My memories of my early childhood years in Switzerland are sweet, even though we were poor. I was about 4 years old when I asked my mother what happens when I die and as a result of that she sent me to a local Sunday school. There I learnt that there was a God and that we should not misuse His name in vain and also that we should not worship any idols. This must have had an effect on me, because I went to the Catholic church nearby and stoned the statues I saw through an open window in the basement.
When I was about 8 years old I was influenced by an older boy which caused me to get into bondage with bad imaginations and thoughts. Despite this I often thought of God and took special notice during the religious instructions at school and I started to pray the Lord’s prayer every night. (Nobody ever prayed openly in our family) At the age of 16 I was “confirmed” within the national Church and was now considered an adult and belonging to the Church. During that time I had a drawing from the Lord but did not know that this was His love and grace as I only knew the formalities of Christianity but never really heard the true Gospel.
I chose to stay in the way of the world and during my younger years I got into all sort of things. Starting with wild sports such as moto cross and boxing and then I decided not to “waste” my time with training sessions, so I gave it up and went out partying and drinking instead. After I finished my apprenticeship I had a strong desire to be different than the average person and instead of getting married, work and sleep I wanted to break out of this system and travel the world. Though I had assurances of friends that they would join me, everyone got cold feet and therefore I decided no longer to wait for anyone else but to go by myself.
I sold all of my belongings and booked a cruise from Genova, Italy to Auckland, New Zealand. The plan was to stay in New Zealand until I had dual citizenship and this meant a long time. Homesickness was already troubling me before I left and it stayed with me for years. I chose New Zealand from a world atlas just because it was the farthest away from Europe and I also thought that it may be a safer place in the event of a nuclear war.
The first few months were quite hard since I also had to learn English. Things were quite different, but soon I seemed to get into a similar rut as in Switzerland. In order to break out, I purchased a big motorbike and traveled to the utmost part of the country. There I stayed, still searching for real freedom. A few months later I found myself once again tied down so I went to travel around Australia in an old station wagon with no destination in mind, absolutely free I thought until I ran out of booze and cigarettes which left me angry and frustrated. From there I returned to New Zealand getting worse and worse with my drinking habits. Seeing that I was going nowhere financially I thought about going permanently to Australia or back to Switzerland. Therefore I went for a “last” trip around the towns and places I used to live in New Zealand.
Arriving in Tauranga, the place I first lived in New Zealand, I caught up with some old work mates but since I was thinking a bit more seriously about life I was disappointed with their silly talking and carry on. In the evening I went to the pub for a few drinks and the thought that I would then go to an all night party somewhere. As I changed from one pub to the other I noticed a man out side the pub smiling at me each time I passed by. Many drinks later, as I passed that place again he still was sitting there. This time I was drunk enough to go and say hello. To my surprise, he was a Christian reaching out to the lost. I assured him that I believed in God too and that he was doing a great job trying to convert those heathen out there. He soon realized that I was a long way from being a Christian. He talked to me about Jesus Christ and to my surprise he offered to pray for me. To pray for me I thought. Who would want to pray for someone else? I only ever prayed for myself. I said yes and he began to pray. As he prayed I heard people walking passed mocking us but by that time I was too touched by the prayer so that I ignored those things. Soon after I left the place and I felt very sober and moved by God. I therefore stayed at a hotel instead of going partying. That night I cried for the first time in years.
The following day I traveled to the next town. Still moved by what had happened to me the night before I was aware of God’s presence. It was labour weekend and therefore it was impossible to find accommodation for the night. I went to a pub, had a beer but did not want to get drunk. I thought that if this Jesus Christ is alive He would know that I have no place to sleep and that he could find me one. I never ever before looked up to Jesus Christ because I never ever before identified Him with God. Having confidence that He is real I went out to a restaurant for a meal before asking at the motel next door for a place to sleep. Knowing that all the motels were booked out I asked for a waiting room or other shelter I may be able to spend the night. There was nothing, but just as I left the place I was called back. They had an address of a family who sometimes had exchange students staying and despite the late hour the motel gave them a ring. It was my place for the night. Soon after I arrived at that place and was welcomed by a friendly couple. To my surprise, they too talked about Jesus Christ and when I left the next day they gave me a Bible.
Back at the town I was working and living, I pondered about the things which happened to me. I thought, too many coincidences to be a coincident. I therefore started to read the Bible and I soon came under conviction. For a while I was almost persuaded not to read on but this would not have changed the Word of God and so I continued to read. The convictions were about being a drunkard and about what terrible thing it is to offend a little one. The little one was my 6’3 tall drinking mate Richard who I originally enlightened with the wild things of life. Therefore I bought him a Bible for his birthday and I wrote into it “may this book of life help you through life to find life” He accepted it but thought that I’d gone nuts. I also tried to drink less and not to get drunk as the Bible told me that drunkards will not be ready at the Lord’s second coming.
The Lord also convicted me of smoking and for the first time ever I saw that it was not just bad but actually wrong to smoke. As I smoked a cigarette I said to my friend Richard that this was the last one I would ever smoke. He laughed because he saw me trying to give up many times. I put out my cigarette, went to the bedroom and there I prayed and asked the Lord to set me free from it. He did! The next morning as I woke up I had a feeling of constant fresh air in my lungs and the desire to smoke was totally gone.
