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Out of the Darkness, into the Light

Early Years

I was born in Vancouver, BC, Canada on September 28, 1962. I am the youngest of five children: Allan, Don, Lorraine, David (R.I.P. 1987) and me. My earliest memories are of feeling a lot of love, warmth and excitement. As time went on I recall a number of tense times when my older siblings would fight. I was quite shy as a young boy. I was baptized into the Catholic faith in St. Jude's Church in Vancouver as an infant. As a young child, I recall taking the baby Jesus out of his crib from our Nativity scene, holding him in my hands and kissing him. I loved Jesus with a simple, pure love that I learned from my parents. My mother used to kneel down to pray with me every night.

David Landers
I attended St. Francis de Sales elementary school in Burnaby. I enjoyed going to the school masses and singing songs with all the other children. I grew up to love adventure! Once, I got my brother Al to shoot at with his rifle while I stood behind the tree so I could hear the bullet go by! We used to go to the shooting range quite often, blasting away at paper targets, tin cans and other objects. My brother Al (Allan) was an expert marksman with many awards for shooting. I came to be also an execellent shooter and could pick off a target from hundreds of yards away.
I remember when I was in elementary school, probably around grade 5 or so, watching a video on the life of Padre Pio, the famous stigmatist-priest from Italy, who, like St. Francis of Assisi, bore the wounds of Christ on his hands, feet and side for over 50 years. He was a member of the Capuchin order (Franciscans): Ofm Cap. I remember this video really having a powerful impression on me and made me think of being in God's service when I grew up. Soon, however, my passion for rock and roll completely overshadowed any spiritual goals, at this was the time of Beatlemania, the Rolling Stones, etc., and I was more often exposed to their music, publicity photos all over my sister's walls (which one of my brothers subsequently drew mustaches on each of the Beatles, much to my sisters's horror!).

While in school, I learned how to play the electric guitar -- and dreamed of becoming a rock star. I was greatly influenced by my brother David, in his choice of music and long hair. Black Sabbath, Vol IV was the first album I ever bought and I listened to it all the time and knew it by heart. I even brought it one day to "show and tell" along with my stereo and cranked up Ozzy and the boys, much to the horror of my elementary school teacher! (Other kids were bringing "nice" things like dolls, toys, etc... I also won the "longest hair for a boy" in school as well, which I was very proud of!

The first guitar I owned
(With my dad)

One day, my brother Don took me to see The Exorcist. It made me so fearful of the devil that I could hardly sleep for a long time. But I slowly became fascinated with Satan. I admired his power, and wanted to enjoy a wild lifestyle.
Sold on Satan In grade seven, I gave my soul to Satan. I was fully aware of what I was doing. I figured that since I enjoyed doing bad things, I might as well join the devil's team. I began to take an interest in the occult -- using tarot cards, a ouija board and a mask of Satan. I painted my walls dark red and my ceiling black; I posted a picture of Satan with horns, a pitchfork and a wicked grimace.

High School and Beyond

When I entered St. Thomas More High School, I played with a band. Those were the days of wild weekend parties and lots of drinking. Once, arriving home from a wild party, I looked in the mirror -- and my face was bloodied, my hair a mess and my clothing filthy. Instantly, I thought about the sufferings of Jesus, even though I was not in a loving relationship with him at the time.
My older brother David was a huge influence on my musical tastes: he introduced me to Led Zepplin and the rest was history. I had a poster of Robert Plant on my wall and grew my hair long like his, dressed like him, sang like him, etc. and then got into Black Sabbath in a huge way as well as Alice Cooper. Kiss was the first rock concert I ever went to. I was in the late 70's at the Pacific Colisieum and I recall the crowds of teens banging violently against the stadium doors, saying "open the [email protected]%$#'ng doors! Open the ^%#^%@*'ng doors!"

I was blown away by the sound, the lights, the special effects, the real fire explosions (you could feel the heat hundreds of feet away), the stage blood, the breathing fire by Gene Simmons, etc. and I was hooked! All I wanted to do was do what they were doing: be a rock star and totally rock the world! At the time I did believe in God and went to Catholic mass every week, but really didn't care at all about religion and I never prayed. I was just taking up space in church. Sometimes I bugged the people there by making noise, talking and even throwing pieces of paper over the balcony to try to land them on peoples' heads below! I must admit, that was a lot of fun!
Dave, my brother, was a great singer and he reminded me of Robert Plant. He sang with the band that became DOA, the pioneer punk band from Canada. I met Joey recently and we talked about the days they used to rehearse outside our home. Once the cops came because they were too loud.

Some of my friends used to sniff gas but I never got into that because I thought it was a stupid thing to do. For Halloween, however, I did put gas into a glass spray can that used to have hair spray in it, and went around with a lighter shooting 5 foot flames around Burnaby, which was a potentially deadly thing to do! Fortunately, I didn't blow up or set myself on fire.
I quit Catholic school because the principal was bugging me about my long hair and most of my friends had left for public school because there were girls there, and there was none at STM. I had a real knack of mimicking our teachers to a STM. My friends laughed their heads off at my impressions of our teachers.

