Recently, after reading my testimony, my daughter wrote, “Thankful to have an amazing Dad like you!” I replied, “Amazing is that through His grace I believed and followed Him.”
So where did it all begin? Born on October 30, 1946, and raised in a two-story house at 496 Humphrey St., Swampscott, MA. My dad worked at the General Electric Riverworks Plant in Lynn. I was the fourth of five children. In the photo I am in the bottom right with the dark collars. My parents were good, moral, middle-class citizens. They didn’t become believers until later in life. I had a happy childhood and enjoyed my older brothers and younger sister. Living only a couple blocks from the Atlantic Ocean with freedom to be on the go, I found plenty of adventures. My brother Bob (far left in photo) and I were only 19 months apart in age and shared many friends together. My mom took us to the local United Congregational Church. I cannot remember ever hearing the gospel.
The years passed, and I graduated from Swampscott High School in 1964. I started the next year at Northeastern University in Boston. Due to extenuating circumstances I withdrew from Northeastern half way through my second year. I joined the navy, serving in Taiwan and Washington, D.C., and in four years never saw a single ship! While serving in Taiwan, I met and eventually married the daughter of an army sergeant. We spent the last two years of my enlistment living in the D.C. area. While there, my daughter Stacey was born. When my four years were up, we left the navy and moved back to the Northeast to attend the University of Massachusetts, where I earned my BS degree in forestry. Before my senior year, my wife divorced me. I was devastated. The world and my life, which I thought I could manage, were falling apart.
While I struggled with life, including finishing my degree, my brother Bob sent me a gospel tract based on Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” During my darkest hours, God reached down and invited me to trust him. I knew I was saved and loved Jesus, but there was no one discipling me. It was just me and God. On the matter of trust, from then until now, he has always been trustworthy.
Meeting Gail and having two more wonderful daughters—and now seven grandchildren—is another story in itself. Ask me about that sometime.
Yes, I came to believe on the issue of trust. But by far it has been God’s amazing grace that has kept me walking with Jesus. When the apostle Paul entreated the Lord because of the thorn in the flesh he was given, God said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9a). I have lived that verse again and again along this journey God has given me. And I find it is a daily thing. Each day I must “pick up my cross” and follow him.
One of his most recent acts of grace in my life happened almost three years ago when through family circumstances he moved us to Newberg. We already were aware of the grace shown our daughter Sue through the NFC family. Attending, joining, and serving in this community was and is a huge outpouring of God’s grace. I was not aware of the Quaker beliefs and practices. I have witnessed how they enhance all the other traditions of faith we have embraced in the past. We find real joy in living in community with brothers and sisters who practice their faith from day to day in everyday life: shoulder to shoulder, caring for each other, the community around us and around the world. I thank God for blessing me with you. May God continue to bless each of you as his grace bearers, administering his grace in its various forms to those around you.