About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

Home Page 

My Story 

'a brief glimpse into my life'



1  - My Early Years
2  -Altar Calls
3  - Billy Graham
4  - The Next Day
5  - The Holy Spirit  
6  -Redefining My Experience
7  - The Jesus People Movement
8  - Elim Bible Institute
9  - Bach Home To Shepherding
10 - Our Move To Virginia
11 - A New Home
12 - Another Son
13 - Our Church Closes
14 - Family Breakdown
15 - A New Church
16 - A New Wife
17 - Since 2001
18 - In Closing


1 - My Early Years    

I was born in Belleville , Ontario, Canada, on December 4th, 1951.  At the time my mother was a Christian and my father wasn't.  My father, a railroader with the Canadian National Railroad played steel guitar in a locally popular country band. They had their own weekly radio show on our local radio station CJBQ and played at dances throughout the region.

Within my first two years of my there appeared to be something seriously wrong with my vision.  I had to get extremely close to everything to see things properly.  My first recollection in life was my mother dropping a penny on the living room floor.  I was about two years old at the time.  She asked me to pick the penny up but I had trouble finding it since the colour of the penny and the colour of the carpet were similar.  My mom got upset because I did not pick up the penny for her right away, and that's why I remember the incident so clearly.  Mom thought I was ignoring her request.  She soon discovered that I had major problems seeing. 

I am legally blind to this day.  My son can read a one inch letter 28 feet away.  For me to read the same letter I need to be 3 inches from the same one inch letter.  This has had a major effect on my life over the years as you might expect.  As I type these words my nose almost scrapes the monitor, even with the use of large print software that makes the letters almost one inch tall.  

There was another problem in my young life that manifested itself around the age of 4 years.  I remember taking 5 or 6 cookies to bed with me each night and drinking a lot of water in those days.  My parents became concerned and to make a long story short I ended up in Sick Children's Hospital in Toronto, very sick with Juvenile Diabetes. 

My mother was part of a new church in our town that met in the basement of a home.  It was the Free Methodist Church that was just starting up in Belleville in the early 1950's.  With news of my illness the pastor and others laid hands on me one Sunday to pray for my healing.  Jesus did a miracle.  My dad saw the change in me and knew that Jesus had healed me.  As a result he gave his life to Jesus.  He took me back to the hospital in Toronto
where the doctors concluded that this was indeed a miracle.  They just didn't attribute it to Jesus.  Once I was close to death with Diabetes and now there was no trace of the illness within my body.  Truly the Lord Jesus healed me. 

For some reason, which is beyond my understanding, Jesus did not heal my eye problem, and hasn't yet to this day.  Why?  I really don't know for sure.  I think at times that my life could have been far more productive for  the Lord if I could see as others see, but He has not decided to fix the problem, at least not yet.  That's His choice.  I don't demand anything from Him.  I'm not into name it, claim it, and demand it.  I only thank Him for what He has done for me so far. We live in a fallen world, not the new earth that we see at the end of the book of Revelation. 

The exact problem with my eyes is that the nerve endings that connect my eyes to my brain are dead.  I have one eye doctor in Toronto who has more than 10,000 patients and only 4 others have my eye problem.     

Concerning me not being healed; I view it this way.  Do you remember the 3 Hebrew men that were thrown into the furnace of fire in the book of Daniel?  In Daniel 3:17-18 they said that they believed God could deliver them from the fire, but even if He didn't, they would still trust Him and not bow to the King's idols.  To me that is true faith, true trust in God.  They believed and would continue to believe in God even if He did not do as they asked.  It's the same for me.  Some hyper faith folk have told me that I have a lack of faith that prevents me from being healed.  Like those 3 Jewish men in Daniel, I trust Jesus whether He heals me or not.  To me that is true faith.  That's faith that stands firm until the end.  The Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11 shows many people who believed to the bitter end yet did not see the result of their faith.  Faith that cannot stand the test is not faith.

Faith is not trying to convince yourself in a humanistic way that God can do anything for you. It's simply resting in Him.  It's simply trusting Him no matter what happens, whether it's good, bad, or indifferent.  I've written extensively about this on other parts of my web site.    

