The Testimony of Ian Williams
I grew up in a Christian family of eight children in the northern Ontario city of Sudbury. It was not a perfect family, but it was perfect for me. God’s Word was honored in our home; I can remember as a boy about four or five years old sitting beside my mother learning to read by reading the Bible in our daily family Bible readings. As a youngster, I was concerned about salvation and can remember reading a Chick tract about hell left conveniently in the bathroom. It scared me. I did not want to go to hell. I even said a sinner’s prayer as a thirteen-year-old boy at camp, but I knew I was not saved. I had no indwelling power from the Holy Spirit to confess Christ to even my parents. I only had conviction when I heard or read God’s Word that I was not saved. I was scared to death of going to hell, but, I did not believe I was the sinner Christ died to save. I thought I did not deserve hell. So as a teenager, I turned from my upbringing and the church and headed off into the world to run my own life. I told God “Not now—maybe when I’m older.”
I fell in with the wrong crowd, partying and doing drugs. God spared me from the worst of it as many of these companions ended up in prison for drug dealing. Some died too young, and many ruined their minds and health. In my last year of school, I turned from that life and focused on my education. I worked as a cook during this period where I met my former wife. We lived together and ended up moving to the Newmarket area in 1994. We married the following year but still my life was getting worse.
Despite all I had done to push God and his people out of my life, my parents and family continued to pray for me even when I had no God to pray to. If you have children or loved ones who are not saved and who are far from the Lord and his people, I say, “Pray on!” There is a God in heaven who answers the prayers of parents for the salvation of their grown children and my life is a testimony to that. Looking back now, I can see the influence of the prayers of my parents. No matter how far I thought I got away from God, I never lacked a Christian witness in my life to God’s saving grace.
In time, our first child was born, and like most naive parents, we started to look for daycare only one month before my wife had to return to work. In a frantic search, she took the advice of my sister-in-law and investigated church-related daycare in Newmarket, where their two sons were enrolled. We found out that the waiting list was over one year long and that this was normal for all daycare centers. However, God had a different plan. The daycare had a policy of keeping families together, so we were allowed to jump the queue. It was while my oldest was going there that the Lord really began to work on me. As a young father I would pick her up in the afternoon and load her into her car seat and bring her home. I cannot fully tell you how it melted a sinner’s heart to have his own child sing the very songs that I had learned as a boy in Sunday school many years before. They were like echoes through the halls of time calling me back to something, to Someone that I had rejected as a young man. The simple truths of these songs began to plough the hard ground of a heart hardened against the Savior’s love.
So, it was into these life conditions that God reached out to me. When the events of September 11, 2001 happened, I was at work smoking in the parking lot at break time. One delivery driver had come in and announced the news that an airliner had crashed into the towers. I thought nothing of it. By the end of my break, another driver said a second airplane had crashed into the other tower, I thought to myself it must have been a terrorist action by the same group that had tried unsuccessfully to blow up the trade towers in 1993. After my break, I went back into the machine shop and sat down at a large table in front of the electrical panel that I was programming. As I looked at the clock on the wall showing 9:10am, God spoke to me then and there. I cannot explain it other than to say it was like Big Ben ringing in my innermost being. His voice was not audible, but I knew it was God. All he said was “Now!”
I went home at the end of that fateful Tuesday and after everyone had gone to bed, I pulled out a Bible my mother had given me, knowing it spoke of future events. I read the whole thing in ten days trying to figure out what was going on in the world. I found out four things: I found out I had no clue what was going on in the world; I found out I was a sinner; I found out Christ offered salvation to sinners who would simply place their faith in Him; and I found out that God does say “Now.” Isaiah 1:18 says “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Second Corinthians 6:2 says, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
On the evening of September 21, 2001, under deep conviction I went for a walk to the area where our new home was under construction and under a starlit night on the platform of the unfinished second floor of a neighbor’s home, I told God I was a sinner and I needed His Son. He had told me through His Word that if I placed my faith in His resurrected Son and asked Him to save me He would. That night, I received Christ and I passed from death to life.
Life has not been easy as a Christian. I have suffered through family breakdown and rejection, losses, and the consequences of poor choices on my behalf, but the Lord has been faithful even when I was undeserving. He has guided my life so I can say with the apostle Paul “that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel” because “all things work together for good to them that love God.” Having therefore obtained help from God, I continue to this day being blessed through the Christians in the Newmarket area and here in Barrie as I seek ways to edify God’s people and point others to the Savior.