A LONG TIME AGO PEOPLE CALLED ME “WILD”
There was a time when I really used to think that I was the lord and master of my own life. I used to think that I ruled my life and could use it totally as I wanted without any limits. I thought that we should live for here and now. Nobody knows what will happen to us later after we die so there is no point in worrying about it. I also never bothered about matters of personal faith or morality. My only aim was to satisfy my own needs and get the things I wanted, not just what is essential for survival. I did not care about anybody or anything else. As a result I found myself standing on the edge of the abyss and I could not see any hope of rescue for myself.
My father served as a soldier in the army. When I was one and a half years old, my father committed suicide. He hanged himself while with his army unit. My mother found herself left alone without the means to survive. My mother showed me great love (she loved me so much), but she was overworked and did not have enough time to spend with me. She could not afford to stay home with me all the time. In order to have enough money to cover the cost of living, my mother took on a hard job; she worked in a smelter. My mother worked for 12-16 hours daily, even on Sundays, in order to provide me with everything I needed and also to compensate for the father I lacked. However she did not realize that her frequent absence from home caused me to rebel. Because my mum was frequently absent, other women took care of me and brought me up. Usually it were my aunts, my grandmother and the women from next door. Sadly, they indulged me too much. From an early age, I was a rebellious child. The lack of a strong man,s hand over me and absence of discipline meant that I began to look for thrilling adventures and acceptance from older boys. When I was in kindergarten, sometimes I beat my classmates. For that reason I was nicknamed “Wild”. When I was at primary school, I was hyperactive and I was keen to scuffle. Just as in every other school, the teachers in our school organized parent-teacher meetings. Some of my classmates did not progress well through the school curriculum. They received many bad grades in different subjects. Therefore they were afraid of their parents’ reaction if they got to hear about this during the parent-teacher meeting. So my classmates hit on the idea that somebody should steal the class register. They asked me to steal it and paid me to do it. It happened a couple of times. I wanted to be appreciated and noticed by my schoolmates and I was not controlled by adults so I soon found for myself some mates who lived mainly in the streets.
When I was 13 years old, for the first time in my life I got drunk until I was unconscious. Later on, I began to progress to smoking and from time to time I drank heavily. Since I was less than 18 years old, I could not be employed legally to earn a normal salary. Therefore I began to steal from other people and became very aggressive. I also wanted to impress my older companions. I liked this kind of life style.
I needed more and more money to finance my 'needs’. Therefore increasingly often I committed crimes: thefts, break-ins and muggings. Finally, I and my companions began to beat innocent people just for fun, because we were bored. This kind of behaviour and my casual lying gradually hardened my heart. I lost normal human feelings and love. Gradually, I became an animal in a human skin. Even my companions began to fear me because I could behave unpredictably. I was a well-known person within the community of the so-called 'bad boys’ in my city. When I was 18 years old, I visited Czechoslovakia. While I was there, I was caught committing muggings. I was tried in court and received a suspended sentence because I was under the influence of alcohol and so had limited awareness of what I was doing, and also because I was young.
Since I did not have to serve a prison sentence, I began to feel self-confident and „untouchable”. This led me to be increasingly aggressive. My life revolved around spending time in bad company. Being with those who had a bad influence on me, I didn,t learn anything that would allow me to live normally in society. We made money from muggings and thefts. As we walked along the streets, we beat people and robbed them. This was the fastest way to steal but also very brutal. In practice, almost everywhere I went – I met policemen. Many times I had to run away and escape from them. To be honest, I have to admit that, during that period of my life, I constantly had an emptiness in my heart. I went to discos and other events where I could dance because I thought that in this way I could fill the emptiness within me.
When I was 23 years old, I married a really good girl. I thought that after I married then everything in my life would be different. I thought that my wife would change me for the better. However instead of this, I made my wife,s life hell. I brought so much distress into her life that it is difficult to imagine. After one year of our marriage, our daughter, Kamila, was born. Although I loved my wife and my daughter, I was not able to make myself behave in a different way. I felt too weak in my spirit to change myself. Realising this made me hate myself and other people around me. Finally, I realized that I had become somebody completely different from who I wanted to be.