Since the time of my healing of diabetes and my father's conversion, throughout my growing up years my dad would take his guitar here and there and play with others in camp meetings and in church services.  He would never fail to tell the story of my healing every time he had the chance.  Being centered out like that  became embarrassing to me after a while but that didn't stop dad from telling everybody that Jesus can heal the sick.    

The story of my healing was spoken once again on my father's death bed to a neighbour who came to visit him.  At the time my father was too far gone to talk.  I told the neighbour how my father became a Christian.  I told him how Jesus had healed me.  I told the story for my father one last time since he couldn't tell the story himself.  After I told the story my wife told me that dad had one tear fall down his cheek as I gave testimony to the power of Jesus.  I knew he could hear what I had said.  Within a half hour dad left this planet for good.  What a fitting way for him to go.


2 - Altar Calls  

While growing up in an evangelical church in the 1950's and 1960's you had ample opportunities to commit your life to the Lord and get saved.  These opportunities were called altar calls.  Every Sunday morning and evening we all had the chance to go to the altar and get saved.  So I did.  That is, I got saved every other week or so.  It was usually an emotional experience of prayer that made me feel good after it was all over, but come the next day, well, I woke feeling like I always did.  Where was that feeling I had last night?  Was I really saved?  Nothing really seemed to change in my life.  The feeling from the night before was long gone and I didn't know if or when I'd ever get it back.   

Usually at bed time I would read a few verses of the Bible and say a short prayer, just enough religiosity to appease the ever-present feelings of guilt. I now know that guilt is not a feeling but a position in which we stand before the Lord.  Whether we feel guilty or not, without Christ, we are all guilty.  I also know that feelings aren't that relevant when it comes to salvation.    

Some of these feelings associated with guilt were a result of my lack of understanding of Scripture.  Some were from the teaching I heard in Sunday School. I remember one teacher telling us that if we told a little white lie, I mean just a little one, and didn't ask to be forgiven, and if we died, we would go to hell.  Well, I was always truthful but I knew I was not perfect, so how would I ever make Heaven under those conditions?  I never knew if I was in or out when it came to Heaven and salvation. 

Back and forth I went.  Up front to the altar and back home to the usual routine of trying to satisfy my feelings associated with guilt. I'd read my  couple of Bible verses and pray a short prayer each evening before bed. I certainly didn't want to die in my sleep as the pastor told us was a good possibility.  Who knows where I'd end up.   

Even though I made countless trips to the altar, there was one such trip that stands out among the rest.  All of these trips are blurred into one foggy mess at this time, but this one isn't a part of the fog.  I was about 11 years old and I dedicated my life to Jesus.  This dedication was different from other altar call experiences.  What I wanted in most all of the other experiences was the knowledge my sins were forgiven and I'd be on my way to heaven.  This time was different.  I gave my life to Jesus.  It's my belief that I received the Holy Spirit into my life at that moment in time.  The only problem was that I didn't understand many things like the work of the Spirit in my life and the fact that I indeed did stand before Jesus as being guilt free.  


3 - Billy Graham  

Saturday nights were reserved for Hockey Night In Canada on CBC television.  Hockey Night In Canada was on channel 11.  The TV was set at channel 8 this night.  We did not have remote controls in those days so I could not just key channel 11 into a remote control and get to cit immediately.  I had to turn the knob and work my way up from channel 8 to 11 the slow old fashion way.  To my distress I noticed that Billy Graham preaching away on channel 10.  I was in the proverbial pickle.  I wanted to watch hockey but my weak evangelical conscience would not let me pass Billy Graham by.  How could a good Christian skip Billy Graham for hockey.  That was next to the unforgivable sin.  If I did not stay on channel 10, at least for a few minutes, I'd feel guilty for days. 

So I watched all of Billy Graham that night.  He preached on being hot or cold.  He told us that the Lord didn't like lukewarm Christians (Revelation 3:15-16) and that was me.  After watching the program I went to bed.  As usual I prayed my short prayer but this one was a little different.  I simply said to the Lord, "Jesus, if I'm not forgiven, please forgive me."  That was it. It took 5 seconds or less.  I then went to sleep.   

