Tormented by Fear of Death - Found Reason for Life
I grew up in Kreuzberg, (West-) Berlin at a time when demonstrations against just about everything seemed in fashion, hundreds of old houses were filled with squatters and riots took place at virtually every public holiday. Berlin was packed with freaks and young free-thinking people, especially men, who moved to West-Berlin to avoid being drafted into the army, as men in our ‘walled-in’ city were exempt from military service.
My high-school in Kreuzberg was of the liberal type and so were many of my classmates and friends. We would sit for hours in cafés and pubs and discuss our thoughts on politics, philosophy, Eastern religion and the reason for life. I was a lively, easygoing guy; loved having a good time, parties, sports etc. and you would always see me with a smile on my face. The problem was when I was alone in my room at night, lying still in my bed. That’s when I started thinking of the fact that one day I will have to die and never in all eternity live again, never laugh again, never be there again, dead and gone.
My parents were quite involved in the local Lutheran church and took my older brother, my younger sister and I to family services and church activities, but at home the Bible, faith or prayer was never really a subject.
For me God did not exist!
For me God did not exist! From the time I was 10 years of age this fear of death started working in my thoughts. My brother and sister had gotten used to the fact that as a teen I would sometimes be running through our flat at night, screaming and crying in utter fear of death. Often at night I listened to recorded stories or comedians to deflect my thoughts from thinking of death. The closer I got to the end of high-school the more intense this fear of death grew. Life to me seemed to be a brief time-span in which I was allowed to imagine constantly that afterwards I would never exist again. And no level of alcohol, pot, parties, late nights with friends, philosophical discussions could save me from this so-called reality.
STUDYING EASTERN RELIGIONS
When I was 17 I had spent one year as an exchange-student in the USA. After completing my A-levels back in Berlin, I earned money as a postman and then at the age of 20 left for Asia/Australia for a year of travelling. During my travels I read books on Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam and while in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand I had many discussions with Buddhist monks, Asian locals and also European travellers who had lived in religious communities over there for a while. The things I saw and experienced did not convince me that any existing religion would lead to truth or the hope for a life after death. Some of the glorious descriptions of Eastern religious practices compared to what I saw over there in reality did not add up for me.
At this time I arrived at an all time low...
When I finally arrived in Australia, staying at a friend’s place up in Darwin, I resumed my life of partying, alcohol and everything that goes along with it. Together with a friend from Northern-Ireland I then hitch-hiked through Australia. While in Adelaide I was lured into some meetings of the ‘church’ of Scientology who promised a solution regarding my fear of death. I did not fall for their ‘truth-detector’, which showed that ‘I was still happy’ after having participated in their strange meetings. At this time I arrived at an all-time low. What’s the use of all this travelling, seeing beautiful areas all-around the world, meeting many interesting people, learning etc, if at the end I die anyway?
THE TURNING POINT OF MY LIFE came when I arrived in Melbourne. With my last dollars I had bought some food and was having ‘dinner’ on a bench in the city’s pedestrian zone. Suddenly two giggling girls stood in front of me and invited me to come along to a local café for a free cup of tea. I accepted the invitation and one of the girls told me how she had lived on the streets for 2 years, after her parents had left for a holiday and never returned. While being homeless she had met these Christian people who helped her and told her that she could have a personal experience with God, just like the apostles had had 2000 years ago and how she would gain eternal life.
When I asked her if she had had this personal experience with God and what it looked like, she confirmed that she did and that since then she has no more fear of death, as she now knows that God really exists and that therefore there must be something after death! I was gob-smacked and wrote everything I had heard into my diary, which I kept at the time.
Later I found the following verse in the Bible, which I had never heard before:
“And deliver them who through FEAR OF DEATH were all their lifetime SUBJECT TO BONDAGE.” (HEBREWS 2:15)
God’s Word also says: ‘Jesus will give you eternal life’ (JOHN 6:27), ‘God’s Spirit will raise you from the dead’ (ROMANS 8:11) and ‘Ask and God will give you His Spirit’ (LUKE 11:13).
I told these Christians that I was looking for work and they spoke to me about farms in the countryside who needed fruit pickers and gave me the telephone number of one of their Pastors in that area. Pastor Peter F.’s family very kindly hosted me among their 3 kids; me being a total stranger to them, wearing hippy clothes, having long red-dyed hair and a ponytail. They introduced me to a Christian friend of theirs, a painter, who by chance was looking for a helper. His name was Peter H.
