After seven evenings, each with hours of instruction, I began to
believe that Jesus Christ was The Answer for me. I knew I was not
right with God, I was not able to make myself right with Him, and
I wanted so much to be right with Him. Here George told me exactly
how it was possible, and the only way possible.
Finally, somewhat sheepishly, I said, “George, can we pray?” There
I was, a proud, stuffy, stogie-sucking salesman, at a crossroad of
life. He was out of his chair and on his knees in a flash, and I
got down on mine.
Almost instantly, I was surprised. I didn’t know what to say
or how to pray. I thought if anyone knew how to pray, it would be
a Catholic! I was silent, stumped. It didn’t even occur to
me to pray an “Our Father” or a “Hail Mary.”
“Speak respectfully to God as you would to a loving Father,
a respected person,” George quietly advised. “Tell Him
your thoughts and what you want.”
Awkwardly, yet desperately and sincerely, I asked Jesus Christ to
forgive me for my sins and to take over my life, which I confessed
I could not manage or change on my own. George also prayed, he shared
some Scriptures with me to assure me God had heard my prayer, and
we rose from the floor. I did not feel, hear, or see anything. A
little disappointed, yet somehow at peace, I went home.
Particle –God Is Real!
In the days to follow, changes occurred in me over which I had no
control and for which I could take no credit whatsoever. The vices
and bad habits I had tried and failed to overcome began to be removed
from me. It was like chains had turned to cooked noodles – all
I had to do was clean them off.
I suddenly found myself with new interests and desires, a take on
life and joy and peace I had never known. In the days following,
I had satisfaction, fulfillment, direction, and purpose. My load
of guilt was lifted. At 27, I had something I could call life for
the first time! Wow!
A wonder - the Bible became a new book to me! As I said earlier,
I had red it through before from cover to cover – every word
- and understood absolutely nothing. Now I was amazed at what I found!
It was alive and full of meaning. God was real! I had finally found
Him! More accurately, He had finally revealed Himself to me!
Particle –Evidence of Change while Faith Tested
Something startled me within days after this happening. Lloyd Johnson,
a rough and tumble truck driver from Homes Canada, drove into the
lot with a new home. As he proceeded to hastily back it into its
parking spot, he dinged an adjacent home, which ruined a corner and
some panels on both homes. I had very little inventory for sale,
and I was suddenly exasperated because it could take weeks to order
parts and repair the homes before they were saleable.
I lost it and used the Lord’s Name to curse. I was shocked.
What’s this? I thought I had changed! Hadn’t I? I thought
I could never do anything like that again. Why had I done it? How?
“George, what about this? How do you explain it? Am I changed
or not?” With George’s counsel, I realized that not very
long before, I was accustomed to using the Lord’s Name in vain
without guilt or remorse. Now, for the first time, it bothered me
terribly. My shock and remorse were sure indications that something
had changed after all. By God’s grace, and not by any virtue
of my own (I know and assure you), I have never used His Name in
that manner again.
Particle –A Great Sinner
Let me be quite candid so that you may appreciate what kind of change
occurred in my life at that time. As a Catholic, I had been an altar
boy, president of the youth club, and soloist in the choir. I took
communion, prayed the rosary, and attended a minor seminary for a
year. At the same time, I was a great fool, liar, thief, cheat, drunk,
fraud, chintz, pervert, coward, traitor, hypocrite, fornicator, adulterer,
masturbator, blasphemer, idolater, drunkard, glutton, smoker, and
more. I was self-destruction on two legs frantically looking for
a place to happen.
I occasionally went to confession and continually sinned. I did
not do so cynically, but with guilt, helplessness, frustration, and
fear. I was smiles, jokes, and laughter on the outside, but troubled
within because in constant sin and guilt. Since puberty I had masturbated,
and when I earnestly tried to quit, I found myself a slave to it,
unable to stop. From all these things God graciously delivered me,
and for them all He has forgiven me.
Particle –Much More to It This Time
This is one of the first things my family and friends said to me
about my conversion to Christ: “You were in Amway and it wasn’t
long before you gave it up. Then you got into Concept-Therapy, got
all fired up, and soon you forgot about that. You’ve always
got some wacky idea. This is just another fad. Those didn’t
last and neither will this.”