One night in town I was drinking and then felt that I should stop in order not to get drunk and be a drunkard. The world pulled stronger and I acted against my conviction and went to another club and had more drinks. On the way home as I passed a car I had the police chasing me. No worries I thought this has happened many times before and I always managed to loose them. Not this time! For some reason, no matter what I did, I could not shake them off and eventually got caught. I knew that it was “godly correction”.
A few months after that I persuaded my mate Richard to come to Europe with me and we ended up going on a cruise from Auckland, New Zealand to Southampton, England. Richard stayed in England and I went back to Switzerland. Soon I saw myself going to the places I used to know, slowly slipping back into my old ways. All the “religious” improvements seem to fade away and therefore I accepted a job in the French part of Switzerland as to have a way of escape. This was quite hard again because I could not speak French. The escape did not work. Instead of beer I just drank wine and once again I acted against my conviction and as a result had a major accident. I was unharmed but knew that the Lord meant business with me. Then there was a third time but no “correction” from the Lord followed. This made me more worried than the accident.
About this time I talked to a man at work and told him that it was hard to find decent people. He told me about some young people who met on Saturday nights for a sing-along. So when Saturday came I went along with mixed feelings. They not only sang but also prayed which was a bit much for me. They were very nice people so I kept in contact with them and had more times together. One day they went to an old peoples home to sing for them. I was there too, very embarrassed hiding behind the group wondering why I was there in the first place. This was just not my scene. A few weeks later this group had in their assembly a week of Gospel meetings and I accepted an invitation.
It was quite strange, all the women had long hair and wore dresses. The men didn’t look exactly street-wise either. The preaching was in French and at that time I still had problems to understand the language. Nevertheless, there was a sweet atmosphere in the place and I decided to go again the next night. The same thing, I left feeling very happy in myself and again I went the next night. This time I had some kind of a vision during the meeting. I saw a mountain ridge, seeing myself on one side of it and I knew, that if I crossed to the other side, that there was no way of return. Again I went the following night. This time I was very disturbed by the bad thoughts which crossed my mind. I never used to notice my bad thoughts but now it was almost unbearable. Strangely enough, the preacher asked at the end, if anyone had any questions. Nobody did and I did not want to say anything. On the way out he shook hands with everyone and when he shook my hand he simply said: “We will have a little talk together won’t we”. I didn’t need much persuasion.
After everyone had left the place, we went to a back room and I explained to him about my thoughts. He simply said that we could not help birds flying over the top of our heads, but had to be careful that they would not build a nest on our head. He then asked me if I ever had stolen anything, making sure that I knew that I was a sinner. I had absolutely no doubt in my mind that I was a sinner and having stolen something would not have been a big thing for me. At the time I could not even think of anything, but saw my terrible past life flashing before me. We came to a Scripture in Acts 26:16-18 which says:
But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and [from] the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, [and] to turn [them] from darkness to light, and [from] the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
The preacher asked me if I understood what I was reading and what it meant. It was the last few words in the verse “them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” which spoke to me. So I explained that those who believed in Jesus Christ were being sanctified, made into saints. He then asked me do you believe in Jesus Christ? I sure did as this was the reason I tried to live the right kind of life over the past few months and so I answered yes. The next question he asked me was what the Scripture meant for me since I believed in Jesus Christ. Now a big battle began within me. If I say I am a saint I may get told off by the preacher and looking at my past life I would have been the biggest imposter to say something like that. But then again I thought it is the Bible that says this and the Bible is the truth. Despite my feelings, my terrible past and ways of life God gave me grace to say what His Word says and so I ignored the natural facts and said that because I believe in Jesus Christ I am made holy. Now I waited for the preachers reaction and to my surprise, he didn’t tell me off but simply asked if I ever thanked Him for it. I said no and so we went on our knees and I thanked the Lord for having made me holy.
Then I left and started to drive home. What happened on the way home was so supernatural that it is very hard even to come close with a description. Suddenly the revelation came over me that I was a saint and that I belonged to the Lord. The joy was so great that I shouted, screamed and cried. Never ever in my life have I ever experienced anything like this. I was in the presence of Almighty God and right there He filled me with His Holy Spirit.
Ever since that night my life my thinking and my desires changed. Nobody told me what to do except the Spirit of God. To Him would I live and look to for anything in life. His Word became my absolute. There were some radical changes in my life. No more desire to drink and so I poured all of my bottles of booze down the sink. Also the attraction to go to worldly places ceased and finally I was absolutely free. The change in me was so great that my family and friend seriously thought that I had some deficiency or something wrong with my brain. Now my life was directed and led by His Holy Spirit and as He promised, He led me into all truth.
Many things happened and the Lord enlightened me of many Scriptures which the church didn’t teach. But since His Word is my absolute I kept on following Him. Some of the experiences where my water baptism in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, supernatural healing of my foot, the speaking in tongues, demons leaving a house etc etc.
Through God’s grace, my friend Richard came to Switzerland and he too received Christ. He got married and stayed in Switzerland where he still lives with his wonderful family. I ended up back in New Zealand where the Lord blessed me richly with a wife and 9 children.
The miracles and experiences with the Lord are to numerous to mention in this testimony but I share them with people wherever there is an appropriate time and situation. The time is short and the Lord’s coming is close at hand! Who else and what else gives you the promise and proof of eternal life? Jesus Christ is the only hope for you! Seek Him with all your heart and you will find Him.
May the Lord bless and guide you in the way of life is my prayer.
Love in Christ
An extended testimony of things happened in my life is available in book form and is called
“From Vanity to Sanity”. This book can be requested by email firstname.lastname@example.org