Sunday, September 1, 2013


No, I’m not talking about the children’s game, “Simon Says.” To understand what follows you should read my last blog entitled; “Disappointment.” My wife and I were not allowed to transport the remainder of our furniture from storage in Ontario to the house we had purchased last year in Florida. We drove to the border crossing between Windsor and Detroit and were told we were allowed to proceed to Florida but not our furniture. We returned to the Canadian side of the border and proceeded to our daughter’s home where we stayed the night. The following day with the help of my son-in-law we unloaded the truck at a storage facility in Chatham... Now Jill and I were ready to try once again crossing the border but this time in an empty U-haul truck! Some may be wondering why would we drive an empty truck to Florida. The answer is quite simple! After phoning U-haul we were told that we had a contract to deliver the truck to Florida. If we failed to deliver the truck there would be no reimbursement of payment and in fact we would be charged extra because we had already driven too many miles. Figure that one out!

We pointed the truck in the direction of Windsor. It wasn’t long before the bridge came in sight. Crossing over the bridge I made certain this time to stay in the car lane. When it came our turn to drive up to the custom booth I said to Jill; “say a prayer.” “Where are you heading for,” I was asked? “We are heading to Florida,” I replied. “So what do you have in back,” he asked. “Nothing but two suitcases and I explained to him how the day before we were turned back with our furniture.” “Can I see your truck documents and your passports please?” Finally we are getting somewhere I thought as I handed him the papers. He accepted the documents and stepped briefly outside of his little booth. It was then that ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE! I heard a lot of shouting and glanced at the rearview mirror. “It’s the police,” I said to Jill, “and they have their guns drawn.” I thought to myself, “Who are they after?” I was soon to find out! I heard a voice yell; “Hey, you in the truck put your hands above your head.” They meant me! Immediately my hands shot up in the air as I waited the next command. “Now, put your hand out the window and open the truck door.” This was beginning to sound a lot like one of my favorite TV programs Cops, only I was the one being ordered to put my hands up. Carefully I opened the door and stepped outside the truck. Once again I was ordered to keep my hands high above my head and to walk backwards towards the sound of their voice. I had caught out of the corner of my eye a number of officers all of whom had their weapons drawn and aimed directly at me! Ever so slowly I walked backwards while praying silently to myself; “Lord keep me on my feet I don’t want to trip and fall.” I thought that if I fall they might think that I was going for a weapon and some trigger happy officer might fire! As I walked backwards I really wasn’t frightened that much as I knew that I hadn’t been guilty of any crime. What seemed like a long time was over when an officer said; “OK, you can stop.” I was ordered to lower my hands and to put them behind my back at which time cuffs were slapped on me. “Do you have any weapons,” I was asked. “No,” I replied. “What’s your name?” I replied, “John Fraser.” I was then told that they had just received a report of a John Fraser who was coming through and that he was armed and dangerous. The officer who put the cuffs on me said; “If you aren’t that John Fraser which is a pretty common name then you have a twin who looks exactly like you.” He turned me around and guided me towards their office. I asked him; “What about my wife she’s in the truck.” I was told that she would be in the office waiting for me. The officers were nice enough as they lead me to the detention center telling me to be careful of my steps and watch for the spikes on the roadway. Once I was led inside I was asked again if I had any weapons. I replied, “No, and this is the first time that I have ever had cuffs on.” They led me into a cell which had bars on the door, a toilet in the center of the room plus a chair and table. Once the cuffs were removed I was ordered to put my hands high on the wall while they did a body search. I was then informed that there had been what they called “a miss-match.” With arms still behind my back I was led to the main office where they said Jill would be waiting. On the way to the office I was also told that one of the officers would speak to me and inform me how this could be avoided in the future. Once in the main waiting room they released their hold on my arm and I was free to sit with my wife. Apparently as I stepped out of the truck, Jill proceeded to get out her door. She was ordered to remain in the truck. A female officer approached the truck and asked if she had any weapons. Jill replied no and was then told to get out of the truck. “What is your husband’s name,” she was asked and Jill replied; “John.” “What is your last name,” and Jill replied, “Fraser.” She was then taken in to the general waiting area where I finally caught up with her.