I thought: “No, whereas I was the one doing those things in
the past, this time something happened to me, and I don’t ever
want to lose it or give it up!”
Particle –My Family Reacts
When the Lord delivered me of my sins and took over my life, turning
it right side up, division came between me and my family, friends,
and associates. The Catholic parish priest, and all Catholics I knew
and spoke to, condemned what had happened to me. My family’s
attitude drastically changed toward me. They were very displeased.
You will see how my sister threw me out of her house, and much of
my family shunned me.
Even though I, as a Catholic, was full of all the evils mentioned
above (and many were aware of these things), nobody in my family
or in the Catholic Church had a problem with my vices and lifestyle.
Truly, I was one of them, likely the worst of all. But the moment
I confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and was delivered of those vile
sins, vices, and lifestyle, I was condemned as a traitor, an ignorant
dupe of some zealous non-Catholic, “Bible-thumping” zealots.
Particle –My First Eviction for the Faith
When I tried to talk to the Dauphin parish priest, Gregory Oucharyk,
about the Bible, the Lord, and how He made such a difference in my
life, all he could do was pull rank on me. “It’s impossible
to understand the Bible unless you have been reading it for at least
three years,” he said. “Besides, the Holy Roman Apostolic
Catholic Church is the first, the largest, oldest, and only true
Church, the Mother Church. It is the one Jesus Christ founded, starting
I differed with him on many points until he arose from his desk,
tried in his spiritual way to be friendly (yet visibly upset), took
my hand as if to shake it, grabbed it firmly, and physically “guided” me
to the door. Out I was. It was a peculiar move I often thought about
later. Nobody would be able to say he kicked me out. He could say
he simply shook my hand and kindly dismissed me.
Particle –Testifying to the Bill Hafichuk Family
Uncle Bill Hafichuk was my father’s older brother. I shared
the Gospel with his youngest son, Ronald. I gave him a Chick Publications
tract, which he gave to his father, who took it to the priest, Gregory
Oucharyk, who said it was garbage. Uncle Bill readily believed him
and tossed the tract away. This was the general attitude and stance
of the family. In later years, I had heard that Ron was quite scornful
of faith in Christ.
Particle –My Father Mocks
At a social gathering at the 11th Ave Ukrainian Catholic Hall in
Dauphin, I shared the Gospel with Gordon Toomey, my cousin Theresa
Hafichuk’s husband. He kept looking past me and smiling. I
looked back to see my father playfully jesting and mocking. Gordon
shyly rejected what I was sharing.
Was that a wise decision? Gord Toomey later became an alcoholic,
and he and Theresa divorced. People think they can ignore or reject
the fact that Jesus Christ died for their sins and that they are
not permitted to live in them any longer. Like it or not, He calls
them into account. Not responding, they suffer, often big time. Gordon
is an example of many I have known.
Particle –Choosing the Path of Tragedy
I very much appreciated Aunt Lucy, one of my mother’s eleven
sisters, and I had some admiration for her husband, Ernie Mouck,
who was handsome and rather “cool.” Their children, my
cousins, Butch and Arleigh, were cute kids, though I did not get
to see them much; we were close to a generation apart, and they lived
It was a bit of a shock to me when my father boisterously reported
Ernie declaring that if anyone ever came to his house to “talk
religion,” he would literally throw them out. I supposed that
my father received “immoral support,” which helped justify
his own opposition to me. He likely thought I would be more likely
to reconsider my position, seeing Ernie felt that way about “people
The eventual tragedies that came to Ernie Mouck’s house were
more than many households have had to bear. In the years to come,
it was reported that his firstborn, Gerald “Butch,” became
an alcoholic in his early teens (or earlier). Thankfully, I understand
that he was eventually able to not only control his addiction, but
also do well - occupationally, and perhaps maritally and socially
I was told their daughter, Arleigh, was severely injured in her
later teens in an automobile collision. Thankfully, she was also
able to overcome and do well. These are not accidental tragedies
or events without cause, however. Those who refuse truth and God
suffer the consequences and bring them on their entire house.
Sadly, there would be even more and worse to come.
