A Spiritual Encounter
The years fly by. Michel Trudeau’s young life came to an end when an avalanche swept the avid outdoor adventurer into the freezing Kokanee Lake on November 13, 1998. Michel was the youngest son of Margaret Kemper Trudeau and Pierre Elliott Trudeau, a former prime minister of Canada and the brother of Canada’s newest Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as of October 2015. Canadians remember the images of the grief stricken Trudeau family attending the funeral service. Their hearts were broken and crushed.
One hundred and seventeen days prior to the tragedy Michel had another accident while traveling east through Manitoba. Upon reflection was it an accident or a spiritual encounter with God?
Dennis Walker a pharmacist in Manitoba remembers a young man who told him his cathedral was the great outdoors rather than a church. Michel Trudeau seemed to be wrestling with his faith and spirituality.
“Walker and Michel Trudeau met on July 17, 1998, under unusual circumstances in Walker’s hometown of Portage la Prairie, a small city along the Trans-Canada highway.
Michel Trudeau was driving back to Ottawa with his dog Makwa, a black Labrador-Shepherd cross, when a truck broadsided 22-year-old Michel’s truck, forcing it into the ditch. After rolling several times, Makwa leaped from the totaled truck and ran off. Michel, unhurt, spent almost a week in Portage searching for his dog.
It was during that time Michel was befriended by Walker, a local pharmacist. He had heard about the accident and the lost dog. “I visualized a young man desperate to find his dog companion and stranded without wheels in a strange city,” says Walker. He offered Michel his old Pontiac to use in his search for Makwa and later invited Michel to his home for supper.
Walker, an evangelical Christian who attends a nondenominational church, also invited Michel to attend a tent evangelistic service with him. Michel initially refused, saying his cathedral was mountains, lakes and evergreen trees. Besides, he had not attended church since he was 13.
“I went on to explain that I don’t believe major life-threatening events in our lives happen by chance, that God was trying to tell him something by this accident. I knew where he could hear God’s message and that was in the tent.” (1)
Dennis Walker then shared with Michel the local newspaper’s assessment of the Gospel tent services which read: “This is not a Hollywood style of Gospel. You won’t find healing and shouting and rolling in the aisles, just the presentation from the Bible of man’s ruin by sin, God’s remedy for sin, and man’s responsibility to personally trust Christ.”
“Just before the service began, Michel changed his mind.”Let’s go to the tent,” he said.
After the one-hour service, he met several people who said they were praying that God would help him to find the dog. He later told Walker, “You know, sometimes I think churches actually get in the way of people getting right with God, because they think the church saves them, but actually it’s a personal faith in Christ that saves no matter what church you go to.”
Walker agreed, and told him about the central message of the Christian faith.
Two days later, his dog Makwa walked out of some bushes into a campground near the town and the two were soon reunited.
After driving Michel and his dog to the airport in Winnipeg, Walker gave him a pamphlet that explained how to get to heaven. Michel promised to read it.
“What he did with it, I don’t know,” says Walker. (1)
Was there any significance to that encounter with Mr. Walker in Portage la Prairie? From a Biblical perspective there is every reason to believe that God was at work. God was communicating with Michel and behind the scenes arranging an opportunity for Michel to hear the good news about salvation through a personal faith in Christ alone as the only basis for eternal life and a home in heaven.
Gaius Goff, one of the evangelists who spoke with Trudeau after the service, said he believed Michel personally appreciated and received Jesus Christ as his Saviour.
God’s desire is that every single person will come to the truth and have eternal life. Despite what people may think about God, He is a God of infinite love who wants to enjoy a personal relationship with every person on earth. Because God is holy and humans are sinful, the only way for such a relationship to exist is through the Lord Jesus Christ.
One hundred and seventeen days later during a wilderness skiing adventure in British Columbia, Canada, and an avalanche swept Michel 40 metres out into the glacial lake. With all his hiking and ski equipment still on, he struggled for a short period of time, called for help and then disappeared. After that November day, the lake froze over and Michel’s body was never recovered.
God was speaking to Michel in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. The accident was no accident. It was an opportunity for an encounter with God. Michel’s path intersected with a Christian who shared with him the message of salvation through faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The God of the Bible often gets our attention through circumstances in our lives. We turn to Him in sickness or in a time distress. We start having God thoughts when we experience turbulence in our lives.
You aren’t reading this story by chance or coincidence. If you were to die in 117 days time, are you prepared to meet your God? Do you know Christ as your Saviour? Are your sins forgiven?
How kind of God to intervene in our lives to stop us from barreling on towards death’s gates without preparing.
“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.” Isaiah 55:6
Jesus said: “I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6
(1) ChristianWeek, Michel Trudeau Talked of Faith Before Death, by Kevin Heinrichs, November 1998
(2) The Toronto Star – Justin Trudeau’s Memoir