My aim in life was to join the Olympic Games in long jumping and 100 meter sprint. I felt I was born with the vision of athletics and I was very determined to achieve my goal.
I always knew and believed there is a God somewhere behind the clouds. Our family was catholic on the paper, but we never really bothered about going to church. When I was fifteen years old my Mum, my brother and I took an interest in the spiritual things of God. I had tons of question marks in my head and went every Sunday to the Catholic church for a period of time. On Saturdays I went to the confession and bombarded the clergyman with lots of questions.
Then; one evening, the Almighty God stepped into my life and changed it - forever. But before that, some other things took place. I found out that I need something much more real in my life than just dry and dead religion. My Mum, my brother and I prayed earnestly to God, that we may find out, which is the right way. We were longing to get to know the truth and were searching for it. God saw our hunger and led us a wonderful way to becoming real Christians; where we noticed very quickly, that we were not just nominal Christians, but genuine ones. 0n one occasion when I attended a mission meeting, one of them was preaching the gospel so straight forward and simple, that I realised I’m not ready for when Jesus comes back. I knew there are two ways; either I walk with God, or I go my own way, which meant my vision of athletics.
At that stage I had a very hard time for about three months. I knew I needed to get saved, but I also knew that this would mean giving up my athletics career. That was the hardest thing in my life to do at that time. Nobody told me to give it up, but I knew athletics was the god of my life and if I want to serve the Almighty God, I need to throw my god over board. I went through many severe struggles, thinking, shall I follow Jesus? Or shall I go ahead with my career? My heart was nearly torn in two pieces and the devil whispered into my ears, "do it later." Then, I said to myself, "I first need to break the Swiss record in long jumping and then I’ll get converted". So I did it, but it didn’t count, because of overstepping the mark!!
A few weeks later, just before Christmas in December 1990, we had a big New Year’s house party, in a remote place, where I met up with lots of my schoolmates. I still remember it so well. In the morning, at 4 am, I was sitting on a chair and the SPIRIT of God came over me and convicted me so deeply of my sins; that I longed to have my sins forgiven. I knew, if Jesus came back that night, I wouldn’t have been ready. In that moment a strong feeling came over me with the longing to get right with God! Two or three days later it was Christmas Eve. Now I desperately wanted to give my life to Jesus, but on Christmas Eve, you don’t disturb people in Switzerland! Swiss are very reserved people, but I was desperate and called my pastor to ask if I could come to him; I wanted to get right with God... He said: "yes" and I was very glad about that. I wrote all my sins on a sheet of paper and went. I still can picture it, so crystal clear, when I stood in front of his house thinking, when I get out again, my name will be written in The Book of Life. We prayed together and I was praying with all my heart; in all honesty, confessing my sins to God. So deeply sorry and then I asked Jesus to "come into my heart and save me". I meant every word which went over my lips. It was a very deep prayer and I can’t express with normal human words what that breath-taking moment was like. After that: the greatest miracle ever happened in my life. I got up from my knees literally as a new creature. Heavenly peace flooded into my heart. A hundred percent assurance came over me that my name is now written in The Book of Life. I knew it deeply in my heart until this day and it never left me since. Jesus has accepted me and saved me in His wonderful and incomprehensive grace – Praise God! Indescribable joy filled my heart. In fact it was so strong that I felt I nearly explodedJ. I left the house so happy and caught the next train home. A man was sitting opposite me and I told him in my freshness, that Jesus saved me. He looked at me thinking, this boy is crazy. I didn’t care about his reaction. Arriving at home my Mum opened the door and asked me, if I became a Christian and I said a joyful “YES, I did”. My face was shining of happiness. I went directly to my bedroom and put all my idols like posters and things into the bin. My father was watching TV, thinking it’s just a teenager wave he will become normal again. But PRAISE God, he never got normal again until this dayJ. Two days later my brother got saved and five days later my Mum and a friend of mine from school. My father, he was a hard nut! But after he had seen the change in his family he gave his heart to Jesus too about four months later – PRAISE God! Today he is a missionary in West Africa. God did a mighty miracle in our family.
At that night on December 24th 1990 another mighty miracle happened, which I still can’t explain how it worked, but it happened. I lost all my desire for athletics instantly. If you knew what athletics meant to me, you may not believe me. Athletics, the impulse and goal of my spirit, soul and body was suddenly forgotten. My whole desire was replaced with reading the Bible, praying and having fellowship with other Christians. It was a divine intervention supernaturally and directly from Heaven. Only God Himself can do something awesome like that and I have NEVER regretted it, even not today; not one second!
Before my conversion I was a naughty boy. Sometimes when I needed something from the shop like a pair of trousers and I didn’t have enough money, I just took them without paying. May be you have heard about the promotion of a travel agency, which says, “Why pay more?” My attitude was, “Why pay at all!” But few months after I got saved the SPIRIT of God spoke to me very clearly. I didn’t like it, but I knew I have to go back to every single shop to pay back my money for the things I have stolen. God brought everything I stole back to my mind. I suddenly could remember the price and where it came from. I wrote my second big list and I was shocked in the end when I realised how much I have stolen. Then I started to save a lot of money and went back to every single shop. I tell you, every shop was an extraordinary experience. I always said the reason why I want to pay back my money and often gave a gospel tract. Every time I left a shop, I felt so blissful and the peace of God was with me. Just to mention once occasion. I said to the woman behind the till, I want to pay back my money… She said: “No! No, really! I can’t believe that. No!” But I said: “Yes!” I didn’t know what she meant. Then she goes: “I have worked in this shop for many years and that has never happened before, but now you are already the second in this week, who wants to pay back his money”. I suddenly remembered my friend, who got saved five days after me was a thief as well and God convicted him and he paid his money back too. Of course I didn’t tell the lady it was my friend. PRAISE God! He did His work in our lives beyond what we could understand. God transformed our family radically by the grace of God.
Not long afterward I knew deep in my heart that God wants to use me to spread the Gospel to tell people God is alive and wants to save and change people!