Jill and I waited for a half an hour before our name was called up. For the next 45 minutes we were asked question after question. “Where are you going?” “How long are you going to be there?” “Where do you live?” “What do you do for a living?” I replied that I was a minister of a Presbyterian Church in Bermuda. The officer didn’t crack a smile but the female officer next to him managed a grin. “How long will you be staying in Florida;” I was asked? “We plan to be there three weeks and then fly back to Bermuda.” I was then asked if I had any proof of our travel arrangements out of the States to Bermuda. I explained that our travel documents were in the truck. “Go to the truck and retrieve them.” When I left the office I met two officers outside. Not wanting to take any chances I asked them; “Is it all right if I go to my truck to retrieve travel documents.” “Yes of course,” they replied, “just be careful of the traffic in the parking lot.” I said to myself that it wasn’t the traffic in the parking lot that concerned me but rather officers and their guns. The truck had been moved, opened and searched. I quickly recovered the travel documents and returned to the office. The officer scanned them and then said; “this says you are flying to Hamilton (thinking Ontario).” I explained to him that the Hamilton on my documents refers to Hamilton Bermuda not Hamilton Ontario. He excused himself on a number of occasions while Jill and I waited at the counter. Finally, he returned and asked me for my Canadian Driver’s License which he made a photo-copy of. He also looked through all my other documents carried in my wallet. He then asked; “Are you the one they brought here in cuffs.” I replied yes and refrained from saying, “and also at gunpoint.” He nodded his head gave me my documents and said “sorry, we hope that someday you will be able to settle in your Florida home.” That was it! No further explanation why we were detained for so long. No explanation of what a “miss-match” was and NO advice (as I had been told) was given how to avoid a miss-match in the future. We were free to go to Florida. I shook the officer’s hand and Jill and I headed for the door, the parking lot, the truck and three days later Florida!

“Put Your Hand Above Your Head,” was not an experience that I would wish on anyone unless of course they were guilty of some crime. God was good we arrived safely in Florida and enjoyed three beautiful weeks in our house. Upon returning home I have contacted the US Department of Homeland Security and asked them for an explanation. I have received word that an investigation has begun and that they will be in touch with me!

Sunday, August 18, 2013



Allow me to share with you a disappointment that Jillian and I experienced on our holidays just last month. Jillian had travelled to Hamilton Ontario a week before I left the Island. She wanted to be there to help her mom celebrate an important birthday. When I joined her a week later we continued to enjoy a further two days with her family.

On the third day after our arrival we picked up our rental truck and drove to the town of St Marys where we once lived. We had furniture in storage and planned to move it to the house we had bought in Florida just a year earlier. My brother Jim and I had taken a truckload of furniture down the previous year. What Jillian and I were moving was the left-over’s; some clothes, some personal items, some pictures, and a couple of chairs. Our son-in-law Randy and our daughter Natalie drove up from Chatham to help us load the truck. It took us a good day but finally the last of our left-over’s were in the truck. We drove to our daughter and husband’s house where we were to spend two days. We were excited this furniture was the last of our items in storage. It would be great to have these items in Florida. We were also excited to be able to spend some great time with our family. Our two grandsons James and Mitchell are growing up so quickly and we were looking forward to spending time with them.

Our visit with family went by quickly and too soon Jillian and I were on our way to the US border crossing between Windsor and Detroit. It only took us a little over an hour to drive the distance. Slowly we crossed over the bridge between the two countries. I was careful to move into the clearly marked truck lane and after some stopping and starting we finally reached the custom booth, it was July 4th. I explained to the young man when asked what I was carrying that it was odds and ends of furniture that we were moving them to our house in Florida. I explained to him that I had taken a load down the previous year and that this was simply the balance. After many many questions and a phone call to his boss we were told to move to a large building where our truck would be X-rayed. Entering the building and coming to a complete stop we were then told to exit the truck while it was x-rayed. The x-ray didn’t take long and the men were friendly. We were then told to park the truck in an outside yard and to enter a certain building where an officer in the Immigration Department would be waiting for us. It didn’t take us long to find the building and the officer. She was very pleasant and began to ask us a serious of questions; where were we going, what was in the truck, what was our nationality, where were we living, how long we planned to be in the states etc. etc. We were becoming very concerned. Everyone had to check with their boss and so did this officer. Finally, she reappeared and asked Jillian to follow her. I presumed that she meant me also and so I proceeded to follow my wife. I was told; “Not you, a male officer will be out for you!” What happened was that both of us with hands stretched up the wall were body searched. Following the body search we were both finger printed before being taken back to the waiting room. The officer excused herself to consult with her boss. Finally she reappeared with what she said was; “not so good news.” You and your wife can proceed to Florida but not your furniture. “You cannot take your furniture with you.” After further conversation we found to our disappointment that we were declared to be a high risk. The only house we owned was in Florida having sold our house in Canada and living in a house provided by the church in Bermuda. The conclusion was; “What if the church terminated your ministry in Bermuda? You don’t own a house there, you don’t own one in Canada the only house you own is in the States so………………” It was of little value to explain to them that if for some reason the church in Bermuda would terminate our ministry there that we would simply return to Canada and apply for another church. We were disappointed that we would not be able to take the last of our belongings to Florida. After years in storage, after renting a truck, after having made one trip and after spending much time in packing it was time to return with our property to Canada! The good news was that we could travel to Florida in our truck but that the truck had to be empty. We were given a paper document to show the Canadian authorities and pointed to where the exit and return gate to Canada was located. I might add that I was asked; “why did you take the truck lane instead of remaining in the car lane above?” My simple response was; “I was driving a truck.” It was then explained to me that the sign “truck” at a border crossing means tractor-trailer.” I wished the lady a happy July 4th and we left.

The following day we would return with an empty truck. But I am going to wait until my next blog to tell you what happened, you will not believe it!

Sunday, August 4, 2013


We have all said it before; “It’s nice to get away but there is no place like home!” The greeting, “”Welcome Home” brings a smile to our face following a business trip, a holiday or for the younger set a semester term at school/university. Who welcomes us home? Well it could be members of our family, neighbors or people from our congregation. For Jillian and me the first words of welcome were from the Immigration attendant at the LF Wade International Airport here in Bermuda. We had just returned from holidays in Ontario Canada and Florida; “Welcome back.”

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves celebrating the birthday of Jillian’s mom in Ontario, visiting friends in Cleveland and then of course there was our road trip to Florida. Some day I will tell you about the road trip and I promise you it will be an exciting story and one that we will never forget! Today though I want to tell you about what makes a home so special. Homes are not four walls and a roof that’s a house. A home is so much more. A home is where we hang our hat. A home is where our love ones live or have lived. A home is where the neighbors greet you following vacation saying; “It’s good to see you back.” A home is where you feel most comfortable and where your bed is nothing like those you experienced while on the road. A home is where your family extends beyond the four walls and into the community you call your home church. As I write this I am looking forward to tomorrow when we will have the opportunity to greet our church family and the words; “It’s good to see you back.” You can put a price tag on a house but you can’t put a price tag on a home.

Most of us are blessed with memories of more than one home especially if our families have relocated over the years. When I look back I remember the wonderful homes that I have lived in; West River Station (NS), Havre Boucher (NS)., Oxford Junction (NS), Oxford (NS), New Glasgow (NS), River John (NS), Calgary (Alberta), Barrie (On.), Freeport Grand Bahama, St. Marys (ON.) and now Hamilton Bermuda. As they would rightly say here in Bermuda and in the Bahamas, “I am blessed.” We are all blessed if we are able to recall a house that is truly a home because of the people who make it so special.