Particle –Sweet Cy Sensible and Sympathetic
Cy Puls (Sweet Cy) once told me he rebuked my father for his stance
against me, telling him he ought to be thankful I was living an upright
and moral life, when I could have turned out so differently. Dad
had been complaining to him about how I had turned my back on him
and his church, and how he couldn’t reason with me.
“What?! Would you rather he was an alcoholic or drug addict?” Cy
replied in his characteristically aggressive manner. “How about
a drug pusher or some criminal behind bars? You have nothing to complain
about, Nick! He’s healthy, and he’s behaving himself!”
Years before, Mr. Puls had a child with whom he had problems, she
being notoriously, openly promiscuous in her youth. He also had a
son-in-law, Pete Munson, who was a raging alcoholic. Sweet Cy had
a perspective of appreciation, relatively speaking. Did my father
ever tell me of Cy’s comments? Of course not - it wouldn’t
have served his ends!
Gratitude for You
Backing up several months, while Homes Canada was waiting for inventory
to send up to my empty lot in Prince Albert, Terry Johnston asked
me to come to his Esterhazy branch and help with an open house, which
I did. I stayed with him and his wife Julie for a week or so.
I met some people there and was invited to a party. Terry lent me
his car. I got drunk and sideswiped it against something, leaving
a small bit of damage. When Terry asked about it, I lied, saying
I had no idea how it happened.
Now it was time for me to fess up. I called Terry and told him I
had damaged his car the summer before. Bob Vail later told me that
when Terry got off the phone, he exploded with a volley of expletives,
furious at having been “had.” Bob was entertained and
had a good laugh about it. I was surprised to hear it because, relatively
speaking, Terry had acted rather calmly when I confessed to him by
phone. He never did say anything more to me, good or bad.
Particle –Boot Number Two
How I wished for my family to experience my newfound
life! One day, I approached my sister and her husband, Ron, whom
I appreciated very much, and spoke to them about turning to the
Lord. We spoke of several matters - the Catholic Church and the Bible
- but when I tried to persuade them to quit smoking, to my surprise,
Ron began to cry. I would have pursued why, but Barbara immediately
exclaimed, “See what you’ve done?!” and expelled
me from her house, along with Cathie, my brother Archie’s wife,
who was with me. Ron didn’t say a word.
I so wanted to share with them the great treasure I had found. I
was taken aback that they found a problem with my deliverance. “You
know what, Victor?” my sister sarcastically declared one day, “I
don’t like the ‘new you’!”
I lost all that I had, but I was quite willing to have it that way
for the fulfillment I enjoyed, for the first time in my life. My
gains far outweighed my losses.
Uncle Don Hafichuk also took offence at my change of life. “You
think you’re a little Jesus or something!” he scornfully
blurted. In later years, I realized that a genuine Christian is exactly
that - “a little Jesus,” born of Him, in the process
of being transformed into His image, even as the Bible declares:
“Do not lie to one another, for you have put off the old self
with its habits and have put on the new self. This is the new being
which God, its Creator, is constantly renewing in His own image,
in order to bring you to a full knowledge of Himself” (Colossians
Particle –Catholic Sinner Preferable to Non-Catholic Saint
As long as I was Catholic, my sins were not an issue, but when my
sins were cleaned up in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, outside
of the Catholic Church, suddenly I was a heretic, and as a leper
to them. “Why aren’t they thankful?” I wondered.
The truth is that if I had been delivered within the Catholic Church
(if that is possible), they would not have appreciated it any more,
although they would not have been “shown up” by any other
denomination, which they consider to be in darkness.
Particle –A Striking Word from God
Not all members of my family were negative about my conversion to
Christ. My mother’s sister, Delores Molnar, and her husband,
Fred, were overjoyed at the news. Delores had been converted to Christ
several years earlier and suffered much contempt from the rest of
the family for it. She and Fred attended evangelical churches (Fred
didn’t seem to have quite the same interest or commitment).
When hearing of my conversion to Christ, Aunt Delores said, “Victor
is the sacrificial lamb for the family.”
Those words seemed prophetic and stayed with me. I suspected they
were true, but I had little, if any, understanding of what they meant
or what the implications would be. In future, Delores would be speaking
other words of great import to me.
You will recall my telling you of the wrestling match with Uncle
Fred at a celebration years before. Was Aunt Delores a believer back
then? I don’t remember. If she wasn’t, things had changed
for them since that time. (There is more to come with Fred and Delores.)
