My earliest memories are from when I was around 2 years old. I was sitting alone on the floor and I felt very lonely, bored and miserable. Those words best express how I would now describe my emotional state back then. On the other hand, I was so young that the emotions themselves were different from how I would now describe them in adult terms. The scene then changed, and three shining figures appeared beside me and in front of me, with the one in the middle being the biggest and brightest. I felt that this was Jesus, and that the two others were angels. No words were communicated between us, but in the presence of these beings I felt deep comfort, connection and safety. This same experience reoccurred many times while I was still a small child, and it rooted me into peace and connection. I felt deep within me that I never want to let go of this presence and security. It marked the start of my journey towards knowing Jesus, and although the concrete experiences ended at a certain age, their deep impact remained.
When I was around four years old, I started going to the church playgroup. It was run by two ladies, at least one of whom had been a missionary in China. I was there three mornings a week, and I enjoyed it a lot. I felt that it was a nice, safe place where I had some good friends. I really liked both of the ladies who ran it. Each morning there lasted three hours, and it always involved three separate one-hour sessions. One was for drawing and handicrafts, another was for exercise and playing, and in the last one the ladies told us stories from the Bible, not reading them directly from the Bible but telling them to us as stories in their own words. I soaked it all up like a sponge, and the stories really fascinated me. In fact, I got to know the whole Bible quite well during that time. The stories that particularly impacted me were the creation story, the stories of Joseph, Moses, Elijah, David and Zacchaeus, and of course the stories of Jesus.
I was happy there. I had my own hanger in the cloakroom, which I can remember clearly to this day. This was my first experience of being connected to a Christian community. I belonged to something, and I was happy.
Even at that young age, I was a multifaceted character. I was very sensitive and thoughtful on the one hand, but I was also wild and enthusiastic. We lived back then in a small provincial city on the top floor of a seven-storey block of flats, and I was always getting into different kinds of mishaps. One time, when I was five, I was in the car with my dad and he fell asleep at the wheel while we were on a motorway and probably going at least 120 kilometres an hour. At that moment, I was myself sleeping on the front seat without any seatbelt on, as was the way back then. When we woke, the car was already in the ditch, where it struck a large rock and turned over a couple of times before ending up upright once again. The windscreen shattered all over us, but we both miraculously came out of it with just a few scratches. When we arrived home, I was almost proud of having shared this kind of adventure with my father. As I remember it, I don’t think we even bothered seeing a doctor over such a little thing.
Then, one summer day, I got run over by a car, but somehow came through it shocked but unscathed. I woke up on the back seat of a police car, emerging from some kind of state of shock which God had probably put me into to protect me. Half an hour of my life had disappeared completely, and I now regained consciousness. And once again, I was unharmed. My guardian angel probably requested time off from God to recover from the stress.
Another time, I was playing outside with a friend, and I ran towards the downstairs entrance door, which was made of thick glass. I crashed through the glass, shattering it completely. I was probably 6 at the time. Somehow I once again remained unharmed, which I consider to be a miraculous example of God’s protection.
My daughter repeated the same trick in an even crazier way around 20 years later: We were in a small church, and a person came in who had got involved in the occult. She could no longer sleep and was absolutely terrified, so she had come to seek help. We began to pray for her and she eventually regained peace of mind, as so many people were there praying for her. At the same time, however, my three-year-old daughter, who was normally very calm, ran for some reason towards the partition door in front of the outside door. I believe that the demonic power was trying to take its revenge because we were battling against it on behalf of that woman. The door in question had a 30-centimetre-high metal bottom section, on top of which there were two square sheets of glass. My daughter’s head bashed against the bottom glass panel and dislodged it. Her neck was then positioned on top of the metal bottom part, as if on a guillotine block, while at the same time the top glass sheet began sliding downwards like the guillotine blade itself. Then something impossible happened. Just as this glass sheet was sliding down, a piece that was the size and shape of my daughter’s head detached from it, as if cut out by an unseen hand. The rest of the sheet remained intact. I went over to my daughter, who was now stuck in the door. I lifted the glass sheet up so that she could get out. It was hard to believe that she was completely okay, so I took her to the doctor just to be sure. The doctor said that the only injury she had was a small scratch on her leg from a piece of shattered glass.
After having witnessed something like this, I would be an idiot not to believe and trust in God. Indeed, there isn’t even any need for any faith any more after having directly seen him acting in such a way. On a number of occasions also later in my life, I have experienced God guiding and helping me at different times even when I haven’t myself asked for such help.
But let’s return to my childhood story. I developed the habit therefore that if I was really worried about something around bedtime, for example, I would pull my blanket up to my ears and ask Father God to protect me. This would bring me peace and a feeling of security. When I later started school and would hear about frightening things such as UFOs or wars, I always found security again in God. Also, if I felt that I was being left out or felt miserable for some reason, I sought God’s presence and felt his peace descend over me.
By nature, however, I was both sensitive and passionate, so I often got into problems. At school, I felt that I had ended up in a very grim world compared to the church playgroup with its kind ladies and pleasant children. I remember going for my first day of school when I was seven. The older kids came over immediately and started bullying us first-years. When someone tried to grab me, I defended myself and got into a fight. I can still remember feeling bad about it, because I really didn’t want to fight. It wasn’t nice to hurt others. I was upset about my own personality. My siblings were much calmer. They didn’t come home from their first day at school with a bump on their head.
On that first day at school, I was taken to the teacher’s room as a punishment. The teacher of my class picked me up from there, and was probably wondering what kind of troublemaker she now had on her hands. In the end, however, I was one of the best-behaved students in the class. I also gradually managed to control myself better, so unpleasant things like this happened less often.
My family were not believers at that time, although they were not in any way opposed to Christianity. We went to church on Christmas Eve, at least. I didn’t know any other believers except those ladies from the playgroup, but that group had already stopped. I felt a strong call towards something, but I wasn’t able to clearly define what that something was. Something, I thought, where I would be within God’s plan. Something where I would be connected with people that thought in the same way. I had learned to find my security in God and in His presence. I was familiar with the Bible. But I wasn’t really able to understand how churches are connected with this and what it is that believers normally actually do together. I was confused, and my mind was full of questions.
I decided that when I grow up, at the latest, I’m going to work these things out and travel, if necessary, as far as Africa if I can’t get the answers elsewhere. I made a really firm decision about this, and often renewed this resolution in my thoughts as I lay in my bed.
Time passed, I reached the age of 16, and because nothing had yet happened, I decided that it was now time to do something. You can read about that in my next blog post.
I am praying that you who are reading this would notice how God has been guiding your life and saving you from many dangers, and that you would find in your life the same kind of peace that I did, such that you can find safety in the arms of your Heavenly Father when life feels threatening. Have a blessed day