My one aim in life was to compete in the Olympic Games in the long jump and 100-meter sprint events. 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 was a God somewhere behind the clouds. Our family was catholic on 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 questions in my head and went every Sunday to the Catholic church. On Saturdays I went to confession and bombarded the clergyman with lots of questions.
Yet it all felt dry and dead to us. Just the dry bones of religion without God in it. So, my Mum, my brother, and I prayed earnestly to God to find the right way. We were longing for truth and were searching earnestly for it. When God saw our hunger, he led us to real Christians and we heard of both God and the truth.
On one occasion I attended a mission meeting. One of the missionaries was preaching the gospel in such a simple and straightforward manner that I realised that if Jesus was to come back at that moment in time, then I was not ready. I needed to become ready. I knew I had a choice, there were only two paths; either I would walk with God and do His will, or I would go my own way; which meant I could continue with my ambitious plan in athletics. I could do one or the other, not both.
I had a very hard time for the next three months. I wanted and needed to get saved, to walk with God, but I knew this would mean I would have to give up my athletic career which already filled the biggest part of my thoughts and life and embodied my whole vision of the future. Athletics was the god of my life. In order to serve and walk with God I had to let go of this god that was so very important to me, let it go completely. My struggles were severe, follow Jesus or follow my career. My heart was nearly torn in two and satan whispered often into my ear 'do it later'. Finally, I said to myself "First I need to break the Swiss record in the long jump and then I'll get converted".
So I did it. I broke the record but it didn't count because I had overstepped the mark, just by a very slight!!
Then one evening a few weeks later, in December 1990, just before Christmas, the Almighty God stepped into my life and changed it - forever. I was in a remote place at a large end of term school house party where I was enjoying myself with lots of my schoolmates. I still remember it so well all these years later. It was 4 in the morning and I was sitting in a chair. Unexpectedly 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 still was not ready. In that moment I experienced a strong longing to get right with God! A few days later it was Christmas Eve and I desperately wanted to contact my Pastor to give my life to Jesus. However, in Switzerland you do not disturb people on Christmas Eve. The Swiss are a very reserved people but I was so desperate to get right with God, I called my Pastor and asked if I could come to him. He said 'yes' and I was very glad about that. I wrote all my sins on a piece of paper and went. I stood outside his house and thought 'when I come out again my name will be written in The Book of Life'. I can still picture that moment, it is so crystal clear.
My Pastor and I prayed together and I was praying with all my heart, completely honest in confessing my sins to God. I was so deeply sorry and then I asked Jesus to "come into my heart to 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. Complete assurance came over me that my name was now written in The Book of Life. I knew it deeply in my heart that day and that knowledge has never left me since. I knew deeply in my heart then and right to this very day, without a moment of doubt, that Jesus has accepted me and saved me in His wonderful and incomprehensible grace - Praise God! Indescribable joy filled my heart, so strong I felt close to exploding . I left the house so amazingly happy and caught the next train home. A man was sitting opposite me in the train and in my new joy I just told him that Jesus had saved me. He looked at me thinking 'this boy is crazy' but I didn't care about his reaction. Arriving home my Mum opened the door and asked me if I had become a Christian. "Yes, I did!" I answered joyfully, my face shining with happiness. I went straight to my bedroom and put all the old idols into the bin. Posters and my athletic dreams all gone. On that night, a second mighty miracle happened. I have no explanation how it worked but it did. I lost all desire for athletics instantly. If you understood what athletics meant to me at that time you would not believe me that the desire for it could disappear so completely. Athletics, the full focus and intent of my spirit, soul and body a day earlier, was forgotten. It did not matter a jot from that moment on. My whole desire now was to read the Bible, pray constantly and have fellowship with other Christians. It was all due to divine intervention, supernaturally and directly from Heaven! Only God Himself can do something awesome like that and I have NEVER regretted it, not for one second right up to the present day.
My dad, watching television thought 'it's just a teenage craze, he will be normal again soon'. But Praise God, I never did go back to the old normal ever again.
Two days later my brother was saved, five days later my Mum, and a friend of mine from school. My dad was a hard nut but after he had seen the change in his family, four months later he gave his heart to Jesus too...Praise God!!! Today Dad is a missionary in West Africa. God did mighty miracles in our family.
Before my conversion I was a naughty boy. Sometimes when I needed something from the shop, such as a pair of trousers but I didn't have enough money, I just took them without paying. Maybe you have heard the advertisement of a particular travel agent which asked "Why pay more?". My attitude was "Why pay at all?" A few months after I was saved the SPIRIT of God spoke to me very clearly, I was to go back to every single shop to pay back the money for the things that I had stolen. I didn't like it but I knew I had to do it. Amazingly God brought everything I had stolen into my mind. I could remember the price of each item and where it had come from. I wrote my second big list and I was shocked at the end when I realised just how much I had stolen. Then I started to save my money and went back to every single shop. I can tell you that every shop was an extraordinary experience. I always told them the reason why I wanted to pay back the money and often gave a gospel tract. Every time I left a shop, I so felt the peace of God. Just to mention one occasion. I said to the woman behind the till, "I want to pay back the money." She said, "No! No Really! I can't believe that. No!". I said "Yes," not knowing why she reacted that way. Then she said, "I have worked in this shop for many years and that has never happened before, but now you are the second this week, who wants to pay back, money." I suddenly remembered my friend who was saved five days after me and who was a thief as well. God convicted him and he paid his money back too. Of course, I didn't tell the lady that it was my friend. PRAISE God! He did His work in our lives beyond our understanding. God transformed our family radically by His Grace.
Not long afterwards I knew deep in my heart that God wanted to use me to spread the Gospel, to tell people God is alive and wants to save and change people!