Far away, in a land called Romania, God in His mercy granted me the breath of life in June 1969. It has now been more than 34 years since I was first impressed by the Lord.
Being a city boy, I always was in love with nature. Romania is a beautiful country with spectacular views, so I felt it a privilege to be born in that part of the world.
Yet throughout eastern Europe, communism was mandated as the only acceptable way of thinking. Freedom of conscience was a risky luxury. Atheism was the only religion for most of the youth, and the result of such indoctrination generated pride.
By education, my parents did not believe in God—and in accordance with the prevailing system, they were communists. Consequently, I did not have anything to do with faith, religion or God. The first time a chance was granted to me to see a Bible was when I was around the age of 15 or 16.
I always kept things simple, and the afterthought questions that became prevalent in my mind were straight to the point: If life is so beautiful, why must it ultimately come to an end? If life is an accident, what created the accident? Where did we get the values we all respect and appreciate today? Why do we walk on the tightrope of life, trying to balance laughing and crying, sadness and happiness, beauty and ugliness, stupidity and wisdom, success and failure—and ultimately, love and hatred? Why do we try to attain reconciliation with our conscience?
Why do such values define life if it is just a purposeless event?
Do you see, my friend, why such questions are very uncomfortable for the majority of people in today’s society? If we come from nowhere, we go nowhere. If life is meaningless, why have I been born from among the millions of variations? Why me, why you, and not someone else?
I would say that I was an unbeliever—or an atheist by default, not by personal choice.
We walk in this world as a lonely wolf without purpose, a person that is always thirsty for the water of life without even realizing that the water of life is available.
Oftentimes a wolf will bite you to deliver a message, to make you feel the way he feels. A true, authentic sheep can survive among the wolves, and that is why the Lord Jesus Christ tells us in, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves.” Jesus knew that we have to decide if we are an authentic sheep or still a wolf dressed in sheepskin.
Amid the anguish of all these questions, God in His mercy created the exact circumstances for me to receive a Bible—a book that would change my life forever, a book that would answer all my unanswered questions. But not yet! For months this extraordinary book was to rest on the shelf, covered in dust.
It was in 1984 when the Holy Spirit of God spoke to my conscience again. But this time the impression was deep and powerful. I was haunted by a heavy sense of responsibility. The same questions again and again would resound in my mind: “What will you do on the last day of your life? Are you ready to face death?” At first, I tried to ignore it or change the train of my thoughts— but instead of going away, I still felt the solemn voice appealing to my heart.
In those days we did not have Internet, cell phones, Facebook or any other media platforms with which to “kill time” (a typical expression among those in the new generation). The only thing available in those days were the two hours of television full of indoctrination with the communist propaganda.
Communism was like a wall that was tall and impenetrable—and beyond this wall you could not see any future. In those days, societies that were shaped by the communist propaganda were forbidden to read any western literature. But the effect was actually the reverse, and in the world of higher education and universities was a thirst for knowledge and truth that could not be quenched. The hearts of many students were impressed to study further to find the true meaning of life, even though God is not far away from any one of us ().
We were devouring books that had a science fiction flavor that served as a kind of a drug for the mind. The purpose of reading such books was to highjack ourselves from that sad, cruel, iron communist reality and translate us into another supposedly better world.
I was one of those young people absorbed and captivated by the mysteries of the universe—and in the absence of the Scriptures, I would read anything that would elevate my mood. Such is the case when one day, I came across a book belonging to a classmate friend of mine entitled Memories About the Future. My friend promised that he would be willing to share the book with me the next day, under the condition that I would return it in less than two weeks.
I was so excited over the thought of getting to read this book! Not having brothers and sisters at home (I don’t have siblings), I gladly agreed that I would plan to finish reading it in a couple of days.
But that was the very day I was disappointed in order to open the door of my heart to the Lord Jesus Christ. Very early that morning, I arrived as one of the first in the classroom, anxiously waiting for my friend and with the frenzy of joy to get my book.
When my friend arrived, he told me that, unfortunately, due to some other priorities, he had simply forgotten the book at home. I said, “Well, maybe you can visit with me in the afternoon, and we can have some fried potatoes, play some chess, and then you can go.” He replied, “I am so sorry, but my mom scheduled me to work with her in the garden (it was springtime—and culturally, every family would work their garden).
