Eric Tremblay

FINDING PURPOSE

Interview by Derrick Scott and Mathieu Manning
Images © Vesta’s Photography

ERIC TREMBLAY’S LIFE STORY IS A TESTAMENT TO PROFOUND TRANSFORMATION, FROM A TUMULTUOUS CHILDHOOD TO A LIFE OF SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP. HE REFLECTS ON HIS JOURNEY, STATING, “IF YOU HAD TOLD ME BACK THEN THAT I WAS GOING TO BE A PASTOR, I WOULD HAVE LAUGHED IN YOUR FACE.”

Turbulent beginnings

Growing up as a military child, Eric experienced constant upheaval and displacement, hindering his ability to form lasting connections. “I mean, I was a mess when I was a kid, up until 19,” Eric confesses, highlighting the challenges of his early life compounded by a strained relationship with his father and the absence of stability.

Eric’s journey was further complicated by the loss of his father when he was only 13. That loss plunged him into a period of seeking and hardship. “There’s a desire to be accepted, loved. And I was looking for a male figure, a role model. And I was looking for it in the wrong places, hanging around with the wrong crowds. And it led me to very dark places,” he recalls, shedding light on the complexity of his youth. In the shadow of this loss, his mother stood as a resilient figure of love, tirelessly working to support her family. “My mom was a blessing. She was trying to raise two kids, working a job and trying to make ends meet”.

Early encounters with religion left Eric feeling detached. “I went to Catholic school, mass here and there. But it didn’t mean anything to me. And it wasn’t personal,” Eric explains. This disconnection stemmed not from a rejection of faith but from the absence of a meaningful connection to it. “Well, it was something everybody did, but it wasn’t my choice in a sense, like it didn’t mean anything. I had a lot of information about it, but there was no personal experience of it,” he clarifies. “So I would say I love God, but really my actions said something else, and there was a void there. And I didn’t really understand it all,” he admits.

A path to redemption

Eric’s path to transformation was neither straightforward nor easy. “I started hanging around with the wrong crowd, started doing drugs, started getting into trouble with the law. Ended up in prison for about three years,” Eric recounts. His life had spiraled into a series of unfortunate events that led him to do a lot of time behind bars, during which he faced the darkest moments of his life.

It was during his last incarceration that a pivotal moment occurred. “I got into a fight with someone, and I was thrown in the hole for three days. And they didn’t tell me when I was going to come out,” he shares.

This time of isolation became the backdrop for an unexpected intervention. “One of the guards gave me a book. It was called ‘The Broken Chains of Prison’ by Ernie Holland. And it was a bunch of testimonies and stories of criminals. They confessed that they were sick and tired of being sick and tired and not knowing what was the purpose of their life. But then somewhere down the line, they gave their life to Jesus Christ and their life changed. Some of them became fathers, businessmen, husbands. And now they’re contributing to society in a very positive way. And that really touched me, that really spoke to me that day. And I felt that the decision they made, I needed to do it myself,” Eric recalls with clarity and emotion. This book, and the stories in it, ignited a spark within him, a realization that there was a path to redemption and a life of purpose beyond the confines of his current reality.

“But I wasn’t ready to do that,” he admits, highlighting the internal struggle and the need for further encouragement to make such a life-altering decision. It was at this critical juncture that Eric perceived the intervention of the guard not just as an act of kindness but as something divinely orchestrated. “And to me, without getting too religious, I almost think that guard was an angel. I think he was a godsend for sure because I needed that. And that’s what began to change my life,” he reflects.

After his release from prison, Eric found himself navigating through “another two years of darkness.” Reflecting back on his journey, he states, “I’m 44 now, but when I got out of jail, I got involved with drug dealers and gangs.” This period, marked by seemingly having everything he thought he wanted— friends, money, girls—still left him feeling profoundly empty inside.

Awakening faith

Eric’s journey began in the depths of despair, sparked by a profound realization inspired by the book he read during his time in prison. “I needed to cry out to Jesus for a second chance and just choose to not walk in the wrong direction anymore,” he recalls, marking the pivotal moment of introspection that initiated his transformation. The emotional release that followed his prayer was intensely personal, lifting a weight he had carried for so long. “And at that point, I know it’s not everybody’s experience, but for me, I felt like a 1000-pound weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I started crying like a baby,” Eric reflects. That cathartic experience marked the dawn of a new chapter, leading him to fervently embrace his faith. “And from that day on, I started reading my Bible every day. And then eventually I joined a church.” Guided by a quest for deeper spiritual connection, Eric explored different denominations, guided by a Christian friend. His journey found clarity when he discovered the Community Pentecostal Church in Orleans, where he felt an immediate sense of belonging and safety. “When I got to this church, I just felt at home, I felt good, I felt safe there,” Eric emphasizes, affirming his commitment to his newfound community and faith.

Finding purpose

A transformative mission trip to Pamplona, Spain awoke a new life path for Eric. Reflecting on the experience, he recalls, “During this mission, I regularly shared my testimony, and that experience stirred a profound sense of purpose within me.”

Feeling inspired by his pastor’s ministry work, Eric expressed his aspiration, saying, “I love what he’s doing. He’s doing the ministry, he’s doing the gospel work, he’s sharing Jesus with people. And I said, that’s what I want to do.’”

Motivated by this newfound desire to dedicate his life to ministry and the gospel, Eric was encouraged to pursue theological education in Montreal. That period of study was not only significant for his professional and spiritual development but also for his personal life. “And that’s also where I found my wife. And so, I got two for one. I went there for theology and I came out with a wife.” Reflecting on this journey, Eric views the entirety of the experience—from the mission trip that sparked his calling to the completion of his studies and meeting his partner—as nothing short of phenomenal.

Establishing New Beginnings

Embracing his faith journey, Eric responded to a divine calling, spurred by an invitation from the church in Orleans, marking the genesis of a transformative endeavour in Rockland. Relocating from Montreal to Rockland in 2009, Eric and his wife laid the foundation for New Beginning Church, starting with a dedicated group. Witnessing the church’s evolution from humble beginnings to acquiring its own space, Eric recognizes its resonance with the community’s spiritual yearning. He emphasizes the significance of New Beginning Church in addressing this hunger, providing solace, comprehension, and spiritual growth for seekers, stating, “People are hungry for spirituality. I think there’s a hunger for Jesus.”

Fulfilling a universal quest

Eric’s journey with New Beginning Church underscores the universal quest for purpose and belonging that transcends diverse backgrounds and professions, as he encounters individuals grappling with similar quests for direction and meaning. From his own rock-bottom experience to discovering his calling, Eric’s story resonates with those who have faced adversity, highlighting the church’s inclusivity. Despite differences in upbringing and circumstances, Eric emphasizes the church’s relevance to all, acknowledging its role in offering guidance and second chances. Through his pastoral work and the inclusive environment of New Beginning Church, Eric showcases the transformative influence of faith and community engagement, illustrating the profound impact of finding purpose and belonging within a supportive community.

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