Personal Testimony of Jack LaChance
I would like to share with you my experiences of many years of rebellion against God and my conversion into a new army as a soldier of Jesus Christ. As followers of Jesus we become aware that God made us uniquely different from one another, just as he made the sparkling snowflakes. We have personal relationships with Him in our own special ways. We chose to worship him differently in prayer. We hear him speak to us differently and, in most cases, we visualize him with our own image of what he looks like. I believe this to be part of God’s gift of free will. Another part of our free will is the opportunity we have to dwell with him in his kingdom here on earth, or to stray and go it alone. Do our own thing in other words.
My choice and my regret was that I dwelt with Him for short periods of time then strayed for long extended periods. I stopped attending church at the age of 14. I judged it to be too boring and a waste of time. Yet, when asked if I was a Catholic, my answer was always, Yes, of course! I am the second oldest in our family of eight children. Raised and educated in the Catholic school system in Windsor, Ontario, we had very little faith taught in our home. Whatever I had learned about Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit I learned at school. I knew about the Trinity, but had no personal relationship with them.
By the time I was 18, I was ready to go into the military with the United Nations Special Forces to serve in the Korean War. In order to enlist I needed a birth certificate but the application was returned with a letter stating that there was no one in Canada registered under the name of John Edward LaChance. After a lot of tears and heartache with my mother the truth came out that my father was not my biological father, nor had he adopted me and my older sister, who was about to be married. My sister and I were both devastated when the truth came out and at that time were told that our father had died when we were very young. The other six children were our half-siblings. I didnt think I could ever forgive my parents for lying and deceiving us. Emotionally this divided our family and left my sister and I to fend for ourselves with false surnames.
To get into the military I now forged papers and my poor sister had to explain the dilemma to her fiancee. Eventually, I made my way to the Korean War front and just as I was settling in and looking after the tasks at hand for an infantry soldier on the front lines, I received a letter from my sister regarding our bio father. She and her husband had investigated further and discovered that our father was still very much alive; incarcerated in a mental hospital in Ontario for the past 19 years. I was once again completely saddened with the news and kept it buried deep inside. It was a daily chore in Korea just to keep alive, never mind having this additional burden to bare. I was very bitter about being lied to and vowed never to mention it again to my mother, or anyone else for that matter. So Ill leave the early part of my life on that note, but will mention that my relationship with God as also fractured if not non-existent.
By 1960, married with 3 children, not much had really changed as far as my faith was concerned. I still distrusted churches and their leaders and I stayed away from Bible thumpers whom I judged were trying to convert me. Although now with a family I attended church on special occasions to look good: Baptisms, weddings, funerals. I was still a doubting Thomas; the fence sitter, the pew warmer and skeptic. Most of my working life was spent in construction as a master plumber. I was striving for wealth and recognition, building a name for myself as an achiever. In many ways I was a selfish person and quite self-centred. Yet, aside from my short comings I eventually discovered that Jesus loves me just as I am. Not because of things I did to please Him. On the contrary, I was doing my very best to displease Him.
In my 30's, striving for what I thought was the good life I had an encounter with Jesus, which I believe was revelation - an eye witness experience in living colour, which I did nothing with. It was completely unexpected and I certainly wasnt praying for it. In the middle of the night during a sound sleep, I found myself standing on the hill of Calvary dressed in the attire of a Roman soldier. As I looked up, I saw Jesus hanging on the cross. I could plainly hear His grunts and groans of agony. I witnessed His heavy breathing and watched in shock as His blood, sweat and tears trickled down His body; dripping off his feet. The words of the following poem describe what I saw.
I THOUGHT I HAD A DREAM
“I thought I had a dream one night, so many years ago.
A dream in living colour, that still sets me all aglow.
I was on the hill of Calvary standing all alone,
Among the rocks on sandy soil covered with small stones.
The sky was dark and clouds hung low as rain began to fall,
And at this darkest moment I heard Jesus’ call.
He didn't speak - just grunts and groans of pain and deep despair
Were the only sounds I heard, while I alone was standing there.
I stood in awe and sorrow as I looked into His eyes,
While the thunder and the lightening were stirring up the skies.
I saw His blood, His sweat, His tears completely covering Him.
