I was born in Revelstoke, BC, Canada in the mid–1950s. I grew up in a typical, middle–class home in Vancouver, BC. My stepfather was a taxi driver, and my mother was a thrifty, energetic, organized woman who managed to stretch the dollars to decently feed and clothe six children, besides enabling my Dad to buy their own home and property.
My stepfather was raised in the Mennonite church, but showed no interest in spiritual things while I was growing up. My mother was raised in an obscure Christian sect that is sometimes known as the Cooneyites. She fell away from her church for a time. A neighbour took my siblings and me to her Lutheran church for a while, which must have awakened my mother to her spiritual duties to her children. She whipped up matching outfits for us on her sewing machine and then marched us down the street to the Presbyterian church, but we didn't attend that church for long. When I was six–years–old, my mother returned to her Cooneyite roots and began to take my siblings and me to their "meetings".
The Cooneyites were founded in 1897 in Ireland by a Scotsman named William Irvine. They take their name from one of the early preachers in this sect. The preachers are known as "workers" and they go forth in pairs, which is why the sect is also known as "2 x 2's". They do not meet in church buildings. They hold Sunday morning services in various homes and meet on Sunday afternoons in a rented hall for Gospel services.
Doctrinally, the 2 x 2's consider themselves the only true Christian church and other churches to be "false churches". Some of the more honest members, however, feel compelled to admit that the people in their church cannot be the only genuine Christians.
The Cooneyites are very restrictive in their rules and limited in their scope of ministry, and most are very limited in their understanding of Scripture. They preach that Yehoshua is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no man comes to the Father except through Him, but that message gets lost as they emphasize that it is only by receiving Yehoshua as Saviour within the framework of their own church that a person can be saved. Thus, when I was ten–years–old, I "professed" to receive Him as my Saviour, but I really didn't understand that it was only by the virtue of His death on the Cross that my sins were forgiven.
In fact, I didn't know that my sins were forgiven. I felt that, rather, I was embarking on a new path of doing good works that hopefully would meet with God's approval, so that I could gain entrance to Heaven when I died. I had no assurance of salvation. The Cooneyite version of salvation is a "wait and see" kind of proposition, like not knowing if you have passed until after your test has been marked. If you flunk, you're sunk. I experienced a lot of anxiety about my faults when I was a child because I knew I could never be good enough to go to Heaven!
When I was fifteen–years–old, I went into foster care. I was all set to forget about going to boring church services and finally get to wear make–up and short skirts, and have some fun. I found some thrills, but underlying it all was a deep sense of frustration and guilt.
I tried to drown my guilt by rejecting the whole concept of guilt. I veered off into Eastern religion and practiced Transcendental Meditation. I made a god for myself that would let me do as I liked (keeping in mind the laws of the land), without bogging me down with guilt. I subscribed to the idea that God is everywhere and in everyone, and that when I died, I would be absorbed back into God's energy. It disturbed me at the back of my mind that I would lose my individual personality, but I figured it was better than retaining my identity and burning in Hell.
Eastern religious fantasies could not entirely subdue my sense of guilt over doing things that the Bible teaches as sins, and they could not drive away the terrible sense of loneliness that afflicted me. I was a pretty girl and managed to attract boyfriends in spite of my shyness, but boyfriends couldn't touch that place deep inside my soul where I felt so lost and lonely. I could push those thoughts away for a time when I was in the company of my friends, but emptiness swarmed me when I was alone.
Finally, when I was 17–years–old, in deep desperation, I cried out within the depths of my soul to the God of the Bible, "God, help me!" A thought came to my mind, asking indignantly, "What are you crying out to that God for? You don't believe in that God!" I pushed aside the thought, insisting, "I don't care! It makes me feel better!"
God answered my S.O.S. a few months later. I met a young man at the beach who was bold in witnessing about Yehoshua the Messiah. We started to date. I was impressed by how relaxed he was when talking about Yehoshua, not timid, ashamed, and embarrassed like the characters in Christian stories I read about witnessing for the Lord.
