Bob Gardner: CONVERSION STORY
I was raised Episcopalian in a family with seven children. I married into the Roman Catholic faith in 1969 at the age of 20. My wife, Jacci, was 18. At 12, Jacci had made a promise to the Blessed Virgin that she would not kiss until she was 16 if Mother Mary would find her a good husband. Around the same time, when I was about 14, I found a medal of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the woods behind my house. I think now that my finding that medal, and keeping it to this day, has played a role in the relationship Mother Mary has nurtured with me. I think Our Lady found Jacci a good cross and that Mother Mary has been trying patiently for decades to turn me into a good husband.
I actually knew little about the role of Mother Mary in the Catholic church until about twenty years after our marriage in 1969. I believe it was 1989 when Our Lady of Medjugorje got my attention. I read the book "The Message" by Wayne Weible and had a major conversion experience. This was the beginning of a series of conversion experiences in my family all brought about by Our Lady of Medjugorje. Shortly after my conversion experience I sent a copy of "The Message" to my brother Steve in San Francisco. Steve had been an alcoholic and drug addict for years. He had taken so many drugs that he was incoherant much of the time and had been unemployed for a long time. I was not certain he could still read when I mailed him the book.
Steve wrote me the first letter he had ever written me. He told me that I would never know how much that book had done for him spiritually and in his fight against his addictions. He told me that he went to an A.A. meeting and told a woman about the book. She was familiar with Medjugorje and invited Steve to a prayer group meeting at St. Mary's church. Steve went and heard a guest speaker who had been healed of his drug addiction in Medjugorje. Steve has stayed off drugs to this very day by praying the rosary. Praise God!
I grew up in the 60's playing drums in rock and roll bands. Rock and roll "runs in my veins". A few years ago, this old, "retired" rock drummer started hearing original songs in his head, songs about Our Lady of Medjugorje and her messages. Nothing like this had ever happened to me befor. I worked with a friend, Steve Borst, to do a musicians' practice tape of the songs. I felt driven to professionally record them. I told Steve and God that I wanted confirmation that I was to procede with this endeavour. I also told them that I wanted this confirmation from my brother-in-law Jim.
This is the story about conversion experience number 3. Jim played in a band with my younger sister Mary Anne. Neither Jim nor Mary were Roman Catholics. He was raised a Lutheran and had a mother praying for him but was not practicing his religion. I respected him as a musician and felt I could get an honest answer from him about the music for the CD. I had already I had already sent him a copy of the musicians' practice tape Steve Borst and I had recorded. This rough tape was just the songs being sung to guitar accompaniment.
Jim had a major conversion experience listening to that practice tape. He noted that the hairs on his body stould on end and that he knew that the story of Our Lady of Medjugorje was true. He also clearly heard in his head what he was supposed to add to the music. This was critical since Jim plays keyboards, sax and flute. I got my confirmation loud and clear.
Conversion experience: Jim, who was now on fire with the Lord, approached the lead guitar player in his band about his need to bring God into his life. The lead guitar player was Jewish but was not practicing the Jewish faith. While we were recording the "Gospa" CD Jim's friend got baptised. Jim and Mary no longer have a secular rock band, they have a music ministry. Jim has also taught several of his Lutheran relatives to pray the rosary. Meanwhile, I have given away over 700 "Gospa" CDs to people in 35 countries so that Our Lady of Medjugorje can touch souls with the music she has inspired me with. Who knows what other conversion experiences are in the works?
God bless the IIPG,
24 Birch St
Saranac Lk, NY