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April 4th, 2012 @ 1:32 pm by Kevin
This is a photo of me taken in 1980, the year I became a Christian at Fishing Lake Bible Camp, located near my hometown of Foam Lake, Saskatchewan. And no, that is not a spelling error. I really grew up in a town called Foam Lake.
At the time, my family was attending the United Church of Canada. One of the primary reasons for that was the man sitting in the chair. That’s my grandpa, Rev. Wesley Robert Burnside Nixon. He was a minister throughout his adult life, served as a military chaplain during World War 2, the whole nine yards. Funny thing is, eventually I discovered he didn’t actually believe in God. But that’s a long story for another day…
The boy beside me in the picture was my neighbor and best friend Victor Loeppky. He was the one who invited me to Bible camp that fateful summer.
My conversion took place on the final night at camp. It was the first time I remember hearing the Gospel during my childhood, and I responded to it immediately. There was no prolonged debate about how the truth claims of Christianity measured up against other religions, no careful weighing of the evidence, no hermeneutical gymnastics. I simply heard the story and then prayed to receive Jesus right there in my bunk. Things were so much simpler back then. But they didn’t stay that way for long.
I don’t remember my counselor ever mentioning hell, but somehow I picked up on the “other side” of the Good News anyway. I know this, because one of my most vivid memories from that summer is looking at my family working in the garden one evening (see picture below) and realizing that, according to my newfound faith, if my family didn’t come to believe what I believed, they would all go to hell.
The problem was, my parents secretly ridiculed our evangelical neighbors and their beliefs. So I didn’t dare confess that I was now one of them. And yet, if I remained silent, my entire family would be doomed.
You might say I’ve spent the rest of my life coming to terms with that moment. Because even though several of my family members eventually did become Christians, something about the story I bought into that night at camp has never sat quite right with me.
So if you want to hold someone responsible for Hellbound?, perhaps you should start with the smiling kid in the picture. Problem is, he isn’t here anymore. Neither is his hair. But that could actually be a good thing…