I felt the Lord had let me down, if not betrayed me. How could I
trust Him in anything? How could I believe Him? Why would He lead
me on like this? Why would He not have told me plainly that David
was going to die? What was wrong with me that He wouldn’t talk
to me? I had tried to believe what God told me over a year ago, that
David was healed.
I was shocked, not only with the sorrow of David’s death,
but also because my own spiritual condition or position was questionable
now. I had declared that David would live; others had declared that
he would die, and he died. They hadn’t believed, while I thought
I had; yet they were right, and I was wrong. Once again, I was the
Particle – Hard
With all the grief, my parents didn’t want us to leave their
place now. I feel badly that I wasn’t capable of loving and
comforting them. I was so hard, so judgmental and unfeeling. However,
so were they, and I have learned that hard draws and needs hard.
Particle – Buying
for the Buried or for the Buriers?
My parents asked me to help them decide what to buy for the funeral.
Because everyone dearly loved David, he being that gentle, humorous,
friendly soul, many would have readily done almost anything for him.
What also made it so hard was that he was leaving us in his youth.
Still, being the practical-minded one, I suggested they get by with
minimum expenses. “Why feed an expensive oak coffin to worms
and rot in the unseen world, when a cheap one would do? Would David
care?” I reasoned.
They ignored me and bought “the best.”
me if you don’t ever care for what I have to say?” I
The expense of funerals serves no good, unless perhaps to provide
employment for some, but perhaps they could be occupied in more worthy
endeavors. To me, it is deplorable the way the undertaking industry
plays on the emotions of the bereaved, taking advantage of weakness.
As well, the funereal process in Western society is worship of death
and of the dead. It is an Egyptian/Babylonian pagan mentality that
serves only mercenary interests and tyrannical religion. Grief can
only be truly assuaged by truth and faith, never money.
Particle – Ron’s
Rendezvous with Regret
When we first went to view the body at the funeral home, I recall
brother-in-law Ron Hrehirchuk’s initial reaction. He fell on
his knees, crying and wailing as no one else did. “David!” he
I recalled how he had often criticized David, being sarcastic with
him. Ron and Barb had a dairy, something one must attend to every
morning and evening, seven days a week. They grew weary of it, or
were unable to handle it themselves, so they hired David to work
for them for a while, and I would hear Ron complain of David’s
Now it seemed a guilty conscience was coming to roost,
as a vulture ready to devour. I felt badly for Ron. He seemed a delicate
the one who cried when I spoke
to him about
smoking and of turning to the Lord three and a half years earlier,
interrupted in her brutish, insensitive way, and expelled me from
Particle – Pagan
I recall when Gregory Oucharyk had the funeral service for David.
As David lay in the open coffin, Oucharyk took a golden sprinkler
of water and, with overhand casting motion, sprinkled David. What
an effect that had on the people! The crowd uttered an immediate
impulsive groan and wept.
Archie, who was standing near me, was suddenly incensed and would
have done something rash, had I not restrained him. I also felt angry,
but wasn’t sure why. It seemed like the sprinkling brought
home the realization that David was indeed dead.
Was I upset for another reason? Was the Catholic Church subtly exercising
control? What was it? I’m sure someone could explain the psychology
Particle – No
Raising the Dead Here
We knew God raises the dead. We red of it in Scripture and heard
of it happening in modern times; not to mention that Jesus testified
that His disciples would have the power to do so. We had also seen
miracles and healings with our own eyes.
Could we pray for David? Was it God’s will that he be raised
up? What a shocker that would be! And would I not be vindicated after
all? What a vindication! Not that I would have been able to handle
We considered and prayed, but it was not to be. David was taken,
for a reason we would soon discover.
Particle – Fornication
We had a little talk with Diane, David’s girlfriend. When
I told her David was wrong about the outward and that it mattered
very much what we did with our bodies, she had that sheepish look
on her face and said, “That scoundrel!” I hadn’t
spoken to her of fornication per se, but I gathered that was the
issue, and her reaction seemed to be one of embarrassment.
