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We're Not That Different

It took two days to read the eighty-eight charges against him. A courtroom, the nation and indeed the world watched in disgust, horror and jaw-dropping shock as the secret life of the former commander of Canada's largest air force base unfolded.  It seemed unbelievable that Russell Williams, golden boy of the RCAF and one-time pilot for Queen Elizabeth and Canadian Prime Ministers, honoured by all who knew him, could descend into the depravity revealled by his meticulous journalling and the hundreds of photographs he took during his crimes that detailed every step of his actions: 82 counts of break and entry stealing the lingerie of women and girls as young as 12 and staying in their empty bedrooms for as long as two hours, four counts of sexual assault and forceable confinement and the murders of two women.

He has been called "Canada's Bright Shining Lie," "Sexual Sadist," "Sicko," "Psychopath," and "Monster,"  an aberration from all that is normal.  The presiding judge declared that "The depths of the depravity demonstrated by Russell Williams have no equal."  All who have followed his story have asked, Why?  How could a man in his exalted position be so evil?

As much as we all want to distance ourselves from Williams and what he did, we're not that different.  We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  Romans 1 lists the following:

  • wickedness
  • evil
  • greed
  • depravity
  • envy
  • murder
  • strife
  • deceit
  • malice
  • gossips
  • slanderers
  • God-haters
  • insolent
  • arrogant
  • boastful
  • inventing ways of evil
  • disobedient to parents
  • senseless
  • faithless
  • heartless
  • ruthless
 God doesn't seem to differentiate amongst these things.  Note how murder and depravity are tucked in amongst greed, envy and strife. Can you look at that list and say none of those words describe you?  

We share another likeness to Russell Williams.  Justice Robert F. Scott in his sentencing statement said,
"One suspects that he has contained for most of his adult life sexual desires and fetishes. However, in 2007, these inner thoughts began to control his private actions, pushing him deeper and deeper into criminal behaviour, which culminated in the brutal and senseless murders of two innocents."
His crimes came from a thought life out of control.  There is a common understanding that what happens in our minds is harmless.  But is it?  It wasn't for Russell Williams.

Sin is progressive.  Once we cross the line from doing what honours God to doing even the smallest thing that does not, we set ourselves up to spiral down.  What used to titillate loses its thrill and so we "have to" up the ante. We start with something that seems innocent enough but after a while, it isn't enough so we look for what is more." If a person has no need to operate under the will of God, there is little to stop him or her.

Every thought we entertain (think of setting a table and inviting certain thoughts to sit there with us), every thought we don't dismiss leads us to God or toward being another Russell Williams.  There is no middle ground.

What's happening in your thoughts?


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About the Author


I'm married (35 years in December 2008) with four grown sons. I love my city (Winnipeg) and my country (Canada) and promote them both to whoever will listen. God (through Jesus Christ) is the biggest part of my life. I am learning to let him take control of all areas--though I do better at this some times more than others.

I have written a book that's recently been published about part of my journey with God. In it I tell how God confronted me with the same-sex attraction issues I've struggled with all my adult life and how he led me through them to a deeper and more meaningful relationship with him. God is amazing—his forgiveness, his love, his movement in our lives when we allow him and so much more. I suspect God will never run out of things to teach me or ways to make me grow and that’s a good thing (though often very painful).

I suppose I can say that what gives me the greatest pleasure in life is telling others about…

Memories of Mikael Vincent Tien Doe Chan

Reviews of Searching for Love

If you have read the book, I would love to hear your thoughts on it. You may e-mail me at or post them in the comments section below.

A Real Testimony
I finished your book. A real testimony to what God does for us.
Leona March 3, 2009
I Had Tears Coming

I sat down to read it about a week later and ended up finishing it the same night. At first I admit I was a little bored and thought that the whole book was about a battle all in your mind, but as I continued reading this creeping thought came over me of a different...struggle in my own life, that I would never in my right mind have shared with anyone accept maybe God. I've mentioned your book to a few people because it stirs up age-old controversies that I have myself argued and wondered about, namely about whether or not homosexuality can be cured or just managed like alcoholism--you just have to stay away from temptation. I noticed at the end of your book that your struggle story …