Yet I couldn't really understand He was dying for MY sins.
And as I stood and watched Him: dressed like a Roman then,
My words were few in sorrow as I stammered out to Him:
"Why Lord, have we done this to a person such as You,
Who gave new life and meaning in a world so dark and blue?"
He looked at me in silence as I cowered under Him,
Still not really knowing the extent of all my sin.
Now I truly understand after years and years of labour
That the person hanging on the cross was Jesus Christ, my Saviour,
Sharing how He suffered, His love without a plea.
He gave His life completely for the likes of you and me!”
I kept this revelation to myself; having shared it with only one other person. I didnt even share it with my wife, Fran at that time. I didnt have the courage to tell her because I did not want anyone to think there was something wrong with me. I believed it would only add fuel to the fire because my biological father, whom I had just met for the first time, was still interned in a mental institution and had been since I was three months old. When I look back now; I completely understand that Jesus was showing me first hand how He suffered for us: the unconditional love he has for us, and in our believing in Him we are set free of all fear of what others may say or think about us. Today, I have no fear of sharing these revelations and my past with you or I would not be here. Jesus took it all away at Calvary. He took every negative happening in my life, or at least what I thought were negative, and turned them into positive situations for His Glory, for his Benefit. Another ten years went by before I was able to accept even having a Christian share his walk with the Lord with me.
In 1972 Fran and I along with our 5 children moved to Sarnia and I decided to start attending church and even became an usher - but that only lasted for a short time before I was right back to my same old self again.
In 1974 we moved to a country setting in Lambton County, Ontario and on Christmas Eve 1975 I was attending Midnight Mass in the nearby town of Petrolia. I was there primarily to hear my wife, Fran sing in the choir, so was sitting up in the choir loft with her. Just before Mass began, as the choir was filing in, I spotted a person I had known in Windsor - an old construction buddy with whom I had shared many a great time with in the local pubs. I called his name out load and am sure the whole church heard me. “George!”, I blurted out - a little loudly I admit. “What in the world are you doing here?” I was really taken by surprise, as was he. If two people were ever seen in the wrong place together it was George and I on this Christmas Eve. Dont get me wrong though. We always had celebrated Christmas, only not necessarily in Church. Then to top it off - George was in the choir. After Mass we chatted and agreed to meet at our place the following Sunday. I was really looking forward to getting together with him. After all it had been about eight years since we had last worked together and we had been a good pair of hell raisers in our day.
As he drove into the driveway I noticed neatly printed on his old truck door, just below the window about 2 inches high, were the words Praise the Lord! My immediate thought was “Why would anyone want that slogan painted on their truck?” Knowing George as I did I thought perhaps it had been there when he bought the vehicle and he had just not bothered to take it off. We sat at the dining room table, overlooking the living room where Fran was reading. I quickly offered my old friend a beer just like old times but he politely refused, adding that he had given up drinking. I didnt want to ask him why because I suspected he might have liver problems or had joined AA. Why else would anyone stop drinking? However, I noticed a change in his eyes. He had a look of peace and a twinkle in his eye that even I noticed. I then offered him a cigarette and again he quietly informed me that he no longer smoked. My look of sympathy for poor George must have been obvious. I assumed he must have lung cancer or some other smoker related illness. After recovering from the shock of my old friend no longer indulging in the pleasures of my world, I finally got up enough courage to ask him what had happened to him. No sooner had I gotten the question out did I realize what a fatal mistake I had made.
