by Don and Sarah Jones, Alliance workers serving in Germany (currently on home assignment)
We have prayed for and invested in H’s life for many years. We were thrilled when his family chose to attend our Friends and Family Camp the last few years. The camp has played a big role in his spiritual journey (see “Former Atheist Adopted into God’s Family”).
This year H and his family attended the fall session of camp the last week of October. The camp director asked H to share his story. The following is H’s testimony, which we have translated. Thank you so much for your prayer and support for the C&MA ministry in Germany. Lives like H’s are changing by the work of the Holy Spirit, and we are privileged to be a part of it.
I grew up in Thüringen, not all that far from Eisenach (where Luther translated the Bible). Despite that, faith played no role in our lives. My mother would say, “There is a God, and I believe in Him.” My father would say, “That’s nonsense.”
In school they told me about Marx, Engels, and Lenin. No one said that was nonsense. There were kids who went to confirmation classes, but they were considered exotic—not like Martians with green heads, but somehow a bit different. I liked them, but I decided to go along with the masses and not stick out.
I thought, I can’t see God, so why should He exist? If You exist, then let me recognize You. I doubted Him, and I had good reasons. I was doing great; I was well liked. My family loved me. I was good in school and sports. I was always the best or one of the best. I felt strong. What did I need God for?That is how I went through life. Studies, an apprenticeship, degrees—I was always the best or at least one of the best. But there were also small setbacks.
My girlfriend loved someone else, not me. That was devastating. The mourning didn’t last long, because single life didn’t suit me. I attended a singles’ party for the first time, and I met “her.” It was her first time at such a party as well, and she’d come to look for a boyfriend for her friend. Instead, she met me. Just a coincidence?
We fell in love. She is smart and beautiful. We have a son. He is smart and handsome. We have a daughter. She is also smart and beautiful. Just a coincidence?
Christians crossed our path. They were nice. They opened their arms to us, asked us to come with them to church—completely without obligation. Sure, it can’t hurt anything, I thought. We started attending. Although they were younger than we were, they seemed to be so mature, so serene, so confident. Why?
They told us about their lives with God. At the beginning I still thought, That’s nonsense. But I began to think about what they were saying. I began to question myself: Was everything coincidence? Or is it possible that Someone was directing my path?
My perception that so many coincidences and so much luck simply happen began to seem impossible. I began to look into God and read about Jesus. I attended our camps in Poland, went to church, and attended a faith course. I felt I was still a “faith dummy,” but I noticed that these things helped me to be open.
God helped me . . .
- To see my mistakes and my flaws.
- To see that I wasn’t as super as I thought I was.
- To see that I desperately needed forgiveness.
I needed forgiveness from my wife, whom I didn’t support enough when she needed my help the most. I lacked empathy to recognize her hardship. My antenna was so strongly focused on myself and my goals that I was endangering my happiness with my smart and beautiful family. But I received help from my mentor Mike; from an older Christian couple who works at the Family and Friend’s Camp; from Don, the U.S. pastor who is my good friend; and from God.
His help is becoming very apparent in our lives. For example, this spring my wife was mourning the loss of her mother. She was very low and needed medical leave to attend a counseling and rehab facility (with a focus on rheumatology). Unfortunately, the first availability in the program was in six months. But she couldn’t wait that long. We prayed in our home group. The very next day she received a call that a place had opened up and she could go that week.
Was that a coincidence?
No, that is God. That is how He is and how He will always be.
Please pray for H and his family as they continue on their journeys with Jesus. And please pray that their story affects many other lives for the sake of the Kingdom of God.