RENSSELAER FALLS Timothy H. Boprey has spent much of his adult life feeling angry at God.
The 49-year-old has endured more than his share of tragedy: motor vehicle accidents killed two brothers, and hes been through two divorces.
But after years of questioning his Christian faith, Mr. Boprey has discovered how to replace depression and anger with peace and joy. His new path began two years ago when he felt a calling to study to be in the ministry.
At first I wanted nothing to do with it because I was still angry, he recollected. But I kept hearing it in the back of my mind.
Prompted by a dream, Mr. Boprey said he finally stopped fighting the pull toward ministry.
I believe the dream was Gods way of telling me that he wanted me to follow Christ, he said. I know that sounds unbelievable to some people.
He then enrolled in an online academic program offered through Sterling College in Sterling, Kan.
After completing two years of classes, this spring he accomplished his goal of earning a bachelors degree in Christian studies and ministry.
On Saturday, Mr. Boprey plans to be in Kansas with his 16-year-old son, Trevor S. Boprey, attending the graduation ceremony and collecting his diploma.
Life could not be better, Mr. Boprey said. I have direction, I have purpose and I have peace. I havent had that for many years.
Mr. Boprey plans to continue working at the Canton Price Chopper grocery store, where he is often found stocking foods in the frozen foods section. He is well-known among customers for his friendliness and cheerful nature.
As a child, Mr. Boprey regularly attended the Rensselaer Falls United Methodist Church with his family.
He started to distance himself from religion after the March 14, 1982, motor vehicle accident that claimed the life of his 20-year-old brother, James L. Boprey, and left him with severe injuries at age 18.
He said the two were driving back to their Rensselaer Falls home when their vehicle was struck by a drunk driver.
I was mad as hell at God, he related. Thats when I started to pull away from the church.
In 1997, his faith was tested again. Another brother, Harold L. Boprey, died when his pickup truck was struck by a semi truck in Georgia.
Despite keeping busy with work and raising his own family, Mr. Boprey occasionally suffered bouts of depression and did not attend church on a regular basis. His problems were compounded by two failed marriages.
Support from family members, friends and his two sons, Trevor and Cameron D. Boprey, 24, kept him from spiraling downward.
Thats the only thing that kept me going. Thats what pulled me through, Mr. Boprey said.
Instead of leading a congregation, Mr. Boprey said he prefers to use his ministry training to counsel youths and young adults who are experiencing difficult circumstances.
I have experienced a lot of the hard things theyre going through. I am patient, and I am willing to listen, he said. Im not doing this for myself. This is something I want to do for people and to glorify God.
Later this year, he will receive further training by working with Reginald Curtis, the pastor at Fresh Start Fellowship, a congregation that meets at the Christian Family Tabernacle Church, County Route 14.