It really stated back in the mid-1970s when Olga and I had returned from California after serving in the US Air Force. We had bought a house and Walt, Olga’s brother, asked if he could live with us while attending a local Community College. Walt had gotten himself “born again” and began attending a Church in Albany. He shared his faith with Olga, me and our two young sons, much to our displeasure. After listening to him tell me about Jesus for the umpteenth time, I couldn’t take it any more so I literally made him leave our home. So you know, after lots of “encouragement” from my wife, I did go out with the car and retrieve him later on. He stayed with us the rest of the school year and we reluctantly tolerated him and his ideas. As we thought he had joined some kind of cult and had been brainwashed, we told him to keep his faith to himself and above all to not try to convert our very young and impressionable kids.
I had not thought much about those conversations as the years ensued, and now it was December of 1980. My wife’s family celebrates Christmas a few weeks before the Holiday with a large gathering of family and close friends, a tradition that continues today. At that point in time, it was at her father’s house. During the course of the evening, a few of us were sitting around the dining room table. At the party that night, was my father-in-law’s neighbor from across the street. This gentleman was a Nazi concentration camp survivor from World War II. It was made strikingly obvious from the numbers tattooed on his forearm. Walt, in his usual fashion, was sharing the Gospel with this man, telling him of the claims of Christ and how Jesus came to save lost sinners. I found myself in the conversation and actually agreeing with him, much to my surprise.
That night as we got back in the car, I recall telling Olga that I couldn’t believe that I had actually agreed with her kid brother. I was convinced that this young medical student had no idea what he was talking about. Yet something had drawn me into his conversation. We returned home that December night, did our usual routine, got the kids to bed and turned in for a “long winter’s nap”, sans the kerchief and cap. As I lay awake, that conversation around the dining room table haunted me. I knew on some level instinctively, that I could communicate with God through prayer. I can’t remember everything I told God that night. I honestly didn’t think it was much of a deal. I do recall asking God that if there was anything to this relationship with Him, that He would show me. It was an honest prayer that God would honor. Now, many people will tell you that big things happened to them when they went through something similar. Lights came on, fireworks hit the heavens, they felt warm and maybe even something spiritual. Me? Well, I rolled over and went to sleep.
What happened next was amazing. As the weeks went on, I couldn’t understand what was happening with me. I found myself going to a local bookstore and buying a Bible. I had my little Gideon’s New Testament that they gave me in basic training but I needed more. Once I started reading it, I was enthralled. I actually became excited about what I was reading. Those were the early days of cable television and I had discovered there was Christian television shows. I devoured Scripture and listened to TV preachers (I’m not giving advice on that second part, only relating the story). Anyway, I was hooked and Olga thought I was absolutely nuts, like her brother. My life began to change, even though I had no intention to do anything differently. I started back to church regularly. All I knew at the time was Roman Catholicism, so I went to the church closest to where we lived. That lasted only a few weeks as I began to share with these strangers what had happened to me. Now, they thought I was crazy too, so I figured that I was the only person who actually felt like I did. So, I spent my time reading the Bible and watching TV programs. Olga began questioning me as to why I thought that I was going to heaven and she wasn’t; what made me think that I had some special understanding of Truth that she did not. As a young believer, I told her the best I could with my limited understanding but it fell on deaf ears. It would be six months later in July 1981 when Olga would come to faith.
As time goes by, Olga and I continue grown together in the Lord. God faithfully draws us closer to Him as we serve Jesus with our lives. Our theology is better and we understand more about Biblical Christianity. We study the Scriptures regularly but have only scratched the surface when it comes to knowing the God of the universe.
I apologized to Olga’s brother, Walt, years later for the way I treated him. We enjoy a deep fellowship and friendship with him and his wife, Bonnie. We have a bond that is only available as brothers and sisters in Christ. I also thanked him for all those years of faithfully praying for Olga and I to give our lives to Jesus.
Christianity is easy enough for a child to understand and yet you can spend lifetimes learning about Jesus and the impact He has on every life. Very simply put, I knew I was a sinner and that I needed a Savior.
There’s a lot more to what has happened and what the Lord is doing theses days but I figured if it was too long, you wouldn’t read it. Anyway, that’s how it happened to me. To God be the glory.