A little background into George and myself when we were construction buddies might help you to understand why I was in shock by now. We were the two with the foulest mouths on any job site. We were also the first to make fun of anyone who professed Jesus in an open manner. Georges top act as a singer and guitar player was to imitate the Black preachers we heard on the radio: mocking them in a way only he could - and I was there to egg him on. Neither of us had attended church regularly; nor did we hold any kind of reverence for God. No wonder I went into shock. George had changed. I hadnt. He began by asking if I would be interested in hearing his story. :I have not lost my sense of direction in life, Jack”. He said, “in fact, Ive found it through my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” At this I swallowed hard and knew I was trapped. As he started to share his story with me, my neck became very warm, my hands stared to sweat as I moved around on the sticky vinyl chair. There was no doubt now, George had the floor and I was his captive audience. Another fine mess I had gotten myself into, were my thoughts, as I settled back to hear his story. With both of us having a Catholic background I thought I was safe from Jesus people. Little did I know that Jesus does not recognize religious denominations. I found his story interesting but had very little interest in what he was sharing. Out of politeness for an old friend, I thanked him for his story and in all honesty couldnt wait for him to leave. But, his parting words that afternoon were burned in my heart like a monument maker chisels a name in marble. As he left we shook hands and looked straight at one another, he said words that I had never heard a man, especially a Catholic, say to one another: “Jack,” he said, “Jesus loves you and has a job He wants you to do for Him.” I was flabbergasted and very embarrassed as I quickly looked toward Fran for her reaction; hoping she hadnt heard his remark. She had heard and simply said, “Good!” Three things I did immediately as his truck backed out of our driveway. I heaved a great sign of relief that he was gone; opened a cold beer, and sat down and lit a cigarette. Then I said to Fran, “Thank God thats over with!” But it wasnt. It was only the beginning. Jesus has ways of calling us that are completely opposite to our human natures. This, I was to discover in the weeks and months to follow.
Between my encounter with Jesus on Calvary, and this day with George 14 years later: 14 dry parched years of running from the very person who was offering me a brand new life with a guarantee of it never ending - only I still couldnt see it.
Then it happened to me again. Another very realistic revelation in the middle of the night. In the scene I found myself laying on my back on the ground looking up into a light grey misty-cloudy sky. The clouds were fast moving with a kind of haze or fog screening them. Then I saw a large scroll gliding past with the word TRIBULATION written on it. I had read the bible very little and had no idea what that meant. At the same moment I felt a burning pain throughout my entire body. I started to squirm: like placing a stick on a worm and watching it wiggle. At this point I heard a voice I believed to be the Holy Spirit, firm and very clear saying,” Jack. Jack. Why do you persecute us?” Not ME but US. His voice was coming from the right side of the vision and when I turned my head to the left, still looking up, there appeared the head and shoulders of Jesus. He did not speak a word, just looked down at me with a look of compassion almost beyond human description. The Holy Spirit then went through my entire life, reminding me of all the times my life had been spared and the times I had turned my back on them. My pleas of” Im sorry. Please forgive me” seem to have lasted forever and I watched as the face of Jesus turned from sorrow and compassion to the most radiant smile I have ever seen on a human being: a smile which said you have nothing to fear. I wrote poem to describe this vision:
THE MAN I KNOW
I'd like to share the Man I know as Jesus, King of Kings,
Just as He wants us all to feel the love and joy He brings.
He isn't really handsome in features as we know.
In fact, He's kind of rugged, with skin as pure as snow.
And when He looks out through those eyes at each one: you and me,
They sparkle like true diamonds, Oh, what a joy to see!
And how He loves us sinners no matter what we did.
He simply smiles and listens, always ready to forgive,
A smile we have not seen before in all our time down here
But telling us so humbly we have nothing now to fear.
His hair is black and curly with beard cut short and neat.
His nose is long and jagged, His face with quite high cheeks.
His teeth are white as ivory; each placed without a flaw,
This man I know as Jesus, the King of Kings I saw.
He wants us all to know Him, each in our special way,
He wants to be our Saviour, our Lord on every day.
He really wants His people here to feel the love He brings,
By sharing how we love Him, our Jesus, King of Kings.
With mixed feelings, I shared this experience with George and some of his friends. Some said they were probably dreams. I said”No! Dreams eventually go away; revelations last a lifetime and affect your entire being.”
I began tentatively reading scripture; going with George to some prayer meetings with Charismatic Catholics and meeting other evangelical Christians. A week before Easter in 1976 a few weeks after this experience, I was still shaken up and searching for answers when an new friend, an evangelist, whom I had grown to love and trust, happened by on a Sunday afternoon. “Well Brother”, he said as he sat down with bible in hand, “Would you like to give your heart to the Lord today?” For the first time in my life I was happy to see a Christian and didnt hesitate to say yes. Brother Dale Hussy began to pray and led me in prayer. I remember saying Dear Jesus. I know I am a sinner and ask your forgiveness. Brother Dale took over from there. I was overcome with the spirit of weeping and shed 45 years of tears: enough to wash the floor. I was speechless for most of that day. The whole miraculous experience of Jesus calling me home lasted for three days before I regained my composure. To add to my conversion experience my wife and our three teenage sons witnessed the event. None of whom had ever seen their father or husband cry. The good news is that all four of them also made their renewal commitment that day. I also discovered that my friend George did not just quit drinking or smoking on his own. Filled with the grace of God these habits miraculously faded away. “
THE OLD WITH THE NEW
That special promise Jesus makes To restore the old with new,
Is a promise truly given To those who see His view.
