My Personal Testimony
By Albert Ruegg
It was on my heart to write this testimony for my old friends and the people of New Zealand and the many groups I used to be part of. This includes the Rugby players, the Moto-Cross Riders, the Boxers, the ones who love parties every night, those who love the booze and a bit of pot now and then, those in the Country and Western clubs, the Folk people, the Gypsies, the Disco freaks, the Dancers, the Hunters, the Fishermen, the Boaties, the Adventurers, the Travellers, the Gamblers, the Businessmen, the Artists, the Intellectuals, the Maoris, the Islanders and all those who seek real life and freedom.
With this testimony, I want to share with you some of the amazing things which have happened to me in my search for real life. I would like to tell you about the most wonderful thing I have experienced, and I hope that my testimony will help you to by-pass the bad experiences I had to go through, that you may find the real life I was searching for, for so many years.
I was born in 1952 to a rather poor family in Switzerland. The first few years of my childhood were quite family orientated even though we did not always have perfect harmony. My mother had to work too just to help to get a little bit of food on the table. My Dad was in his early twenties and full of adventurous desires which were suppressed by the responsibility of having a wife and three children. There is one thing I remember quite well. Being about four or five years old, I kept on asking my mother what happens when I die. My mother could never give me a satisfactory answer but only what she herself had heard, that there was a loving God, the baby Jesus and the little angels. As a result of my questions I believe my mother let me go to Sunday school next door for a short while. There I learned that I was a little lost sheep and that there was a good Shepherd calling. I was also informed of what certain swear words meant. Following my time at Sunday school I avoided using certain self-condemning expressions and I also prayed daily to the so called dear and loving God.
As time went on and as the economic boom started in the sixties, we moved to a better place, bought a television, motorbike and then even a car. Of course family life was not as important any more – television and money substituted for the missing harmony. When I was about nine years old, we used to build tree huts and play Cowboys and Indians. One day an older school mate started to tell us about what adults do. That was the time when my innocent mind was opened to the filthy things of this world. Before long my whole mind was full of horrendous, dirty imaginations which would have shocked most adults. From that time, this became a part of me.
During my childhood I seem to have been quite and active fellow. I always liked a challenge and of course, to be a winner. Perhaps having always been shorter than other children at school might have had something to do with it, but I always seemed to be attracted by the so called big things. Riding big motorbikes in a quarry while under age was just one of these things. This occupied most of my spare time. Of course I had to compete with others not only in this but also in telling dirtier jokes than anyone else.
When it was time to look for work or an apprenticeship I was undecided, like most young people. Not knowing what I should do, I asked my Dad. His answer to me was that He didn�t care since I was the one who had to do the work. I ended up in an apprenticeship repairing office machines. Still searching for big things, I started boxing. It seemed that I was quite talented and my trainer promised me the national title and a great career, but I preferred boozing, dancing, gambling and striving after the so called big things in life. I soon lived under the illusion that I was cool and much superior to the ordinary person. This way of thinking got me into wrong company and relationships which often ended up in heartaches and disappointments. Since then I have learned that normally sheep are not found in the pigsty. But that was the kind of person I was and therefore the kind of company I was in. Deep down somewhere in my heart I always had this idea that somewhere in the world there would be a nice pure simple girl, who would believe the way I did and perhaps also would pray to this dear God I secretly prayed to. But the longer I lived it up, the less I believed that there existed such a person.
MY TRIP TO NEW ZEALAND
I always felt that there was more to life than just eating, sleeping and work and I thought I knew what the important things in life were. But as soon as I achieved one of my goals I found that the satisfaction only lasted for a short while and left me just as empty as before.
The urge for life and freedom remained, so I finally decided that I had to go beyond Switzerland for find it, especially as it was mixed with fears of nuclear war and death. Nobody wanted to join me in this adventure, so I decided to go ahead on my own. This was a very big decision for me especially because I always got homesick after one week. Not only that, but everybody discouraged me by saying that it would be impossible. Nevertheless, I looked on the world map and tried to find the most distant place from Switzerland. That’s how I found New Zealand. I looked it up in an encyclopaedia and found that the main language was English and that there was quite a lot of farming. I then wrote away to the New Zealand Embassy enquiring about a visa. All went well; fortunately, since I had already booked a cruise to New Zealand. I finally received the visa too. I thought that I might be able to learn the English language more easily on a lengthy cruise rather than on a short flight.
Off I went one night with the midnight express from Switzerland to Italy where I had to catch the boat. Seeing my dear mother waving as the train left brought tears to my eyes, knowing that I may never see her again. The trip along Italy, through Spain, around South Africa, to Australia and then New Zealand was full of unforeseen events and I learned very soon that I was by myself.
