My TESTIMONY :
(Given at a Déjeuner de l'espoir “Hope Breakfast” in Shawinigan in 1997)
I was born in Trois-Rivières in 1935, where I remained until 1959. Later, I resided at Sherbrooke, Montmagny and, for a number of years, I have lived in the greater Montreal area, in Beloeil more precisely.
The year 1997 was very particular for me. It marked the 50e birthday of my meeting with the Lord Jesus- Christ, when I received Him as my personal Saviour. I have been married to Yolande since 1957, and parents of three children, of whom a girl who died in 1987, thus joining with her Saviour.
The first time that I remember praying, was at the Sainte-Justine Children Hospital of Montreal, at the time of a three months stay when I was only five years old. I completely had my chest in plaster. I was separated for those three months from my parents and was thus very unhappy. Laid down all day, I had as the leisure only to look out the window, at the sparks produced by the crossing of the Electric Trams (Don’t forget this is 1940). One day, from my hospital bed, I raised my eyes to the sky and asked God to look out for my life. But back home, I went back to the practices of my parent’s religion, with the recitation of the rosary which was also heard over the radio at the time.
In 1947, radio newscasters reported almost daily the lawsuits of the Second World War criminals. I then saw the evil in the world, and contradictions between the religious teaching which I was receiving and the doubtful practical application on behalf of people in general. The injustice upset me very much.
One Winter day of 1947, I was then only eleven years old, a man came and knocked at our home door. It was a very large man with a French accent. A Marseillais who had grown in New York and who had a fondness for French Quebec because he knew the language well and God had showed him to serve Him there. He wanted to announce the Gospel and to give his testimony.
Some time before, my father had requested a French New Testament which had been offered free of charge by a Christian Assembly of Ontario. My Dad, a fearful man, related to alcohol and was a heavy blasphemer, but was thus however aware of his eternal perdition, as he would admit himself. He read the Bible, but "in hiding-place". He held it out of reach of his wife and of his six children. The reading of the Bible was prohibited at that time. The foreigner at the door of our home thus came in to make sure that the New Testament had arrived well at our house. But the presence of this missionary worried a little my father, because he feared that it might be some kind of a sect or an unspecified religion. However, my father let the visitor in because he spoke like Fernandel (a French actor), for whom my Dad was a great admirer. The missionary’s very marked accent from Marseille France made his words not always well understood, except for a sentence that he often repeated: "It is not I who says it, it is God who says it" This word had caused much interest in the heart of my father, and it was always with anticipation that he expected the next visit from the missionary. He wanted to know what God had told him. The man quoted the New Testament continuously.
Our home was the 86th door on which the missionary had knocked at; and to be the last one if no one opened the door. All the other people had refused the access to the missionary except my Dad.
My mother was the first one in our family to understand the
Message of the Gospel and to accept it. My father was insulted
of such an unfolding, partly because of manners of the time which wanted that the man
dominates from any point of view. In spite of that, my father continued his reading in
secrecy. Shortly after, he came to Christ and his life changed.
One day, during which time I was alone in the house, I took my father’s New Testament and I began reading it, particularly all that my father had underlined in red with a pencil: nearly 300 passages which were speaking to my soul directly. My reading was like a hammer striking me. I had learned that God weighed in a balance my good and my bad works. But there, I realized that I was a sinner and was lost! I then stopped on the following verse: "He that believes in Him (Jesus) is not judged; but that he who does not believe is already judged, because he did not believe in the Name of the Only son of God "(John 3. 18 French Louis Second version) I had however always said that I believed in Jesus, but I did not have the assurance that I was forgiven. I continued my reading until I reached verse 36 of the same chapter: "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he that does not believe in the Son will not see life, but the anger of God remains on him. I believed with all my heart and I knew that the burden which condemned me, like an enormous weight suspended above my head, had been removed. I, thereafter, decided to speak about it with everybody.
At first, I wanted to keep that for me all alone. But during that Evening, all the members of my family we were united in the living-room to greet the missionary again who came and knock on the door. He exposed the Word of God to us, and his eyes would always gaze on me. At a given moment, he asked me: "Fernand, what happened to you today? " I had however promised to God not to speak about it, but here I was telling him about it in front of my family. The man with the French accent invited all the family right there and then, to knee down in order to bless God for the small stone which had just been added to the spiritual Church of Jesus-Christ. It was on April 10th 1947, and from this day on to this day, by the grace of God, I have devoted my life giving testimony of what God did for me thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ.