What caused Mike Gendron to leave Catholicism?
Pope Francis has quickly established himself among the masses as a very popular religious leader, but at the same time, he has generated strong resistance from key Catholic leaders. Much of the controversy he has caused is due to his tendency to make off-the-wall comments that produce widespread confusion.
Who is this Pope? Where did he come from? And what is he up to? We’ve asked these questions of Mike Gendron, the founder and director of a ministry in the Dallas, Texas area called Proclaiming the Gospel. Driven by a deep compassion for Roman Catholics, Mike brings the Gospel of grace to those who are victimized by the deception of Roman Catholicism.
Mike Gendron’s Testimony
Dr. Reagan: Mike tell us about your background, and why are you considered to be an expert on Catholicism?
Mike Gendron: I always love to share my testimony of God’s amazing grace because I grew up a very devout Catholic. I was a Catholic for 37 years and taught High School Catholic Christian doctrine. I was an altar boy for seven years. Later on I was responsible for bringing the very first Little Rock Scripture Study to a Catholic Church in the Dallas area.
During this time, the Lord was revealing Himself to me. There was a conference I went to in 1981 that convinced me that the Bible was the supreme authority in all matters of faith. So, at the age of 34, I began reading the Bible for the first time.
Dr. Reagan: Was that a Catholic conference that you went to?
Mike Gendron: No, it was an Evangelical conference. I didn’t even know who was giving the conference. I had never heard of the main speaker. It was advertised in the Dallas Morning News and the title of the conference was “Evidence for the Christian Faith.” As a Catholic I had no evidence. I was just told to believe whatever the priest told me. And so, here was a conference that was going to give evidence for the Christian faith. After attended this three day conference, I finally went home and opened the Bible for the first time at age 34.
As I read the Bible, I recognized very quickly that what I’d been taught as a Catholic was diametrically opposed to what the Bible was teaching me in regards to salvation. I read in the Bible that we were saved by grace apart from merit, by faith apart from works. I read that Jesus was my all-sufficient Savior. I needed to repent of all the works that I was doing I thought would help God save me. Just through this process of reading the Bible, the Spirit of God illuminated the Scriptures to me, and so I came to saving faith in the Lord Jesus.
Dr. Reagan: Over the years as I have encountered Catholics, my approach to them has always been, “Start reading your Bible!” I often find that they haven’t done that. When they start reading the Bible, they start saying, “The Bible says that, but the Church says this. The Bible says that, but the Church says this.” They begin to have their eyes opened to the fact that the Catholic Church isn’t in sync with the Bible.
Mike Gendron: It’s really is an eye-opener, because ultimately there is nothing more important in this life than figuring out whom should I trust for my eternal destiny. The Bible told me it was Christ alone, and that He is able to save me completely and forever.
Dr. Reagan: So when you say you were a devout Catholic, you really were?
Mike Gendron: I really was.
Dr. Reagan: You even went to Italy, didn’t you?
Mike Gendron: I did. I actually celebrated with Padre Pio who has the wounds of Christ. He is of course dead now. During the time I was a young altar boy and saw he had the wounds of Christ in his hands. I thought, “Wow! This is a validation that the Catholic Church is the one true Church.” But, then later on, after the Lord saved me, I began reading his autobiography and found out that Padre Pio claimed he was sitting at his window as souls from Purgatory were on their way to Heaven thanking him for suffering on their behalf. I thought, “This is not the Gospel!”
Dr. Reagan: Tell us a little bit about your secular background. While you are going to Mass everyday and doing all these works, what were you doing in the secular world?
Mike Gendron: I was very successful in the corporate world. In fact, by the age of 31, I really accomplished everything anyone could ever achieve as far as the world’s riches. I had earned a mansion in a prestigious neighborhood, the 380 SL sports car convertible, the gold Rolex, and so forth. I’d achieved everything from a worldly perspective.
And yet, there was something missing. I didn’t know at the time that it had anything to do with my spirituality, because I was a devout Catholic. I was a business executive in a Fortune 500 Company, but something was still missing in my life.
Dr. Reagan: That must have been quite a decision to leave that world and commit your life to Christ in ministry! Did that move shake up your wife? What happened?
Mike Gendron: Yes, it really did. My wife did not marry a seminary student or a missionary. The transition from business to ministry was definitely something that we both had to deal with. But, she has just become the greatest helpmate now in my ministry. She is also a former Catholic.
Life changed when I sat down and realized that there are only two things in this life that are eternal. They are the Word of God and the souls of men. And so, I wanted to start investing the rest of my life in the things that mattered; the things that would last for all of eternity. In my case, it was a very easy decision. I wanted to go to seminary and de-indoctrinalize myself from all the error that I had been taught as a Catholic and then fill my mind with the truth.
Dr. Reagan: Where did you go to Seminary?
Mike Gendron: I went to Dallas Theological Seminary. During my last semester I was introduced to a video of former priests and nuns who were sharing how to be saved. As I watched that video, I felt compelled to share it with every Roman Catholic I knew. My wife and I invited Roman Catholics over to our home. Within three months we saw 17 Roman Catholics exchange their religion for a relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ!
Dr. Reagan: In what year did you decide to form the ministry, Proclaiming the Gospel, that you have now?
Mike Gendron: I never did set out to form a ministry. In 1991 is when we began inviting Catholics over. What do you do with 17 new babes in Christ? Well, you invite them back over on Wednesday night to help them grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord. That was the genesis of the ministry the Lord began. My wife and I just stand in awe because God has taken us literally throughout the world, primarily in countries that are dominated by Roman Catholicism, and it is our joy to equip and encourage the Saints to reach out to this huge mission field.
Dr. Reagan: How many years have you been at this now?
Mike Gendron: Twenty-four years now. It is all the grace of God. We just stand in awe of Him.
In the second segment of my interview of Mike Gendron on Pope Francis, we’ll look at the historical background of the Jesuits and how their philosophy drives the Pope’s theology.