Below is a Story of Transformation from Charlene Laskowski who became a member of FGCC and was baptized in the river on September 3rd. If you were unable to attend, you can read her testimony below.
I was born into a very devout Catholic home and was baptized as an infant. We went to church every Sunday and when I was 10, we moved to a town that allowed us to go to a Catholic elementary school. I received all the usual sacraments – reconciliation, communion, and confirmation while attending elementary school. I am forever grateful to my parents for this.
God was always present in my life, but He felt an arm’s length away. I learned a lot of theoretical things about God and Catholicism, but God never truly seemed real to me.
In 1995, at the age of 21, I married my husband Rob. We were both young and immature, and still in university. Rob had grown up in a Catholic home too, and as much as we both wanted to have a marriage that included God, I don’t think we knew how. We were simply trying to figure life out.
After being married for 3 years, we started trying to have a family. Our first two pregnancies ended in miscarriage. I was devastated. I believed that I had somehow offended God and He was punishing me. I felt alone and deserted. What could I have done that was so horrible that God would take away two precious children?
In 1999, I gave birth to our daughter, Elyse. She was perfect, and I thanked God for her, although I was confused about how I was able to find favour with Him now.
We tried desperately for a second child, but the doctors told me after a lot of testing and fertility medication, that they did not know why I could not conceive again. I resolved to be the best mother I could be to our daughter and show God He was wrong by not giving us more children.
We moved from Saskatchewan to South Dakota in 2002, and while there, my husband had a back injury that required surgery. He had a 2% chance of walking and miraculously walked out of the hospital that day. However, due to chronic pain caused by the injury and surgery, he developed an addiction. I didn’t realize at the time how it would impact my life.
We moved back to Canada in 2007, and in 2011, I was surprised to learn I was pregnant! We were told we were infertile, and now there was this miracle occurring! Jacob turned out to be the present I didn’t know I wanted. He has brought a lot of joy and laughter into our lives.
Also around this time, my husband’s addiction got worse. He tried to quit, but couldn’t make it stick. I would bargain with God, begging Him if he could lift this from my husband, I would then become the good Christian woman that I thought I wasn’t being. I lived in denial of his addiction, telling myself I was causing it. If only I was a better person, or a better Christian, this would not be happening.
Our daughter attended Camp Kadesh for many summers, eventually becoming a Junior Counselor. She decided she did not want to attend mass anymore, and instead wanted to go to Forest Grove. Extremely reluctantly, one Sunday, we went with her. It was the day Einer and Girlesa spoke about their testimonies, and even though we were worlds apart, I felt like I could connect with their story. I was amazed that God had made that difference in their lives, and started to seek out whether He could really make a difference in mine.
We attended Forest Grove sporadically after that, slowly to the point where we were attending every Sunday. The music made me feel alive, the sermons made sense and for the first time in my life, God was real. We joined a small group and came to know and love the people in it – Marv and Mary Harder and Dave and Jan Foth. They have been amazingly patient and wonderfully knowledgeable when we would ask basic questions of faith, and have guided us in learning God’s word.
In May 2016, my husband was arrested due to his addiction. I could no longer deny his addiction. I had strong pressure from every direction – some were pressuring me to leave, others to stay and everyone had an opinion on what I was supposed to do. I was lost and confused and very alone.
This was the day I decided to really give God a chance. I told God I was leaving my life up to Him. I could not do this anymore on my own, I needed His guidance. A little voice in my heart told me to stand with my husband. He went to rehab and started a life-long recovery program with God guiding it. Slowly we are relearning how to be a family with God in the center of our lives.
A few months ago there were some baptisms during church. For the sermon, Pastor Kevin spoke about being adopted Princes and Princesses of the King, and as he spoke I became more and more uncomfortable. I was almost to the point of tears. I started to feel like an imposter – here I was, sitting in this church, believing everything that was being said, and yet I hadn’t made any declaration of that. As Pastor Kevin’s sermon concluded and the two girls started giving their testimony, the panicked feelings got worse. Finally, in frustration, I asked God what He wanted, and the answer was quick – I was to pursue baptism. The moment I said I would, my heart became calm.
The phrase that helps me most from the Bible is Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God”. In times of trouble or pain, I know that if I am still enough, He will guide me.
I am humbly requesting baptism today. I feel like a child with my knowledge of God. But I have learned that baptism is just the beginning of this journey and I am excited to continue to walk down that road.