Conversion stories are always so compelling. Jim’s is full of good content that can help another understand and see the truth of the Catholic Church. This story is about 23 pages but a very good read. Hope you enjoy it. By the way, below is also a link to his wife Julie’s story :-)
She wrote this about her husband:
“My husband a quiet man at times, especially if he does not know you, spent the last few months writing his journey into the Catholic Faith. For a man who usually does not use many words….. He had much to say. I am so proud of him and every time I asked him if he was finished yet? He would say… “No! I have too many areas I need to cover. This is my story and I want to get it right.”
“Why do we want to share this? In hopes of bridging a gap and help folks understand the misunderstandings that have divided Christianity. We know we are just a small pebble in this great big ocean in which we live. Hoping our pebble with bring a few ripples across the waters and touch others. God Bless, Jewels”
I was born the second child of a staunch Presbyterian family; father, mother, four sisters and me. From as early as I can remember our parents did not “send” their children to church, they “took” them. We did Sunday school and Church service almost every Sunday. We may have protested (more about protestation later) from time to time, but we understood we were going. It was a part of our lives. I thank God often for the father and mother he prepared for me. They were not perfect parents by the world’s standards, but they were perfect for me. God does not make mistakes. What does the world know?
I was baptized at the age of 13 months. Until I was about five years old, I have scant memories of life; a few places and events. When I was eight years old, we began attending St. Phillip Presbyterian Church in Hurst, TX. There were many families with children my age, but the ones that attended regularly only had girls my age.
There I was in Sunday school surrounded by girls. Not the ideal situation for an eight or nine year old boy, especially a boy with four sisters! Still, I enjoyed the Bible stories, mostly from the Old Testament, that told the ancient history of the people of God. Great heroes like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua and David were imperfect, yet God showed them great power and had mercy on them. Then too, we had stories from the New Testament of Jesus healing multitudes of people, teaching them to obey God and ultimately being crucified. Oh yes, He was buried, rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven. Yet, the “full” meaning of all this escaped me.
When I was thirteen, it was time for Confirmation. Yes, the Presbyterians have, or had back then, a confirmation process. Eight or ten weeks meeting with the Minister to “learn” the tenets of the faith (Communicants Class), followed by a Confirmation Service. We made a profession of faith, were received into full membership and received our first Communion (sound sort of familiar to you Catholics?).
I cannot tell you the complete affect first Communion had on me, but as I continued to take Communion over the years I experienced something special. I now know it was the Grace of God. I had wondered for many years why I could not “participate” in Communion and why my father, mother and others in the assembly would weep at the eating of flat bread and wine. (Yes, our Presbyterian church had WINE! It was not until much later that grape juice was offered as an alternate to wine.) I too would well-up during the Communion Service, but would be so at peace afterword.
At this point of the story I know many Catholics are screaming “What about examination of conscience? What about Reconciliation? What about receiving unworthily? What about crackers and juice? What about… What-up with dat?” Calm down already. We were taught to examine our conscience and confess our sin and sinfulness, before receiving. Did we confess to a Priest? Yes and no. We were more than welcome to approach our minister, Reverend James F. Garvin (a wonderful man of God, but not a Catholic Priest… more on this later), and discuss any manner of sin, fault or greivance. He would assure us “in Jesus Christ you are forgiven.” Most of us confessed to the High Priest forever of the order of Melchizedek. You might know him as Jesus Christ.
As I transitioned from junior high to high school, my church attendance slowly declined. Eventually it was relegated to the level of holiday celebrations. There were basically two, Easter and Christmas. Two things occurred during this time that affected my attitude toward church attendance.
First, my dad had a “disagreement” with the church leadership. He was a Deacon willing to serve, but something upset him so much he resigned and rarely attended church the remainder of his life. I know nothing of the details and never asked.
Second, I became self absorbed. I focused on working, football, friends with little or no inclination toward spiritual development, smoking, drinking and girls. Imagine that, smoking and drinking coexisting with football. Sure, many players on my high school team smoked and drank their way through the season. Young bodies can take a lot of abuse and recover quickly. Probably still happens today with the added influence of drugs. Girls?
Although I liked girls, I never had success in this department. I was terrified of them. I feared rejection and thought I had nothing to offer. I had three dates in three years of high school. One of those the girl asked me, but I thought she was motivated by her recent breakup with another guy. Enough about this. In my senior year I quit football half way through the season and worked (money was important to me) while moving on to a more “important” activity, experimenting with drugs.
I graduated from high school and began to work construction. I had plenty of money, but wanted more. What better way than to sell pot. I was not the prime North Texas Distributor, but sold it none the less. This was a dark period in my life. I lived for money and the next high. I worked all day, partied all night, got up the next day and repeated the cycle. This lasted for about three years.