I was born and raised a Roman Catholic, and schooled in Massachusetts near Atlantic Union College (AUC). But my first contact with Adventists was at a roller-skating rink, where I met a pretty, young Seventh-day Adventist named Lois.
Since I had recently enlisted in the Navy, our relationship grew mostly through letters. After three years, against some well-meant advice from our families and churches, we were married. Returning to my duty station in North Africa, we set up our first home.
During a transfer to my next duty station, Lois convinced me to attend her home church. Her pastor, Donald Sandstrom, and his wife invited us to their home, where I soon realized I had better get and read a Bible to defend my beliefs and convert Lois to them.
While stationed in Maryland, we attended a program in Washington, D.C., where H.M.S. Richards, Sr., spoke. The man and his message impressed me. Soon after, my Navy chief and I were needed for special duty in Germany. He was ordered there, but I ended up being transferred to Guam. Lois and our 2-year-old daughter, Maureen, joined me there several months later.
One Sunday I recognized the voice of H.M.S. Richards on the radio. At my wife’s urging, we listened to the Voice of Prophecy radio programs, and sent for and completed the Bible course together.
About the same time Pastor Vernon Kelstrom, at the Seventh-day Adventist church on Guam, presented a series of prophetic lectures. The topic for the third night was the Dark Day and the falling stars. I had read about them and decided to attend that meeting and all the rest.
At the end of the series we invited the pastor to our home, which led to more study, and finally, my decision to join the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I was baptized in Tumon Bay, Guam.
Leaving the Catholic Church strained my relationship with my parents for many years. I received a letter from my 12-year-old sister saying she was going to enter the convent to make up for my sins. My other sister defended me to my mother by saying: “Well, Mom, it’s not as if he robbed a bank.”
Impressed to become a Navy chaplain, I left the military after nine years and went to Atlantic Union College and Andrews University and began pastoral ministry, intending to reenter the Navy. One year later, while preaching a Sabbath sermon, I collapsed because of a brain aneurysm. Military chaplaincy was suddenly an impossibility.
An anointing service and many prayers resulted in a miraculous recovery. Six years later I began a 44-year ministry as a hospital chaplain. Now I understand why I was sent to Guam instead of Germany.
During our 65 years of marriage Lois and I, along with our daughter, Maureen, and our son, Tim, have experienced many miracles and blessings, for which we are grateful to God.
Leo Poirier is retired, living with Lois in Stoneham, Massachusetts.