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Issue 17

Faith Journey, Part One

So, I'm sittin' here, buggin' out to King's X's rocking guitars, drums, and message, when all of a sudden it hits me! And it hurt, I can tell you. Why don't I, instead headbanging to hard rock and killing brain cells, send out an issue of Randomness? Of course, no normal issue of Randomness, but an issue which tells the most important Matthew story of them all--his testimony!

What? Matt's in a court case or something? No, not that kind of testimony. It's different, it's . . . uh . . . .

Faith Journey

I was born on April 19th, 1983. I remember nothing before I am three years old. My birthday was on Easter Sunday that year. I remember going to church and wondering why they were singing happy birthday to me, because it was Easter! Easter is when we celebrate Jesus rising from the dead, not my birthday! I just didn't get it. Any of you who know me REMOTELY well know that my father is an Anglican priest (even people who don't know me know that). So I grew up in a Christian home, nurtured by loving, Christian parents in a loving Christian atmosphere. Someone once said that Josh Arnold and I are brainwashed because our dads are pastors. Those accusations are untrue. My parents never even told me I had to go to Church, let alone what to believe. It was by their lives and example that I first saw Jesus and learned about what it was to be a Christian. Jesus was always part of my life. Of course there is a God. How could there not be? I have had the fortune of never not knowing that Jesus loves me. When I was five, I made a conscious committment to Jesus and asked Him into my heart. I did it because my Sunday school teacher said that that was all we had to do to have Jesus in our lives. Before that, I don't think I really knew you had to do anything, because He was always THERE. So, of course, I asked my daddy about it, and we prayed the sinner's prayer in my living room.

>From there, I lived a life devoted to God, and here I am today. Okay, so not REALLY. The life of a PK (preacher's kid) is not exactly . . . easy. In the words of Audio Adrenaline, "I was the son of a preacher, and he was a rich poor man." Whatever we ever lacked in wordly possessions, my parents made up for in love. Unfortunately, what they gave in love was not granted by other people. Children are cruel. I'm not like Ray Bradbury, or anything, but I can say that children can be horribly mean to each other. Kids ALWAYS bugged me because my dad was a pastor. And I was not exactly loving in response. I'd say I was Christian in word, belief, and many deeds, but not always in sentiment or deed. Now, I'm the same way today, but it was different. Back then, I didn't care. I felt that they were the enemy and had to be disposed of . . . or something. They'd beat me up, mock me, and act like absolute twits with no regard for who I was as an individual. I'd retaliate by being brutally mean in my words and not caring. And I'd go home and not say anything to anyone. That was school--what did it matter? Another thing PK's have to deal with is the absence of Dad. It's funny. My dad has always been there, yet . . . he hasn't. He'd be over at the church for a meeting, or Bible study, or a service, or out visiting people, or in Calgary for a meeting or something much of the time. But I never really noticed. It's only when I look back that I notice that fact. When Dad was home, everything would be awesome. And he was always home for supper and most evenings.

When I was five, we moved. We moved from Brooks to Rocky Mountain House. As far as my spiritual growth is concerned, I remember nothing. But I feel that this was very important. I met my best friend, Will Ferrey, within days of entering the town. It's been almost thirteen years, but they've been great years. Rocky had a lot of losers to deal with. They all moved away or changed churches, unless they were at school. Rocky Mountain House is in Canada's Bible Belt. I believe that you can find 15 churches in the Rocky region. They have bumper stickers that say "Rocky Region for Jesus" on them. The mayor of the town is a faithful attender of my old church. Rocky is a good place for one thing: partying. Luckily, I spent more time partying with Jesus than partying with other people. And I lived there, and grew there, built strong friendships, and was a beacon in the darkness when I realised that things aren't always as they seem or as we'd like them to be.

In Grade Four I learned that my way of life was not normal. Little kids always think that whatever their lives are like must be how everybody else's life must be. We were standing in line waiting to be let in and talking about stuff. I said something about church and one boy responed with, "You still go to church?" in a horribly derisive tone. I learned that not only was it not NORMAL to go to church, it wasn't cool, and it wasn't okay. >From there, I began to see that lots of other kids didn't go to church. I learned that there was a culture outside of my little bubble I'd grown up in, and that culture was surprisingly hostile towards my bubble. Yes, they'd mocked me because of my father's profession before. But they'd never mocked me for being CHRISTIAN before. Of course, all good things must come to an end. I was finally made fun of for Jesus. Not for what my father was, but for what I was. This happened somewhere between Grades 4 and 5. And with that SPECIFIC persecution came a most surprising thing--love. I don't know why or what for, but I felt a great love for this one boy who really disliked me and slandered the name of God. It must have been something someone said or something I read. I finally smartened up, and cared. I remember planning wild ways to get this guy to hear about Jesus (I never considered actually preaching the Gospel to him . . . my plans were ALWAYS grandiose in those days). And I grew in Jesus and paid attention to what I was taught and prayed and all that. I began getting my crazy background of knowledge that I can't place the location it came from, but I am sure is the truth. And things started to get better.

The funny thing is, as things got better, they got progressively worse. But I never stopped loving. In grade six, I was beaten up for standing up for myself against a guy who slandered my name in class. He beat me up again for some imaginary reason. But I never retaliated. When he threw my clarinet out on the snow, I carefully picked up every piece of the instrument and placed it back in the case. I prayed, and treated him with love. He stopped. I had a partial victory this time. I had ceased the attacks of a bully with love. I invited this guy to stuff, and he came. He treated me like a human because I treated him with love. Yet, as I said, the victory was only partial. I gained respect for me, but he still hated Jesus and still mocked Christians. I wonder if there weren't some way I could have helped him. In grade seven, one guy labeled me God-freak. He was stilling calling me that when I moved to Thunder Bay. Other guys were mean and nasty. They were cruel and mocked me. But love won in the end. In grade eight, one of them came to me, smelling of pot, put his arm around me, and told me that he liked me because I was always so nice to him. How many people can claim such an event about their enemies? Of course, I know that it all happened because of Jesus. Jesus is amazing, and in Junior High, He proved that to me time and time again.

I like girls. I always have. I'm a typical guy. We typical guys are morons. I like this one girl for a while. Grade six. That was a fun year. I wrote a lot then. She never discouraged my insanity over her, but actually did things to encourage me. In the end, she gave me that shaft. But that was okay. I moved right along, and pursued my friend Becky. She gave me the shaft too. But I persisted, and for all of grade seven and a lot of grade eight, I hunted her like Orion . . . or something. I also liked this other girl who gave me the shaft in November of grade seven. I moved on, because I was still going for Becky, who'd given me the shaft. And I realised that I was wasting my time. Okay, so I didn't. I wasted a lot of time chasing Becky and thinking about girls. I brooded. I plotted. I schemed. Sometimes I prayed. Maybe I read the Bible. And my faith did become more alive. See, things were getting better. But the meanies weren't as mean. Instead, things were getting progressively worse because it looked as if no girls liked me, and I wanted one, so I sought one.

But God is really smart. He knows that boys are idiots, so He helped me. How? Well, I'd tell you, but I have to do the dishes.

Matthew Hoskin

Next Issue: The story continues. Will Matthew Get a Girl? Will He Get God? What About All the Other Stuff?

Copyright 2001, Matthew Hoskin