Now, I want to tell you just a little about a house in Florida that Jillian and I bought last year. Some day “Lord willing” it will become our new home for at least a part of the year once we retire! The house to become a home is located in the Plantation in Leesburg Florida. We are located about a 45 minute drive north of Orlando. It is located in a lovely neighborhood with wonderful neighbors. When we were there just this past month we discovered what we hope will be our new church home as well. Should you ever be visiting Florida you will be most welcome to visit Solid Rock Evangelical Church located in Leesburg. Solid Rock is a part of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of the US. The folk there are great and the minister Dr. John Lodge will make you feel “right at home.” Presently the church is meeting in the community centre located on Dixie Road in Leesburg.

Our home at present is in Bermuda and you will always be welcome there as well as at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church Hamilton. God bless and it is good to be home.

(Rev. John Fraser)

Saturday, June 29, 2013


When is a good time to retire? I have been thinking about that question a lot as I approach that time in my life. In fact I have already gone two years beyond possible retirement age. Depending upon your vocation you may be able to retire at 55, or if your age plus years of service adds up to 85 or 95 you may be eligible for retirement. Maybe your field of employment says that when you reach 65 you can retire. In ministry we can go to age 70 at which time we must retire. My wife tells me that I will never retire! I respond by saying, “No, that’s not true but I have to be ready for retirement.”

So, how will I know when I am ready? One of the big concerns that I must deal with is affordability. Can I afford financially to retire? Do I own my own house or is my bank still a partner? One bill I don’t need when I retire is a mortgage payment. Early in my ministry I made the decision to purchase my own house rather than living in a church manse. I have met ministers who have lived in manses all their life and suddenly when faced with retirement they discovered that they had no place to call their own. Jill and I purchased our first house while we were living in Calgary Alberta. I remember my oldest brother saying to me; “John whenever you buy a house always try to “buy up” never down.” The reason for this is quite simple. When you come to the end of your working days will own a nice place in which to live not something that is just adequate. Since Calgary Jill and I have bought houses in Barrie Ontario and in St. Marys. We were very fortunate or as they say here in Bermuda we “were blessed” in that we were able to sell each house for a profit and used the profit towards a down payment on our next house. Last year we bought a house just north of Orlando in Florida. We believe that this house will be our retirement home. Is it completely paid for? No! But it will be in just two years! So, number ONE when I retire I will own my house not the bank and I just me.

The number two question is can I still afford retirement even though I own my own house. A strange thing about retirement years is that the bills keep coming in. The government still charges you taxes. Oil/gas companies still charge you to fill up your car. Don’t forget that you still have to eat and groceries are not cheaper just because you are a senior. I remember reading some time ago an article that stated; “When you retire you should own your own home and your income should be at least 75% of your present income. Another brother told me (families are pearls of wisdom) that the only thing you don’t have to worry about paying once you retire is saving for retirement! For the past few years I have been busy calculating what my income will be once I retire. I am very very close at present if not over 75% of my present income. I am fortunate that through savings plus my church pension we will be OK. My financial security is based on my personal resources alone not my wife’s. In other words what I am saying is that we could safely retire on my income and my savings. Jill’s income and savings will be a big bonus for us. I couldn’t be as confident about my personal savings if it hadn’t been for her faithful support over the years. Thanks Jill.

So, I own my own house, I am financially secure but am I ready to retire? Maybe yes maybe no. I say maybe because the third biggest question I must ask myself is whether or not emotionally and or psychologically I am ready for retirement. What am I going to do when I retire? Sure there is that “honey-do” list of things just waiting for me and yes I will want to take an extra long vacation but what happens then? To-do lists and vacations will not last forever. Wives are often hasseled by husbands who simply don’t know what to do after they have washed the car and cut the grass. I once had an elder friend who when he retired still left the house at the same time every day. He went to the local coffee shop where he met all of his retired buddies and together they solved the problems of the world. Following the coffee shop he moved on to the library where he read the daily newspaper. By the time he finished at the library it was time to go home for lunch and then take a look at that honey-do list!

So what are my plans? How will I spend my retirement time? For starters I do have my hobbies like gardening, metal detecting, my radio ministry, reading and of course there is always my computer. However, these things will not keep me going for ever and so I have a secret plan up my sleeve! What is the secret? I don’t plan to retire! Let me rephrase that by saying; “I don’t plan to retire completely.” As long as the good Lord gives me the health and the capability I would like to do a little Sunday preaching to help fill some of those vacant pulpits and maybe even a little part time ministry. Perhaps, if there is a church out there who can’t afford a full time minister we can get together and work something out? The only thing I ask for is retirement from administrative work but preaching and visitation that’s OK!

Blessings to all you understanding souls!

John Fraser

Sunday, June 16, 2013

One Mountain Many Paths?

During one of the earliest Assemblies that I recall attending as a Commissioner shortly following my ordination a visitor from another faith was introduced to the Court. I take it that this has been a matter of courtesy for some time. Shortly after saying how nice it was to be with us he then went on to say; “You know that we are all travelling up the same mountain we are just taking different paths.” A strong hissing sound could be heard coming from the commissionaires indicating their disapproval over what he had said. I thought to myself, “We are not travelling up the same mountain but he was correct when he said that we are on different paths.”

How am I called upon to respond to people of other faiths? The subject came up again in 2001 when I was interviewed by the Board of World Missions of the Church of Scotland. The Board was considering sending me to one of their Mission Churches in the Bahamas. I recall one of their questions going something like this; “In the Bahamas you will find people of several different faiths. How will you respond to these other faiths?” Twelve years later I can still recall almost word for word my reply to their question. “I respect people of other faiths. I will not use a baseball bat in an attempt to make them believe. But, I will not back down nor will I compromise my own faith simply to be accepting of them.” There were many other questions as well but the long and short of it was that I did get the appointment!

What may be my last Assembly as I near retirement years took place this past June at Seneca College in Toronto. Interestingly enough the question of responding to other faiths came up once again. A gentleman of the Hindu faith was welcomed to the Court and asked to bring greetings. He may have started out on a positive note but it was downhill from there on. As I listened to him I said to myself he is mocking my faith and desperately abusing his invitation to bring greetings. I heard him say that Hindus worship all things created believing that their god is in all things. “We don’t worship God as creator because we believe God is creation.” He then went on to say such things as; “You insult me and you are not accepting of me when you think you have to convert me.” But the most offensive thing which he said and he said it in comical tones was; “If you believe that you can only get into heaven through Jesus Christ then tell me where do those people reside who lived on this earth before Christ?” Now, he wasn’t only insulting my faith but he was insulting the very God whom I have faith in.

During the next day and a half I talked with many other commissionaires and they all shared similar thoughts. They couldn’t believe what they heard this man say. I even spoke with our moderator who told me that he also was very concerned. Sunday evening as I sat in my room I wrestled with myself or perhaps I should say with God! Something had to be said about our guest’s comments. Perhaps someone else will speak. I don’t want to be the one Lord. I do not want to suffer the scorn of Assembly for speaking out on this issue. Maybe we should just forget it and it will all go away. There was no booming voice and there was no handwriting on the wall there was just that little voice within me that said; “you must say something.” I didn’t want to address the Court off cuff so I texted the following words on the notepad of my phone.

Moderator, I was offended that we gave our Hindu guest a platform that he used to mock our faith and our Savior Jesus Christ.

We do not worship the same God as they do. We worship the God of creation not creation itself.

We worship the Triune God made known through Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Our God calls us to make disciples which to him is an insult.

We believe that God calls his children through Christ from the foundation of the world. Our guest made a joke of that when he said that if we believe that people get to heaven through Christ then what about those who lived before Him.

We were mocked and we responded with applause and gifts. I am very concerned.

I immediately took my seat and waited for the hissing that would be directed towards me. I was more than surprised when instead of hissing I heard what has given me greater confidence in my denomination and that was applause. You see the clapping was not for me but was an affirmation of what I had simply put into words.