I was kicked out of school for a day becuase I refused to cut my hair: I just put it up in curlers to trick them into thinking it was short, but it rained out and it went long again and the principle got mad at me and sent me home! We had some good bands for concerts like Amy Cannon and a bunch of other acts.  So, I went to Burnaby South High School for grade 12. I joined the progresive rock band Tom Foolery. We were a trio, very much like Rush, and our drummer, Phil Haslip, was amazing and could play like no other drummer I had met before. Steve Jensen was on guitar and was very creative in his style and I was on bass and shared lead vocals with Phil. The photo at the top of my testimony is one Steve sent me recently of me playing guitar at his place in Burnaby.

With Steve Jensen in Tom Foolery

After graduating, I went on the road with a rock band named Roxcity. We were loud, heavy and loved to party. Once, after a gig, I watched a TV movie about the life of Jesus. It caused me to think about my spiritual life briefly. God was planting a seed.  I quit Roxcity while on the road, as I was getting worn out with the wild lifestyle. I joined another couple of musicians, to form Tyranny. The name aptly describes what life was like in the band. It was a progressive rock trio with a drummer, guitarist and myself on bass, vocals and keyboards, as well as acoustic guitar. In that band, though, I did start writing songs and lyrics that were expressing a searching for meaning, like "Questions in My Mind:" "What makes the stars shine and the earth spin? What makes a man think he is real?" I shut the band down after doing only one live show with them, because I was restless and unhappy and I began to search for a purpose in my life.

Prodigal son Gets Tired of the Pig Sty! 

One day, an unusual thought came to me: "I am a Catholic." I realized that I had not lived as a Christian should -- and I felt guilty. I continued to search for something to make my life meaningful. I slowly began to believe God must have something to do with these feelings. One day in May, 1983 I was mowing our front lawn. At one point, I sensed a strong presence -- the presence of Jesus. I stopped the mower, and listened interiorly. An image of Jesus knocking at a door appeared in my mind, and I heard Jesus saying to me: "Peter, I am what you have been searching for. Open your heart to me and I will give you peace and a new life." I explained to the Lord that I was like the prodigal son -- but that if he wanted me to, I would open my heart to him. So I prayed, giving my life to Jesus, accepting him as Lord and Saviour, and expressing sorrow for all my sins.

As soon as this prayer was finished, I felt a great weight lifted off me; the power of the Holy Spirit filled me with joy, peace and love. I finished the lawn, and went inside. My mother noticed a change in me, and I said something to her about Jesus. Shortly after, I went to Confession. I was welcomed by the priest, who heard all my sins. He encouraged me by saying that, even though I had not paid much attention to Jesus all these years, the Lord had never abandoned me. I felt such a spiritual burden being taken away. I walked out of that church feeling like a new man.
From that point on, I wanted to please God. I began to participate actively in Sunday Mass, and eventually began attending daily Mass. I loved to pray after Mass, having just received Jesus in Communion. My life was transformed in ways I could hardly believe. I was filled with a joy I had never known before, and a burning desire to share Jesus with everyone. I had a deep hunger for God,and loved to begin the day with quiet prayer, reading the Bible and the lives of the saints.

I read about the life of St. Clare and how she had all of her beautiful long blonde hair cut off when she decided to follow the way of life that St. Francis of Assisi had embraced, so I took a pair of scissors and cut off all my long hair. I stuck it in a glass box, thinking, at the time, that if I ever became a canonized saint it would be a neat relic, because I saw that they had a box of some of St. Clare's hair! It was a real hack job but it did the trick: I made the change: I felt like a new man both interiorly and exteriorly. For me, my long hair had been a kind of symbol of my dreams of rock star fame. The new short hair was a symbol of giving myself to Christ and rejecting the lure of sin and the world. I walked around Burnaby to see what it felt like to have short hair (I had long hair constantly since about grade 5!)

I helped to start a youth group in my parish with friends. Since that time I was involved in many kinds of ministries in the church and travelled on pilgrimages to Israel, Rome, Assisi, England, Medjugorje, Mexico, USA and across Canada. I released several Christian albums and have made three Christian music videos. I wrote a book on spiritual warfare called "Spiritual Weapons" which is available on this site for free as an e-book. Many more things could be shared but this is the main part of my testimony: how Jesus reached out to me back in 1982 and transformed my life forever. I confess that I certainly have not always followed Him as I should have and many times wandered away, but the merciful love of God brought me back to His life-giving presence again and again.

Today, many years later, I am still following Jesus and am now married to my wonderful wife Cyndie. Together we started the Missionaries of Merciful Love, a group that is decicated to living and spreading the merciful love of Jesus in the world. In 2004 I started the band Myztery   Thank you for taking the time to read my testimony of how Jesus changed my life. Open your heart to him, ask him to cleanse you of yours sins, give your past, present and future to him. Trust in Him and ask God the Father to reveal His perfect will for your life. Be baptized by water and the Holy Spirit. Attend church every Sunday and receive the Body and Blood of Jesus in holy communion at every mass. Read the Word of God, especialy the Gospel according to John. No matter what darkness you have been in or may be in now, the light of Jesus is greater and more powerful! God loves you! God is merciful! Trust in Him!

Pete Mason