My boyfriend took me to church and, during a salvation call, I felt a strange compelling to go to the altar, but I didn't understand what was behind that feeling. The message that was spoken hadn't penetrated my mind, and I knew nothing about impressions of the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit was never mentioned in my mother's church.
Several days afterwards, however, when my boyfriend was telling me about the Beast and the mark of the Beast (which is 666, the number of his name), I realized that everything that he was telling me was true. The prophecies that the Book of Revelation talks about really are being fulfilled in the world today. The workers I had heard never talked about the Book of Revelation.
One time a Catholic girl at my high school remarked on a necklace my mother had given me, that had the peace symbol on it. She said that it was a symbol of the Antichrist. I hadn't the faintest idea what she was talking about and I wasn't interested in knowing more because it made no difference to me at the time. Jesus was a swear word to me and I thought it was cool to blaspheme Him. My mother had no clue of the symbol's occult significance; she just thought it was another teen fad and it would please me to wear it. When that guy I met on the beach started to explain about the Antichrist, it was all new to me, and it was scary. I decided that I would stop doing TM and said so to my boyfriend.
Of course, he approved of that decision. Then suddenly, revelation burst on the edge of my consciousness; it was like an explosion that filled my mind with light. I thought, "The God of the Bible is real! God the Father, as I was taught as a child, is real!" I looked at my boyfriend as he continued to talk. My eyes focussed on his moving lips and I thought, "God is talking to me through that man's lips. The God of the Universe is talking to me!" I was awed that, though He is so mighty and majestic, the most powerful being in the Universe, He was stooping to take knowledge of me, and inviting me to enter into a love relationship with Him.
I wasn't ready to make that surrender just then, but God got me ready in a hurry. The next evening, for a moment, He opened the curtain between the physical realm and the spiritual dimension to show me that satan is real, too. I saw him appear as a goat sitting in the backseat of my boyfriends's car and got rather hysterical about it.
When my boyfriend understood why I was upset, he rebuked satan in Yehoshua's Name. Then he parked his car in a lighted area to help me calm down as we discussed what happened. I asked him, "Do you mean that all I've got to do is say, 'I rebuke you in the Name of Jesus, and he'll go away?'" My cheerful hopes were dashed when my boyfriend replied, "Nope, it won't work for you because you haven't been washed by the Blood of the Lamb; you don't have the authority to use His Name." I thought that was a bummer.
I still wasn't keen on being a goody, goody Christian who couldn't have fun, although my boyfriend had taken me horse–riding and proven that I could have fun without engaging in sin. It was nice, but a bit tepid compared to what I was used to. I did not exactly walk on the wild side, being too reserved to make a spectacle of myself or get into fights, but I most definitely had been tiptoeing on the wild side. Eventually, I totally changed my mind about what I consider fun. Fun that degrades a person is just lunacy. God designed all of us for high and noble purposes.
My boyfriend was a take–charge kind of guy. Decisively he said, "We're going to go to your house to burn all that Transcendental Meditation stuff." I quickly agreed and thus it was done, but I felt very fearful that night alone in my room. I knew that satan was after my soul, and that God is the only one powerful enough to protect me from the devil. This wasn't a case of "just releasing stress", as my guru reassured me when I told him how I sometimes got freaked–out when I meditated. All that so–called stress was the activity of demons, and now I knew it!
The next evening, on August 10, 1972, at the end of our date, I begged my boyfriend to let me stay at his place. I needed him around to rebuke the devil for me if he appeared again. He didn't think that it would look good for me to stay overnight in his apartment. I protested, "It will only be until Sunday!" He asked, "Why? What's going to happen on Sunday?" I replied, "Well, then I can get saved!"
His face lit up brilliantly as he told me that I didn't have to go to church to get saved. Right there in his car, he led me in a prayer to ask Yehoshua to forgive me of my sins. Then he told me that I had to make a public confession of faith because then Yehoshua would confess before God and the holy angels that I belong to Him.