Particle – Comfort
with the Comforter
In spite of the loss and sorrow, the Lord sustained Diane, Archie,
Cathie, Marilyn, and me – those who professed faith. We gave
thanks and weren’t morose, as is common and expected. After
all, we knew that David had believed, though he hadn’t walked
faithfully in the calling. We knew that where he had gone wasn’t
for evil, but for good.
Our countenance and attitude surprised the undertaker, Walter Strilchuk,
when he came to the door to usher us into the lead funeral car to
drive us to the church. While he was performing the sorrowful, mourning
role expected of undertakers, we were saying to him, “It’s
alright, Walter! David was a believer. He has gone on to more, for
Walter didn’t know what to make of us. He couldn’t conceal
his puzzled expression or decide on an appropriate deportment to
Particle – Honored
What a funeral it was! David was a member of the Knights of Columbus,
a Catholic social and fundraising club. The Knights of Columbus honored
him with their dress and decorum.
David was also a member of the Cossacks, a Ukrainian dancing group.
They were there in their colorful performance uniforms, doing him
honors. He had many friends, and our family was a large one.
Being established in the local Ukrainian Catholic Church, there
were many acquaintances. David also professed a personal faith in
Christ, which drew some evangelicals as well. It was standing room
only, and there was hardly that.
Particle – A
Strange Occurrence Leading To...
The ceremony took an hour or so. Then a very strange thing happened.
Near the end of the Mass for the dead, “Father” Gregory
Oucharyk turned from the altar to the people, held up the “Eucharist” (the
chalice of bread and wine), and said, “All those who come and
receive this will be honoring David.” It was an open invitation.
This was strange indeed. There were many non-Catholics in the assembly. “Holy
Communion,” by Catholic dogma, was only for Catholics, and
more particularly, only for those who had confessed their sins. Truly,
the Catholic Church teaches (at least it taught me) that if one were
to partake of the “body and blood” of the Lord (bread
and wine), without having gone to a priest for confession shortly
before receiving communion, he sinned a great sin, which was almost
unforgivable. This departure from Catholic tradition and solemn dogma
was new to me!
All I could see in it was a compromising motion to comfort the mourning
family and friends, if not a strategy to gain converts. Was he not
adulterating that which they professed to be so sacred? “But
then, what does it matter?” I thought. The whole thing was
corrupt and therefore no part of it should be surprising.
People filed out of their pews and began to come forward. The lineup
was endless. It seemed everyone was taking the priest up on his offer.
But that wasn’t the strange part. The next thing that happened
shocked us. I began to experience the compulsion to go forward as
well. I couldn’t believe it! Go forward and receive that which
I had learned to be an abomination?
I thought, “What kind of spirit is trying to seduce me here?
Should I perhaps not even be here?”
I struggled, but the compulsion became stronger. I began to be convinced
that I needed to go forward. I knew it wasn’t for David, as “The
Very Reverend” suggested, and I knew it had nothing to do with
having communion for its own sake. But what was it?
I whispered my thoughts to Marilyn, Archie, and Cathie. They thought
I was out of my mind! They adamantly disagreed with my going. Yet
their strong disapproval didn’t have any effect on me, as it
often could. My struggle went on for about 15 minutes, until the
last person in the lineup received communion. The priest stood there
waiting… for what, for whom? Me?
The door was closing. I knew I had to go. I also knew that all eyes
would be on me, and I feared they may think all sorts of things,
but I didn’t care. I had to go. I was out of my pew like a
stone from a sling. I felt like those with me wanted to grab me and
hold me back. Up to the front I went, laying my hands one over the
other on my chest, the traditional posture for communion.
I had one more question to be answered as I struggled in this matter.
If I went forward, what would “Father” Oucharyk do? There
I stood in front of him now, the heretic of four years, someone who
most definitely didn’t go to confession (he was the only confessor
available). What would he do? I was confident that after making that
offer to the public, and my family being in great grief, he wouldn’t
dare refuse me.
There was stillness, with hundreds of people watching. I stood in
front of him, ready to receive. He didn’t refuse me; he didn’t
even hesitate. He spooned out a piece of bread and placed it on my
tongue as I opened my mouth.
Particle – Deliverance – Wow!
I received my second dramatic inner healing on the spot, a healing
I had no idea I needed so desperately. Suddenly, I felt a great release,
a burden lifted. I was filled with love and joy. I could have taken
Mr. Oucharyk and given him a huge hug (he was a big man, with a large
girth). I could have broken the stuffy, ceremonious decorum on the
spot (I wish I had).
I had just been released from the fear and power of the mighty Roman
Catholic Church. I hadn’t even known I was in fear of it. I
didn’t know I was still in need of deliverance from Catholicism.
I didn’t know, but there it was. I went back to my pew and
raised my hands to the Lord with tears of joy. (Nobody ever raised
their hands in that church, except to light or snuff out high candles
or dust the statues and pictures!)
Particle – Uncles
Donald and Ernie Apologize
To the cemetery we drove. Gathered by the grave, Uncle Donald and
Uncle Ernie made a beeline for me at once and gave me a big hug. “I’m
sorry, Victor!” each of them passionately said to me.
Suspecting they assumed I was returning to the fold, I thought (but
didn’t say), “Wait! Wait a minute! I haven’t come
back! You don’t understand!” I had guessed this might
be the impression people would have, and I even wondered if the event
meant I was to come back.
Strange as it was, however, there was little doubt
at any time that my going forward wasn’t for returning to the Catholic Church.
I said to them, “That’s okay. I forgive you.” (I
wondered what specifically it was they were apologizing to me for,
but I suspected it was simply a gesture to “let bygones be
bygones.” I don’t know that they really felt they had
ever been in the wrong toward me. After all, I was the heretic. I
was the one who strayed from the “Mother Church.”)
Particle – Eating
Back from the graveyard to the community hall for lunch. I have
often wondered how people could eat at a time like this, but food
has been served at every funeral I’ve attended. I have also
eaten at them, though somehow there is a kind of psychological stigma
attached to it for me personally, almost as though the dead person
defiles the food.
Particle – Fred
Hafichuk Breaks Down
The people then lined up to express their condolences to the immediate
family. Uncle Fred Hafichuk came to me, gave me a hug, and cried
on my shoulder. He could barely speak for crying. “I was so
happy to see you come back. You don’t know how happy it made
me, Victor,” he said.
My heart was hurting. How could I break the news to them? When should
I say something? Was I right? Was I sure? I don’t recall what
I said to him. I believe I said something like, “I’ve
never rejected anyone in the family.”
Particle – No
Man an Island
Later that day at my parents’ home, I decided to apologize
to those in the house, including Ron and Barb, for having been
so aggressive with them in trying to get them to repent or mend
their ways. Barb immediately spoke up and publicly upbraided me
for speaking against their smoking. “What we do is our business,
not yours or anybody else’s,” she declared. Suddenly
I was sorrier for apologizing.
I was surprised I should get that kind of reaction at our brother’s
funeral, especially just after I apologized. I was even more surprised
at her blindness and ignorance at such a time. Were we not in the
very process of burying a loved one who died of cancer? Was smoking
not a prime cause of that dreaded disease? Had he not been a smoker?
Was it only his business, or were we all gathered in sorrow because
of his chosen habits and lifestyle?
Do we not affect one another in all things we think,
say, and do? How could she possibly be so ignorant and obtuse? But
she was; she
surely was. I couldn’t say anything. I had nothing to say.
Nobody had anything to say. Some appeared smug that I was “put
in my place,” one of those being none other than… Eddy
Particle – No
Returning to the Dead
Then came the moment of truth for my parents. Sunday was a couple
of days away and my father was asking if we would go to Mass with
them. At that point I was still pondering the meaning of my going
forward and yielding to the partaking of the “Eucharist,” the
central part of the Mass. For some strange reason, perhaps the Lord
wanted us to be involved in the Catholic Church? If so, I was willing,
and I knew that Marilyn would submit to God’s will.
We decided we would go with them, though warning them that we believed
the Lord wasn’t taking us in that direction. We went, and the
whole affair was entirely dead. I saw my uncle Bill there (all these
uncles were Dad’s brothers); he had nothing to say, nor did
anyone else, and we had nothing to say to them. By the time we returned
home, we knew it wasn’t God’s will to continue with the
Catholic Church. I told my parents so. My father told me I was hearing
voices in my head.
Particle – Left
in the Dark
Joe Arthurs, David’s employer and a member and elder of the
First Baptist Church in Dauphin, told me shortly after David’s
death that David had received a message from the Lord that He was
taking David. Joe said David told him that he was ready for, if not
looking forward to, the release. David hadn’t wanted to say
anything to me, thinking that I wouldn’t accept such resignation.
I honestly don’t know what my reaction would have been had
David told me. I felt badly that he couldn’t receive me as
a friend, brother in the Lord, confidant, and minister. I felt so
very sad for him. I also felt that the Lord was deliberately omitting
me from the scene because there was something wrong with me. It was
a very hard time.
Particle – Conversions
in Times of Trouble
During this time, my youngest brother of 17 years, Bob, was taking
David’s illness and death very hard. I testified to him of
salvation in Jesus Christ, I testified to his girlfriend, Marilyn
Robak, to his friend, Mark Archer, and to Ann Doucette, a girl Ron
and Barb adopted, who had been sexually abused in her childhood.
These all professed faith after David’s death.
Particle – David: “I’m
Bob was overwhelmed with grief, but with confession of sin, repentance,
and receiving the Spirit, his life was turned around dramatically.
He lost his sorrow and began to rejoice. At one point, a day or two
after David’s funeral, he said he heard from David, telling
him he was okay. That was it. Bob was relieved and ready to go on
Particle – David
I had a vision in those days. I saw David, from his right side,
after his death. He was on his knees, sitting back on his feet, dressed
in white, shining, hands upraised, full of joy and praising the Lord.
Particle – Reason
We had been staying with my parents long enough. Rental properties
were nonexistent at the time, but we contacted a realtor, Art Potoroka,
who showed us the only rental available in all of Dauphin, a small
home for sale in the country, owned by Bob Curl. We rented it for
a month or two until it was sold.
The very day we moved out of my parents’ home, having lived
with them for 3 weeks, the Lord spoke to me at our own home, saying, “I
took David because he wasn’t willing to make a break with the
I was floored. “Lord,” I asked, “why didn’t
You tell me sooner? Why did You keep me in the dark about it?”
Then I suddenly knew why. He wouldn’t speak to me until I
had separated myself from my parents’ home. After all, He took
David because David wasn’t willing to make a break with the
world. Why should He honor me with His thoughts and doings if I wasn’t
making that required break, forsaking mother and father? I had my
answer, I understood what had happened, and I was now at peace.
This Word also served as a confirmation of three, indeed, four things:
one, our move away from my parents was the right
thing to do (speaking of denying their desire that we be with them
in the Catholic Church);
two, our separation from the Catholic Church should have been David’s
as well, that being part of his required obedience; three, David
did have his healing, but didn’t retain it because of disobedience;
and four, I was on track with the Lord, which I had been doubting.
Particle – Reality
to Replace Religion
We had a meeting at our new house for the four young converts – Bob,
Mark Archer, Marilyn Robak, and Ann Doucette. I went into the customary
repertoire common at home “prayer and praise” meetings.
We prayed, gave thanks and praise to the Lord, and I sang some of
my songs. However, they wanted to talk and express themselves, and
I, being somewhat religiously conditioned, wasn’t sensitive
to their needs and didn’t give them ample opportunity to speak
Later, Mark remarked on how it would have been good to just talk.