After an eventful six weeks at sea I finally arrived in New Zealand. With the help of some people I ended up in Tauranga working as an office equipment technician. ‘Working life’ seemed to me like being on holiday and every new thing, I thought, was great. That was the positive attitude I planned to adopt before arriving in New Zealand. As I could not speak English, I ended up in many unusual situations where it could have easily turned out very badly for me. Most of my spare time I spent on the booze. I soon used up my savings because I was not able to live on my wages only. The great new feeling left me after a few months and everything appeared again like work, eat and sleep. The desire for real freedom and liberty started again to manifest itself deep down in my heart.
TRYING TO QUENCH MY THIRST
I was still thirsting for something I called real freedom but I did not know how to get it. So I decided to leave work and just to ride a big motorbike and to cruise around New Zealand. I therefore sold or more or less gave everything away and, one morning, rode away on a big motorbike. After a few weeks I arrived right down South in Invercargill where I ended up staying. Of course by this time I had to work to make a living. So I worked for a branch of the same company I had previously worked for in Tauranga.
My thirst for freedom still wasn’t quenched so my next thought was to go to a bigger place, such as Australia, and to live in a van. I wanted to travel without any plan, since sticking to a plan meant that some freedom was already taken away from me. I persuaded a workmate, Richard, to come with me and we went to Australia. We got ourselves an old van, a rifle and plenty of food and booze and then started to travel from Sydney. After weeks of travelling and wild living, I found myself out in the bush, eating a kangaroo and being wild and upset because I had run out of cigarettes. Despite all my attempts for freedom I found I was still bound by many things.
After the Australian experience I returned to New Zealand and even had my old job offered back to me. This I refused at first, but after three months truck driving accepted and offer from the company’s Dunedin branch. Being broke financially and broken spiritually, I really got into heavy drinking. I needed a few drinks every day after work just to feel reasonably happy. One morning I woke up and realized that I had been drunk quite often recently. I tried counting back to the day I was last sober, but lost count. This made me consider things quite a bit. After about three months there was a phone call from head office in Wellington for me. I thought I was sure to be sacked from my job, but to my surprise I was offered a transfer to there. Since I still had this longing in me for something real I accepted, thinking that I might find it up in Wellington.
The city life did not change me much except that the places I frequented were nightclubs and discos instead of the usual pubs and parties, and besides drinking booze I also got into smoking pot more often. By this time I felt so restless within myself that I was almost impossible to work with. I constantly swore and would never consider others. I just said and did whatever I felt like. The day came when I just could not handle it any more and I handed in my resignation. To my surprise the Personnel Officer offered me a temporary transfer to New Plymouth which I accepted.
Life in New Plymouth did not change much except that I met some groups of people which were of the ‘folk type’. This lot added another number to the different groups of people such as country and western followers, disco freaks, boozers, druggies, gamblers, sports people, travellers etc I used to have contact with. About this time I also became a naturalised New Zealander, which was one of my goals before leaving Switzerland.
As I lived in a little hut by the beach, I had started to think about my life and future a bit deeper and came to the conclusion that I was getting nowhere. So, I thought, the least I could do is to save up enough money to buy a house. As it seemed impossible to earn that kind of money in New Zealand, I thought that I either had to go to Australia or Switzerland to work. By this time I hadn’t seen my parents for about three and a half years and I knew that if I didn’t go back then I never would go back. So in the back of my mind I planned a trip back to Switzerland. Before leaving, I wanted to go for a visit up Tauranga way, where I first lived in New Zealand.
MY REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST
On the Friday morning of the Labour weekend 1978 I left on a motorbike. Eventually I go to Tauranga, where I visited the place I used to work. Being full of expectations, I was quite disappointed. Perhaps it was because my English was now good enough to understand everything that was being said. In the evening I went to the pub in the city’s Red Square. I ended up having a few drinks in the public bar and again a few drinks in the lounge bar. Every time I swapped bars I had to walk outside the hotel to its other entrance, and I noticed a bunch of people, including a Maori fellow with a guitar, in the Red Square. They were Christians and somehow I thought that they would probably be on God’s side and therefore they had my sympathy. After another hour or so having won quite a bit of money playing poker and having a few beers, I thought that it was time to check out the lounge bar to find out where there was a party on. By this time I felt quite happy and stimulated and as I walked past the Red Square, I decided to say hello to this Maori fellow who looked at me again. So I walked up to him, patted his shoulder, trying to encourage him to keep up the good work. I tried to convince him that I knew God and that He had just blessed me with all this money I’d won playing poker. He spoke about Jesus and I spoke about God, thinking that it might be a good idea that those heathen around us may believe in Him too. This man realized that there was no hope to get through to me and he just smiled but then with a compassionate look in his eyes said to me, ‘May I pray for you?’. this question nearly knocked me over. I never prayed for anybody else, I only prayed when I myself wanted something. Being taken by surprise by this question, I just stumbled: ‘Yes’, and he began to pray right there outside the pub. It was just the time that the pub closed and I heard some people in the background making fun of me as I stood there having my eyes fixed on this Christian man who was praying for me. After that, I totally lost the desire to go to a party and went straight to the hotel reception to book a room for the night. I fought with tears all the way to the room. To my surprise there was a Bible in the room. I picked it up and read a few lines and then went to bed where I just cried like a little boy. Suddenly I realized how low I had come and that me being a Christian was just an illusion. I was just as bad or even worse than the scruffy bunch I had been with in the pub.
The next day I travelled on to Rotorua. Somehow I felt very sober. All the motels were booked out, and I had no place to stay for the night. As I kept on thinking about the last nights experience, I had no desire to get drunk or end up at some party. For the first time in my life I thought about God by thinking about Jesus Christ. There was no longer any difference. Jesus Christ had to be God, else I could not pray to Him, for I knew that there was only one God and that I should have no other Gods besides Him. So I thought, if this Jesus really is, He would know that I needed to find a place to sleep. Somehow I felt confident, so I stopped worrying about it and went to a restaurant for a Pizza. About 9.00pm I went to the motel next to the restaurant to enquire if here was any place where I could spend the night. They assured me that all the motels were fully booked and that they even had people sleeping in the hallway. Just as I left, the woman at the reception called me back and said that she had some addresses from people who sometimes took on boarders. At this late hour she rang up and the people accepted me for the night. It was quite a long drive but I finally arrived there. To my surprise they spoke about the Lord too. In the morning after breakfast they gave me a New Testament of the Bible instead of a bill.
CONVICTION OF SIN
The same morning I travelled back to New Plymouth richer by a Bible and a few new experiences. As time went on I started to read the Bible. To my surprise it rather condemned than blessed me. I found so many things written that my own life didn’t line up with. For a moment I wanted to stop reading it but then I thought that this would not change its contents. I believed that the Bible was the truth and therefore realized that I must be wrong. Simply not believing the Word of God would not have changed the fact that I was lost and bound by sin. One day I read that drunkards would not be ready at the Lord’s second coming. This Word of God stirred me up, as I was drunk most nights. Therefore I decided not to drink enough to get drunk. One night I went to town again and by about 9.00pm had drunk quite a few cans of beer and just started to feel that it was time to stop. Nevertheless, I felt like going to another nightspot to have a few more drinks, but something inside me kept on reminding me of the scripture I had read about being drunk. I said to myself ‘blow it. I want to enjoy myself’, and so I went. Later that night, as I took off on my motorbike to go home, I was followed by a traffic officer with the siren going. Straight away I accelerated, thinking that I would lose him as I had done many times before, but to my surprise, somehow I could not get away from him. This was very strange. As I skidded on a gravel road and came to an abrupt halt, I finally got caught.
I ended up losing my licence, and living about ten miles out of town, I found myself a bit stuck. It was very strange that since the Lord spoke to me about this matter of drinking I no longer got away with it. Living in quite and isolated place, I now had a lot of spare time to read some more in the Bible. Again, a verse struck me. This time it was about offending or misleading little children. Straight away I felt bad about the ways I had shown to Richard. He was so innocent; just like a little child, when I first met him, but I was the one who got him into all the bad ways.
Soon after I transferred back to Wellington, where Richard and I started flatting together. As his birthday was coming up I went to buy him a Bible. One the cover page I wrote the following words: ‘May this book of Life help you through life to find life’. Before giving Richard the birthday present, I persuaded him to promise me to do something, without telling him what it was. As I handed the Bible over to him I said: ‘All that I have ever told, taught or shown you was wrong. Please forget it! Here is a Bible and this is the truth. Forget about me and do what the Bible says instead’. Richard was totally puzzled, but accepted the Bible. A few days later I came across a pamphlet where it was mentioned that alcohol and tobacco were not for Christians. Again I was spoken to, especially about my heavy smoking. One of the following nights just as I rolled a cigarette, I said to Richard: ‘This is the last one, I will never smoke again’. Of course Richard did not take me seriously since he had seen me give up smoking many time before. But this time was different. For the first time I really knew that it was wrong for me to smoke. I went to my bedroom, got down on my knees and said: ‘Lord Jesus, you know that I want to give up smoking, but I can’t do it by myself, so please take it away from me’. The next day I was expecting the usual withdrawal symptoms, but they never came. I was free, totally delivered from smoking.