Particle –A Messenger Decades in the Preparation
Here is another interesting coincidence: Consider that just before
we met, George Lynn was working at Northwest Mobile Homes in Fort
Macleod, Alberta, a town several hundred miles away from where I
was. George was laid off due to a plant closure, and he was consequently
hired by Homes Canada in Calgary as a serviceman.
George’s first stop of Homes Canada sales lots was mine, only
a few miles from Weldon, where he had lived in his youth. George
hadn’t been there for several decades, but he knew old friends
there who professed faith in Christ – the Nelsons.
Upon our meeting and my repentance, George felt I needed Christian
company to whom he could entrust his new convert. He said to me, “You
need a Bible-believing church now.” He introduced me to the
people he had known, who were attending the Alliance Church, and
they undertook to befriend a babe in Christ.
How is it George was sent decades later to his former home turf
where he could talk to me about the Gospel and introduce me to companions
when I needed them? God had been arranging people and circumstances
for my sake decades earlier; George Lynn was His chosen messenger,
and Prince Albert His chosen tryst, where He first appeared to me
(By the way, after traveling far and wide for years, it so happens
we now live but a fifteen-minute drive away from Fort Macleod, where
George Lynn had been working just before we met.)
Particle –Christian Contacts and Companions
I remember people from the Alliance Church, my first non-Catholic
church home. They were Les and Delores Nelson (my first Christian
friends next to George), Abe Friesen (who had tried to speak to me
of God and the Bible previously at my office), Tim and Verna Friesen,
Nelson and Cylvia Reimer, Dale and Peggy Gordon, Dick and Donna Friesen,
Ernest Regier (the pastor), Dr. Lorne Rabuka, Lyle Shapansky, Hilda
Pirie, and a few others who shared their lives to encourage me along
my spiritual path.
Particle –Still a Catholic
Hilda Pirie was quite receptive and zealous. She tried to witness
to everyone, including boarders she kept in her big house to make
ends meet. One day she made some remarks to me about the Catholic
Church and how nuns were reported to have babies by priests and dispose
of those babies in various ways when born.
I got angry with her, asking her if she knew beyond any doubt that
those things were true. She admitted that she didn’t have undeniable
true knowledge in what she was saying. When I pressed and rebuked
her, she confessed her knowledge was hearsay and apologized.
I was still quite defensive of the Catholic Church. In other words,
at that point, though I was a convert to Christ, I was still Catholic,
or I was at least attached in some significant way.
Particle –Advised to Leave the Catholic Church
The pastor, Ernest Regier, labored patiently with me after I believed,
visiting me at my office, especially when I was struggling with Catholicism.
He was highly diplomatic about it, and I got somewhat impatient with
him, expecting him to speak up if he had something to say. He told
me that a church might get large and old, and from it would spring
up something new, leaving the old behind (to die, one would presume).
Discreetly, he was speaking of the wisdom, necessity, and validity
of my leaving the Catholic Church and not returning to it.
Particle –Full-Time Christian Companion Provided
Tim Friesen was a young married man fresh out of Bible school from
Nipawin, Saskatchewan. He and his wife began attending the Alliance
Church and I hired him as a salesman. In the following days, he shared
much with me in the office and, once or twice, he and Verna invited
me to their home for dinner.
Particle –The Simplicity of the Alliance Church
I recall my first impressions as a Catholic in an evangelical church
building. I was taken aback by its stark atmosphere.
In the Ukrainian Catholic, Byzantine church, the only one to which
I had ever belonged, every square inch of the multi-domed ceiling
and ornate walls was intricately painted, accompanied with pictures
and statues of God, Jesus, the apostles, saints, and angels, as well
as crucifixes, designs, candles, a large chandelier, and other objects.
There were also the ceremony and ritual, the bell ringing, making
the sign of the cross, constant kneeling, sitting, and standing during
services, chanting, parading around the altar, and singing.
There was the all-important altar and all the paraphernalia – fancy
cloth coverings, candlestick holders, a little model church building
on the altar, complete with door and key for “the host” (the
golden chalice with or without its contents of bread and wine administered
in the Mass). “What is a church without an altar?” I
The priest wore ornate vestments, and all was formal and precisely
orchestrated. He sang the words of the Mass and was often accompanied
by anywhere from two to six altar boys, dressed in their ornate vestments,
answering scripted and timely words. Often there was a “dyak,” a
man who would answer the priest throughout the ceremony.
