Youth Messenger Online Edition

October-December

How I Met God
How I Met God
Part 1
Goran Andjelic
How an Old Tattered Book Changed Me

When I was in fifth grade, I had many questions about life which were bothering me. I had difficulty falling asleep at night thinking what would happen in my life in the future. I was constantly perturbed thinking about the past, the present, and the future. “Does it make sense to live on this earth?” I wondered. I was troubled as I thought at what lay ahead of me. I thought, “I am going to school now. When I finish school, I will have to go to the army. Afterwards I will get a job, get married, and have children. Then I will work for the rest of my life until finally I will retire. Then I will die . . . and then what?”

At the time, this type of life was totally absurd to me. I didn’t want to live such a meaningless life. As I thought about it, I became so sad and cried myself to sleep. It was hard for me to live without a purpose in life, knowing it makes no sense to work hard toward a meaningless goal and then to die.

The following year in 1992, while attending middle school in Krcedin, Serbia, I heard that my school would start offering religion classes. For me, that was a big shock as I already had learning difficulties and didn’t like school. I thought, “Are you kidding? Now besides all my other subjects I will need to read that thick book—the Bible? Oh no!!” Two years later, in the spring of 1994, I became acquainted with that mysterious book—the Bible.

During that spring break, I spent more time with my friends, Dragan, Daniel, and Goran. Across the street from our house lived Milos Jankic, a young man who was a few years older than me. His grandfather Velemir Jankic and his wife were Seventh-day Adventists. They lived a dozen houses from our house, on the same side of the street. Our family knew that they were of some other religion than Orthodox, so we did not associate much with them.

Around that time, they were broadcasting Bible films on television. I watched the story of Samson, Joseph and others. I enjoyed these movies so much. One night when we were in town, I told my friends Milos and Mika, the story of one Bible movie.

“That’s a story from the Bible,” Mika told me.

“Which Bible? What is written in the Bible?” I asked.

“Yes, it is a story from the Bible,” said Mika.

Mika told me more stories from the Bible about Abraham, about Moses and the burning bush. All these stories were very interesting to me. Mika who was a little drunk at the time, said to me, “If you want to read more about these things, come to my house tomorrow, and I will give you a Bible.” It was interesting to me that he only talked about the Bible when he was drunk.

I could hardly wait for the next morning to get the Bible and read it for myself. Just a few years ago, I could not have imagined that I’d want to read the Bible. From time to time, I would walk Mika home from the town center because he was drunk. I realized he felt he owed me something for walking him home. So, when he saw I had an interest in reading the Bible, he felt happy to share with me what he knew.

The next day I went to Mika’s house around noon to pick up the Bible, but he was still sleeping. After waiting for him for some time, I finally woke him up.

I said, “Mika, remember you promised to give me the Bible today.”

Mika finally got up from bed and disappeared to another part of the house. After a few minutes, he returned holding an old Bible in his hand. The Bible had no front or back covers and was missing about forty pages from the front. But this tattered old book was the Holy Bible and I was very excited to have it in my hands. As I turned its pages, I saw it was well used and underlined.

For me this was the first contact with God’s word. My heart was filled with joy and I could hardly wait to read the stories that Mika had been telling me about. While I was still at his house, I asked him, “What I should read first as the Bible is such a thick book?”

Mika told me “Begin reading the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes which were written by the wise king Solomon. After you finish reading these books, come to me and I will show you what to read next.”

When I came home, I was leafing through the Bible and reading some of the underlined verses. Although I did not understand much of what I read, I felt I was holding in my hands a holy book that would teach me many wonderful things. From that time on, I read my Bible often. As I was reading the book written by king Solomon, I realized that many questions that bothered me are answered in that book. I also discovered that I would be able to solve my personal problems by following the advice from wise Solomon.

After that spring break, my relationship with my parents began to improve in amazing ways. I started listening to them; I began respecting my mother Alexia and my stepfather Radovan. They noticed that as I was reading the Bible, I had made positive changes in my life. I was a more obedient son than before. That year I started high school in Ingia where I was able to study much better and school became easier for me.

In elementary school my grade point average was a C, while in the second year of middle school I had a B average, and the third year an A minus average. Such a great improvement in my academics was a direct result of my reading and studying the Bible. I also could say with David, “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:130). “I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation” (Psalm 119:99). Although I wasn’t smarter than my teachers, I had a tremendous improvement in comprehension, memory, and application of the knowledge I had learned. I thank the Lord that He had opened my understanding for my studies and helped me become a good student.

My parents were so proud of my academic achievements. My final grade in middle school that year was an A. This accomplishment gave my parents such joy and satisfaction that they threw a little party for me and invited all our relatives and neighbors to celebrate with us. My parents did not stop me from reading the Bible for they did not think that book would lead me in the wrong path. In fact, they said, “It is better for you to read something than nothing.”

I thank God for the path on which He was leading me when I was just a teenager. Before I met Jesus, I was traveling on a dark path of hopelessness and despair, but when He found me, He gave me His book—the Bible—and showed me the path of light and life. “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18). Have you been daily reading that precious book? Have you been finding the solutions to your problems in the Holy Bible which was the book inspired by God? Are you reading it daily before you go to school or work?