4 - The Next Day  


The next day, which was in mid February 1970, was different for me.  Unlike all of the emotional times at the altar this unemotional short prayer the evening before did something in my life, or should I say, Jesus did something in my life.  That day I wanted to read my Bible.  I wanted to pray.  I wanted to do the things Christians do.  I didn't want to do these things to simply appease my so-called guilty feelings, and there's one other thing.  Those feelings left me for good.  I mean for goo.  They've never returned.  I know where I stand with Jesus.  I know my destination once I leave this planet.  I've never doubted my salvation since that night, and, I've never had any feelings associated with guilt; not ever.

One of the first things I did to go and buy a new very large print Bible.  From that day on I my passion has been to know and understand, and teach, every last word in the Bible.    

I'm not saying I wasn't saved before that night in February 1970.  I'm just saying that Jesus touched me in this short prayer that convinced me beyond any doubt that I was saved.  He removed the feelings associated with guilt that stifled my growth in the Lord.


5 - The Holy Spirit  

The next year, in 1971, I started hearing things about the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues.  All the things I heard sounded good.  People were telling me about this experience called the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.  From what I had been told this was something I needed, and so I wanted it real bad. 

During the March vacation of 1971 when I was in grade 13 I went to Kentucky to a place called Christ Centre with my good friends Jim and Marlene Williams.  Christ Centre was located in Lexington in a large outdated elementary school.  It was in one of their classrooms, in a Tuesday night meeting, that I asked for this experience called the Baptism in the Spirit.

The meeting was like something that I had never seen.  The room was packed with old and young alike, from long haired young guys to bald headed seniors in suits.  This really impressed me.  To see such a variety of people squeezed all together in the same room in the name of the Lord was amazing.  I wasn't used to this.  I was used of church life being segregated into young, old, seniors, kids, young married, college and careers, and so on.

The worship is what impressed me most.  At one point some people started singing in tongues.  I had never heard that in my entire life.  It was beautiful.  This made me want this experience of the Baptism in the Spirit even more.

The meeting came to an end.  Those who wanted prayer were encouraged to stay.  I stayed.  I was nervous, but they told me that was natural.  After explaining a few things to me they laid their hands on me to receive this experience called the Baptism in the Spirit.  Nothing happened, absolutely nothing.  I felt no empowerment.  I felt nothing at all.  Someone told me to except it by faith.  That meant I was to tell myself that I received it, even though I didn't appear to have receive it.  I've sense learned that receiving anything from Jesus doesn't require mind games like that. 

I went home from Kentucky disappointed, not receiving what I really wanted.  My best friend, Robert Bailey, had gone to Elim Bible  
College in Lima New York the same week I went to Kentucky.  To my amazement he came back speaking in tongues.  I could not believe that he had received what I wanted so bad.  Both of us knew nothing of these things before that March holiday.  

I asked Robert how does one speak in tongues.  In jesting, he said that if I said halleluiah real fast ten times that my tongue would flip over and I would start speaking in tongues right away.

I didn't try Robert's suggestion but a couple weeks later in a small prayer meeting while praying, one funny little word escaped from my mouth.  "This must be a word in tongues," I thought.  I was so happy.

A month pasted and discouragement set in.  How could one word be a valid supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit?  That being said, every time I was in a prayer meeting I would pray this one funny little word until one day another word came.  I was happy again, at least for a week or so when discouragement returned.  How could two words be tongues?  Still again, I would say these two words when I would pray, until in another meeting a third word came.  I only had those three funny words all summer.  I almost gave up on the whole thing.

It was September 1971, in my own bedroom with my guitar in hand singing to the Lord when I decided to sing those three words.  All of a sudden the presence of Jesus flooded that room.  Those three words exploded into sentences and paragraphs.  On and on it went.  For at least a half hour or more I prayed in tongues in the presence of Jesus.   


6 - Redefining My Experience  

Why did nothing happen in Kentucky when those people prayed for me?  Should I have excepted it by faith?  Should I have tried to trick my mind in believing I spoke in tongues when I didn't?  My friend Bob Cary told me years ago that he called such a thing mental gymnastics. 

I did try hyper faith.  In 1972 I bought a very small print new testament by faith.  I doubt if few of you could read the print in this Bible, but I had the faith.  I'd read it soon.  Well, I still have that Bible and I still can't read it.  I've learned that Jesus is my Lord, not my servant who bows to my every demand. 

