Jim Bergsma ~ Straffordville, Ontario

           We went to church twice every Sunday. My parents taught me that God was real. However, did He care about me? I thought of heaven often. At first, I figured everyone would be in Heaven. Then, I learned some would be in hell. But who? I decided that church-goers would be in heaven and everyone else in hell. But later, I examined the lives of people in my church. Some had lives full of sin. Obviously, just going to church was not the answer. There had to be more!

            As a boy, I would throw a ball against the roof of the porch. It would bounce up and then back . “God,” I would say, “if I throw the ball five times and catch it five times, then you will be telling me that I'm going to heaven”. After catching it five times I would be satisfied with God’s “answer”. On my bad days, I would reverse the rules - if I didn't catch it I would be in heaven. I would then play the game and not even try to catch the ball.

            I started dating in my late teens and again was plagued with questions. If I got married, what about my family and God? I was afraid to quit church because I knew I was accountable to God. At times I wished there was no God because no God meant no hell.

            At 23, I decided never to marry and always go to church. In the next four years my life went no where. I needed answers, so I began ask God to show me if I was going to heaven or hell. One night after praying, I said, “God, why did you make me? I never asked to be made and now I’m probably going to hell.” I apologized to Him but still wasn't settled. Then, I decided to stop sinning. On August 30, 1990, I quit smoking and drinking, and tried to quit swearing. Each morning I prayed for help and each night I thanked God I had not smoked or drank. I ended every prayer asking God to show me where I was going for eternity.

            At that time, a man at work told me he had gotten saved. I was amazed! He had never gone to church and now he knew he was going to heaven because Christ had died for him. I decided to go to church where he was going. After a few services, I visited a local evangelist. He told me that rather than a select few, “God so loved the WORLD, that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). It was true, even my Bible said God did love the world and Jesus died so all might be saved.

            However, if God loved everyone, that meant everyone was the same. I was no better than anyone else. I felt empty and unworthy of God's love. How could God love me? Still lost, I fell asleep. The next morning, I began my usual prayer. Suddenly, it dawned on me that God did love me even though I was such a sinner. Right then I realized Jesus really had died for me. At that moment I knew my sins were forgiven! I would be in Heaven! What joy I received that day!