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Some time ago, someone mentioned to me that she would be interested in reading my testimony. It occurs to me that I have never posted that here, and since my faith is, bar none, the most important aspect of my life, I thought it was maybe time I addressed it specifically. So here goes.

I grew up on one of those increasingly rare types of Christian homes, i.e. a Christian home where the parents strongly oppose the notion of "do as I say and not as I do". My parents led by example. What they preached, they lived. There was agreement among both, too, so I wasn't faced with conflicting doctrines or inconsistency in teaching. My parents were reasonable people, so the Christianity they taught me seemed reasonable as I was growing up.

Was there one turning point, one day where I accepted Jesus into my heart? Not really. I did say the prayer in camp when I was about seven or so, and while I do believe officially asking Christ to take control of my life was important and is important to a new believer, I also believe that I was a Christian before this time.

I continued to be a believer all through school. My "rebellious period" did not involve straying from my faith, although I did experiment with alcohol and tobacco, I did talk back to my parents, and I even drank the occasional can of Pepsi.

I was baptized at fifteen, along with my brother Harv and his new wife, Sandra. I remember at the time being a little disappointed because I felt exactly the same after baptism as I had before baptism. But since my branch of Christianity believes baptism to be purely symbolic, albeit an important symbol, this shouldn't come as a huge surprise.

My parents urged me to consider Bible college after high school for a year. They wanted me to study my faith, to determine for myself whether I believed what I had been taught. One year turned into a three-year B.A. program, and I came away convinced that what I had been taught was, and is, right.

A very dramatic thing happened to me in my second summer after graduation from high school. It may not seem particularly dramatic to you, but it most certainly was to me. I mentioned that I had experimented with alcohol as a teenager. At nineteen, the experimentation was still going on. This particular week, I was visiting a friend in Winnipeg. One evening I consumed most of a bottle of rye. When it came time to go to bed, I was still very, very drunk. I lay there on the bed, trying very hard to reclaim control of my mind. It wasn't happening, and I was coming to loathe myself deeply. I fumbled for my Walkman and put in a tape by the Cathedrals. Over and over again, I listened to their rendition of "Great Is Thy Faithfulness". As my mind slowly detoxified, I came to realize how significant that song really was to me. I came to realize a lot of things, not the least of which was how much I was taking my faith for granted, and how lightly I was treating my faith. That drunken night was a turning point for me. I did not make a complete one-eighty in my life and live on the straight and narrow forever more; I did not, not by a long-shot, become the "perfect Christian"; but I did come to recognize just how cocky I had become, I came to realize just how fragile and falable I am, and I came to realize that complete surrender to God, far from taking away my freedom, gives me infinitely more freedom than I could ever imagine. "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" became my theme song, and it remains my theme song to this day. I was not, am not, perfect by any means, but God is perfect, and faithful in His perfection.

When I graduated from college, I thought I knew all the answers. The cockiness had not, not by a long-shot, been absorbed in the alcohol of that fateful summer night. I was the big Bible college graduate, I had the answers, long live me. It didn't take too long for me to realize that Bible college, while it had indeed provided me with a lot of answers, and most importantly, with assurances that I was on the right path, had provided me with more questions than answers, and it had helped me to realize that there was so much I just do not know. I joined a local church, was quite heavily involved in church-related things, and in many ways was your typical cookie-cutter conservative Christian.

My relationship with Tammy shook my faith more than I realized at the time. That relationship was an incredibly abusive one: physically, emotionally, even sexually. When I finally extricated myself from it, I had very little faith in women, no interest in men (that hasn't changed), and pretty much no scruples. On a few occasions I almost had women over just for the express purposes of fornication. Thank God this did not happen. This last is a really tough thing to admit, especially knowing that many of my Christian friends will be reading this. But my being ashamed of what almost happens doesn't take away from the truth that it almost happens; nor does it take away from the fact that God, in His infinite mercy and faithfulness, stopped it from actually happening. A few incredible female friends, namely Brianna, Joanne, and Andrea, helped me, as wonderful platonic friends, to again have faith in women. But where was my faith in God at this point? It was there, most certainly, but it was becoming a burden on me. I was a member of my church's Worship and Music committee, I sang a lot in the church, I was even preaching sermons. Outwardly, I was still the strong Christian. But inwardly, I was sick of church, sick of rules, and sick of an investment with few perceivable returns.

A few almost-relationships with non-Christians, and I was seemingly hopeless. I stopped going to church except on the rarest of occasions when my roommate guilt-tripped me into going. I still believed in God, in Jesus being God, and I still knew I had to turn things around, but I had no desire, really, to do so. My roommate was trying everything he could to convince me that this needed to change, and I knew he was right (and even acknowledge it. But I actually did very little.

Caroline coming into my life was not something of my own choosing. But she did, big-time, and it forced me to re-evaluate a lot of things. One of these was my faith. I told Caroline right from the beginning that my faith was the most important aspect of my life, bar none, that any woman would have to be #2 in my life behind God, and that I needed to be #2 in her life, also behind God. As time went on and we talked about things, including faith, we began to pray together. My own prayer life, which had been slipping along with everything else, came back. I began to become excited about church again, and have again become a regular attender, looking at the possibility of asking to again be a part of the Worship and Music Committee. God has never been more real to me than He is now. Despite the fact that life has its ups and downs, it's not a perfect utopia by any stretch of the imagination, despite all that, I have the joy of a closer relationship with God than I have had in decades. My theme song, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness", applies now more than ever, for even though I wasn't always faithful to Him, He was and is always faithful to me. I don't believe there was any time in all this that I wasn't a believer, but there was most certainly a time when my faith was in trouble. I never completely gave up on it, Thank God, and, thank god even more, God never even considered the notion of giving up on me. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

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Bruce Toews

August 2017

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