How God Saved & Delivered Me
My name is Rudy, and I’m 39 years old. I’ve lived in the north end of Winnipeg for almost my whole life. My family consisted of my mom, dad and one sister. We were somewhat religious, with a nominal upbringing in the Roman Catholic faith. However, Catholicism was something that I never really embraced or even wanted to follow. I walked away from it as soon as I could, albeit sometimes honoring my parents during certain holidays, at which time I would attend with them. I was a fairly reserved person growing up and had a hard time fitting in with the crowd. I didn’t find it easy to form relationships or to be accepted as ‘cool’ so I eventually found an escape through drugs. This brought me the attention I wanted and opened me up in a new way. My life increasingly revolved around drugs. I would scheme, plan and steal to get them, so I could use them in secret or with friends. I finally felt like a somebody.
Beginning at a young age I had dark thoughts about death and what would come after it. I even made plans to find out. I thought I would wait until I was eighteen, so in high school I tried to hide my darkness and depression. I thought I did a pretty good job of it with the ‘help’ of the drugs that I used almost every day. When seriously considering suicide to end it all my grandfather died. It was the first time that I knowingly experienced death and what comes with it. My grandfather was gone and it really rocked my world. It snapped me out of my desperation for a little while. I truly thought and felt that this was God preserving me by showing me what heartache I was willing to selfishly bring upon my family. However, I carried on with the drugs and partying to numb myself in attempt to just keep going. I sort of convinced myself to wait and see what would happen in this seemingly pointless life that I was living. I still had no purpose and all the while still struggled with my big unanswered questions: “At death, is it just fade to black?”, “Is it going to be heaven or hell?”, “What if I’m wrong and it is straight to hell if I just end it?”, “Is eternity real?” During this time, I knew that I would need something stable to financially provide for myself and my habits. After several small jobs I went to Red River College and took a pre-employment course in Heavy Duty Mechanics. I now had a constant flow of money to meet my needs which opened doors to even heavier substances. The things which I relied upon now started to let me down with anxiety, fear and feelings of isolation.
I needed them to have a good time. I made an attempt to clean up my act and looked for answers in some of the current bestselling self-help books. The books claimed to help you awaken to your life purpose and how to live in the ‘now.’ I knew I needed to find a solution to my problems because I didn’t know how long I would be able to sustain myself while working as a functioning drug addict. In my own strength and will power, I tried to let go of my vices.
Around this time, I got the opportunity to take a once in a lifetime trip to Brazil to visit my cousin at her beach bar. Little did I know that on this trip I would meet, and fall in love with, my future wife, Mayrla. It was something I thought would never be possible but it felt like a match made in heaven. As soon as we could we got married in Winnipeg and a couple of years later we were expecting. Everything was going great, I felt like I had my life on track. However, my wife, who grew up with a Baptist church background, was feeling like a part of her was missing. She had ‘mentioned God’ a few times to me but it was something that I did not want to get involved in and we never really talked much about it. I pretty much just brushed the discussion off. But Mayrla remained persistent and I agreed that we would look for a church and see what happens. In the midst of looking for a church, I was continuing to work and provide. Then something happened that woke me up a bit — I nearly caused a fatal accident at work where somebody could have been crushed under a semi-truck that was being repaired. This incident could have taken someone’s precious life by my hands. My past thoughts concerning death came flooding back to me. Where would that person have ended up if they had died? I was crushed. I thought to myself that I would always be a safe worker. How could this have happened? I was brought to my knees. This God that my wife talked about was appearing to be more real than before and I began to want to know more about Him. In a sort of shallow way I considered myself to be a new believer and my wife assured me that I was. We started attending Faith Church off and on for a couple of years and I was starting to pick up the Bible and read it from time to time. The first time I heard the Gospel it didn’t make sense to me or I just didn’t have the ears to hear, or perhaps I just didn’t want to hear. So I just brushed it off. One thing I did begin to see though was the love of Christ through the body of believers. I knew they had something I didn’t have and they seemed so weird at the same time to have such peace. Also, the way they worshipped was so much different then how I was brought up. My initial reaction to being around the church was that I felt like I had to hide a part of me when around them. I did not want to expose the bad, sinful part of me. I was too ‘dirty.’ But my perspective started to change when I heard other people share about their lives and how God worked miracles in removing their inner burdens and transforming their lives.
