I have found God
As a child, I went to church every Sunday with my parents, or to the children’s service. At the age of 14 I was confirmed, but even then, I felt that the behavior of many so-called Christians was hypocritical and not genuine. But soon after confirmation I left the Sunday visits and enjoyed life in my own way. Only a few years later (when I was barely 18) I found myself in an absolute crisis. All my dreams burst, friends left me, I stood alone and was totally depressed and saw no more sense in my existence. It went so far that I wanted to take my own life. When the house was empty and everyone was at a family party at Lake Constance, I decided to put an end to my life. I was about to open the medicine cabinet when I heard a voice saying, “Your life is not yours, you have no right to take your life.” I was shocked because there was no one there. I couldn’t explain where the voice was coming from. But one thing was certain, I could not carry out what I was about to do. Paralyzed, I sat on the floor in my room, crying and not really knowing how to proceed. I started reading the Bible but didn’t understand anything.
Around the same time, there was a tent crusade at our house, and my grandma enthusiastically invited me to attend. She bugged me because she kept going on about it, and to have my peace of mind, I agreed. I sat down in the last row to get out as soon as possible. But what I heard totally hit me in my heart. The preacher spoke about the very things that were unanswered questions in my life as if he knew me. This piqued my curiosity and I set out to find out. So, I began to read the Bible, but understood abundantly little. At that time, it was really only enough for a prayer, “God, if you really exist, I want to know, and not from people or a pastor, but from yourself.”
A few days later, as I was on my way to school, it hit me like a bolt from heaven. It flooded through me with such joy, I warmed up and skipped down the street. Depression and melancholy turned into joy and peace. I knew in that same moment that God had heard my prayer, that Jesus had died and risen, that He was alive, taking care of me. He heard my prayer, and I knew that I mattered to Him.
So, I set out to find a group of people who could explain the Bible to me.
At school, my friends laughed at me, even though they immediately noticed the change in me. They said I needed a cane because otherwise I wouldn’t get through life, or that my religion was nothing more than a teddy bear that gave comfort. But I knew what I had experienced, something new had taken place in my heart that no one could ever take away from me.
I have been on this journey for more than 40 years now and I have experienced many miracles. God is faithful and never abandons us in any situation. No matter how hopeless it may look, with God there is always a solution, always a way. We are never alone and know that we are supported. And best of all: this new life is an eternal life that we can already taste here and now. We are only passing through here, the best is yet to come! Hallelujah!
Life in the fast lane
I was recently moved out of home, or rather “kicked out”, less than six weeks before probably. The phone rang and my mother broke the news to me that she and my father were getting divorced. My then 11-year-old sister would be staying with our father. The news came as such a surprise and unforeseen event that for a moment it literally seemed like I was losing my footing. It was clear to me that I would never go back.
Admittedly, from today’s perspective, I would have kicked myself out of home, too. On the one hand, I was already 22 years old, so you can start thinking about moving out. However, I ultimately gave myself to do so by literally turning our wonderful home into a transfer point for drugs over the last few years. We lived as a family in a seven-story high-rise on the third floor. There were people a few floors above me and one floor directly below me, and we would often supply each other with the stuff. It was just like in prison, a cigarette box was lowered on a string to the neighbor’s window, filled with stuff, and pulled back up.
When the situation finally started to get worse, a honey-sweet flowery smell of smoked marijuana could be smelled on the floor corridors almost every day. People were coming in and out day after day, and I spent a lot of my free time transporting the stuff from point A to point B. I was smoking pot like a madman, taking hallucinogens and amphetamines in amounts that caused severe health damage, and ecstasy in ways that were fatal to some. Accompanied daily by dope and marijuana, as a smoker always carries his cigarettes, I deliberately took my driver’s license under the influence of drugs in order to be used to driving drugged from the beginning. However, I would like to point out here that I do not want to encourage anyone to imitate these things. I was not aware of the danger I was in for a long time, and it was a big mistake to live like that. The revelation of this followed miraculously one unexpected day. But at that time, I simply did what I thought was right, regardless of whether it was actually right or wrong. For me, only my personal opinion mattered. In doing so, I went beyond borders, hurt people and took advantage of them.
