My name is Joe Pelletier and I live in Chelmsford with my wife Jennie. We moved to this area for my job. I work as a lead engineer at a large healthcare company.
I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. I wasn’t born that way, I didn’t grow up that way. I was raised Catholic. To me that meant someone baptized me, I had my first communion, I was confirmed in the church and all I had to do after that was get married and die and I met all of the criteria to go to heaven.
To follow in my family tradition, after confirmation, I never attended church regularly again. I remember opening up the fancy polished pine box when I was 10 and asked why the untouched bible was in the box. My Mom told me that we don’t read that. Sounds strange, but that also seemed to be what I noticed at the Catholic Church I had attended. This was a place where I remember shaking hands during mass and saying peace be with you, to be followed by running for your life in the parking lot from grumpy drivers. Peace had been lost between the building and the cars. I did know that God existed but I was taught that a priest was required to access God.
My plan for life was pretty common, get an education, change jobs to increase my income, and move in with my girlfriend and buy property together. After college, everything was going according to plan. But then the relationship with my girlfriend ended and I had to take on mortgage payments by myself. Things got rough. I was pretty sad. Suddenly I realized that the world I created for myself wasn’t something I could actually control. Hope was gone and every positive emotion was gone. So was my plan.
A couple years later I met the first girl I ever wanted to marry. That was just before I got my heart broken, really broken, for the first time.
If you were expecting a faith story with hope, this is where it starts.
I had already started searching to fill that empty space inside me. I went to the Catholic church my sister was attending, but it didn’t seem much different that what I remembered.
Then I got a call from someone I had worked with 5 years prior, his name was Alan. This guy was probably the most vile, nasty, self-serving man, anyone could have met. Alan called to ask me something, didn’t swear, and talked about Jesus. I wondered what happened to Alan. He asked me to come to his church in Uxbridge, Ma. The timing in my search was perfect. It was a startup and only had about 10 people, when I went for the first time. This was also the first time I heard a scripture passage read, a current day example provided, and that the bible was really appealing. I wondered why my previous faith hid something so powerful.
I didn’t have a fast miraculous conversion to Christianity that you may have heard other people talk about. I had a slow, custom made for Joe, miraculous acceptance of Jesus Christ, that later developed into a personal relationship. My best friend Glenn, who I met in junior high, accepted Jesus 6 months before me, and prayed for me from that point on. He bought me my first bible, and I spent a week with him in Oklahoma at a youth ministry conference at a giant church, within 6 months of me being saved. I got to see children running busses from poor neighborhoods to go to learn about Jesus.
When I moved north to get a job in Chelmsford, a friend at the church in Uxbridge suggested I try Immanuel Church. I was later baptized there.
My folks were still Catholic and were NOT happy with me getting baptized. This was hard because my parents were always proud of me and supported me. They didn’t want to come to my baptism so they pretended to be sick, but my sister forced them into her car anyway, and drove them 45 miles to be there.
A few months later, I started singing in the church choir and found that my folks would come to every Christmas and Easter performance. They were hearing the Gospel when they came. This may have been the first time I realized that God could perform miracles in peoples lives, because I had not been sure my parents would accept me not being Catholic.
I met my wife leading worship at a church singles group. They were in need of someone to sing, so I stepped up to help. I wasn’t there to track down a wife but God had other plans. Glenn was the best man at my wedding.
I prayed for my parents for many years. After I got married, my wife started praying and sharing the gospel with them. .They have both accepted Christ within the last 6 years and I have been blessed to see both my parents baptized. Now they have a church family of their own. My dad has shared his story of hope to people in the community where he lives, and has filled a couple of pews at his church with people he met in his community.
As for me, there have been plenty of tough times. Being a Christian doesn’t mean all things become perfect. My life changed, because now have hope, I have a Savior that is with me, loves me, and will never forsake me. I had nothing to give, no works to perform, no deeds to do. I just asked HIM into my life.
This scripture reminds me to seek Him. It also reminds me, how amazing He is. He is my hope, and he filled that empty space I never knew could be filled. Psalm 103:2-4 says, Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion. (NIV®)
If you don’t yet have a faith story, or have any questions about my faith story, please speak with me after the service