Stu Blyde’s journey from Wicca to wholeness in Christ
| By Sandra Reimer
As a teenager Stu Blyde remembers thinking, “Christianity couldn’t possibly be true.” The Christians surrounding him lived a “wimpy, shallow” faith that repelled him. Stu decided he was an atheist. But in his mid-twenties, he became aware of a spiritual realm. “Everything isn’t just scientific and random,” says Stu. He felt there was a consciousness in the universe that science couldn’t explain.
On his search for what or whom this consciousness might be, Stu was intrigued by books about Wicca and Neopaganism that he discovered in the New Age section of a bookstore.
Wicca is one of several new forms of Paganism. Though there is considerable diversity in the practice of Wicca, in general adherents honour a variety of gods and goddesses. They also believe that divinity is found in all things. Wiccans follow an ethical code and perform magical rituals.
Stu was fascinated by the idea that every living thing, and even inanimate objects like the moon and stars, had a spiritual essence. He was also drawn to the promise of harnessing spiritual power. He began observing Wicca in earnest. “In my daily life I was a practitioner of magic. I would perform certain rituals, cast spells, read tarot cards, and the like.”
Stu was a Wiccan for nine years—but the religion did not completely satisfy his deepest spiritual longings.
Though he may have helped to reverse the extremely bad luck of a co-worker through casting a spell, in general Stu was disappointed by the lack of power of his gods. He was also frustrated by the eclectic assortment of Wiccan beliefs that seemed to affirm opposing truths. The overly tolerant sounding, “What you believe is fine for you” and “We’re both right” weren’t enough for him. He began to wonder, “Is there good and evil?” and “Who governs what is right and wrong?” Deep down Stu suspected that there must be some kind of absolute truth— but he still wanted nothing to do with Christianity.
When Stu and his wife Candice moved from the city of St. Catharines to Zurich, Ontario, he noticed that people were a lot kinder in this village of about 900. Could it be just small town friendliness? Or was it because most residents attended church?
It seemed that God was trying to communicate with Stu. Walking down the streets of Zurich, he would overhear positive conversations about Jesus. As he flipped through radio stations, powerful Christian songs or inspiring sermons came to his attention. He asked himself, “Why am I attracted to this stuff?”
At the same time, Candice was taking their three kids to Kingsfield, a local church with Mennonite roots. She felt it was a good way to help the children to meet new friends. Candice often told Stu what the pastor had said in his sermons.
Then one day, when Stu was working at his job in a machine shop, he threw his tools down and said, “God, is this you? Are you real? Do you love me despite all the things I have done and all the things I have said about you and your followers?” He was answered with a profound sense of peace and a loving presence.
Two weeks later, Stu told his wife, “I think God is real and the gospel is true.” Candice was shocked. “She looked at me like I had been abducted by aliens.” Stu decided to start attending Kingsfield with his family. He was blown away by a guest preacher who went through the book of Romans, relating events in the Old Testament to the New Testament and talking about why the Christian faith was true.
A short time later in the fall of 2007, an elder from Kingsfield invited Stu to a Promise Keepers’ event at the Hershey Centre in Hamilton, Ontario. Deeply moved by the worship and the speaker, Stu accepted the offer when men were invited to follow Christ. He hasn’t looked back. “God has been so real in my life for the last four years.”
As Stu grew in his Christian faith, friends and coworkers noticed a change. “They saw a difference in my level of integrity and my work ethic.” He also had more of a desire to help people. Passionate but respectful, Stu gently shared his faith. He told people, “I care about you and here is how God shows that he cares for us and how he wants us to be with each other. “
Stu has some advice for people who want to reach out to people still involved in Wiccan practices: “Don’t try to make Christianity seem better. It will just make them angry. Love them and model for them a good example of Christ.”
God continues to call
After leaving his Wiccan beliefs behind to follow Jesus, Stu Blyde wanted to share his faith full-time. Together with his pastor and church community, he discerned that God was inviting him to become a pastor.
But how could he prepare himself at Bible college with a family to support? His boss at the successful machine shop where he was employed told him, “You can work here the rest of your life. We don’t do layoffs.”
In 2008, the recession hit and Stu lost his job. Through a government-sponsored retraining program Stu began studying to be a pastor. He has completed three years of school, and has one more year to go before attending seminary. In the meantime, he works part time as at his church.
The article above is featured in the September 2012 issue of SEVEN magazine.