HIS STORY: JEAN-PAUL

Jean-Paul Gauthier grew up in the Catholic church. He attended with his parents, went through confirmation, and lived a fairly normal child’s life. “I was an altar boy. I was in boy scouts, but I was a confused kid. I went through some normal kid crap. I was introduced to pornography at a fairly young age. It wasn’t like there was this fascination or addiction, it just became a part of regular daily life for me. It certainly became a factor later in my life.”

As he grew up he continued attending the Catholic church, but wasn’t really living the Christian life. He knew of God, but had not come to the understanding of how God could truly change his life. “It was like, ‘Okay. Who’s the next girl I can sleep with? Where’s the next party I can go to? I thought that was perfectly okay.’”

A few years after graduating college he got married. “I met a girl whose parents were married, mine were divorced. That was pretty attractive; she had parents that were married, they had a lake house, she was an only child and it seemed like this really great package.” During this time Jean-Paul continued to go to church. “I was a good Catholic boy,  walk down the center aisle, make sure everyone knows that I’m there. And then when I had kids, that was even better because now it was, ‘Oh look. Isn’t that wonderful! He’s bringing his kids to church.’”

An opportunity came for Jean-Paul to teach a confirmation class at his church. After being a part of the Catholic church from a young age, he knew that many of the kids in that class were likely coming to the class because their parents wanted them to go. So, on his first day he told the class that if they were there because their parents made them come, they could leave. Every kid got up and left. After getting all of them to return, he said “OK, I get it. You’re here because your parents made you.” He also told them that if they did not want to affirm their faith for themselves by the end of the class, he would support that decision. This caused a bit of an uproar in the church, which began a journey into Jean-Paul questioning the theology of the Catholic church.

Later on, Jean-Paul’s marriage began to fall apart. Since he was going through a divorce, he realized he could no longer teach confirmation because it was contradictory to what the church teaches. “I go to the head of the program and I say, I’m going to have to step down.’ And she goes ‘Wait. Why?’ and I said ‘Well, my wife and I are about to go through a divorce.’ And she said ‘Well…umm….well…maybe…’ and I started thinking ‘What? What do you mean maybe? This is what the church teaches and I’m about to go through this and you’re saying I can still teach?’” Once again he was left questioning the integrity of the church he was attending.

Jean-Paul continued through his divorce and his life continued to spiral. He was divorced, lost custody of his kids, stopped attending church, and he was losing all hope. “I made the mess. That’s really important to remember.” One Sunday morning, when he was working as a DJ for a local radio station, he got a call from a friend who asked what was going on, “You sound terrible.” Jean-Paul denied that anything was really wrong, but his friend asked him over for lunch anyway. Jean-Paul explained that he had to pick up a car, was planning to walk and just wanted to go home. His friend told him that his wife was on her way to church with the kids and she could pick him up and drive him. Jean-Paul told his friend several times he wasn’t interested and ended the conversation. Once he had finished his shift at the radio station, he walked outside and his friend’s wife was waiting to give him a ride. He reluctantly got in the car.

While driving home, he remembers God tugging at his heart to go to church. “I’m having an argument with God. He’s like, ‘I want you to go to church.’ And I’m like, ‘No.’ ‘Go to church.’ ‘No.’ ‘Go to church.’ ‘No.’” This argument continued until he found himself parked right in front of the church. “I thought to myself ‘OK God, you better have something to say!’ Can you imagine? Me telling God what to do.” He snuck in the back, side door, went up three rows and sat down. “Here’s where the freakiness starts to begin for me. I sit down in a pew and it’s dedicated to a Mr and Mrs Jean-Paul… the last name doesn’t matter, it’s my name looking back at me. I’m sitting there and I’m getting really weirded out by this. And then the sermon is about lost sheep coming back to the flock. Now I’m a mess. I’m bawling.” That began a chain of events leading Jean-Paul to give his life to Christ during an altar call at a Christian convention. “But my life didn’t change. I’m still sleeping with my girlfriend. I’m still looking at every skirt that walks by me.” Although he accepted the call, there wasn’t change in the way he was living his life.

A few years went by, Jean-Paul found himself at another church, teaching another class to kids. A situation came up causing issues in his heart with their theology which didn’t seem to line up with what he knew of God and he ended up leaving. Around this time, he was not attending church and he had a friend that was into sound just like Jean-Paul was. His friend suggested that they go check out DEC, because he was told they had a cool sound system. Jean-Paul drove by DEC many times on his route to work and was familiar with the church. Once he began attending he fell in love with the worship team and he decided to join as a sound tech. “It was there that my relationship with Christ began. The first hour of rehearsal each week was a devotional – studying scripture.” Jean-Paul realized that although he knew the Bible from his Catholic upbringing, he was not reading the Word. He began reading the book of John and that was when his faith started to change his life.

Now Jean-Paul, and his wife, Loretta, teach the Financial Peace University course at DEC. “FPU is a big part of our testimony now and why we’re so passionate about getting people financially healthy. Because it removes all of those barriers to your relationship with Jesus Christ.” Out of his passion for helping people become financially healthy, and his own personal success in applying the principles learned in FPU, he is also a financial coach and mentor. “The coaching aspect of it is that desire to be able to sit across a table with people…watching someone working their butt off after 9 weeks and come back to me at the end with tears and [they say] ‘We did it.’”