All I saw at the Alliance were bare white walls and plain wooden
cathedral ceiling, plain pews, and a simple pulpit at the front – no
altar. The pastor wore a plain suit, was accompanied by nobody else,
led in prayer, and preached a simple sermon. Some persons might sing
a special number, and there may be a choir singing a few hymns. It
was all very different in decor and decorum, and it took some adjusting.
But the people were also very different, and that made an impression
on me. I was quite willing to give up an ornate church full of dead
people for a simple one with a few friendly, smiling, gracious people,
young and old.
Particle –Tears of Sorrow to Tears of Joy
About a week after my conversion, the evangelist Ken Campbell, with
music director Jim Reese, visited Prince Albert and preached at a
school gym. They recruited me to sing in the choir. Several times,
I could hardly sing for the joy welling up within me; I choked back
the lump in my throat while tears flowed – I should have let
myself go and freely bawled.
Only a week earlier I was smoking cigars, proud and miserable, and
now I was happily hoping to see people come forward to accept the
invitation to receive the Lord their Savior. When they did, I was
moved to tears. I was a different person, no doubt.
Particle –The Impatience of Youth
One Sunday morning when Ken Campbell gave an altar call after his
sermon at the Alliance Church, I felt compelled to go forward, but
I resisted. As four women came forward, he mentioned that while there
were four women at the cross, there was only one man. That did it – I
was going to be that man. I loosed my grip from the pew in front
of me and went forward.
There were seven of us in all, including the evangelist and the
pastor directing us to a room in the back. We all cried and cried.
I never saw so many tissues used at once! None of us could stop crying
for some time. Why were we all crying so? I didn’t know then
(I thought I knew), but I know now and will tell you later.
It was then that I told Ken I wanted to preach. He said, “Wait
a few years.” I was surprised. “A few years? That is
a long time! How about now, in the next few months?”
The impatience and presumption of youth! I had no idea what was
ahead of me, and how long it would be before I would be taken by
the Lord to serve Him. It was to be many more years than I thought
Ken meant, or than he was even thinking.
The surprising spirit and significance of this event
would be revealed to me some years later. I discovered that the going
day, which I thought to be God’s stirring in me, was something
very different, though God was in full control all along.
Particle –How to Butt Out
I tried to quit smoking and found it difficult. George gave me some
advice: “Ask the Lord to take away the desire for smoking,
and you won’t have to quit!” I did ask the Lord, and
within a month, smoking was history. God has been faithful – to
Though I had successfully quit smoking years before and relapsed,
this time the quitting was for good.
Particle –A Suicidal Habit
How did my smoking start? I had picked it up in my mid teens, out
of curiosity and wanting to be “cool.” I would not listen
to those who cared, to those who knew better. Etched in my memory
was an image of a cool, tough guy, like James Dean, with jacket slung
over his shoulder and a cigarette hanging from his mouth, playing
on a pinball machine, an image I thought desirable.
I also believed, contrary to my father’s warning, that I could
quit any time I wanted, which was true. The problem was that as I
continued, the less I wanted to quit, until I could not want to quit
even if I wanted to! Yes, I think that’s how it works.
As I see young people light up today, in spite of the common public
admonitions and regulations, I shake my head. “People, why?” I
ask. “If you only knew!”
I think of the manufacturers who prey on the young, callously profiting
by the smoker’s self-inflicted process of demise, for which
the supplier is as much, if not more, to blame than the smoker.
The world is full of evils, smoking not being the greatest of them.
Humankind, trying to please itself, is bent on self-destruction.
It is succeeding.
Particle –Regret, Not Hypocrisy
I smoked, ignoring my father’s and mother’s admonitions.
Moreover, my father was a smoker, and I thought, “He’s
a hypocrite. He tells me not to smoke and there he is, smoking.
Who is he to preach to me?” However, he admitted that he
was hooked and if he could, he would quit or turn back the clock
and not start. He was concerned the same would happen to me. There
is no hypocrisy in that; his was the voice of bitter experience,
speaking to someone he cared about.