The reason why nothing happened to me in Kentucky was that those people were praying for me to receive the Baptism in the Spirit which I have since come to know is the same thing as receiving the Holy Spirit. It is not a second work of grace.  So when they prayed for me to receive the Baptism in the Spirit as a second work of grace subsequent to salvation, that could not happen.  The reason why it could not happen is because I already had the Spirit in my life.  The way these people explained the experience was that I believe by faith.  I become a Christian, then at a later date I receive the Holy Spirit which is the Baptism in the Spirit.  Well, I couldn't receive the Holy Spirit in Kentucky because I already had him.  I don't expect you to understand my thinking on this point from reading this.  I've written about it on my web site.  You can read more there. 

If you want to pigeonhole me into a doctrinal box, I'm Pentecostal by experience but not by doctrine.   

One thing that I did not have at the time though was the gift of tongues.  That I received over the period of a few months in 1971 culminating in the experience in my bedroom in September 1971.  The glorious time I had in my bedroom was not the Baptism in the Spirit, but was an experience with the Lord in which He gave me a gift.  Since then I have had many experiences like that.  I do not call them Baptisms in the Spirit 2, 3, 4 or 5.  I call them times in which God has poured His Spirit out on me in a fresh way.  These are Acts 4 experiences.  The same people who were filled with the Spirit in Acts 2 were refilled in Acts 4.   


7 - The Jesus People Movement

In 1971, I, Jim and Marlene Williams, along with a couple friends moved into a farm house just outside of Trenton, Ontario, Canada.  We had met up with the Children of God, who turned into a cult.  Some of my friends left home to join The Children of God.  My friends and I were actually the group that invited this cult into Canada, although we didn't know they were a cult at the time.  We didn't know anything about them and if we had, we would not have extended an invitation to them.  Jim and Marlene had joined the Children of God and then left after 2 months. Some of my other friends stayed in the group for years.  After Jim and Marlene left the Children of God we decided to live together in a Christian Commune. It was the Jesus People Movement in our area.

We experienced many exciting times in the first half of the 1970's.  There are way too many things to recall in this format.  We preached Jesus on the streets, which included being punched by drunks.  We preached in bars, schools, parks, and churches, and anywhere and everywhere.  Every conceivable place to preach was fair game for us.   

Once we gathered a crowd of kids in a locker area at a local high school and started preaching.  The crowd grew to the point that the principle told us to stop preaching.  One of my friends told him that he could not stop us from preaching in the name of Jesus. The principle told us that he didn't want us to stop preaching, only to do it in a more organized fashion.  So, he gave us a room after school to preach in.  It was announced on the school public address system that we'd be there talking about Jesus after school. The classroom was full of students and teachers alike.

We had a couple of coffee house ministries. On one occasion someone came in off the street.  He was drunk.  He literally kicked me in the head, causing me to fly over a table and on to the floor.  When I got up and found my balance, he kicked me again and back to the floor I went.

We had a Jesus People News Paper along with our own tracts we handed out.  The paper was called "Into Jesus".  Young people were into all sorts of things back then but we were "into Jesus".

Once we had a chance to witness to a college class.  The teacher was Jewish.  She questioned us seriously about our faith.  The next week she was killed in a car accident.  

As I said earlier.  There are way too many events to relate to you from these days.  We learned a lot back then.  We learned how to share Jesus, what community meant as a Christian, and the basic foundations of our faith were strengthened. 


8 - Elim Bible Institute  

In June, 1975, my friend and mentor Glenn Shaver suggested that I attend Elim Bible College in Lima, New York, U.S.A..  At the time I worked in a factory and could not get that thought out of my mind for three days as I worked away on my buffing machine.  As a result I decided to enroll at Elim, located just south of Rochester, New York.  It was a last minute decision and lots had to be done in a short time, including a student visa.  I was not sure that it all could be done in time but Jesus wanted me there and He pulled it off.  That was a miracle.  I'm sure you know, government doesn't work fast.  

I spent two good years at Elim.  I learned many things that I most likely could not have been learned elsewhere.  My Elim days have had a lasting effect on me.  My appreciation for the Word of God grew with a better understanding on how to study it.  I also learned that there are many other very good Christians that may not think exactly like me.   That has made me more tolerant of other Christians.  We must not disagree on the basic issues of salvation, but when it comes to secondary issues, we should know why we believe them but not separate over them. That's the message of Romans 14. 