TRAVELLING BACK TO SWITZERLAND
During my time in Wellington, I again persuaded Richard to travel with me overseas. We booked a cheap cruise and left New Zealand by ship at the beginning of winter, 1979, and headed for England. This trip was very eventful. Having already experienced a lot of travelling and having been on a cruise previously, enabled me to sit back and observe the ship life, as the usual excitement was not the pre-eminent factor. My observation was that for the first one or two weeks on board, people usually manage to control themselves quite well and keep to themselves because not everybody matches their standards. But living on a ship means that there are restrictions of where one can go and with whom one can spend time. This frustrates some people very much after the first few days of excitement have passed. But as it is not possible to leave the ship in the middle of the ocean people usually show their true colours after a while. They start to make friends, get engaged, lose their money in gambling etc., forgetting completely that finally there is a harbour where the values and things will be altogether different. As we finally arrived in England I saw people who clung to others while on the ship leave on their own. So called best mates would not even be bothered to say good bye, but instead shot off as soon as they put their feet on solid ground. These observations made me realize how tragically some situations can end, especially when people place their trust in other people.
Now Richard and I went our separate ways. Richard planned to stay in England and I borrowed some money and flew to Switzerland. As I landed in Zurich I felt unusually strange. Even speaking again in my own mother-tongue seemed to be embarrassing. Finally I arrived home, reuniting with my family after more than four long years. Except that everyone was older, no-one seemed to have changed in themselves. Of course the past four years had formed and shaped me quite a bit and I soon realized that I was a stranger in my own home country.
One day my dad wanted to take me to some hot places in the big city, but since I was trying to live a better life these suggestions made me feel very uneasy and I declined. At this, I was accused of being scared – a wimp. Feeling so much out of place everywhere, I started to frequent some of the clubs and places I used to go to years ago. After a few weeks I noticed myself slipping back into my old ways. At the same time I received two very good job offers. One was near home and the other in the French speaking part of Switzerland. The last thing I wanted to do was to go again to a place where I didn’t know the language, but somehow I thought that this might be better for my religious life and it looked like a way of escape from falling back into my old ways. Therefore I accepted the job offer in the French part of Switzerland, despite the fact that the salary was less than I was offered at the other job.
So I left home again, and found myself lonely again. Very soon I realized that I could not run away from my old habits and ways – they kept on following me wherever I went. Besides drinking and going out every night, I also joined a local Rugby club. I was able to release some of my frustrations there, and did this to such an extent that some of the players complained about it. One Sunday night I decided to go to a night club about twenty miles out in the country. As I went something me told me not to go. This reminded me of the time in New Zealand when I had my motorbike accident. Nevertheless I went. I stopped on the way for a quick drink of white wine to get rid of my tiredness. As I drove on I was speeding along the winding country road. As I was enjoying skidding around the corners I was suddenly surprised by some road works. The road became narrower and was simply too small to straighten up the car. The next thing was a few bangs, flying lights and broken glass until finally I came to a halt in a paddock. The car was a complete wreck. I myself was unhurt. This accident caused me to think again about the things of the Lord. I simply knew that this was the punishment for my disobedience.
A couple of weeks later Richard arrived from England, because I had invited him for the Christmas holidays. We went skiing and had a good time together. On New Years eve we ended up drunk and silly. After this Richard went back to England and I went back to work. I knew that I was doing the wrong thing again on New Years eve and I expected some kind of punishment to follow, but nothing happened. This worried me as I thought that God could not care about me any more. I just knew that the situation was serious and that there was no room for playing games with God.
One Sunday morning I finally got up in time to attend a church service. The church atmosphere seemed to affect my emotions a little bit but that was about all there was to it and I had no great desire to go back there.
At about this time, I shifted office at work. I shared the office with another man, Jean-Rene. He was the type I would have classed as straight, serious perhaps, like some school teachers or policemen. In any case he was not my type at all and I would never have accepted any advice either from him or from anybody else, as I believed that I was so much superior to anybody else. One day I told him about a fellow in the Rugby club who was a convinced atheist. During this discussion I realized that Jean-Reno believed rather in a creator than in evolution. This seemed to help me talk to him about certain things. One day, being frustrated and sick of everything, I said to Jean-Rene: ‘It is just impossible to meet decent people in this world, anywhere I go it is the same old story; stupid talking, booze and silly women’. He then told me that he knew of a group of nice people who came together on Saturday nights to talk and sing songs etc., and that he could mention me to them if I would like to go along to one of these nights. I agreed, and finally ended up there on Saturday evening.
MY FIRST CHURCH EXPERIENCE
The first time I went I felt quite embarrassed, but appreciated the sincerity of these people. We sang songs, talked about experiences, and they even prayed together. This made me feel quite uneasy as I thought they should be praying on their own at home rather than in a group. I kept in contact with those people and they invited me for tea and other outings. One Saturday night the group went to visit some old people at a hospital and I was asked if I would like to join them. Since I got on quite well with them I decided to join them for this event too. To my surprise they didn’t only sing songs to the old folk, but one fellow stepped out and spoke to them about the Lord Jesus Christ. I felt totally embarrassed standing among this Christian group and as I looked around and saw some people in wheelchairs and other sick people I thought to myself: ‘What are you doing here?’ Feeling so much out of place I kept on looking at the young nurses, trying to indicate that I did not really belong to this humble bunch of people. Only a week later I got caught up in a similar situation. The whole group, and some others from their little church fellowship, went singing at the Lausanne city centre. They also handed out invitations to a special week of gospel out-reach meetings held at their assembly. I hid behind the group fearing that perhaps somebody from work could spot me amongst them. I was so embarrassed that I thought it would be impossible to return to work on Monday, should somebody from work see me with these believers.
