My name is Mike Archibald and this is my story.
I come from a small town in Northeastern Ohio and was born the last of six children. I was raised close to God in a Christian family who loved and cared for me very much. I was a youth leader in my church and believed in God and Jesus.
I enjoyed success as a student through high school and college and took on leadership roles at the University and excelled academically. After graduating first in my engineering class, I landed a great job with a fortune 100 company, and married my college girlfriend. Everything was going great… my siblings would tell me that I lived a ‘Charmed Life.’ During this period of success, I drifted away from God and my church community. I relied on myself… I was sure that I did not need God’s help.
After a few years, the ups and downs of life began. First, I was consumed by my work and my marriage fell apart. My wife left one day and never returned. I was crushed. I had not experienced personal failure until that moment. I approached my church leader and requested an annulment. To my dismay, I was told it would be approved for $1,500. I had little money at this time and became angry and never pursued the annulment. This fuelled doubts about religion and skepticism of religious leaders. I, again, immersed myself in my career and felt that I was able to do anything because of my own talents and work ethic. I did not need religion or even God to be a success in this world.
Some time later I met Missy, my wife today of 17 years. We both had experienced broken relationships in the past and found one another by chance. Life was good again, but there was still no room for God in my life.
After 9 happy years of marriage, we started our family and were blessed with twin boys. We had struggled for years with infertility, and were so happy in 2007 for the birth of Lucas and Nathan. Again, life was good and we were overjoyed with our new family.
At this time in our life, we were living in Houston, Texas and returned to my hometown in Northeast Ohio to visit our family. We asked the pastor of the church where I grew up to baptize the twins. Unfortunately, he declined our request. He told us that his schedule would not allow it, but only after he learned of my prior marriage and that I did not obtain an annulment. As one can imagine, I became even more critical of religion and I believed that the religious organizations and leaders would only help those who they chose to help. I did not want to join a church at all at this point.
In 2009, we moved to the Pittsburgh area for my job. As fast as things were changing for the good, we suddenly faced the worst thing that a parent can imagine - the death of a child. Our son, Nathan, had become sick and suffered a sudden asthma attack. It came on quickly and was severe. The ambulance arrived and took him to the hospital… he was in critical condition. The doctors told us that Nathan was alive, but since he had stopped breathing for so long, his brain was severely damaged. They told us that he was brain-dead. I remember falling to my knees and cursing God. This was the worst day of my life as our 19-month old son died in our arms in the ICU.
As we grieved over time, I became incredibly angry with myself, and God. How could He allow this to happen to an innocent child, and to me? I felt numb, abandoned, and incomplete. It was an extremely difficult time in my life - a new ‘low.’ Missy and I carried on…we lived, we breathed…while remaining incredibly sad.
About a year after Nathan’s death, a close friend gave me a book and told me “you are probably ready to read this now.” The book was a Christian-based novel that told a story of a father who tragically lost a child. The book told about the anger that the father had towards God and then how God had revealed Himself to the man and showed him how his child came to walk with Jesus. I was incredibly moved by reading this book and I began to remember how much God loved me and that He sacrificed his only son, Jesus, on my behalf.
Shortly after reading this book, I was invited to attend services at Orchard Hill by a dear friend and colleague at the office. My friend invited us to attend with him many times in the past, but this time, we accepted. After all, maybe this church would be different…maybe this church could help us?
We started to attend services regularly and really enjoyed learning Scripture and the teachings of Jesus. I also heard many stories of how people who were broken, like me, had found their way to Jesus. Many of these stories showed how people became true believers in, what I thought, seemed like a short period of time. It seemed that, for some of them, a light-switch was turned-on and the Holy Spirit filled them up quickly. I was confused and jealous. I began to question myself and God again; Why was the Holy Spirit not filling my heart so fast? I have been through many ups and downs in my life and I truly believe in Jesus’ love and sacrifice. Why don’t I feel a spontaneous and miraculous change? I thought, perhaps my heart will never be ready to accept Jesus?
So, we carried on…and we continued to attend services at Orchard Hill. We were blessed with the arrival of our daughter, Vivienne, and just 13 months later, we were overjoyed to have a third son, Abram. I felt it was very important for our children to learn about God and Jesus. I was invited to join a life group with 8 other men…this group has been incredibly supportive and helpful in my journey. What I did not know was that the Holy Spirit was filling me up… one drop at a time… slowly… deliberately. I never had an ‘ah ha’ moment, but I gradually came to know God’s love and have been moved towards Jesus.
I have become what I like to call a, ‘broken believer.’ I am a sinner and can still question things, but I have learned to love God and Jesus again. I know that God loves us all as His children and I also have come to know that I will not understand why bad or good things happen to us on Earth. God’s promise is Heaven and everlasting life. I know that I will see Nathan again in Heaven and that we will be restored and living with our Lord.
My name is Mike Archibald and this is my story.
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