Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
December 17, 2001
'Live-in' changed electrician's life
He stopped controlling others and gave control to God
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — Jim Pace of Ardrossan says when he went to his first "live-in" eight years ago, the Lord changed his life, turning him into a better person and a better Christian.
Speaking at the monthly charismatic renewal prayer breakfast Dec. 8, Pace described his life as a "Christian sitting on the fence" until he was struck with cancer a year ago at age 57. This jolt made him face his mortality and in the Lord he overcame the fear of death and now embraces love and peace.
Born and raised near Toronto, Pace grew up in a divided family, where his father was an Italian Catholic and his mother an Irish Protestant.
Nevertheless, thanks to his grandmother, he embraced Catholicism and attended Sunday school. When he was seven, a Sunday school teacher asked who wanted to have Jesus in their lives.
Pace was one of several who raised their hands. "From that moment on, the Lord has been in my life," he told more than 160 people attending the breakfast at the Chateau Louis Conference Centre.
When he was eight, his mother fell very, very sick, close to death. Pace prayed to God for her and "the Lord allowed her to live."
Then he had to confront his dad who abused his mother both physically and verbally. "God gave me the courage to stand up to him," he told the audience. The man, an absentee father who spent most of his time gambling, stopped hitting his wife after seeing that his behaviour would no longer be tolerated.
"From that moment on I took charge (of the family) and I became a controlling person," Pace said. "By age 12, I was completely in charge," organizing his brothers and sisters to do different tasks.
Eventually Pace became an electrician and as soon as he gained independence he walked away from God. "I found Christian life kind of boring," he said. "God reluctantly allowed me to go." He married his wife at age 20 and moved to Alberta to work in his trade.
His grandmother, a devout Catholic, would not leave him alone, frequently sending him little notes and letters about the importance of God in one's life.
Years later and perhaps inspired by grandma, Pace began attending church and sending his kids to Sunday school. The Paces were involved in church activities in Ardrossan but that stopped when they decided to attend a larger church in Sherwood Park. "That was a bad idea because the children stopped going to Sunday school and we stopped going to church."
At one point in the 1980s, Pace's body went into what he terms an "overload," rendering him unable to handle his duties as foreman of an electrical company. He would get big swellings in his arms. His doctor recommended he see either a psychiatrist or his pastor. He chose the latter.
This and other life experiences drew him closer to God. Eight years ago he attended a Catholic live-in, a kind of a weekend retreat where participants learn about their faith and share their testimony. Now Pace is a shepherd in the movement and helps others find God in their lives.
Pace said he used to hate people who molested children and when he heard reports on the subject he would become insane with anger, wanting to tear the criminal apart. He had good reason. Pace revealed an 18-year-old man he trusted had molested him as a child. The live-ins helped him deal with that. "The healing came and I was no longer that vengeful, angry person."
The live-ins also changed his perception of God from a "disciplinarian" to a loving God who sent his Son to die for humanity. "He is just like Jesus. Jesus came to show us, 'This is what my Father is. When you see me, you are really looking at him (God)."
A year ago on Dec. 20, Pace learned he had cancer. Unlike his former self, Pace felt no fear when he heard the news and went through the operation as if nothing major was happening to him. He wasn't worried. The formerly controlling Pace had decided to give control back to God.
The ordeal got him closer to his family, to his friends and to God, to whom many prayed for his recovery. Later, doctors told him they had managed to get all the cancer.
"I realized God had given me extra time to not do what I wanted but to be with my family, with my sons, with my daughter, with the people around me, with my brothers and my sisters, with anybody that God would allow me to share my faith with," Pace told his audience.
"I realized God wanted me to be a light to others. You can be a light to others without even knowing it, if you really just are there for God and you are kind. We should be just shining for Jesus always if we can."
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