From Montreal to Ottawa – Kenneth Landaiult
Cheer-up Missions: From Montreal to Ottawa
by Teena Myers
The radical conversion of a yoga student.
We had just ordered a feast of ribs, steaks and potatoes at The Texas Road House when a man handed us a placard suggesting donations for various balloon creatures. He instantly had my husband’s attention, but not mine. Busy cracking peanuts for my granddaughter, I paid little attention to the snippets of magic tricks and science experiments with spiritual applications that intruded into my consciousness.
“What are we doing Saturday?” My husband asked me – his personal secretary and wife. I looked at him. The silent question mark was understood. “Ken is a missionary. He wants me to show him some of my science experiments.”
The grinning Kenneth Landaiult, clown, magician, balloon artist and missionary to the poor now had my full attention. “We’d love to have you come to our home, but only if you tell me how you became a missionary.”
Ken loved being an altar boy in the Catholic Church, but never read the Bible. During his teenage years, he abandoned the church to immerse himself in spiritual philosophies. He was well versed in the eastern “isms” and practiced meditation when he enrolled in Quebec’s exclusive Bishop’s College to study dentistry. He quickly lost interest in dentistry, pursued law, and then abandoned law to become an accountant.
“My father and his brothers were administrators and accountants,” said Ken, “so I concluded it was my destiny to follow in their footsteps. I took Spanish as an elective my last year in university. Ironically, I used Spanish more than any other course I took.”
Six months before Ken attended a seminar with the popular Guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, also known as OSHO, he was meditating in the forest behind the university. Suddenly, an image of Ken as a Catholic missionary priest replaced the visual beauty of the forest.
“It was little more than a flash in my mind. I rejected the thought, but it was very strong and clearly from God. I’ve spent my life spreading the gospel and helping the poor. I think I saw myself as a Catholic Priest because that was all I knew at the time, so that was the way my mind interpreted the vision.”
Ken traveled to America to attend the ten-day Hindu seminar to study extreme meditation. The physically demanding form of meditation had Ken jumping up and down to the point of exhaustion or Sufi Whirling until he fell into a trance. Every time Ken entered a trance, he had an experience with Jesus. During a course on Astro Travel, Ken lay on the floor listening to the Guru speak calming words in a quest to guide his students out of their bodies.
“When I reached the point I felt my spirit leaving my body, a vivid image of Jesus appeared breaking my concentration. Jesus didn’t say anything. He didn’t have to. The disapproval on his face told me I was doing something wrong.”
The teacher explained to Ken that Jesus was not real. To stop the interruptions, Ken needed to overcome his Catholic background that produced familiar images in his mind. As Ken returned to his place on the floor, he remembered a scripture from the Bible he had heard while attending the Catholic Church. “I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them” (John 10:7-8, kjv). The disapproving face of Jesus was so strong Ken wondered if he was going the wrong way in his quest for spiritual enlightenment.
On the seventh day of the seminar, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh arrived to an amazing display of affection. Ken watched in amazement as the attendees bowed before the Guru and worshiped him. Ken could not bring himself to join them. He felt it was wrong to worship people. That night, Rajneesh sat on a throne wearing a beautiful gown and taught them that he was the modern day door to eternity.
“I wondered how both Rajneesh and Jesus could be the door. All of a sudden, other verses warning us to beware of people who love flowing robes, sitting in places of honor and to be called teacher came to my mind. Here I was, in a room with three-hundred people hanging on every word this man said, as he claimed to be the savior of the world. At that point, I decided Jesus must be the door because he warned of things that were happening right now. I had never studied the Bible, but I had heard scriptures spoken in church. It is amazing how God’s word will stay with you” (Matthew 23:7-8, Luke 20:46).
Ken canceled his plans to travel to India with Rajneesh and returned to Montreal. He planned to travel the world and find the truth. That night Ken dreamed he was in a palace made of smooth clear glass playing chess. One of the chess pieces fell to the ground. He rose to retrieve the piece. As Ken moved toward the chess piece, the piece moved away, and Ken realized he would never reach it.
“That is when I heard the voice of Rajneesh call to me out of a flame of fire. I didn’t want to go into the fire with Rajneesh but could not stop moving toward the flame. Suddenly, I cried out ‘Jesus’ as loud as I could and I woke. Not long after that experience God dramatically changed my life,” said Ken.
Ken started reading the book What Jesus Had to Say. He threw the book away mumbling, “I can’t live this.” Later that evening, he retrieved it from the garbage and read it for a few more days, then threw it away again. The third time he rescued the book from the garbage he read, “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21). Ken liquidated his bank account, paid all his debts and took the remaining funds to a charity in Ottawa.
“I walked into a little office furnished with one small desk clutching the last of my earthly possessions. The secretary took the money, opened the desk drawer, threw it in, closed it, and continued writing without speaking a word. She didn’t even say ‘Thank you,’ just left me standing there. I remember thinking my money would never get to the poor but the deed was done.”
Ken walked out of the tiny office and went to the University of Ottawa to set up a back-up plan. If his trip around the world to find the truth failed, he would finish his last year of college with a scholarship the university had awarded him. He enrolled in the fall semester, chose a dorm room and toured the campus. He walked out of the Science Building and into a Christian group passing out gospel tracts. He liked arguing philosophies but the woman who gave him a tract was pretty. He didn’t want to ruin her day, so he listened politely as she said, “I have a Bible verse for you.” She opened her Bible, and showed Ken Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
“I think if she had showed me any other verse it would not have affected me. I no longer followed Rajneesh but I still adhered to Hindu teachings to meditate, exercise, and eat right. I believed I could purify myself through works to merge with God. The verse in Ephesians taught the opposite of everything I believed. Instead of working my way to God, he offered himself as a gift. That verse was so deep, so beautiful, so radical, it hit me like a truck.”
“I am getting another verse for you,” said the woman. She showed Ken Revelations 3:20 “Behold I stand at the door and knock if any man hear my voice and open the door I will come in to him and sup with him and he with me.”
“Wait a minute,” Ken said. “I’m only talking to you because you are beautiful. I don’t believe this stuff.”
“I saw you come out of the science building. Therefore, you must believe in science.”
“Yes I do.”
“If you believe in science, then you believe in experimentation.”
“I surely do.”
“Let’s do an experiment? You pray with me. If it’s not true and there is no change in your life, then you have not lost anything. If Jesus comes into your heart, and there is a change in your life, then you will know the Bible is true.”
“Ok, as an experiment, I agree. Let’s do it.”
Ken looked at me and laughed. “She was very clever. I closed my eyes and asked Jesus to come into my heart. In that moment, God transformed me. When I opened my eyes, everything was different, it was brighter, and I felt love for everyone. She saw my reaction and invited me to a Bible Study at her house.”
Ken sat in the back of the Bible Study, listening intently as she read from John Chapter 3, “He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.’ In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’” John 3:2-3
Ken leaped to his feet. “It doesn’t say that.”
“Oh yes it does.”
“It can’t,” said Ken.
“Come and see.”
Ken walked to the front of the Bible Study and looked in her Bible. “This is exactly word for word what I experienced today. I felt like a baby. Like a child at peace free of any worries. This is exactly what happened to me”
Ken looked at me and smiled. My trip around the world to discover the truth was short. It only took me from Montreal to Ottawa.