So, I went home and said to myself, “What shall I do this afternoon?”
Suddenly, the Lord Jesus called my attention to the Bible—the little green pocket Bible forgotten on the shelf for a few months now.
I sat on the couch and said to myself, “Hmmm, let me see what this Bible is all about.”
Every book has a story and a hero. Some books have a sad ending; others have a happy ending, but whichever way the ending is, the character of the hero will stay with you for a while and naturally form a behavioral pattern to match the character of that specific hero. That is what we understand today as the power of influence by exposure. By beholding we are changed.
When I started reading the New Testament, obviously the name “Jesus” called my attention. I have to mention that this Jesus of the Scripture was very, very different compared to the rest of the heroes invented by the smart writers for fame and entertainment.
This Jesus was another kind of hero with an extraordinary character, unique and outstanding compared to the rest of the heroes that fade out into nothingness.
I was saying to myself, “Wow, this Jesus is so different, He prays to God, and He calls Him His Father?! I would love to talk to God as this Jesus of the Bible did!” The more I was reading, the more I was interested in the word of God, not understanding much of what I was reading, yet being very attracted to this divine character of Jesus. I was turning verses into chapters, going with great speed soon to chapterof Matthew. It was then that the best moment touched my heart as I read:
“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” ().
Amazing! What I was reading was way beyond what I could “digest” as an atheist.
A thought came to my mind. I should pray to see “IF” there is God. It was an absolutely insane idea for a nonbeliever. I had never prayed in my life. I had never knelt down before anyone or anybody under any circumstance. And all of a sudden, I was more and more persuaded by this thought.
The Holy Spirit of God was whispering, “Try it, talk to God and see if He will respond.” But pride and self would say: “Are you crazy? Look around you, where is God, where is God? Don’t you see that with your own eyes?”
I said to myself, “I will try.” I went in my bedroom, opened my window and started to pray, “God if you do exist, please make me to be like this Jesus, to have His character and to be capable of loving my enemies, to have His gentleness, His honesty, His kindness—and if You do so, I want to serve You forever. But first, You have to prove to me that You do exist, by my asking You an impossible thing. Because you are God, I am going to ask you to bring my classmate to my home this afternoon to bring the book, Memories About the Future—not because this book is so important to me but because I want to know if you really do exist.”
I did not finish the prayer, when all of a sudden, I heard the doorbell ring. Immediately, I jumped from my knees, and trembling as I was walking to the door, I said to myself, “This is not possible; it is not possible!” As I opened the door, there stood my classmate with the book in his hand.
Incapable of somehow addressing a proper question, I barely managed to engage in mumbling a few words: “Why did you come?”
“I just came to bring the book,” he responded. Then he turned and left without any further answer.
I closed the door and went back to the same place of prayer. I was saying to myself, “There is a God, there is a God! What am I going to say. . .?”
One of the key factors was that my classmate needed around 20 to 25 minutes to arrive at my home, but I had begun praying only a few minutes before his arrival.
“Hmm,” I told myself, “so the only way to reconcile these two aspects of the problem is to acknowledge that God knew before I started praying what my request would be and God had impressed the young man to leave his house 20 minutes before I even started to pray. That means that God knows our thoughts prior to our expressing them in words. Wow!”
The deeper I went into this subject, the more I was to be amazed by the Infinite Power I was dealing with—the Almighty God!
The mental pressure was so powerful that I could only burst into tears. A profound sense of unworthiness on my part mingled with the overwhelming sense of gratitude towards God. That made my second prayer flow out of me so naturally that I did not realize that a couple of hours had passed.
Then I heard the door opening and I realized that it was my mom coming home from work. I jumped off my knees, I wiped my tears as quickly as I could, and I put on a face as if nothing had happened.
What I told God in those two hours of vulcanic prayer would change me as a person, would change my life, would change my circumstances and would change the direction of my life completely and irreversibly. All these years being alone and then discovering that I had a heavenly Father that cares for me was beyond any form of human expression. God is my Father!
In the incommensurable universe, the Lord Jesus Christ remembered an insignificant particle of dust like me and came into my life, answering all those questions I had.
This was the starting point of my Christian walk, my beginning and my first love. May God bless you, dear reader, with all the joyful things I have received since that first day of my Christian experience. God loves you no matter what!