parents! He didn't say much. "We are saved by Grace!" He said. "Through Faith!...We are not under the Law of the Old Testament." I knew that he was right and it ruffled my feathers to hear it. You see,... my EGO was in the way! That's when I realized that I had accepted Jesus as my Saviour, but not as my Lord. "I" was in charge!
One night in my hotel room in Ottawa, I was watching Henry Hinn on TV. He is a preacher from Vancouver BC and the brother of Benny Hinn. All of a sudden.... I felt this urge to pray and repent like I had never felt before. I was crying my eyes out to God, and asking Him to fill me with His Holy Spirit. I wasn't in charge anymore! For the second time, I felt this incredible peace inside.
I started to read my Bible everyday, books by Billy Graham, Chuck Colson, and funny enough, I started to love Christian music. I asked the Lord to help me concerning my parents. I didn't know how He was going to do that, but He did it.
I received a booklet from my mother about the United States and Britain in prophecy. She thought I would be interested in it. Then I prayed; "Lord! Open my eyes and show me if there are any errors in this book." That book came from Mr. Armstrong of the Plain Truth, and I knew that "something" was wrong. I started to read the booklet and verified everything in the Bible.
Sure enough!... I found out that Mr. Armstrong was telling us that we were all descendants of the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel. He was saying that we must observe the Sabbath of the Jews or God will punish us. I didn't have to go any further. God showed me the problem. Now I needed the solution. I started to pray again and asked the Holy Spirit to show me what to do to help my parents.
I grabbed my Bible and found every place in it, where Paul talked about being saved by Grace through Faith. My parents were stuck and I needed a "tow truck!"
The tow truck came in the form of a letter. I sat down and prayed again that the Holy Spirit would guide me in everything I was going to write. I started to write and I got a headache, the phone would ring or the children would come and talk to me. I started to make a lot of typing errors and I had a hard time correcting them.
I started from the beginning 7 or 8 times. I had a knot in my stomach and then,... I realized that the Devil didn't want me to write that letter. I never had so much difficulty writing a letter before. That gave me more strength! I prayed; "Lord! I'll type this letter with your help even if it kills me." It was a powerful letter written very gently.
I verified everything, quoting the Bible and making sure that my parents would understand very clearly, that we are saved by Grace through Faith, and not by the Law of the Old Testament. I signed it "Apôtre Jacques", which means "Apostle James! ... Ha! Ha!
Later, I talked to Mom on the phone and they were both so excited that I had written them such a nice letter. They were also impressed by the fact that I asked the Holy Spirit who is in me, to guide me and tell me what to write.
I asked Mom if she would like to have a prayer that she could say to the Lord, to receive Him as her Saviour. I told her that I had one in English in a Billy Graham book that Wayne gave me. She said yes! I translated it in French and mailed them each a copy.
It took a little while for them to be freed from the Law of the Old Testament. Then, Mom wrote me a letter. She explained everything to me about how we are saved by the Grace of God through Faith in details. She said for me not to worry about them anymore. They knew the Truth! She said it was a good thing for me to do in helping them get out of Mr. Armstrong's false truth, and discover the REAL TRUTH of JESUS specially by Paul.
That letter was written by my mother on the 10th of April 1994 and she died on the 6th of July of the same year. Mom was in the hospital for exactly 7 days. Beside her bed was her New Testament, and the prayer that I had translated for her to receive Jesus in her Heart as her Saviour. I can't tell you how happy I am for her, because she is with the Lord.
My Dad is also a Born Again Christian! He totally depends on the Lord Jesus Christ in everything he does. My wife Trudy walked the aisle to receive Jesus in her Heart! My son Patrick also asked Jesus to come in his Heart the night of my baptism! My daughter Stephanie has accepted the Lord Jesus as her Saviour and is a Born Again Christian!
My sister Lyne and her husband Cedric are also Born Again believers! Verne, Susan, and their two children Ryan and Chad, have all accepted Jesus Christ in their Heart as their Lord and Saviour!
ASK ME IF I BELIEVE IN MIRACLES !
LORD...! Thank YOU for everything YOU have done for us! Thank YOU for using Marie Rudderham in order for us to have Eternal Life! Thank YOU LORD for my friend Wayne! YOU knew that him and I would be friends before the earth was formed!
Marie Rudderham, wherever you are! Thank you for having had the courage to come in my house, to ask me if I was certain to go to Heaven ! You were sent by God !
Thank You Wayne for everything!
Thank You LORD !
Jacques 'Jerry' Lemieux