“Oh, look at this—heaven on earth!” I said mockingly as I walked into the Billy Graham Crusade in Halifax, Nova Scotia, 25 years ago.
I was 19 in 1979, and I was a sound and lighting tech with one of the top rock bands in eastern Canada. On the road with the band I was drinking a quart of booze a day and living an unrestrained, do-what-you-want lifestyle. I realized I was doing some wrong stuff; I just didn’t care.
I thought of Billy Graham as one of “those television evangelists,” but recently I had read a book about the end times that made me curious about spiritual things. Our band had a rare week off just when Billy Graham was in Halifax. For reasons I still don’t understand, I decided to go to the Crusade.
After the first evening I left unconvinced and cynical. I went again the second evening and left not so cynical. “There’s something to this,” I said.
On the third evening something happened. Mr. Graham was the first person to tell me that God loved me, that God would forgive me and that I could have a better life. Even though I loved the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, something deep inside of me said, “This is right!” I knew in my gut that something was calling me. I looked at my girlfriend, Sandra, and without a word we both stood up and went to the front to accept Christ.
After the Crusade, I went back on the road with the band. As usual, people would party with us after the shows. But now I started conversations about God. Often people would tear up as we talked about God, Christ and the Bible.
At 4:30 one morning, while playing in Newfoundland, I said, “It’s time to go home.” Two hours later I was on a plane home–I left the band for good.
I found a job and also a church that I still attend today. The church loved me and accepted me and patiently allowed God to change me. I was still drinking and loving it. But one day I looked at the glass of whiskey in my hand and said, “I don’t want this anymore.” The desire for it simply left me. It was as if God said, “OK, it’s time now.”
Three years later, I married Sandra. My calling to preach also developed as I spoke at local churches. For six years I was pastor at the church I attended after the Crusade. But instead of taking a salary, I kept my secular job, allowing the church to renovate and to fund a meal program with the saved funds. I still preach part time at the church and serve in leadership there.
People ask me what is different about being a Christian. I tell them that I know Whom to call when things are rough and Whom to thank when things are good. It’s calming to know that God loves us and is in control, even during the rough stuff of life.
My faith is all about having a relationship with my Father. Christ introduced me to my heavenly Dad, my Abba Father. So each morning when I walk the beach by my home, it’s a walk with God, my Dad. Knowing God is knowing that I am safe and loved.