After the Assembly was closed officially by the moderator a woman seated at the table ahead of me turned and asked; “Were you the one who just spoke on the matter of our Hindu guest?” I responded that I was and prepared for the rebuke. She replied; “I am so glad that you spoke because what you said is exactly what I believe.” She went on to say; “I awoke in the middle of the night and I was sick I couldn’t sleep because of what that man said; thank you for saying what you did.” I had several people speak to me many of whom I had not met before saying that they fully agreed with what I had said and thanked me for speaking where others were reluctant. Those who perhaps disagreed with my comments simply did not speak with me at all. Silence can be another form of hissing!

My concern over all of this is not just that we allowed a person of another faith to address our Assembly in the manner that he did but even more importantly that many within our church may believe as he did that there is no real difference between our faiths. Are we simply going up the same mountain by a different path? I don’t believe that for a moment and I thank God that He gave me the courage and conviction to address the Assembly. I also thank the Lord that many others at Assembly hold to the same conviction. So what do we do? Where do we go? Do we continue to invite people from other faiths to address our Courts? I believe that needs to be looked at seriously. Invite people of other denominations perhaps but if we invite people of other faiths there needs to be restrictions placed on what they can say. If we had gone into a Hindu temple and addressed worshippers there in the same way that our guest addressed our Assembly we would have been ushered out quickly and never invited back again.

The more important question is not whether we invite other faiths to address our Assembly but the more important question is whether we, who proclaim ourselves to be Christians, believe Jesus Christ is the only means unto salvation. We need to affirm again and again and again the words of our Lord in John 14:5-6.

Thomas said to Him, Lord, we know not where You go; and how can we know the way? Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by Me.”

Monday, May 27, 2013


1.) The Island of Bermuda was formed on top of a volcano! One elderly Bermudian told me that we should pray every night that God will keep the lid on it!

2.) The Pink Sand that Bermuda is famous for is actually crushed sea shells!

3.) After bananas are taken from the tree the tree dies. There is only one harvest per tree following which a new tree will grow at the base of the old one.

4.) The Island of Bermuda is only 21 miles long and less than two miles wide.

5.) The top speed limit on the Island is 25 mph. Do cars travel faster – YES!

6.) The only wild animals in Bermuda are chickens! Actually the chickens came from abandoned farms.

7.) Our Church, St Andrews Presbyterian is known locally as “The Pink Church.” Why is it pink? The standard reply is; “We don’t know why other than it has always been pink.”

8.) Our drinking water, bath water, cooking water, shower water etc. etc. all comes from the rain. The rain is collected in cisterns located under each house. The cistern here at the manse is over 15,000 gallons.

9.) Every night once the weather warms up you can hear thousands of frogs singing! They are known as tree frogs and are about the size of your little finger nail.

10.) There are no Golden Arches in Bermuda. The government does not allow fast food franchises. KFC got in before the ban was fully in place.

11.) Bermudians are only allowed one car per household.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Completely Filled

Last Sunday evening, Holy Trinity Cathedral located here in Hamilton was filled to standing room only. Where did everyone come from and why had they come? They were all from Bermuda but they weren’t all Anglican. People gathered from all the churches on the Island and they had come to pray. There were a 1000 plus people of all ages and they prayed together for two hours!

The call to a Solemn Assembly of prayer was based on 2 Chronicles 7:14. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” The call to prayer came as a result of a plea issued by our new Premier to the clergy of the Island. Bermuda has been rocked during the past number of years with crimes of various natures. There is gang warfare, there are murders, there are drug problems and as the Premier drew to our attention the forces of evil are running rampant like never before. Based on his appeal for help the churches called for a time of prayer last Sunday evening. The people answered that call like never before! But it doesn’t end with prayer. The communities of faith are opening their doors to discover new ways to reach out and minister to those who are deeply hurting here on our Island. On Thursday May 16th the community will gather once again this time on the steps of City Hall. Once again prayer and the public reading of God’s Word will take place and the hand of our Lord Jesus Christ will reach out to those who have been hurt by the recent violence.

Please pray for Bermuda.

(Rev.) John Fraser