I was raised in a small town called New Prague, Minnesota. I was Catholic because I was born one. Our small town of 3,500 had a cathedral sized church. I went to Catholic school through my first communion and then didn’t go to church much at all through my childhood. There are a lot of unpleasant memories from my childhood, including my parents going through a very ugly and painful divorce. The first time I remember hearing the gospel which included going forward to receive Christ as my personal Savior was at a small church, complete with wooden floors, bench seats and steeple during a Vacation Bible School. I remember going forward, being taken to a side room and praying.
After that there were some more painful things that occurred in my family life, and no recollection of God, church, or religion in my life until I was in college. I went to Mankato State University in southern Minnesota, joined a fraternity and lived an ungodly lifestyle that was leading me to the fulfillment of one of my favorite songs of the day, Highway to Hell by ACDC. Then one of the best things in my life happened, I met the girl who would become my wife, Jill. One day I had to critique a speaker on campus for a class, I invited Jill to go with me and we planned to go to the local college bar hangout afterward. What I didn’t know was that it was an event organized by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). The speaker was Madeline Manning Mims, winner of the gold medal for the 800 Meter in the 1968 Olympics. She gave her testimony of how she accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior.