I Lost My Son and Found God's Son

It was the last day in March when I went to my trap line on Assinika Lake in northern Manitoba. I needed to check my traps. My son was to follow. When I first got there, I set some beaver snares, and then I checked my fish net. Toward evening I went for firewood from the bush. As I was returning to the cabin, I met some men from my village. They came to tell me of my son's tragic death. He had locked himself in a closet and hanged himself.

After I heard that message I said to the men, "Go on ahead. I have dogs to go home with."

As soon as they left, I too got on my way. Then as I crossed a portage and moved on to the next lake, I saw a plane flying low. It landed for me because I was wanted at home right away. I untied my dogs so they could return on their own, and I boarded the plane. In a short time we were back in the village.

As I walked up to my home, I could see that many people had gathered, some inside and some outside. Here I saw my son on the floor, partly in the closet where he had died.

I felt a heavy wave of sorrow come over me but I did not cry. I merely touched my son's body. Then at last, tears began rolling down my face. My wife wept bitterly. I could hear her wailing. Soon the RCMP arrived to take the body out for investigation. We had to wait for it to be returned before we could have the funeral.

It was no longer easy at home. I was very depressed and my wife suffered much also. At times she would get up during the night and walk around weeping. This upset me very much and I did not know what to do.

Finally the day came for my son to be buried. After the funeral I decided not to go home for a while, but go to my trap lines on Assinika Lake. And so I walked about in the wilderness, but found no peace. I was constantly reminded of my son who often trapped with me. To ease my memory I removed his belongings whenever I came upon them.

Then one night I picked up my Bible, which I always had with me at the cabin. I began reading from the first chapter of Romans. As I read the words written by the apostle Paul, I remember how he actually met Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-7). Now in his letter to the Christians in Rome, Paul explained what he knew about Jesus-that His coming was promised by God, and we can know Jesus is God's son because He was raised from the dead (Romans 1:2-4).

As I saw this in my Bible, I became fearful. I realized Jesus is real, and I had just read the proof. Something came over me until my head throbbed with pressure. I put the Bible aside and laid down on my bed.

As I lay there beside the crackling fire, my eyes closed. In my mind I had an image of a man walking. He was in darkness not knowing where to go. Then the man came again, this time walking in bright light.

Suddenly I knew that man was me! Though it seemed only a dream, it made a big impression upon my heart. Either I could walk in darkness or in light.

I gave this a lot of thought. Early the next morning, as I got on my way, I was still thinking. I began to see the need for change. For years I had lived a life of steady drinking, smoking, chewing and speaking evil. Every possible sin was committed. Even as I lived, I destroyed myself.

I saw how my own child had followed my example and ended up taking his own life. That is why I wanted to leave my old ways and never returned to them again.

I decided to see the church leaders in the village and tell them about my desire for a new life. We prayed together, and I confessed all my sins to God. Nothing was left unturned. But when I at last got up from my knees, I knew Jesus had forgiven it all and saved me from destruction.

In the years since I trusted Christ as my Savior, He has given me a new heart and has helped me walk in the light. When I see people doing the things I once did, I am sad for they do not have the peace Jesus gives us.

Walking in God's light is something I do step-by-step every day. When I get ready to leave every morning, I ask Him to help me do good all day, and I ask that the Holy Spirit would guide me. When my work is done I thank Jesus for giving me strength and safety.

When I see someone who has not found Jesus yet, I reach out to him or her. I know so many people who need Him! When I get the chance I ask them, "Would you like to follow Jesus, who has given His life for us? God will keep His promise and give us eternal life. And He will let us conquer the things that destroy us." Some have understood me and take this new life, and I am so glad because of the pain they have been spared.

For me, losing my son was hard, but God used it to bring me out of my darkness and into His light.

This is a true story from The Conquering Indian by Mark Ward, Sr. This book of 70 personal stories of faith and victory from challenges Indigenous people face is available from Indian Life.