About Jesus Steve Sweetman
'a brief glimpse into my life'
- My Early Years
3 - Billy
4 - The
The Holy Spirit
The Jesus People Movement
8 - Elim
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
During the March vacation of 1971 when I
was in grade 13 I went to
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
If you want to pigeonhole me
into a doctrinal box, I'm Pentecostal by experience but not by
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
In 1971, I, Jim and Marlene Williams, along
with a couple friends moved into a farm house just outside of
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
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
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
8 - Elim Bible Institute
In June, 1975, my friend and mentor Glenn
Shaver suggested that I attend
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
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
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
Our Pastor, Jim Covert, decided to return
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
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
to another related church.
We spent more than three years in
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
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
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
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
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
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
involvement has included playing music and teaching the Word of the
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.