Medjugorje Mustard Seed
Before I married my wife Becky, who is Catholic, I was raised as a Methodist.
After several years of receiving Communion in a Catholic church, I was told that I was not allowed to take Communion because I was not Catholic! More out of frustration than anything else at the time, I joined the Church. I was so busy with my life and was so marginal at both being a Methodist and a Catholic that I could barely tell the difference. My life was all about working in a dog-eat-dog high-tech company for 50+ hours a week and was full of stress, and anxiety. Then, after twenty-five years of living in a pressure cooker, the lid flew off.
I was mountain biking in the woods in eastern Oregon when I had a life changing accident. I was traveling downhill fast when my tires hit a hole and I flew over the handlebars and landed on my head. I had broken my C1 (the one Christopher Reeves broke), C3 and C4 vertebra in my neck and my T4, T5 and T6 vertebra in my back, most of my ribs on my left side were crushed, my sternum was broken, and I broke three of my teeth when a stick went into my mouth.
Praying “Lord Save me” with a Guardian Angel on my Broken Back
My friend Brian called 911 and we waited for them to find us. I laid there for two hours in excruciating pain, praying the Our Father with Brian and asking God to please get me out of this alive. After many of the rescuers and ER doctors commented that I must have had a guardian angel with me, my wife Becky noticed later, when going through the clothes they had cut off me, that I had a T-shirt with a big angel on the back! Little did I know where that angel would take me.
Come Out of the Turtle Shell and Play Music for the Lord
After eight months of living in a neck and back brace ( the turtle shell) , John, a parishioner friend of mine, asked me if I would like to play guitar for his music ministry group. Even though I had played music in a rock band in high school, I felt awkward because I was not familiar with the style of music, or the actual parts of the Mass. Carol, our music director, had heard that I recorded music as a hobby, and asked me to record a Christmas CD of the parish’s music ministry in just two months. All of a sudden, many talented parishioners wanted to record Christian songs that they had written, and encouraged me to do the same. After we released our first Christmas music CD, I began to write my first Christian music.
Contemporary Christian Music for the Dying “Mustard Seed”
Several friends I knew had been diagnosed with cancer. One of them, Ken, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Having lost my mother at the age of five to cancer, I began to think about how awful that must be to know your life is going to end in a very short time. I began to write a song titled “Mustard Seed” that was about the power of prayer and how not to worry about your future. The chorus of the song was from Matthew 6: 24-34.
A few months later, Becky’s aunt, Sister Ina Marie, had decided to go to Medjugorje and she asked Jim, my father in-law, if he wanted to go. Becky and I were very concerned that these two elderly people were going to go to Bosnia, and so we watched a video to see what this was all about. In the movie, the Blessed Mother had told the children to begin their conversions by reading the scripture Mathew 6:24-34 every week! My mouth fell open and I stood in amazement about not only what was going on over there, but the direct connection to my song that I had just written. I felt this was my direct call to come see what the Blessed Mother was doing in Bosnia. My wife and I quickly signed up with her father and aunt through a Medjugorje pilgrimage organization in Portland Oregon called Center of Peace West.
Through Mary to Jesus
Before we knew it, we were standing in Medjugorje on a warm June night looking at a sign hung in front of the church saying “25th anniversary.” We could feel the Spirit in the air, beautiful music coming from the church, thousands of people praying. The incredible sound of the people singing in Mass was like nothing I had ever heard back home, but at the same time I was apprehensive because after just a very short time of playing Catholic music, I was about to lead the music for a Mass at St James parish in Medjugorje!
Our first experience of Medjugorje is beyond this article, but it will suffice for now to say we had more guardian angel and spiritual events. We spent many nights with thousands of people in perfect harmony in adoration of the Eucharist. Time flew and not wanting to leave, we sadly left for home, but we knew we had been greatly affected by this little town on the edge of Heaven. We spent the rest of the summer reading every Medjugorje book we could get our hands on and painting the messages of the five stones on rocks from Apparition Hill. We started to pray the Rosary daily and I began to discover saints, plenary indulgences, miracles of the Eucharist, etc.
That fall a singer friend of mine, Patti, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I began to sing “Mustard Seed” to her during prayer groups. After only three months of chemotherapy, prayer sessions and the song “Mustard Seed,” her cancer had shrunk to an operable size and she is in good spirits and cancer free today. Ken, the original terminal cancer patient, is also still alive. His cancers shrunk to the point that he could be operated on. Although he has to have chemotherapy treatments after his operations, his spirits are high in testimony to faith the size of a tiny seed.
Surrender to God’s Love: The Musical bookend to Mustard Seed
Several months later, I was practicing music for a youth Mass that Sunday evening while looking at a picture of the Blessed Mother. I was playing around with an old Bert Bacharach song, “What the World Needs Now is Love Sweet Love,” when the Blessed Mother’s messages started to fall into a song. Every word in this song was from Our Lady’s messages. Before the Mass that night I had written the music and Our Lady had written the lyrics to “Surrender to God’s Love.” I sang it for meditation at Mass that very same night. The song has grown to be one of my favorites. It was sung at a Mass with the statue of Fatima when the statue was visiting Portland, Oregon. I did an interview with MIR radio in Medjugorje about the song on my pilgrimage to Medjugorje last May, and they are playing it on their radio station now. I have sung it to pilgrims on Apparition Hill and they have told me that Mary was smiling.
Mustard Seed: Let the Message Grow! (For All Souls)
Getting the Message Out
The 10-minute trailer for the movie “A Message From Medjugorje” s been watched by over 950,000 viewers on YouTube and I have sold more than 2000 DVDs around the world. The popularity of the trailer caused a plethora of comments posted on YouTube. Some good, are some bad. The challenging ones become the source to my learning about God (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), Mary the Saints, and Catholicism in general. I started a website just to handle the rebuttals and to explain many misconceptions, and falsehoods about God, Christianity, and the Mother of God. It was an apologetic exercise that only fueled my faith.
I also had to learn a lot about Medjugorje as it was not only challenged by an atheist, and Protestants but also by fundamental Catholics questioning the validity of daily apparitions that has lasted more than 40 years.
Along the path, I have met many very nice people from all over the world. I have gotten involved with Marian conferences, developing video fundraising campaigns to help many families in Bosnia, become a director on the board for Center for Peace pilgrimages to Medjugorje, and have spent over a month in Medjugorje.
In 2010 I returned to make a 2nd documentary video that covers the most obvious yet overseen miracle of Medjugorje, the sheer avalanche of people who have turned their lives back to God. That one-hour movie ”The Miracle of Medjugorje” has been viewed by more than 80,000 people online.