My Life Before Christ
I was raised in a Christian home, with parents who were lovers of Christ. As a child I went to an Independent Baptist Church with my parents until a few months after my 15th birthday. My years at Independent Baptist Church were filled with the message of the Gospel, the requirements of the Gospel, and my voluntary response to that Gospel. Every time I sat in the pews of that church, I heard about the blood of Christ, the cross of Christ, and my need to be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again and again, year after year, I heard the call—the lamenting call—in the form of this question: “Sinner, why don’t you turn and serve the Lord? Be ready when the Bridegroom comes, be ready, be ready, be ready when the bridegroom comes.” I heard this lament sung softly by older folks while the preacher would call the congregation to bow the heart and knee in repentance to God.
I heard sermons about “Beulah Land” and hell and many times I felt the emotional tug to give in to this lamenting call. My mother would teach us to pray and my father would read the Bible to us, I could recite the 51st Psalm from memory, but I never met the requirements: repentance and faith to believe in the cleansing blood of Christ to wash away all my sins.
At 15 I started spending time with a street-wise, tough kid named Hilary Jordan, whose mother had passed away and father was blind. Hilary was street-wise because he took his father to the city everyday to his job at the blind institute where his father would weave wicker baskets and chairs. Hilary went to Coffee Street Boys EC School; his school was out before his dad was done working so he learned the ways of the city. His dad, Mr. Theophilus Jordan (or Mr. T), was a non-believer, but a nice man with lots of stories of adventures and suspense, so I spent a lot of time at their house. I started to skip church with my mom when my dad was away (he was a lumberjack). Before long, I stopped going to church altogether; many times I had football (soccer) games on Sundays that my pals demanded I not miss.
Although I stopped going to church, my dad would read the Bible to us and we were required to stop what we were doing at the time and listen.
When I was 18 years old I was admitted to the San Fernando General Hospital for Tetanus. I spent 11 days in an isolation ward, a boy my age died in the room next to me, and I was afraid of God, so I said the 51st Psalm repeatedly until I was out of the Hospital. I escaped the lock-jaws of death, but continued in a state of lostness.
At 20 years of age I moved to the City to attend UWI John S. Donaldson Technical Institute. Upon graduation I was offered a job at Furness Smiths Ship Yard. I worked on ships that were dry docked in Trinidad for repairs. It was there where I had contact with sailors and seamen from the world over and many of my countrymen who were returning from exotic places. I was fascinated by the many wayfarer stories, and at 23 years of age, I was on my first ship out of Trinidad to South America and the Gulf states of North America. It was on that ship, the MV Wanderer, that I was introduced to Eastern paranormal by reading The Third Eye by Tibetan Buddhism author Tuesday Lobsang Rampa. By the time I was finished with this autobiography, I had strayed far from my parents’ teaching and the God of my parents.
After a stint on the MV Wayfarer, I lived on the Island of Antigua. I went back to Trinidad and grieved my mother with all the spiritual nonsense I had picked up along the way. However, my mother kept preaching Jesus and His precious blood that was shed for me and her prayers were fervent and continual on my behalf.
I left Trinidad for Freeport Grand Bahama at age 26, and my mother’s heart was broken over my divergent views of life and the after life. However, wherever I went, her letters followed me with the Gospel plea and the salutation “I greet you in the name of our Lord and Savior Christ.”
I thought at that point in my life that my parents’ religion was unenlightened. I would ball up her letters and toss them away because the Gospel had become foolishness to me, a perishing soul.
At age 40 I was living on the Island of Maui and my world-view was diametrically opposite to that of Western Christianity. I was never in all my wandering years opposed to Christ the man, but I was opposed to what I saw as Christianity.
How Christ Saved Me
As I worked as a Pearls salesman at Crown Pearls International, my workmate Norman Sher was bold enough to confront me on my New Age views. He specifically pointed out a Madagascar crystal I was wearing and told me point blank that it was garbage and that I needed Jesus, something my mother told me all the years of my life.
That night at work Norman gave me a Gospel tract and I took it. And this time I kept it. This was significant because I can remember a time before that when I was walking from Queen street to Bloor Street on Young Street in Toronto and in that space of time destroying with anger ten Gospel tracts given to me by zealot Christians.
About two weeks after getting the tract from Norman I finished a book I was reading, The Autobiography of a Yogi.
I read the tract that night, believed the Gospel, saw my sinful condition, saw God’s anger and wrath, and saw His mercy and grace. I believed on Christ with my whole being and trusted His claim made in the Gospel.
His Life in Me Since
About two weeks after my surrender to the Lordship of Christ, still working with Norman on the night shift at the store, he said to me, “Julien there is something different about you lately.” I told him I had read the tract he gave me and trusted the claims of the Gospel.
He said that there was a Bible study I should go to, in the community center close Haiku, close to where I lived. That very Wednesday night I started going to the Bible study, which turned into Island Hope Church and I was a part of that church until I left for Phoenix in 1993.
At Island Hope I kept hearing “Julien is an evangelist,” or “Julien, you are an evangelist.” Later I discovered it was because I told all my New Age friends about the love of Christ in saving me from sin and its deceitfulness. Even before I could present the Gospel in full, I would do my best, but bring people to the Pastor who could complete the message.
The store where I worked became a Gospel station as I would talk with visitors from the main land and the international audience that I had on a nightly basis.
Between 1989 and 1993 I lost most of the friends I had because the Gospel was an offense to them.
In the early years of my conversion I thought that I was freed from being a sinner, but as I grew in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I have discovered and am discovering what the apostle Paul discovered about himself. Oh wretched man that I am, but I am thankful to Christ my savior every day because my triumph is only through Him.
I have always loved the Bible since my spiritual blindness was restored to sight. However, the book of Romans has helped me a great deal. Romans 7 takes me down to the valley of vision where I find true wisdom; a vision of my unworthiness and a vision of Christ’s complete holiness, in whose place— and not in my flawed righteousness—I stand before God.
Romans 8 takes me to the mountaintop of confidence in the God of my salvation. I am confident that if He called me on an Island paradise when I was not even considering Him, He will take me to the Place that my soul so longs for—the paradise of His Presence in Glory.
So this is where I stand after my conversion in 1989. I am looking for and awaiting His appearing and long to sit at His feet to inquire in His Temple.