I agreed. I also recall, however, that they weren’t very sober
or interested in following the Lord. Somehow, things weren’t
I have found that there are always two sides to the coin. I may
fall short on something, but there is also a reason for my shortcoming.
I am chastened in my downfalls with nothing lost because whatever
I was “supposed to have done” and didn’t do wasn’t
meant to occur. All things work for good. Therefore, as saints, our
mistakes are there to teach us, and we have nothing to regret because
of them. Of course, deliberate disobedience is another matter.
Particle – Four
Having led them to the Lord, we wanted to get these four young people
baptized (fully immersed in water), as an act of obedience and testimony
of repentance from sin towards the Lord. No water source was available
to us in Dauphin (we didn’t wish to go to some church baptismal),
so we found the nearest swimming pool open in winter- in Minnedosa,
about an hour’s drive south. We all went, and they were baptized
in Jesus’ Name.
However, Marilyn and I were young and inexperienced. It really wasn’t
our time to be nurturing the Lord’s sheep. In my ignorance,
we entered the pool with our swimsuits (except for Marilyn). I wouldn’t
do that again. One cannot, in holiness before the Lord, be partially
naked, particularly at such a solemn time. In time to come, we would
receive more understanding about water baptism itself, as well.
Particle – And
We knew that my brother David hadn’t been water baptized.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
“Otherwise, what will they do, those being baptized on behalf
of the dead? If the dead are not at all raised, why indeed are they
baptized on behalf of the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15:29 MKJV)
Our understanding of Paul’s words was that someone could be
baptized on behalf of those passed on, provided the proxy was a believer
and the departed one was a believer who hadn’t been water baptized.
So Bob, now a baptized believer, was the candidate for David.
The moment Bob was baptized for David, the air was electrified;
everyone was moved, some to tears, and we had joy, thankfulness,
and peace that we had done what was pleasing to the Lord on David’s
behalf. At least that was the way we felt about it then. Feelings
don’t always justify.
Particle – The
Mormon Baptism for the Dead Is Different
Had we done the right thing, or were we in error on this matter
of being baptized for the dead? I was well aware of the Mormon doctrine.
There were, however, significant differences - most importantly,
both David and Bob were believers. Mormons will baptize on behalf
of anyone dead.
The only requisites they have, of which I am aware, are that the
person is dead and that the baptizers have his or her name. They
require no evidence or conviction that those passed on had repented
and come to knowledge of the Lord. How could they? They themselves
don’t know the Lord, which was the second major difference
between them and us.
Particle – Baptism
for the Dead - Another Understanding
Though I believe the Lord didn’t fault us for what we did,
and even accepted it, we now have another understanding of what Paul
meant by these words:
“But when all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself
also will be subjected to the One Who has subjected all things to
Him, that God may be all things in all. Otherwise, what will they
do, those being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not
at all raised, why indeed are they baptized on behalf of the dead?” (1
Corinthians 15:28-29 LITV)
We are Spirit baptized not just for ourselves, but on behalf of
the dead, those in this world without Christ. If it were just for
ourselves, then we would surely be taken away from this wretched
world. Why would we go on living amongst the dead, those in the world?
Why not just be physically “raptured” into Heaven with
Christ, away from this decadent, sin-laden world?
Why, as Paul goes on to say, do we “fight with beasts at Ephesus,” except
that the dead (the beasts) are to be raised from their death?
“For the earnest expectation of the creation
waits for the manifestation of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19
Some might ask why Paul seems to be talking about others
than him, when he says, “What will they do...?” But he goes
on immediately following the question to ask, in verse 30, “Why
are we in danger every hour?” He is talking about all Spirit-baptized
believers, who are baptized on behalf of the dead to become as
salt for those in this world. Our purpose is to be here to partake
in God’s great work of reconciliation and salvation of this