Self Driven Man:Bertrand tells story of faith, relying on Father he always had
Dustin Bertrand, a Catholic evangelist of Abbeville, has shared his story with audiences all over Louisiana; a story most-often read or watched on television. The story is of a son and his Father and the problematic details of his life that led him to become a speaker of motivation.
Growing up, Bertrand recalls being different, but not knowing how or why. Comments from schoolmates led him sometimes to wonder.”I didn’t know my race for years; or my father.”
The 29-year-old tells his journey to spread positive messages as well as corroborating with those who need.
Being raised by only one parent until the age of six; when his mother married his step-father, was a difficult thing to adjust to.
“When my brother Shay was born, I was urged to call my step-father ‘dad’,” he said. “This made me think more about my identity and who my real father was; something I never thought about until then.”
At that time, Bertrand’s mind was scrambled, and he remembers asking himself why his step-father was the only one with whom he gave the title to. Although he never found his biological father, his decisions moving forward was based on being a good person and role model without having his father there for guidance.
Bertrand had to overcome physical problems at a young age.
Bertrand recalled being in his sophomore year feeling depressed and tired. Knowing he was born with three holes in his heart; only two of them closing on their own, he knew something just wasn’t right.
“There’s this hole in my heart that just lingered,” he said. “Plus, I have a kidney disease, which will most likely cause them to fail at some point.”
In college, Bertrand had a choice to wait for his heart to give him problems in the future, or have surgery. “Doctors weren’t concerned about my life, but I was,” he said. “I decided to have surgery right away.”
He knew his body would heal quicker as a young man compared to age 50.
“Before my heart surgery, my mom and I had a conversation that needed to happen just in case I didn’t wake up,” he said. “After that, I was done with searching for my father.”
Thoughts of wanting to be a great role model for his brother, wanting to be a good husband and father one day was something he thought about often, and soon, he began to plan.
Instead of using someone else’s platform, Bertrand decided to assemble his own with the aid of the father he was closest to - God. He thought about the times he did not know of his race, being teased because his hair was different, as well as telling his mom that he was going to help people when he grew up.
“Through trial and error as a kid, I was trying to create myself as a man,” he said. “I dated a girl whose father did not approve of my ‘dark tan;’ mind you, I did not know I was biracial.”
This confused Bertrand and raised questions.
“I thought I was just a tan guy with thick hair. The incident messed with my identity.”
Bertrand recalled being on a three-year identity crisis after revelations came to surface.
“I was a broken man trying to figure everything out,” he said.
During his senior year in high school, he became close with his religion teacher who aided him in the process of finding whom he wanted to be.
“At that point, I ended up going to McNeese, walking on the golf team and earning a scholarship,” Bertrand said.
This experience led him into his ministry journey.
“My peers and superiors noticed how I processed things on a much deeper level and how I loved helping people despite the baggage I held.”
After a mentioning of priesthood by someone he trusted, Bertrand decided to pray about it. He soon began to attend retreats with the Catholic Church. Three years later, he went to the Catholic seminary to start priesthood.
“Six months into the seminary, I realized that no matter how much I admired it, knowing that I grew as a person, grew closer to God and understood more about myself and my relationship with God, I respectfully backed away from the opportunity of the priesthood,” Bertrand said.
God was still a large part of Bertrand’s life, and that was something he knew would remain.
“Whatever God wants me to do, I listen,” he said. “He allowed me to golf again, and wanted me to share my testimony and the gospel with athletes, so I did that.”
He said he enjoys talking about the word of God because, “I’ve experienced the love of God through my deepest sufferings and I want others to experience the healing power of what Jesus passed down to others. I’ve seen supernatural occurrences that science can’t describe so as I preach about God I know I’m leading others to a higher calling than what is seen,” said Bertrand.
The feeling was infectious for Bertrand. He knew he always wanted to help people, so why not help them the way God helped him, through the word. “Golf faded away when I wanted to learn more on the new journey of ministry.”
Today, Bertrand is in the process of writing an autobiography titled “The First Thirty.” He hopes to publish on his 30th birthday, which is August 22. He is the founder of a non-profit organization called “God Made, Self-driven,” which is a community that partners with different churches, individuals, schools, and organizations that share in their mission to bring Christ and goodness to people’s lives.
“My motivation and goal are to be the man God wants me to be; to the woman he created for me, and to be the type of man my mom never got to see.”