Former Krishna Consciousness believer
I was first baptized back when I was born in 1963. At least that is what they told me as a new member of a Catholic family. Of course, I did not remember much. Then I grew up in the Catholic Church: CCD, youth group, Confirmation, etc. - all before I really knew what was going on and what I was committing to in my life. Then I started searching, as I so desired a personal relationship with God. I began asking questions: hundreds of them to the priests who did not welcome the questions or have many sufficient answers to them (that is why the beginning of the movie Simon Birch makes me laugh so much...) So I departed from my Catholic upbringing as my heart was searching for the meaning of life in my early 20s and my work brought me to India for five years.
In that country of extreme contrasts, life has a way of expediting your spiritual growth if you are aware. How do you feel about poverty in front of your face? Why are people with leprosy crying out at your feet? Why are there people suffering like this? That experience in India let me dive into the questions of life: Why? What? How? Etc. and I found answers in eastern philosophy, Hinduism, and Krishna Consciousness. I began reading the Vedas, Bhagavad Gita, and the Ramayana. Reincarnation made so much sense to why these people were still so happy in their crowded world. I repeatedly chanted to who I thought was God for the next 20 years. I never felt comfortable with any idols or multiple gods, but I did enjoy the disciplines needed to grow closer to God. I was a perfect candidate for this transformation: young, sincere, seeker, and naïve. I so wanted to please God and this felt like the right path. Little did I know that I was following a pagan path away from the one true God.
After a divorce that spiritually brought me to my knees, I met my new wife, Sekyen (an angel to me) a couple of years later. Little did I know that she was praying for me, fasting for me, and wanting me to find my relationship with Jesus. From 2008-10, we read the Bible out loud to each other. Yes, it did take us two years to get through every page. It is funny that after all those years of being a Catholic that this was the first time I actually read the Bible (as we were taught that we must have a priest interpret it for us, so reading the Bible on your own was frowned upon). Even after I read the Bible, I still had a couple of lingering views that were holding me back from fully committing to Christ. Reincarnation, the Bible, and an actual Hell were three topics that I was still struggling with until I met Mike Shreve in the summer of 2014. Sekyen came across Mike's testimony from searching and reading about Carolyn Hamlett. Sekyen prayed that I would have the opportunity to meet Mike as our paths through eastern philosophy were so similar. And her prayers came to fruition.
Mike patiently answered my questions for three hours. He knew the journey I have been on in my life. I felt like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders that I could actually meet a man in Christianity to understand the paths my life has taken. I read the Bible again with a new awareness. It has been an incredible transformation that Sekyen is still in awe of to this day.
A year later (almost to the day), Mike baptized me on his visit to the Christian Retreat in Bradenton, Florida (July 30, 2015). I thanked Jesus, Sekyen, and Mike for their patience with me. I now have what I always wanted - a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I am not into religion and spiritual life to me means nothing if I do not live it. Sekyen and I live like we are in the end days every day. To us it feels like the only way to live. I am open to what and where God leads me now. I am in His hands from now until my death. I am finally "all in."