He takes our hands and opens up Our hearts and both our eyes:
Changes all our thoughts and ways And keeps us looking way up high.
He leads us to new pastures, With the grass all green and gold,
To taste His love like honey; Just as we've all been told.
And then He gives us clothing In the form of brand new skin,
Some time to shed the other As we walk each day with Him.
Shortly after this awesome experience, again in the middle of the night, I received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I awoke sitting up in bed, hands raised to heaven praising Jesus in a language I had never heard nor spoken before.
In my relationship with my beautiful mother, I led her to the Lord, and Jesus did the forgiving for both of us. She died of cancer in the arms of Jesus, with a smile on her face and never felt ANY pain throughout her long illness. Thank you, Jesus!
I have come to understand first hand what the word Tribulation has meant in my own personal way. We have had many of the problems as parents of five children growing up in the 70's: heartbreak and joys, which are, in many instances, clouded by their lack of spiritual commitment. But we see the Lord at work in their lives even when they don’t. Our eldest daughter, who is suffering from M. S., is on fire for the Lord and in her forced inactivity has become a vibrant prayer warrior; challenging her many nieces and nephews, as well as her own children and grandchild, to know Jesus. In 1990 at the age of 60, I survived aortic aneurism surgery, which ended my business career and cost Fran and I most of our life savings. This left me physically and emotionally unable to reenter the workforce and Fran had to become a full time worker. I went through serious bouts of depression that came close to costing me my life until Jesus came to my rescue through one of his Christian spiritual counsellors. In 2002 I had heart by-pass surgery which I came though with flying colours even with the added strain of a vascular disease and the possibility of blood clots and stroke. Now I face back surgery this coming June - if I am not healed before that. In March 2004 it will be 28 years since I entered, kicking and screaming, into the arms of Jesus. My old buddy George, who has now gone to be with the Lord, was a true messenger when he said, “Jack. Jesus loves you and has a job He wants you to do for Him.” Jesus has given me the honour and privilege to use His precious name to bring others to him. He has blessed me with a one-on-one ministry, along with a special gift of writing inspirational poetry which has been a tremendous blessing to many, many people over the years. I had not written a word of poetry prior to meeting Jesus and I thought poetry was for sissies. But through the words He has given me I have been able to touch hardened hearts and bring Gods love to His people.
I will close with one of His special poems titled: The Gospel “Mix a bit of Charity Throughout our lives each day; Along with sincere compassion In thoughts and words we say. Then add a little Gods love And spread it all around. Our lives may be the Gospel Some folks have never found.”
If you would like to make a commitment, or re-commitment, to Jesus, repeat the following prayer: Dear Jesus, I know I am a sinner Lord, and ask you to forgive me for everything I have done throughout my life to offend you. I ask you to restore your Spirit in me that I received at my baptism; to love, honour and serve You until the day I am called home. Help me to fogrive those with whom I am struggling, and give me courage to ask to be forgiven. Dear Jesus, allow me to love others without conditions just as you love me. Thank you Jesus.
Thank you for reading my story and may God Bless you with His peace, joy and love.
Jack LaChance, a Korean War Veteran, is the father of five grown children, 13 grandchildren and as of 2017 ten great- grandchildren. He and his wife Fran have been married since 1955.
Jack was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada and came to live in Sarnia in 1971. His writing career began in 1976 at the age of 46, and he hasn't stopped since.
He has been published in numerous magazines and has been on CBC television. His greatest literary achievement has been the selection of his poem "The Korea Veteran's Wall" engraved in granite at the Korea Veteran's National Wall of Remembrance in Brampton, Ontario..