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Missionary Spotlight-Delighting to serve God

January 2002 | by Thomas McQuaid

I was born on 24 December 1958 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. My folks were believers and regular church attenders who raised their children to know the Bible and took us to church.

As a child I did not really understand that being a Christian should produce a changed life. I only knew that I had a lot more rules and restrictions than other kids on my street, and I actively rebelled against this from very early on.

When I look back on those years, I realise that I was a real brat. An overabundance of energy and my sinful tendencies were a constant source of trial for my teachers both in Sunday school and regular school.

I would always get my work done early and have plenty of time for mischief. By the time I was 10, cursing was a part of my daily vocabulary. I was fighting quite a bit, and I had taken up smoking cigarettes stolen from a local grocery store.

Trouble with the law

As I got into my teens, the stealing progressed to bigger things. I also got involved in glue sniffing, drug, and alcohol abuse. I was getting in trouble with the law by now, and my parents didn’t know what they were going to do with me. At one point they spoke about putting me in reform school.

When I was 16, I made a profession of faith, and my life seemed to change. But it was short-lived. In January 1976, after a big fight with my mother, I left home.

With only the clothes I had on, I stormed out of the apartment, vowing that I was never coming back. That night I hitch-hiked to Kitchener, 110 km away. Up until that time there had been at least some controls on my life, but now those boundaries were removed.

There had always been a religious influence in my life even though I wasn’t converted. I went to church in Kitchener for a brief time because the only people I knew there were from a church my folks had once attended. Also the rooming house that I lived in was owned by some people from that church.

But I soon made other arrangements and abandoned all church connections. That spring I met Sandi, who was to become my beautiful wife.

Godless home

The next year and a half was filled with all sorts of wild and criminal activities which landed me in jail, and sent Sandi back to her parents. When I got out four months later we got back together again and Sandi was soon pregnant.

One Friday night when we had no money and nothing to do, I called the youth leader from the church to see if he would pick us up for whatever youth event was happening. He gladly agreed to do this.

That week they were having an evangelistic service with a special speaker. There was an ‘altar call’ and we both went forward. There was weeping, confession of sin, and a change in our lives. But again, it was not a complete change, and lasted only for a time.

Shortly after this experience, in June of 1978, we were married. After about a year or so we both fell back into the old way of life, this time for some 15 years. Until the spring of 1995 our two daughters were raised in a godless home of drugs, alcohol and partying.

Amazing providence

In late 1994 I was training a new helper on my job. He was living the same kind of life I was, but was heavily influenced as a child by his Christian grandmother. He watched a lot of prophecy shows on TV, so I began watching too and we would talk about them at work. I began reading my Bible to check out what they were saying. By God’s amazing providence, I was being drawn to Christ.

For a short time I argued within myself. ‘What about all my CDs? (over 300): I will lose all my friends, etc.’ These all seem silly arguments now, but they were weighty considerations then.

The transformation came on the morning of Wednesday 24 May. I had worked the night shift: all my drugs and paraphernalia were laid out on the table for the usual ‘after work high’. I just sat there looking at it all.

Delight to serve

I now wanted Christ from whom I had run so hard for years. I pushed the drugs away, folded my hands and began to pray for the first time in over 15 years. No music, no emotional call, nobody else around; just an unbearable, irresistible conviction in my heart.

I had wondered if God would forgive me after years of wilful rebellion against him. That question has been answered by the love he has put in my heart for the Lord Jesus Christ and for his Word. Also by the desire to obey and follow him.

I should also tell you that the Lord brought Sandi to repentance and faith just two days earlier. We now delight to serve him together: ‘Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift’.

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Canada