MEETING A MAN WHO WAS HEALED FROM HEROIN ADDICTION THROUGH PRAYER!
I worked with Peter for 9 weeks and during this time I put hundreds of questions to him about all my thoughts and doubts on religion, Christianity etc. like ‘why is there war in the world?’, ‘what about innocent children that die?’, ‘what about the hypocrisy and corruption in church history?’, ‘how can people in the deepest jungle find God?’ etc, etc. The astounding thing was that he could give good and plausible answers to virtually all of my questions and what amazed me most was that most of the answers came from the Bible.
At the time I met Peter he was 31 but did look some years older as his past life-style had left marks in his face. He had been a heroin addict for many years and had been a dealer as well. The Australian police had been after him because of a very long list of crimes he had committed. He hid in New-Zealand for one year and while there lived in different hippy-communes and continued his life of drugs.
One day, when hitch-hiking, a Christian took him along and started preaching to him. First Peter mocked the guy and said he preferred his drugs and rock’n’roll life to a surely boring life of a Christian. The Christian put the following question to him: ‘Would you still be so happy if you suddenly found yourself in a place where you have no access to heroin and would go cold turkey, vomiting, curling in agony from cramps in your body and be ill and in constant pain for many days?’ This question really hit Peter. Less mockingly he asked the Christian what he thinks he could do about it?
... to be born again by water and spirit...
The Christian told him that God would be ready to forgive all his past sins, that he could be ‘born again by water and the spirit’ (JOHN 3:5), meaning that if he repents of his sins, gets baptized and asks of God then God would fill him with HIS HOLY SPIRIT (ACTS 2:38) and heal him from his drug addiction!
To cut a long story short, Peter did repent in this car that day, did receive God’s Holy Spirit, started speaking in a new language (God’s first gift and sign as described in the Bible), was completely healed from heroin that day and did not suffer from any withdrawal symptoms.
Sometime later I met two of Peter’s past drug-friends, to whom Peter had preached after his healing and who had also become Christians, had received the Holy Spirit and were healed from their addictions. I had never in my own church in Germany heard anything like this, but always thought that if there really was a God, then he should be able to do such miracles.
SURVIVING A HEAVY FALL
Another incident during this time convinced me that God hears prayers. A brother from the same church (Matt G.) had given me work in his company in Melbourne for several days. With some other guys I was carrying furniture into a huge hall and stocking it onto high platforms. At some stage I stupidly jumped off the high platform onto a lower scaffolding. The wooden boards broke, my legs got stuck and then head first I flew 3-4 meters through the metal bars, banging my head and arms several times against the crossbars, before I finally crashed on the concrete floor. Immediately the other workers rushed to me, and as they were all Christian believers, they prayed for me. I could not breathe properly, felt pain in my limbs and totally started panicking as I could not move or get up. They carried me onto a mattress and for a long time I was lying there, crying, as I could not move. After half an hour I was finally able to move my fingers, then arms and legs and was then able to get up. There was no blood, no cuts, just some bruises. Amazing!
Tears of repentance and of joy...
For years I had mocked Jesus and the Bible and there, that day, I had tears of repentance and tears of joy, as I now knew that Jesus is alive, that God does exist and that life does not stop with our physical death, but we have hope of eternal life in heaven with God!After 9 weeks of discussions with Peter and others from this Australian church (Revival Centers International) I ran out of arguments. While working and living with Peter and attending their local lively church meetings each Sunday, I had stayed away from alcohol, night clubs etc.I realized that if I wanted to gain eternal life I needed to get baptized the biblical way and ask God to fill me with His Spirit (ACTS 10:44-45 and ACTS 19:1-7). I was baptized in a creek by full immersion and three days later, when calling out to God, repenting of a final sin, I found myself starting to pray in Russian and Arabic sounding words. I was not in a trance, was alone in Peter’s house, and suddenly this new language started flowing from my lips.
“But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you”!
God has blessed me in many ways over the years, with a wonderful wife and four daughters and countless experiences of God’s intervention which show that He is real!
In His Love, Christian (now living in Lyon, France)