The following week I went to their special gospel meetings. Of course it was all in French and there was not a lot I understood. I decided to go along again the following night. After the meeting I felt very happy and it seemed to me that God really loved me. On my way home I sang in the car. By this time I really wanted to go to the next meeting. As I was sitting in the meeting that night a picture of a mountain ridge appeared in my mind. It was accompanied by the thought that if I said yes to all that I heard and would be identified with this humble bunch of believers, that I would be crossing that mountain ridge and that there was no way that I could ever go back to where I was. This night the evangelist who was preaching offered to stay behind for anyone who had some questions on their heart. As I was sitting in the meeting I was constantly pounded with the most terrible and filthy thoughts. I surely had no way to deal with this. Even though I did not want these thoughts they kept on coming to my mind. When the service was over the evangelist stood by the door saying goodnight to everyone. As I came to the door, he shook my hand and said: ‘We’ll have a little talk together, won’t we?’. My answer was an instant yes, since I wanted a solution to my bad thoughts problem. To my surprise the evangelist, who was called Frere Houmard, spoke in my Swiss-German mother tongue (he was a Swiss-French.) After everybody had left we started talking together.
RECEIVING THE HOLY GHOST
Frere Houmard was very surprised to find out that I had difficulties speaking in French. He was able to answer my question about my thoughts in a very simple way. He said to me: ‘If a bird flies over the top of your head, this is not your fault, but should the bird start building a nest on your head, then you can certainly do something about it’. Frere Houmard realized that there was more to it than just this question and he read some scriptures to me, without having much effect. I thought that since I had read the bible, there was nothing new he could tell me. Also this talk about being born again and being a new creature in Christ seemed, to me, to be a bit overdone. I thought that I would always be me and that it would hardly be possible to become somebody else, but I could perhaps improve over the years and become a better person as time went on. He also asked me whether I had ever stolen anything, in order to find out if I was aware of being a sinner. I hardly remembered having ever stolen. My parents had taught me that this was wrong, so therefore I had never gone into stealing in a big way. But stealing at this point of time seemed to me such a harmless thing and I thought if it was only stealing that would not worry me too much. As I was reflecting on my life I felt totally sinful, and I knew that it was hardly possible to be any worse than I was. We ended up reading a scripture in Acts 26:18. Somehow this scripture spoke to me as never before. Frere Houmard then asked me if I understood the meaning of it. I said that those people there in the bible were sanctified and made holy because they believed in Jesus Christ. Frere Houmard seemed to agree with me and he asked me: ‘Do you believe in Jesus Christ?’. I certainly had no doubt because this was the reason of my trying to live a better life for all this time. As I answered yes he asked me: ‘How then does the scripture apply to you?’. I thought that I would be a hypocrite to say that I was sanctified, especially as I had seen scenes of my past life floating in front of my eyes. But then I thought: ‘the Bible says so and the Bible is the truth’. Despite being nervous and hesitant I answered: ‘Well, hmm, then, I am sanctified, I am holy, a Saint!’. For a moment I thought that Frere Houmard would tell me off for making such a statement but the brother simply said: ‘Have you ever thanked Him for it?’ As I had never thanked the Lord for having sanctified me, we both went on our knees and we thanked the Lord for what He has done for me. I stopped shivering and a warm feeling came over me.
Straight after this I left and drove home. I kept on thanking the Lord as I was driving along. The joy in my heart became greater and greater and suddenly I found myself in the presence of God as I had never experienced before. This kind of joy was so far greater than any earthly joy could be. I was singing, crying, shouting; I even lost my voice. I was happier than I could ever have imagined. Me a saint, a child of the living God. Accepted, loved, redeemed. The happiness I experienced at this moment came from above. There are no words to be able to explain this kind of joy. It must be experienced to be understood.
Ever since that moment I’ve never been the same, and I never can be, nor want to be again. My entire taste for things changed instantly. Things I used to like I hated and things I used to feel attracted to sickened me and I wanted to run from them. This was manifested in quite a few radical actions. For instance I poured all the booze I stored at home down the kitchen sink. Neither did I want to waste my time with watching television any more, so the TV went at the same time. I kept away from clubs and bars as far as I could. Suddenly I spoke without using bad language. To many peoples’ surprise I started to like children too. Nothing seemed to get on my nerves any more, for the peace of God was my part.