When my wife was having some health issues and we were pregnant with our second child I experienced the church body caring for us in a way I never thought possible. It was a love I never could have imagined. It was the love of Christ! He was in them and working through them! With my wife, I slowly joined a Bible study and thought I could ‘fake it until I made it.’ There were things that I was holding on to loosely now but regardless I was still holding on and hesitant to let go of them. I still had nagging questions such as: “What about aliens and that UFO I thought I saw?”, “How can the fairy tale stories of the Bible be true and believable?” Ultimately I set these questions aside and reoriented my focus. I put my focus on the Lord and waited on Him to reveal the truth to me. After some time I considered myself to be on some sort of level playing field with the other believers but there was still a key element missing and I didn’t fully understand what that was. While experiencing a little health scare I attended a men’s meeting at the church. I ended up spilling the beans and pouring out my heart (God truly had been working on me) to these men. I told them what I was feeling. I was scared of dying but I thought I was all good with God because of a spiritual experience I had by myself when I was younger. I thought the experience was valid and put me in God’s favor. I thought it was all good between me and Him. But I was relying only on a ‘hope so.’ I was wrong. I had created a God in my mind that would suit my needs. That same evening a dear brother in the Lord asked me if I had ever truly accepted the Lord as my Saviour and been ‘born again.’ To this question I responded “No.” At this moment I finally saw my true condition as a sinner! I was under God’s wrath and in danger of being condemned forever. By the grace of God, that evening I repented of my sin and prayed with my new-found brothers in the Lord to accept Christ. I gave Him complete control over my life.
After coming to the Lord I experienced great changes in my life, especially with respect to the things I desired. Things I once cherished became worthless to me. I began to see things that I had collected over the years to be very dark and even demonic. The Lord used these strong emotions towards certain possessions to open my eyes. He gradually brought many things to my attention that I needed to do away with. If I would hold onto them they would only do me harm. I had to let go of my old self.
A desire to see the lost coming to the Lord has been a real motivation for me. To share the ‘good news’ is also a command from the Lord Jesus. With five children now, my wife and I frequently pray that they will all come to know the Lord. When seeing strangers I can only wonder who is forgiven and who is unforgiven. How are we to know? Jesus commanded us to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” If we are not in Christ and born again we are under God’s wrath and judgment. By trusting in Jesus as our Saviour, rather than ourselves, and turning from our sins God can bring us from death to life. If we are willing to change He can produce a marvelous work in us.
Shortly after being baptized, my new walk with the Lord was about to take a difficult path. My wife was now 38 weeks pregnant. At a routine checkup we discovered that our baby was stillborn. The only thing that we could think of was that the Lord is in control of everything and He would be faithful to carry us through this trial. Both my wife and I came under spiritual attack during this experience. However, we relied on the fact that He had brought us so far already and we would maintain that trust in Him to carry us even further. It would have been far too easy to just fly off the rails because of the pain we felt from our loss. From the world’s point of view this would have been normal. Slips and falls do happen from time to time. I am sinless in the Lord and He is helping me to sin less. I am human and fallible and I’ve made many mistakes even after coming to know Christ. Thankfully we have a Saviour who can sympathize with us and has been tempted in all ways known to man. He knows our struggles and always gives us a way of escape. We have His grace and it has helped me deal with the fact that I’m not perfect but am still being perfected in Him. My brothers and sisters in Christ that we have inherited have helped us deal with our wounds. The love of Christ is powerful and it has flowed through those who surrounded us as we were healing from the death of our child.
In summary, I have experienced a life of running through darkness while carrying my addictions, fears, other burdens and my sins bearing down on me. Along with brokenness in my life, the sincere desire to change and understand what this life is for has helped lead me to the Lord. He was my true and only need! His cross of salvation and the payment of my sin debt have set me free to serve Him in His kingdom. John 5:24 says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”