"The Providence of God!"My name is Bill, and I retired recently from my job working with homeless Military Veterans In a large shelter. I was the Chaplain with our Honor Guard, and spoke at many funerals for Vets who had died. I wanted to share with you the story of how I came to be Chaplain at the shelter! It's kinda a long story, but I think God wants me to share it.
When My Mom was carrying me in her womb, way back in 1938, the doctor examined her and said he could get no heartbeat from me, and was sure I had died in her womb! But my Mom was a strict Roman Catholic, and was opposed to abortion, even though it would be an emergency medical abortion to save her life! So she called her Catholic Lady friend from upstairs, and together they knelt and asked for the intercession of The Mother of Jesus, to save my life, and her life!
Well, as you can see, God heard their prayers, and I was born on Saint Valentine's Day, Feb. 14th, 1938! I guess Jesus can't resist His Mother Mary!! :-)
Since then, I have had many hard times, like a lot of you! I had scarlet fever, and rheumatic fever, and a severe heart murmur when I was a young boy, and spent a lot of time in hospitals. I also had a severe skin problem called atrophic dermatitis, or exema.
When I was about 17 years old, I was praying at a Catholic Church, when I heard God speak to me! No it wasn't an audible voice! If it had been, I think I would have jumped outta my skin! It was a still small voice in my spirit!
He told me to get a bible and start studying it, "Because my people don't know my word!" Actually, I had never read the bible, and we didn't have one at home, so I went to a Catholic Church and lit a candle, and asked my favorite Saint, Saint Anthony of Padua, to help pray to Jesus with me so I could get a bible. Saint Anthony was a follower of Saint Francis of Assisi. And I considered him my friend.
Three days later, I was at a buddy's house, and he brought up the subject of religion. We talked till about 11 PM. and I was getting ready to leave, when he said he had something he wanted to give me! He brought out a big Catholic bible, and laid it on the kitchen table! I never told my buddy Frank, anything about my prayer to get a bible! In fact, I wasn't even thinking about it! Frank said I might as well take it home, because I was always talking about God, and nobody read it at his house!
So three days after asking God for a bible here I was carrying one under my arm! That was the beginning of a spiritual journey for me! I began to pour over my bible every night in my room alone! It was a "red letter" edition, and the words of Jesus were printed in bright red, so I was attracted to them especially!
My Mother had given me a painting of Jesus, and I hung it on my wall. It was a black and white painting, but the nuns had painted the wounds of Jesus in red. She had gotten it in Sunday school when she was a little girl. One day as I was receiving communion at Mass on a Sunday, just as the Priest passed me to go to the next person kneeling at the altar rail, my eyes focused on the golden tabernacle, and I suddenly saw an image of the painting of Jesus in my room appear, and it slowly begin to move toward me, and then it drifted slowly off to my left and disappeared, as if an Angel was carrying it! It was called the Sacred heart!
Shortly after that I was in the back of a Catholic Church, and was reading a small New Testament I had with me. I was reading about how John the Baptist had said: "I indeed baptize you with water, but another is coming who will baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire!" Well I didn't really know what that meant, but I asked God to baptize me with the Holy Ghost!
A few years later when I was about twenty, I wanted to join the service. I went to the Army Base and took and passed all their tests. Then I was standing in front of a doctor. He looked at my application and said: "I'm sorry Son! Skin conditions only get worse in the service!" So he "red lined" my application, and I was issued a classification of 4-F, which meant I couldn't join any branch of the Service for medical reasons! I was really disappointed, but I couldn't do anything about it! Then when I was about 22 years old, I was reading my bible in my room, I suddenly had a strong desire to hear God's voice again like I had when He told me to get a bible! I really wasn't ready to hear him actually speak to me audibly, but there had to be some way! I had just finished reading: "All things whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my Name believing, you shall receive that your joy may be full!" Jesus had said that and it was in bright red letters!
As I was kneeling by my bed, I happened to glance over to my bookcase, and my eyes fell on my dictionary. All of a sudden I had the thought that if I asked God in the Name of His Son, Jesus, and really believed it, he would speak to me out of my dictionary! I guess that sounds kind of silly, but what did I know? I was just a kid! So I took the dictionary, and closed my eyes, and flipped the pages randomly, and placed my finger on a page. Before I did, I asked God what he wanted me to be in life! The first word I was pointing to when I opened my eyes was the word: "Saint!"
Yikes!!! That really scared me! I figured I was far from being a Saint! I still figure that! The next word was: "enlist!"
Sheese! That didn't make sense to me! Enlist in what? I was 4-F! Officially, I couldn't join any branch of the service! The next word was "Armed Forces!" I flipped the dictionary seven times in all, and these were the words I received one right after another:
"SAINT," "ENLIST," "ARMED FORCES," "WARFARE," "RIFLE," "WEAPON," and finally, "ARMY."
This was incredible! I thought to myself: "What are the chances that this could happen by accident? The odds against it must have astronomical! The next day I went to a Franciscan Church and asked to speak to a Priest. He told me to go to the Army Base and try again! What did I have to lose by trying?
So I went through all their tests again and was standing before a desk with two doctors' this time. The one on my right took my application, and started to say the same thing the other doctor had told me before, when suddenly, the Doctor on my left grabbed my application, and said: "Aww, give the kid a break! he wants to get in!" Two weeks later, I was on a Greyhound bus with a bunch of other guys heading for Fort Dix New Jersey for basic training in the US. Army!
I suffered a lot in the Army, because my skin kept breaking out because of the rugged training! So the doctor was right! But I managed to stay in for two years. Then I met a soldier at a USO Club, and he told me about a "Pentecostal" Church he was going to, and I visited it with him! A few months later as I kept going to this Church, I had a fantastic experience! I was at the altar one night calling on the name of Jesus, when suddenly I began to speak in a language I had never learned! Then I was filled with an incredible joy! I believe this was the answer to my prayer in the back of a Catholic Church, years earlier, when I asked God to baptize me with the Holy Ghost!
There is now a vast movement in the Catholic Church called the Charismatic Renewall! And thousands of people are recieving the baptism of Holy Spirit, and speaking in tonques, just like in bible days! In fact this is a world wide movement and it is in all Denominations!
Then in 1999, I went to a Veterans Military shelter to take a course in computers, and I ended up becoming the Chaplain to the Honor Guard! But this could have never happened unless I had been in the Service! It was the providence of God that led me there!
God bless you!
Ex. Chaplain Bill Gallant,