I was raised in a Conservative Jewish home. We ?kept kosher,? and for 5 years I went to Hebrew School, followed by a Bar Mitzvah. From an early age, though, I considered myself an agnostic.

As a young lad, I asked an uncle who was highly respected in the synagogue why we did something a certain way. His response was, "We've always done it that way - it's tradition. Now stop asking so many questions!" I found this answer wholly unsatisfying.

I've always liked to ask questions... If something can't be explained or rationally defended, why should I believe in it? More and more, I came to see modern-day Judaism as a set of man-made rules to be followed. My father, for example, began each day by dovening (reading from a Hebrew prayer book) for an hour. I later learned, though, that because the prayers were all in Hebrew and my father couldn't speak Hebrew, he was mouthing the words without understanding what they meant!

My father and I came to an understanding about the matter. While I lived in his house, I would follow all . . .

{mosimage}38 years ago, at approximately 11:00 a. m., on February 4, 1966, as the cold wind blew snow flurries around the Chicago area, a new life came into the world. I was the second of seven children in my small family. I guess my parents took the book Cheaper by the Dozen too literally! Growing up in a family of seven children will leave you with many stories to tell, some which bring a smile, and a few which bring tears.

My life as a young child was a happy one. I learned to walk, to talk, and to make a total mess of my parents' house as most children do. All those days were rather typical, the sun shone, the birds sang, and it even rained occasionally. It seemed all would be fine. My life would be normal. I would probably grow up to be a billionaire tycoon.

My name is Paul Huggins. I was born in Hastings in July 1961. My upbringing was working class with two fathers and one mother, as my Dad left when I was 2 years old, but fortunately he came to take me out and we would go to his house, 'my brother and I', for Sunday tea. A treat to have tinned salmon sandwiches! as this was considered a luxury.

By the time I was 9 I was playing truant from school, off picking strawberries to sell house to house on Sundays for extra cash to keep for spending mostly on cream cakes for when I did go to school to give them away.

Note from Pastor Tim:  This testimony is the powerful and gripping story of the difference Jesus Christ has made, and is making, in the life of the man who's story it is.  All reading it will be greatly impacted.  Some may be left feeling unsettled or vulnerable due to the stirring up of recent or long past memories.

Paul said in Romans 5:20&21, "The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."  The testimony that follows is indeed a testimony to God's grace.