I am lucky my walk with Jesus started at an early age. I was raised in a Christian house hold by a Christian family and Christian relatives. What denomination did not seem to mater much. Lutheran, Church of the Nazarene, Pentecostal, Baptist etc. What mattered was faith. Even though I was raised as a Christian I did not understand what being a Christian really meant.
Christian Ambassador I struggled with understanding religion mostly when I was in my teens. I saw people that said they were Christians one day and then doing non Christian things the next day. The hypocrisy I saw every week drove me from the church many times. This is also an internal struggle of mine every day. It took me a long time to realize there is a difference between being a Christian and being an embassador for Christ. Being a Christian does not mean a person will only do Christian things. A Christian can believe in Jesus and have faith in Jesus but be a very poor embassador for Christianity. That is probably why I do not voice my views as a Christian as much as I should is because I feel I would be a bad embassador. Not because I am a bad person but may be I have poor judgement sometimes.
I am a Christian…I got some of this from a FB post and it did not have a tag to the creator but it is very true to the way I live my life. When I say “I am a Christian” I am not shouting that “I am clean living.” I am whispering “I was lost, but now I am found and forgiven.” I am professing that I am weak and need God’s strength to carry on. I am admitting I have failed and need God to clean my mess. My flaws are far too visible, but God believes I am worth it. I am not holier than thou. I am just a simple sinner who received God’s good grace…somehow.
Lost Faith. I guess to explain my walk with Christ I would have to talk about the time I was most lost. That time would be in my late teens.
I dropped out of school in grade 10. I was already out of the house and living in someone’s basement. I was young, defiant and stupid. My mother tried to help me when she could but she was living a days drive north of me and in my rebellious youth I was not very accepting of it. I drank almost every weekend and went to many parties. I had a steady part time job but it did not pay the bills…probably because I spent most of it on booze. I worked for a large retail chain and saw job postings in a bigger city. One thing led to another and I decided to move to a bigger city to find a better life with more opportunities.
After I made the move and got settled in the company started to cutback staff…we were in a recession. Rather than laying off employees they just cut back our hours. I went from 34hrs a week down to 4. That barely paid for the hour bus commute. I worked at a few different places over the next year. Never anything that would pay the bills. No one wanted a full time young person during a recession.
One place that did hire me was a flower shop chain. They had 5 stores and I was the go between the distributor, warehouse and the different stores.
About the same time that I started working for them I unfortunately was also homeless. I secretly moved what possessions I could in the loft of the shop. Sometimes I slept in the warehouse when I could. Other times such as the weekend I would stay with friends, a motel, or find a warm spot where I could catch some z’s.
While working at the warehouse I had a work place accident that changed my life. The warehouse had a large old wood panel door. It was well balanced with a spring load so at the end of the day I would bring in the van, give the big door chain a light yank and and catch it before it hit the floor. One day the cables that held the spring tension ripped off the door. All 2000lbs landed on my wrist and shoulder. I don’t really remember the accident. Must have passed out. When I woke up the lights were out and the staff were gone. They must have thought I had gone home but in reality I was lying about 15 feet from the door unconscious. When I came too I was in pain but thought I was ok. Looking at it now I was probably in shock. I crawled up to the loft in the warehouse and must have passed out again.
By the time the staff came in the next morning I could barely move. I told the store manager what had happened. She made arrangements to have the deliveries taken care of and sent me back up to the loft to rest until the owner came in a little later. The owner of the company called me into the office. She had me document on paper what had happened. Then sent me “home” for the day. I was in huge amounts of pain so I picked up some liquor and splurged on a cheep motel.
The next day when I arrived at work there was a service company working on the door. Turns out they had to replace the entire door and all the hardware. It was only then that I looked at all the damage and knew I was lucky to be alive.
The owner setup a visit with her family doctor. No X-rays were taken. Just a short visit where I was told I had some bruising, pulled mussels etc. I told him how much pain I was in but I think he thought I was just looking to get high…no pain meds were prescribed and he gave me a wrist and back brace to wear. He made appointments with a physiotherapist and I was to go to therapy 3x weekly. I found ways I could move flower boxes around by sliding them onto carts etc but could not work a full day so I did half days.
Believe me at that time my faith in Jesus was extremely thin. I remember praying but my prayers weren’t very nice. I was praying out of anger. At the time I hated everything and every one. Now I was homeless and only working half days at minimum wage. I spent my money on liquor to numb any pain I could. It was winter time in Edmonton and no time to be living on the streets.
I bumped into an old friend of mine. He was moving to Nelson, BC. He had family and a job to go to. He said I could stay with him and he could get me work. A couple of weeks later I packed up what I could carry and headed for Nelson. After a plane to Calgary, a train to Vernon, a bus to Nelson. I went to the address of my buddy looking for the next chapter in my life.
I soon found out that my buddy was in jail for some burglary charges and his family was not happy to see me. Now I had no home no job and almost broke. While I rode a bus back to Vernon I thought long and hard of what I was going to do next. I could go back to Edmonton but that was not a place I thought I could survive…especially after the last year of trying to make it work. By the time I got back to Vernon I decided to head for Vancouver in stead. At least if I had to live on the streets it would be warmer there.
By the time I made it to Vancouver I was down to my last 20ish bucks. With no idea what to do. I got myself a crappy hotel room. The room was above a loud bar and a shared bathroom down the hall in North Surrey. That night three people were killed in the parking lot….not the best part of town. Not knowing what to do I picked up the phone and called my mom…collect.
My mother instilled in me right from wrong in many ways. She made sacrifices for me to be able to go to a christian school for a couple of years and would send me to camp even though we could not afford it. She fought for me more times than I can count.
The first thing she said we had to do was pray. After we prayed about it said she would make some calls and get back to me that night. Mom was able to arrange for Doug and Lorrain (family) to pick me up the next day.
By the time I got to Vancouver I was in bad shape. I had lived on the streets for months. My hair was long, had sores on my legs from bugs, in constant pain from the accident and extremely depressed.
Doug and Lorraine were an answer to prayer. They had a cozy little place in south Surrey…3 bedroom bungalow in a nice part of the country side. They were not strangers to opening there home to people in need. When I arrived they already had a son close to my age, setup an apartment in the basement for another relative, a boarder and a couple living in a trailer outside.
They gave me a room to use, food, cleaned what little clothes I had and gave me new toiletries. They setup a visit their doctor as soon as they could. I finally got proper assessment of my injuries from my accident…x-rays, blood tests…the works. It was only then I found out I actually had been dealing with 3 separated vertebrae, 3 cracked ribs, multiple broken bones in my wrist, torn ligaments in my shoulder and multiple skin infections. Know wonder I was in such pain. Wearing the braces was already helping with mending of the back and ribs. We immobilized my shoulder and I got some pain killers for the pain. For the leg infections I was given a salve to apply daily. My cloths and bed sheets had to be washed every day.
Every morning Lorrain would make sure I was up, had a bath, dispensed my meds, washed all my cloths and bedding from the previous day and fed the entire household. Doug drove me around, kept me busy, helped me put a resume together. There son (my second cousin) got me involved with his youth group, also offered up his car and personal possessions if they could help.
I finally recognized what a Christian Ambassador was supposed to look like. I know it was there faith that let me be who I am now. Because of there faith my walk with Jesus has been closer.
If you look at me and do not see a good Ambassador for Christ…I am sorry. I am a Christian, have a personal relationship with Jesus and I have faith that Jesus is helping me in everything I do. But I may not show it. May be some day I can be the Christian Ambassador Jesus wants me to be.