FREE TO BE A PRISONER OF CHRIST
Finally I was free! Free from the invisible chains of sin. I simply did not need to do the things I used to do. All my desires changed. I even like to go to work. Every day was full of excitement. I experienced real freedom. If somebody had locked me up in a broom cabinet I would still have been free and happy, knowing that the living God, the Lord Jesus Christ, my Saviour, now lived within me by His Spirit.
In this new freedom I was conscious that my past life was gone, that all my sins were forgiven and that I was completely separated from my old self. Even so, there were things of the past which I was able to put right. One of the very first things was, that I went and apologised to my parents for my difficult and rude behaviour, especially during my teenage years. They were more embarrassed about this than I was, but they knew that I meant business with my new life. There were other things too. For instance I went to see some people I had lied to, years ago. I also repaid money for things I had stolen. As soon as I had put these things right, they were off my mind. Of course there were many things I could not put right again, but I knew that God would remember these things no more. Putting things right was a good thing and through doing so, the accuser, the devil was put to silence.
My family thought for a while that I had been brainwashed or something. They just could not understand how I could be so different. A supernatural incident happened one day at my parents’ place. My mother and my sister were talking very seriously about me, even suggesting that I was mentally sick or had some kind of brain injury. They were talking about me, not seeing that I was sitting not far from them. I was so astonished that I even walked up to them asking if they didn�t know that I was there. Then I realised that they simply could not see me. The Lord allowed this to show me that He had truly changed me.
Surely I was so different that it even affected my appearance. I simply received the Spirit of God. This made me act in agreement with the Bible without being aware of it. My attitudes and convictions were so different from what they used to be. Often it was much later that I found these things confirmed in the Bible. Later on I also realised that if the same Spirit that wrote the Bible dwelt in us, that we had to agree with every single word thereof. If not, we either did not have the Spirit of God, or we were deceived in our mind. As time went on my family came to see that this was not just religion or another interest like I used to have such as boxing, motorbikes etc., but that it was a reality and was there to stay. This change of mine caused quite a strong separation from my natural family, but a very close unity with those who had the same experience of receiving the Holy Spirit. Every time I visited home we seemed to have an argument, as they always had to justify what they were doing. I stopped having fruitless discussions with my parents because I realised that the truth stands on its own and does not need to be defended.
WALKING IN THE NEWNESS OF LIFE
Over the next few months I experienced countless blessings and miracles in my walk with the Lord. I now attended the little fellowship meetings regularly and I enjoyed every meeting. Just to hear and to talk about Jesus was the most wonderful thing to me. One night after a meeting a man from another Church group came to my place for supper. He intended to get me out of the fellowship I was in, in order to join his. There was no witness in my heart and I said to him that it is better to get the lost sheep in before shifting the saved ones from one fold to another. As I was saying these words, suddenly an awesome presence was felt. This brother jumped up with excitement, spilled his cup of coffee and then whole heartedly agreed with me. Later on that night I lay awake for a long time. I was still too excited to be able to sleep. I kept on praising the Lord and then suddenly something happened to me. My speech turned into an unknown language and I was praying in a language I didn’t know. My spirit was praying separately from my mind. I realised this, and wondered whether this was the speaking in tongues my Church group was opposed to. Surely it was an interesting experience. The Bible talks about it and this was good enough for me. Let every man’s word be a lie and God’s Word be the truth! Later on that year a similar thing happened. Richard was visiting me and we spoke about the greatness of our God. As we prayed the presence of Almighty God filled the room and the Spirit of God once again took over my speech. This time it was in English. The prayer I prayed was so wonderful and the words were so beautiful that Richard spoke about it and told me just how blessed he was by it. My English was not that wonderful and many of the words spoken in that prayer were not in my vocabulary. This event took place on the 8th of December 1980. I will never forget it!
MY FIRST SUPERNATURAL HEALING
One evening as I was sitting at home by myself I wondered when I should go to hospital to have an operation done on my foot. For a long time I had had a growth in my foot which hurt me quite often. As I was meditating upon this, suddenly revelation struck me. God Almighty the Creator of the heavens and earth is my heavenly Father! I had never realised this before in such a great way. My faith rose immediately and I prayed and asked my heavenly Father for healing. Within the next 24 hours the miracle took place. The growth was completely gone! As a matter of fact I received a new foot! Even the corns on my toes I’d had for years were no more. I realised that I was dealing with the living God. Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.
Many miracles happened in the months to come. Things which seemed totally impossible just happened. I realised how very much God loves His children! As I was walking the Christian life, I desired to tell my old friends, the people in New Zealand and everyone I came across, that there is hope, there is life eternal, God is real!