I also met my first wife Cathy Marion at Elim.  She's the reason why I never went back for the last year.  From our marriage (June 25, 1977) of 16 years I have two great sons, Jeremy born in 1983 in Richmond, Virginia  and Jonathan born Belleville, Ontario in 1988.        


9 - Back Home To Shepherding  

While away at Elim our small church got connected to Bob Mumford,  Charles Simpson, Don Basham, Derek Prince, Ern Baxter and the Shepherding Movement.  I've commented on this movement a few times in my web site.  You can search them out and read more of my thoughts.

I returned to Belleville in June 1977 from Elim as a new husband and to a revised church situation.  We had asked a man named Jim Covert and his family to come to be our pastor.  He was from Virginia.  Thus the Shepherding Movement came to Canada.  Once again we were the instigators of something new coming to Canada.   

Those days were good as well.  We had many exciting times.  Although there were some abuses reported in the Shepherding Movement I never really experienced any in Belleville.  We promoted personal relationships in the Body of Christ.  The church was not a building. It was a group of people relating to one another in the service of the Lord.

I never fully embraced all aspects of shepherding, but I did embrace those to whom Jesus had placed me alongside in the Body of Christ.  


10 - Our Move To Virginia  

Our Pastor, Jim Covert, decided to return to Virginia in 1980 after experiencing a major heart attack.  Glenn Shaver would take oversight of the church in his place.  Jim had suggested that my wife and I move to Virginia with them.  So we did.  We lived just outside of Washington D C for about 8 months and then decided to move south to Richmond
Virginia to another related church. 

We spent more than three years in Richmond being very involved in the church activity.  In those days we were all encouraged to shepherd others.  I had four other families that I was responsible for.  We believed that the most work of the Lord was done outside of meetings, something I believe has been lost in much of the western world church.  By building relationships we could properly care for those in our charge and that is what we attempted to do.

In June 1983 my first son Jeremy was born.  It still ranks as one of the best days of my life.   For various reasons we decided to return to Canada in 1984.  We lived in Virginia for four years.  These too were good years.  I met people and did things that I would not have otherwise met and done.  It was a growing experience.  To experience the American south was an unforgettable thing. 


11 -  A New Home  

In June 1984 we returned to Belleville ready to start all over again.  With no place to stay we stored all of our possessions in my father's garage.  We slept on the floor in his basement.  The first night back seemed strange.  While trying to sleep, my heart sank.  "What have we done?" I asked myself.  "We're starting all over again with no jobs and no place to live."    

Glenn Shaver suggested that we think about buying a house.  "How could we buy a house?" I asked myself.  We had no jobs and no down payment .  I talked to a lady at a bank and asked her if she believed in creative financing, a term I learned from a "get rich quick in real-estate" conference.  After hearing my story the lady bluntly told me that the bank was not that creative.

To make a long story short we bought a townhouse.  We needed about $8,500.00 to put down.  We had $2000.00 of our own money and the rest was given to us by family and brothers in Christ.  We bought a townhouse for $29,500.00.  We put some money down and assumed a $22,000.00 mortgage that we did not have to qualify for. We were buying a townhouse, paying less every month than our neighbours who were renting theirs. 

To make another long story short, in the fall of 1986 we sold that townhouse for almost $55,000.00.  The prices of properties just shot up very quickly in the 2 years we lived there and as a result we made about $31,000.00.  Through a couple of miracles we bought the house that I live in today. We put $25,000.00 down on the house, paid the realtor and the lawyer and had $2,000.00 left over.  That was our initial $2,000.00 investment that we made when we bought the townhouse from our own money.  We got that back.  Now we were in a house and still paying less monthly payment than our old neighbours were paying for rent their townhouse.  I felt extremely blessed.   


12 - Another Son  

In February, 1988, in Belleville General Hospital, my second son Jonathan was born.  Jonathan completed our small family.  As I write these words in 2016, both of my sons have grown up to be good men working in successful careers.  The love of a father for his children never fades.  My prayer is, and always has been, that I will see my 2 sons in the next life with Jesus.    


13 - Our Church Closes  


By 1988 our church had dwindled to about five couples.  We seemed to be stagnant.  As a result of a joint decision we decided to close things down after 18 years.  It was a sad day but there seemed to be no other choice to make.   Although we do not meet together any more, we still remain good friends and brothers in Christ to this very day.  That's because we are joined relationally, not organizationally, in the Body of Christ. 