I took the opportunity to publicly confess Yehoshua as my Saviour a couple of days later when we attended a Living Sound concert at Christian Centre in Surrey. I fretted all through the message that maybe I was being deceived again, like I had been about TM. Maybe my mother's church was right that they are the only true church. When the altar call was given, however, I decided to respond in spite of my fears. When I got up and started to walk up the aisle, my fears faded away like the phantoms that they were.
I spoke to Jan Law, who was the speaker's wife, and excitedly told her about how I saw the goat and prayed the next evening to ask Yehoshua to be my Saviour. She looked at me in bewilderment and then laid hands on me and quietly prayed.
I can't recall what she prayed, but I was keenly aware that knowledge seemed to float down from the ceiling on my right side, pouring into my mind, and I understood in a very simple way that I had been bad, Yehoshua had died on the Cross to pay the penalty for my sins, His Blood had cleansed them all away, and now I was good. I left the meeting feeling happy and at peace.
Many years later, I walked in a park next to a high school I attended when I was sixteen, and remembered how my thoughts had been so dark in those days. At that time, I used to contemplate committing suicide and even felt excited about the idea of dying to find out what was beyond the doors of death. I believed in reincarnation and thought it would be an adventure. I shook my head inwardly as I remembered what a fool I was in those days, and considered how, if God had not spared my life, I could be burning in Hell at that very moment. I recalled how I used to blaspheme the precious Name of Yehoshua. I cried out in my soul to the Lord that I had been such a stupid, stupid girl! Then I felt as if He put His arm around my shoulders and bent His face close to me as He said tenderly, though with emphasis, "Ah, but Lanny, I loved that girl!" Tears sprung to my eyes as I thought about how He loved me when I was such a rotten sinner and showed me mercy. He brought me together with someone whom I would finally listen to when they witnessed to me because I lusted for him and, yet, I also listened to what he told me about Yehoshua and recognized that it was the truth. God is so amazingly merciful.
I've had a rough road as a Christian because I was too stubborn to always take good advice. I had to learn things the hard way for a long time, to "make my own mistakes" as I have heard others put it. After having lost some very precious things through my stupidity, I now know that it is a lot smarter to learn from other people's mistakes. When I was 21, I married a young man whom I had met in church. He turned out to be an alcoholic and he had affairs, which put a lot of stress on our marriage. I had a very judgmental attitude towards him, and a lot of other faults that also undermined our relationship. The mistakes weren't all on his side. Ten years and two kids later, our marriage ended in separation, and a year later in divorce. I was devastated by the break–up, but God helped me through it, and He is helping me deal with the damage done to my children by their "Christian" parents getting a divorce. My husband and I both knew better than to behave as we did.
A few years after the divorce, I plaintively asked the Lord how I could learn my lessons without needing to be hit over the head with a 2 x 4 board. He said to my spirit, "Pray and read the Bible more. They are shortcuts to success." I did as He said, and I have found it to be true. Not everything comes together for me as quickly as I would like it to, but I feel a lot less frustrated than I did when I neglected to read the Bible and pray.
I am a joyful grandmother of two darling grandsons, my daughter's children. They have kept me busy with taking them to places like Science World, the Vancouver Aquarium, Maplewood Farm, the Vancouver Game Farm, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and other interesting and educational venues. When my marriage ended in 1986, the future had stretched before me bleak and empty. I had no idea the wonderful things that God had in store for me, such as the discovery of talents that I hadn't known I had, new friends, a career as an Administrative Assistant, and these precious boys.
Before I became a Christian, I didn't think that I would make it past twenty. I took stupid chances with my life, but God showed me that, with Him, I can face the future. Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Yehoshua is the One who was, and is, and is to come. He was in my past, feeling my every sorrow and standing ready to heal every heartbreak. He is with me now, upholding me with His hand. He is in the future, waiting there to help me meet every challenge. He has filled that aching cavern of loneliness in my heart that pained me so much I wanted to die. I now have assurance that, as I continue to love and trust Yehoshua, I will spend eternity with Him in Heaven.
Copyright © 2010, Lanny Townsend
Page modified by Lanny Townsend on March 27, 2010
Scripture references on this website are closely paraphrased from e–Sword's King James Bible.