ESCAPE FROM RELIGION
This desire caused me to apply to my church group’s missionary school I had all the qualifications they asked for, but, to my surprise, I was not accepted. It took me quite a while to understand this. The Lord showed me in His love and mercy that I was falling in love with the Church and then I realised that the only one to be in love with must be the Lord Jesus Christ. This was confirmed to me during a business trip to the Middle East. Many incredible things happened during that trip, but I must share one event. The night before I flew to Israel I stayed in a hotel in Cairo. My desire to meet real fellow Christians was so great that I fell on my knees and cried out to the living God. I insisted in my prayer that the Lord would lead me not just to a Church group, but to real children of God! The next day I felt very confident that the Lord was in control and that He would guide and lead me as I journeyed to Israel. I rented a car at the airport and started driving towards Jerusalem. Nothing could upset me in Israel, because I knew the scripture that says, ‘Blessed is he that blesses Israel, and cursed is he that curses Israel’. On the way I picked up a soldier with and automatic rifle and everything. He gave me some directions for a hotel as we arrived in Jerusalem. Somehow I missed the hotel and ended up in a back street. There I entered into a Jewish hotel, where I booked a room. As I was talking to the receptionist and somehow tried to get across that I was a believer, I heard a voice saying, ‘Praise the Lord’. This sounded just like home to me.
There was another staff member in the back who was listening to our conversation. As I spoke to her I noticed that she was very embarrassed and that she had not meant to say anything. The Lord had everything arranged. The next day was the Sabbath and this girl’s parents picked me up for a Christian believers church service. This was such a wonderful event and I knew immediately that my prayer had been answered. Never before had I met such wonderful Christians. All the women had nice long hair, long skirts, and everyone was full of life and praises for the Lord Jesus. Just beautiful. After the service I shared my testimony with them and to their surprise, I believed in the same way as they did. They could not understand how I could have such a knowledge of the truth without having heard the preacher in America (Bro. Branham) who led them to the Lord. The answer to me was simple. If we have the same Holy Spirit the early Christians received at Pentecost, and if we’re no misled by our own thinking, tradition or denominational teachings, then we cannot but speak the same language and have the same manifestations in our lives. It was evident that we were all filled with the same Holy Spirit.
GOING BACK TO NEW ZEALAND
From here on it was on my heart to return to Israel or New Zealand. It seemed that the ‘Swiss chapter’ was closed. By the end of the year, the Lord blessed me with a large amount of money, so that I was free to travel wherever and whenever. I decided to return to New Zealand in order to tell my old mates about salvation in Jesus Christ. I started in Invercargill and made my way up to Tauranga. Many of my old friends were amazed to see the change in my life, but only eternity will reveal what they did with my testimony. There was one ex work-mate, Keith, asked me questions until the early hours of the morning. At last I encouraged him to pray and to ask the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive him for his sins and to come and live in his heart. I don’t know whether Keith did pray that night or not, but the next thing I heard of him was that he died suddenly while shifting. He was just 30 years old. If Keith did pray and if he received the Lord that night, my trip to New Zealand was worthwhile.
As I arrived in Tauranga I had further opportunity to speak to some of my old drinking mates and people I knew. One weekend I felt very much drawn to travel to Gisborne. There I met believers from a Christian fellowship whose address was given to me by those people in Israel. I was soon drawn even closer to God as I heard important truths which were made known to us in these last days. This caused me to be re-baptised the following weekend according to the Bible, immersed in water in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 2: 38). Previously I was baptised in the titles, not knowing that the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit was indeed the Lord Jesus Christ. Yes the fullness of God dwelt in Christ. God Almighty who is a Spirit came and dwelt in a body of flesh and blood and reconciled the world to Himself through His redemptive work on the cross of Calvary. Praise the Lord!
For the next three years I lived in Tauranga, where I tried to be of some encouragement to the people around me, but I had the desire to do more to reach more people and to tell them about their Saviour.
In 1985 my Christian friend Christoph from Switzerland came especially to New Zealand to tell others about eternal life. Christoph’s 84 year old grandfather came for a six week holiday at the same time. We travelled together throughout New Zealand, testifying to people and later on, after Granddad went back home, we went to Australia. We experienced nice times together, but the most wonderful event to me was Christoph’s and Granddad’s baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the miraculous healing of Christoph’s chronic hay-fever.
MY RELIGIOUS TRIP INTO THE BUSH
After Christoph’s return to Switzerland I moved to a remote place near the Urewera National Park, where I spent several months, to seek further guidance form the Lord. Here, in the Matahi Valley, I prayed and asked the Lord to send me someone to preach the Gospel to and to baptise in His Name. I wanted to be identified with that particular Scripture – the great commission. Within a week I received a mystery letter from a man in Auckland. He got my address of someone else I didn’t know either. After being accused by this man, of being a hard Christian, he finally repented of his sins. To my surprise, he suddenly asked me to baptise him. My stay in the bush was ‘self-inflicted’, but the Lord then brought me back to Tauranga. It was again a miracle. Not only did I get the job I firstly turned down, but also got my old, beautiful apartment back. I now greatly rejoiced and gave thanks to God for His wonderful blessings, which I previously declined.
