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An end to hate
It was a dark October night, about eight years ago. We were on our way back from visiting a classmate. The driver, a childhood friend of mine, had received his driver's license only a couple of weeks prior to what was about to take place. With a behavior common to young boys, we were recklessly daring the driver to go faster: "Step on it!" and "surely you can go faster than this!" The car accelerated and we were zooming down the highway... A few kilometers from our destination, with speeds around 100km/hr., we hit a sharp curve. The driver slowed down, but as we approached the curve, he was blinded for a moment by the headlights of an oncoming semi. The rear wheel skidded off the road, steering was lost and I realized, we are going to crash... I have no recollection of how much time passed, but when I regained conscience, I couldn't see. The only thing I could comprehend was the smoking wreck of a car and the fact that I couldn't get out. All of a sudden someone opened the door and I was able to crawl out. My first thought was, I'm blind -why me, how could God do this to me?
A few years prior to this, I had given up my childhood faith and wandered into the world. I was always aware of the way things were and which direction my life was heading. But I didn't care. I kept telling myself: "There will be time, I'll repent when I am an old man, lying on my death-bed."
When the ambulance finally reached the hospital, it became known that my eyes hadn't been injured after all. Quoting the non-believing doctor that put me back together: "An angel must've held his hand over this boys eyes" (my right eyelid had split in half, yet the surface of the eye was spared from harm). It still didn't face me that my time could come at any moment, in a twinkle of an eye with no more opportunities to repent. The crash was so severe, that the front of our Saab '99 was gone. I was quite a sight also. One week after being discharged from the hospital my cousin took me to a swap meeting. As we walked through the crowds, even the toughest outlaw bikers passed me in total silence.
Instead of having this experience change me in a positive way, I did the opposite. I wanted a vengeance on God for allowing all these things to happen to me. I began to listen to heavy metal and read any literature that involved the paranormal and occult. With another friend I formed a metal band that included occultic chants and other such materials. I wrote the lyrics, kept reaching for new lows and getting further and further into evil. Finally, a band member began to experience supernatural episodes. One night he woke up in a presence of a dark being, as it was trying to suffocate him. Soon thereafter we had a demo to do at the studio. After our last night there we got into another accident. This one wasn't as serious as the last, but it made me recognize that this has gone too far, and I was being warned. I left the band and became distant toward my friends, who continued to worship darkness.
I then developed an interest to martial arts. I admired them, yet was never willing to practice those sports because of their connection to the spirit world. I would not touch it with a ten-foot pole! Then, one day I heard about a new fighting sport that had no spirit worship involved, but was considered tough and effective. It's called Krav Maga. I went to see the opening show and was instantly hooked. I signed up for the beginner's course and soon became one of the most active members in the local club. At first I felt as if I had finally found meaning to my life. This was for me! I attended the KM practices sometimes twice a day, and as many sport camps as I was able to.
A few years passed and I forgot the miraculous ways my life had been spared. I was becoming a very hard individual. I started to hate everyone, no matter what their race, religion or skin color was. In training, offence and the need to be agressive was emphasized. I continued to listen to Black Metal, Gothic, Industrial style music... This added to my aggressiveness. I noticed some changes taking place. As I walked the city streets, I was always "ready" and hoping for an opportunity to use the skills I had acquired, "if only that drunk would try something, I'd have a reason to do him in." At work and at home, I played my role well, but couldn't always hold in the hate. A fellow worker once mentioned how cruel I looked. I started to notice the empty and painful feelings inside. No longer was I satisfied by fighting, and after a couple of injuries I lost interest in it. For some time I had been hoping for a way out, considered some other options... I wondered, whether I still had a chance with God, or had I already burned up all the bridges.
One Saturday, I decided to find out if it was still possible for me to receive salvation. After the practice, I stopped by the local pentecostal church to see if they were having services that day. In the evening there would be a youth gathering. Would I dare attend? I decided to give it a try. As I was walking away, I noticed a fellow worker walking toward me. I was horrified, wondering if he saw me hanging around the place for "religious freaks." He didn't, and I didn't change my mind about going. I arrived early and quickly sat in the last pew. There I was, praying silently to Jesus: "If I have any possibilities left, please come and meet me here, I've already come this far, please tell me if I've committed any unpardonable sins, would you still have me?" Hardly anyone was present at the church, only a couple of gypsies sat there, waiting. Nothing was going on. The meeting was supposed to start at 7pm, but the place was still empty at 7:30. "There you have it", I thought, "a person tries to come to Jesus and he doesn't even show up"... Nevertheless, I decided to sit there and wait until either something happens or they throw me out. Finally the people started coming, and I realized that the gathering was postponed for one hour...
So I sat comfortably in the last pew, wondering about what was to take place next. Suddenly, to my dismay I noticed a familiar lady come in. She worked at my job! I tried hiding in the pew so she wouldn't see me. She walked by without noticing me and sat somewhere in the middle of the church. What on earth was she doing in here? "She can't be a believer, what if she sees me -and tells everyone that I spend my weekends sitting in here singing hymns"... I kept praying, "Do give me a sign dear Lord, is it still possible for me to get saved, or is death my only answer?" I decided to leave before the meeting is over, so this lady wouldn't see me. But she got up before I had a chance to escape, and so I was once again trying to hide my face from her. After estimating that the coast must be clear by now, I stood up to leave. Our eyes met, she was still standing by the door! She nodded a greeting, started toward me and asked, whether I felt like talking or would I rather remain alone? I figured that since I've already lost face, it wouldn't make a difference any more. So I mumbled something that she obviously decided was a yes. After a short conversation she asked if I would like for her to pray for me. I once more mumbled some sort of answer, and she began to pray.
I always thought that the experience of being born again would be something like being struck by a lightning. That at that second a person would change forever. Well, maybe it wasn't working, since I didn't feel like jumping for joy or didn't fall down, touched by some special force... The young lady simply asked me a question, would I come to a special service tomorrow, called Open Fountain. "Now I'm in trouble" I thought to myself - "If I refuse, she'll evangelize me to death at work." So I accepted her invitation and left with mixed emotions. Yet, I already felt different. The following day I walked briskly to the door of Salem where my new friend was already waiting for me. The service was quite normal, until they made the altar call. I thought, I should go there, but I wouldn't dare... At that moment, my friend whispered, "Maybe you should go." Encouraged by that, I went forward. As I kneeled down and the preacher asked, why I came, I broke down and could not hold my emotions any longer. Between the sobs I managed to say, that I want to give my life to Jesus. The preacher prayed for me and testified my sins forgiven, and I made the statement of faith, "Jesus is my Lord and Savior!" As I left the altar, I had a familiar feeling, like the the ones I used to get after the fights. My adrenaline was rushing, and I was out of breath.
Soon thereafter major changes were starting to take place in my personality. The fear of death and the hate was gone, replaced by a great love for everyone! Next week my fellow workers noticed it also. They wondered what had happened, for my face was shining with absolute joy...
This has been the best decision I've ever made, I shall never regret it. Although I haven't become perfect, I still have my faults, this inner peace and joy is worth it! I truly, truly recommend it to everyone!
- jani -
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