Come & Hear

Born in 1952 into a happy Roman Catholic family, I was raised in Waterloo, ON, Canada, about one hour west of Toronto. I had four older brothers and a younger brother and sister. My parent’s first child, a daughter, had died at the age of two. My father owned a taxicab while my mother was a homemaker. We faithfully attended mass until I was about 13, when we stopped attending. My older brothers had already stopped going before that. We were a happy family, and our parents gave us a good childhood. I remember that my uncle Wilf left to work in the United States and in the early 1970’s became a believer. When he would return to Canada for a visit, he would share the gospel. We were surprised because previously it had never been his practice to even attend church. Now he often talked about his faith.


Growing up I enjoyed playing hockey, baseball, and other sports with my friends, and at the age of 13 I began taking judo lessons. Born in Canada, my coach John Hatashita was a Japanese Canadian. He was also a Christian who would share his faith with me. I began competing in local competitions at the age of 14 and in 1971, at the age of 19, I became the Canadian Men’s National Champion in the 70-kilo class. I spent the next five years training, sometimes in Japan, other times in Canada. We did not do a lot of socializing because our team was concentrating on numerous competitions and world championships. My best ranking in the world’s was finishing top-7 one year. My highest achievement was winning the gold medal in the 1975 Pan American Games in Mexico City.

Summer Olympics

From 1973-1976, the national team had an apartment in Montreal where we trained. Sport Canada supported us, and we occasionally did little odd jobs to make a bit of extra money. Money was tight and we never turned down a meal when we were invited to someone’s home. In the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics, I lost a close match to a Korean and was eliminated from competition. He went on to finish fourth, just missing out on a medal. I was disappointed; after one match my Olympic experience was all over. I blamed my performance on too much training which had burned me out.

Return to Waterloo

I moved back to Waterloo, managing the fitness center that Mr. Hatashita owned as well as teaching judo to children and adults and coaching serious competitors. I stopped competing for three years until I began thinking of the 1980 Olympics. I started competing again, winning the Canadian championship for the fifth time in 1980, this time in the 78-kilo class. This win qualified me for the national team at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. However, due to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and many western nations, including Canada, deciding to boycott the games, my Olympic dreams were over.


I began falling into depression, seeing I could no longer compete. Little of my coach’s and uncle’s testimonies had penetrated me. Knowing my fitness was now deteriorating, I began to think about spiritual things. One day I prayed “God, please reveal yourself to me.” Immediately after praying this, late one Friday afternoon my car broke down right in front of a service garage. They could not work on the car until the next week. I called my brother to give me a ride home after he was done work, but he had already left for the weekend. So, I walked over to the King/Erb bus stop and waited for a bus. A stranger named Bruce came up and said, “It would be faster walking or hitchhiking.” We began walking together and I noticed he had some tracts in his front pocket. I asked for one and read it as we walked together. I asked him where I could find out more about this. He told me to go to a Bible-believing church and that Sunday I attended the local church where he fellowshipped. At that time, it was known as Velvet Hills Baptist Church, an independent church.

New Life

It was either that Sunday or the next, that my heart was just pounding as I heard the gospel message. It was the same gospel as my coach and my uncle had given me but this time I understood and was convicted of my sin. There was an altar call. I went forward and was saved that day in July 1983. I felt instant relief and peace. The pastor told me I should come back and be baptized that same night. I suddenly became wary and stayed away for a whole month. I had heard about cults and wondered what I had gotten myself into. I went and talked to Coach Hatashita who was thrilled to hear of my salvation. He reassured me and explained the meaning of baptism. I went back to church, was baptized, and enjoyed warm fellowship there.

However, after a time there was a church split. Not understanding a lot, I left with the departing group because my friend Bruce did. Unable to find someone willing to pastor our group, eventually everyone decided to go wherever the Lord led and the group disbanded. Some went to other Baptist churches. I was not sure what to do.

In 1983, I had bought the gym from Coach Hatashita. While I was looking for a church Mark Weber, one of the gym’s clients, told me he went to Bethel Chapel, a brethren assembly in Waterloo. I began attending in 1986 and have been in happy fellowship there ever since. Around the time I bought the gym I began coaching judo and was on the Canadian National Coaching Staff for seven years. I found coaching very rewarding. I coached Mr. Hatashita’s son, Roman, from a beginner to his winning some nationals as well as making the Olympic team. While national team coach, we won some Olympic and world medals. I kept a tract rack near the front door as a gospel witness and over the years have had opportunities to witness to various people. One woman named Lydia came to the gym and I talked to her about the Lord and invited her to the assembly. After a time, she came to know the Lord and since then has even learned Hebrew. I kept the gym for 25 years until 2008. Though I still teach judo recreationally, I no longer coach.

I have had opportunities over the years to serve in various ways at the chapel: chairing the mid-week prayer meetings; reading correspondence letters; sharing God’s Word; and helping out wherever needed. A group of us give out gospel tracts outside Waterloo university early Thursday evenings. With some friends I also distribute tracts on Monday and Saturday afternoons in downtown Kitchener, Waterloo’s twin city. Sometimes I take my motorcycle to nearby towns such as Paris and give out tracts.

First Timothy 4:8 says, ”For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” Any glory in athletics pales in comparison to knowing Christ as my Savior. Knowing Him is rewarding in this life as well as in the one to come. I thank the Lord for my life experiences―good and bad―and how they led me to Christ. I give Him all the glory.

Isaiah 55:6 states, “Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.” Finally, Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” It is my prayer that all reading this would know Christ as their Savior.