MEETING MY WIFE
In 1985 I ended up in Christchurch for six months, where I met my wife, Bronwyn. She was the daughter of a Pastor and was brought up in a Christian way. Bronwyn was this wonderful girl of my dreams I once thought would not exist. We go married in 1986 and then went for a trip to Switzerland for her to meet my parents. Four months later we returned to New Zealand and settled in Tauranga. Soon it was evident that my lovely wife had only heard about the Lord Jesus Christ and had obeyed His Word, but she had never really met Him. The Lord was gracious and showed her that even she who had not really done much wrong was a sinner and needed to meet her Saviour personally. We often prayed together and asked the Lord to show her how she looked in God’s eyes rather than in her own. One day the Lord revealed something to Bronwyn pertaining to her childhood. The same minute as she confessed that sin the Holy Spirit came down and filled her. What a glorious day that was! Life has not been the same since! Bronwyn testified, to the surprise of many Church group people that she had received the Holy Spirit. Yes, there is only one door, the Lord Jesus Christ whereby we must enter!
During the time in Tauranga it was rather difficult to find fellow believers, who really loved the Lord Jesus Christ with all their heart, as many follow a man, a church or a creed and therefore do not give God all the glory. This grieved me for a long time, so that eventually I started to hold little meetings myself, where I try to direct all the glory to Jesus Christ.
During the first three and a half years of our marriage we had to shift about 10 times. A strange thing happened as we once again moved into an upstairs flat. The whole place was a bit oppressive, which was noticed by discerning Christians. When our first baby was only about three weeks old, Satan tried to kill her. Yes there was an evil spirit living in that flat and one night it tried to strangle our little baby girl. We prayed and cried out to the Lord, who saved our girl. Nevertheless, this evil spirit remained in the house until my wife desperately sought the Lord about it. As we prayed and worshipped the living God, the power of Almighty God filled the whole place. What a wonderful night that was. About three o’clock in the morning, we were still praising the Lord Jesus Christ. Finally, the evil spirit which dwelt in the house had to go. Suddenly there was a bang and scratching across the window as it was pushed open from the inside of the room, and the evil spirit was gone. I have never experienced anything like it; suddenly I realised how real the spiritual world it. There is no room for playing around. We need the Lord Jesus Christ to be our guide, Lord and Saviour, only then are we protected and able to withstand those forces.
Many things have happened since the Lord came into my life. I know that I have eternal life. This changed my priorities. People are more important than careers, money etc. Because I seek to serve the Lord, He has blessed me in a tremendous way! He has given me a wonderful wife, eleven children and a house, and everyday life has become a joy! I know for sure that all things work together for good to them who love God! Nothing can possibly go wrong! Praise the Lord! This testimony could go on for much longer, would I tell the many wonderful, supernatural things God performed over the past few years.
Dear friend, did you know that Jesus Christ will return again? The Bible is prophesying this event. The signs are evident everywhere. Just to name a few: There will be an increase in earthquakes, Israel will be gathered again in her homeland, everyone talks about peace, God will reveal the truth of the Bible to turn his children back to the original faith in order to get us ready for His coming. These are only a few of the signs which have already come to pass. The time is at hand. The judgement is coming. Get yourself into safety as no-one can stop the destruction from coming. The only place, the only hope is found in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is alive! Yes, He rose from the grave! He is right here all present. Confess to Him that you are a sinner and that you need to be saved. Ask Him to come into your life; He surely will answer! It works! He says in His word: ‘If you seek me with all your heart, you shall find me’. Just a bit of religion will not do! The way for salvation has never changed! Accept the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed for you and for me! Repent and die to yourself, be baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and walk on the straight and narrow way until He comes. Christ is the Word. Be faithful to every word of God. Separate yourself from unbelief and man-made organisations. We will not be judged by what this church or the other group says, nor how we feel about it, but by His Word! Read you Bible and pray.
If you haven’t got a Bible, please contact me and I will do my best to get you one completely free of charge. I also have a number of tracts, books and CD messages available, which can help you to draw closer to the Lord. All is free of charge. Salvation is received freely and therefore I like to make everything pertaining to it freely available also. We are living in the very last days. Time is running out fast. I urge you, escape the terrible judgement! Come to Christ!
It is not my intention to draw you to a religious sect or even to influence you with ideas of myself. I hope and pray for you that his recorded testimony of what has happened in my life will cause you to consider you own position and to seek and find your Creator and Giver of eternal life, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Love in Christ