I was raised Roman Catholic, but not very strict. I have always believed in God, even as a small child. I remember that I just loved going through our old family Bible and looking at the artwork. There were a lot of classical paintings in it. Although I strongly believed in God, I didn’t really understand fully what that meant, or what I should do with that knowledge.

When I was in Junior High, I went through a period where I became very interested various cultic practices. I was mostly interested in ESP, and witchcraft. I think I read every book on the subjects that I could find on them in my school and city libraries.

At the same time I began to be very interested in a particular girl at school. I ended up with a giant crush on her, but I was too afraid to say anything. I credit her with beginning my turn back to the Lord. She was a very staunch Christian who didn’t have a problem with telling me that the things I was involved in were of the Devil. I wanted to try to impress her, and God, I thought, was just the way to do it.

This was in 1973 when the Jesus Movement starting coming around in Michigan. I remember someone coming around the house with free New Testaments from a place called “Key ’73.” I began reading the Bible more and began to realize that because of the things I was involved in, I was probably headed for Hell (I still hadn’t heard–or at least, understood the Gospel yet).

I began carrying my Bible to school and read it quite a lot, but pretty much just for the stories and histories. I didn’t understand most of the epistles. They were just too deep for me. It was obvious that nothing was going to happen between me and the girl I mentioned before, so the Bible reading went by the wayside also.

I started going to a friend’s local Baptist church. I liked the activities, but so many of the people that I knew from my school that went there were complete hypocrites (including me), it just became a place to meet girls. Eventually I stopped going altogether.

Later in my senior year, I met Mary, the girl who would later become my wife. We became friends quickly, but didn’t begin getting close until after we graduated in 1977. She was raised in a much more strict Catholic home. Knowing she was very religious (not saved yet either) it rekindled my interest in the Bible. At this time I also read Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth. Until I read this book, I had never thought about the end-times, or the fact that I was living in them.

Mary really loved and looked up to her older brother. She was very surprised to learn that he was attending a home Bible study. He invited her to come, and after a few weeks, she invited me. We were going through the book of Ephesians. I had heard all my life that Jesus died for my sins, but I never really understood what that meant.

Mary and I both suffered from a similar problem. We both wanted to turn our lives around but it seemed that we could never get over the guilt aspect. It seemed that we could do whatever we wanted to try to get closer to him, but if we sinned too much—too bad! We weren’t good enough. We could never be good enough.

That was when we first heard from God’s Word that salvation was free. God wants us to do good works because he is good and wants us to be of the same mind. However, the whole reason Jesus died on the cross was because without him we are completely and utterly lost.

Within a short time, Mary and I came to realize this, dedicated ourselves to him, and have never looked back. Over the next three years we became engaged. During our engagement, we began questioning many of the teachings of the Catholic Church. For a time I especially wanted to get married in the Church so I tried to force myself to believe in the very doctrines that I had trouble believing.

We were married at St. James Catholic Church in Grand Rapids, MI in 1980. Shortly after this though, I got my wits about me and I just couldn’t force myself to believe in what I was increasingly convinced was anti-Christian doctrine.

We began attending Homestead Bible Chapel in Kentwood, MI, an assembly of Plymouth Brethren believers. It was a wonderful church that preached God’s Word accurately and the people were so friendly, that we knew we had found our new home. It was here that Mary and I both received believer’s baptism by immersion.

A couple of years later, I began to be very disillusioned in my job. Mary became pregnant, and I felt like I was now stuck in a job I hated. I decided to go into the Army to try to make a career change, and get some money for school. So when Mike was two months old, I went into basic training. Other than basic training and AIT, I spent the whole four year term of service at Fort Hood, TX.

When we moved to Texas, there were no Plymouth Brethren assemblies in the area. I wanted to go to a non-denominational church, but all of them in the area were Pentecostal or similar. All of the Baptist churches were Southern Baptist, and I didn’t want to go there. We met some people who had just begun a new Regular Baptist church in their home, and we began attending there. Mary and I had another son, Matthew, during this time. We stayed with Grace Baptist Church for the whole time we were in Texas, where I eventually was elected a deacon.

When I got out of the Army and went back to Michigan, we moved in with my parents for few months and then moved into the duplex across the street from them. We went back to Homestead, but so many people had left, that the spirit there had changed.

We started going to Grandville Baptist Church at this time and have been attending there since 1987.