14 - Family Breakdowns  

Around 1989, within a couple months of each other, my best friend Robert and my brother went through a marriage breakup.  In both cases their wives had left them for no Biblical reason.  Those were two very sad situations.  I walked through Robert's divorce with him since we had known each other from birth and lived in the same city.  What I did not know at the time was that the same thing would happen to me as well.

In the spring of 1991 my wife decided she would leave me as well and actually did leave in the spring of 1992.  Although being separate we raised Jeremy and Jonathan jointly.  Every other night they'd move from my house to her house and back.  As far as divorces go, it went well, although divorce is never nice.  You can read more about how I understand divorce and remarriage in my book entitled "From My Side Of The Fence" which you can find on my web site.    


15 - A New Church  

A new church began in Belleville in 1991.  I became a part of the church in the spring of 1992.  As in previous years I found myself quite involved in church activity.  It seems that I am most happy in a church situation when I am functioning, actually doing something that I feel called to do.

This church lasted about ten years and folded because our pastor felt led to move to another city.  Way too often we seem to be in the church building business, and I do use the word business.  We build our organizations as if they are a business and the Body of Christ gets left behind.

My commitment is to those to whom I'm joined in the Body of Christ.  I'm committed to people, that that isn't always the case in the western world church.  


16 - A New Wife   

In March of 1994, I was at one of our Tuesday night church meetings.  Before the meeting began I made an announcement.  I repeated what I heard on the news that day, which was, men in eastern Canada had an easier time finding a wife than those in western Canada.

After making the announcement I sat down.  A new lady was visiting that night and Bill, our pastor, asked her to introduce herself.  She said, "I am Dianne Bradley", and as she turned to look at me she said, "and I am from eastern Canada."  I replied by saying, "O no, what does that mean?"

Dianne and a friend drove me home from that meeting, but not before I bumped into a wall.  It was dark, and for some reason I didn't see it well, or else I was just nervous with the thought of being driven home in the same car as Dianne.  Anyway, after hitting the wall she said, "Are you blind or something?"  I answered by saying, "As a matter of fact I am legally blind."  I explained myself in somewhat of a humorous way which relieved her of her embarrassment.   

Well, we had seen each other in meetings until one day I asked her out for coffee.  Two days before that coffee in a prayer meeting another lady prophesied over me that my life would come into a new alignment.  She had no idea that I had asked Dianne out for coffee. She had no idea that I had feelings for Dianne. 

This too is a long story but on May 13, 1995, we were married and my life certainly was re-aligned.   


17 - Since 2001  

Since around 2001 when the church we had been a part of for the previous 10 years folded, we've tried a few other traditional churches in town, none of which really worked out. One church had the worst split I've ever seen.  One man actually walked out of a Sunday morning meeting yelling, "I hope you enjoy the fire and brimstone you bastards."  The fire and brimstone was in reference to the judgment of God.  A couple of the other churches weren't all that friendly. 

From 2005 until now, January, 2016, we have not been committed to an organized traditional church.  We have not forsaken the Body of Christ or the brothers we have been joined to.  I've led a weekly Bible study in a home since 2002.  Now, here in 2016, we have headed back into the traditional church, although I'd call it a semi-traditional church.  Without going into details, we were truly led by the Holy Spirit, and in some miraculous ways, into Harvest Ministries.  Our acceptance from this community of believers has been overwhelming.  My involvement has included playing music and teaching the Word of the Lord.        


18 - In Closing  

It is hard to put your life into a short story.  Of course, lots has happened in my life over the years, just like lots has happened in your life. 

I came to the Lord at an early age.  I am still walking with Him through all of the good times and through all of the bad times. It isn't the guy that starts the race that wins.  It's the guy who finishes the race that wins the prize.  I want to finish the race. 

I did not come to Jesus for all of the benefits He has to offer. I came to Him because I found that He is the central Truth of the universe.  Once knowing that I had no other logical choice to make but to hand my life over to Him.  May He give me His grace to follow Him to the end.   

For more details on my life and how I view things, you can read my book entitled "My Journey Through The Ecclesiastical Maze".  I do into much more detail about things there.  


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