Over the years, my drug use had gotten out of hand. I was emotionally numb. In my innermost being, I felt nothing at all – not even the effect of the drugs – and no longer had any awareness of personal misconduct or morals.
At the age of 11 I already started smoking and stealing from my parents on a regular basis. At 12, the first marijuana, followed by a few years as a follower in the skinhead scene. Then, at the age of 15, I entered the drug scene. I confessed to it – against all warnings and well-meaning advice from acquaintances and family. Past the everyday life, past all people and without consideration for losses I drove my life out to the fullest. It was a life in the fast lane. Seven years of drug addiction and crime followed, full of fornication and selfishness. In the end, as a drug mule, I earned my dope by running procurements. I turned my home into a transshipment point for marijuana, speed, ecstasy and hallucinogens of various kinds. In the end, I was neither accessible nor approachable for my parents. More and more frequently, there were outbreaks of violence on my part and physical confrontations with them. So, one day they made the courageous decision to change the door lock in my absence and to exclude me from home. Then, just a few weeks later, the phone rang, and my mother broke the news to me about the separation from my father.
My family was now broken up, I no longer had a permanent residence, quit my job and lost my driver’s license. In addition, there were about ten thousand euros in debt.
Behold, I make everything new again
Well, strictly speaking, I imagined the start into independent life somewhat differently. But from today’s point of view, it was the best start one can imagine.
In my Bible, which I read again and again despite all circumstances, I found a hint that it would be possible to be saved and to get to know Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, personally. Until then, I always thought that you automatically go to heaven if you somehow believe in God and live halfway decently. I followed the hint, invited Jesus into my life and asked him to somehow fix it. I made my promise to follow him if he would. After that, things seemed to get worse at first. Again, I lost my job and again I was kicked out of the apartment where I had been living as a temporary guest until then. Then suddenly change began to happen and in an uncharacteristic way I found a permanent residence and a secure job within a short time, both within a few weeks. Thereupon, in accordance with my promise, I began to attend a Christian church and thought to myself, “everything would be fine now.” But I continued to live just as before, namely like the devil, except that I went to a church and read the Bible regularly. At the same time, I built up new contacts with the drug scene again and continued to live as before.
But then suddenly it happened, on a Saturday evening May 13, 2006. We went to a youth service in another city with some friends. The evening was taking its course and I was watching what was happening. Then something happened that I was not prepared for and that would change my life forever. As I stood there looking at the song lyrics, my life suddenly flashed before my eyes like a movie, like a near-death experience. In it, I saw my childhood, my youth, and everything I’ve been up to over the last few years. I saw it pass me by like a spectator within a few seconds. For the very first time, I saw what I had done in my life, and in the lives of others.
I broke down and took about twenty minutes to recover from this event. Everything that people had been trying to tell me over the years was now revealed to me in an instant, and for the first time I could admit that I really needed help. That very evening, I again asked Jesus to come into my life, but this time I accepted Him as my personal Lord and Savior. To my amazement, from that moment on, the drug addiction was completely broken. I had not even prayed for it directly. Yet it was gone, just like that. My heart was now new.
However, there was still a lot of work to be done on my character over the next few years. I had to work on myself, to correct habits and behavior patterns and to allow changes, even to renew my entire social environment. An MPU, popularly known as the “idiot test,” was imminent, which enabled me to regain my driver’s license after four years. Beyond that, many signs and wonders followed in my life. I also began to build up emotions again and to dream at night again. I was able to pay off my debts, achieved a good position at work, and started a family.
Jesus Christ changed my life fundamentally. But not with a magic wand from one day to the next, by making my life run like a movie before my eyes that night. Not by getting back on track and stopping taking drugs – that alone doesn’t prove God. But through faith in Jesus and in a living relationship with him, I allowed him to give me a new heart and thereby make a new person out of me, for all to see. By changing my heart, he changed my whole life. Jesus Christ made everything new again.