My relationship with Jesus Christ, before this renewal took place, was sort of like my relationship with the President. I knew a great deal about him. But I didn't really know him. Just as I had never personally met the President, so I had never personally met Jesus Christ.
I'm an old dog, seventy-two years old, and I've been a devout and active Catholic all my life. I always felt that I had a real devotion to God, and tried to carry out my religious duties without letting up. I would beat my kids out of sleeping bags on camping trips and drive forty miles to get to Mass because it was required. I went to Communion regularly. Even if I sinned, my faith remained strong and I considered myself a loyal Catholic. Yet in the last few years, my whole life has been renewed.
When I say that, I really don't mean to say there's anything totally new in me. But there is a great deepening of all the old truths. They were all there before, and I was aware of them, and I even thought I knew them. But I know now that I was just aware of them.
I suppose it's a hackneyed example, but my relationship with God, with Jesus Christ, before this renewal took place in my life a year and a half ago, was sort of like my relationship with the President. I knew a great deal about him. I had read a great deal. But I didn't really know him. Just as I had never personally met the President, so I had never personally met Jesus Christ.
My life began to change through the prayers of a neighbor when I was hospitalized with cancer. This neighbor came to the hospital and prayed for me, and I recovered. I don't like to use the word "miracle" too lightly, but I do believe that the Lord healed me. He used good surgeons and other things, but he gave me back my life in a truly remarkable recovery, one that even the doctors were amazed at.
When I returned home and began to regain my strength, my neighbor asked if I'd like to go to a prayer meeting with him. Of course I said I would, though I didn't quite know what to expect.
At the prayer meeting I was amazed to hear people speak so familiarly and lovingly about Jesus. It was "Jesus, this" and "Jesus that," words we never used to use. We were afraid to. We would always say "Christ" or "Our Lord," but it was something less familiar than "Jesus. " That told me right there that something was going on that I didn't know a lot about.
At the same time, it wasn't difficult at all for me to encounter the joyfulness of the prayer meeting. A lot of people I talk to seem to have an initial problem with that, with the idea of making noise in church. The sisters used to whop kids for doing that. But I guess that if this is the good news, we ought to be spreading it with great joy, happiness, and jubilation, because it is so good.
A few weeks later, I was baptized with the Holy Spirit, and I realized that I was beginning to share in the life of the Triune God in a new way. That really rocked me. It's an awesome thing when you stop an think about it. To me, as a result of this, God has become a real Father. I rely on him. I know that he going to lead me and protect me. And Jesus is real in my life. He's my brother, my God, my friend, and my companion, the one who leads me to the Father.
As I said, there's nothing really new to me in a this. I guess the one thing that's new is recognizing the actual influence of the Holy Spirit. He has come out of the closet. He isn't telling me anything he didn't tell me before, but it has more point and meaning now. I have just read in one of Paul's letters, "I believe that nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus." (Phil 3:8) (Rom 8:38-39) And that's the whole story. That's my story too.
Now, after seventy active years, the Lord has entered my life in a new and wonderful way. My relationship with God and my fellow man has been immensely deepened. Now I can understand when I hear people say, "Accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior." That used to sound foreign to me, but now I say, "Of course! That's what it's all about!"
Royal Oak, Michigan
Age 72 (when this story was written), retired,
married 45 years, 4 children
How Wtness.org heard of this story: Bob Ovies, the long-time deacon of the now-closed St. Columban church in Birmingham, Michigan, shared with Bill Griffin, Managing Editor of Wtness.org, a book Bob had edited titled "New Lives". In this book was the story of Paul Weber of Royal Oak, Michigan, who attended the same prayer meetings Bob did in 1979 when this story was written.