One day, when I was working as a roofer on a building site, I had a serious accident. I fell off the roof from a height of 8 meters. I lay in a pool of my own blood and I thought I was about to die. Then, for the first time in my life, something moved my stony heart. Before that day, I had never believed in God and I thought that I did not need God. So at the time I did not understand what was going on inside my heart. I felt deep regret because of my evil life. My heart was filled with a warmth which was previously unknown to me. I felt an incredible readiness to be different and become a better person. I said: “God, if You exist, then change me! Spare my life and I will serve you! I want to be a good person.’ By some miracle, I managed to crawl until I reached the foreman’s office. Later, I was taken to hospital where the doctor said it was miraculous that, after falling from such a height, my internal organs (heart, kidneys, liver and lungs) were not damaged, even though some of my bones were broken.
When I eventually left the hospital and returned home, I found my flat abandoned. My previous aggression, frequent quarrels and drunkenness had caused my wife and daughter to leave me. I knew I deserved this, but I could not accept it. For a whole year I went to visit them and tried to demonstrate to them that I had become a different person. My wife and daughter decided to trust me and they came back to me. However, after a short while, I began to behave in a bad way again, perhaps even worse than previously. After 3 years staying with me, my wife took Kamila and they left me, because staying with me was hell for them. Then I was in despair and I ran amok. Over the next few weeks, by turns I drank and then repented, drank and repented, and so on. Then I recalled the promise that I had made to God that I would serve Him.
During that period I did not go to any church. Sometimes I prayed to an angel: ,,Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God,s love commits me here, ever this day (night) be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.’
,,Guardian Angel from heaven so bright, Watching beside me to lead me aright, Fold thy wings round me, and guard me with love, Softly sing songs to me of heaven above. Amen. ’
In this way I imagined what God is like for myself. At that time, my spiritual state was not good. I wanted to search for God but unfortunately I was looking for God in the wrong places. I became involved with the Hare Krishna movement and was associated with a Hindu mission called “Chaitanya Mahaprabhu”. I stayed with them for a year and I was very devout. Every day I had to say 1728 prayers and twice per day I participated in their spiritual services. That did not allow me to focus anything else apart from an idol called “Krishna”, whom I treated as my god. I got up at 4 o, clock in the morning in order to have enough time to say all the prayers and then go to my work. Out of obedience to Krishna I became a vegan. I did not eat meat, fish, eggs or chocolate, or drink coffee or tea. I started to believe in reincarnation. Therefore I tried to obey diligently all the regulations of this sect. By so doing, I wanted to atone for all of my evil deeds. I wanted to become a good person in my next incarnation.
During that period, while I was still connected with that Hindu mission, my daughter Kamila returned to me as I had better housing conditions than my wife. My relationship with my daughter began to improve. My devotion to the Hindu mission made me seem to be a changed person. I did not drink alcohol anymore and I was no longer aggressive. Kamila noticed this and so she gladly went with me to the Hindu mission,s meetings. However, in my heart there was still an emptiness and I desired to have something more that I was still missing.
After a year, I left the Hindu mission as I wanted to practice my faith through my own initiative. On Sundays, I started to attend Masses in the local Roman Catholic parish church. During that time, while the Catholic priest celebrated the Mass, I was chanting Hindu mantras very quietly. I prayed using Hindu prayer beads called “mala” and then I confessed my sins by myself. Afterwards I went to the priest to receive Holy Communion. To be honest, at that time I was very mixed up in my thinking. In my heart I felt an indescribable longing for the living God but my own personal religion could not satisfy this desire. This state of affairs led me to lose my way completely. I began to drink heavily again and to steal a lot. I thought that it would be better for everybody if I were locked up in prison or even if somebody would kill me. I felt my life did not have any value. Alternately I prayed and I drank; I cursed everything and everybody around me.
Then I was caught red-handed stealing. At my trial I gave a very clever explanation of the circumstances surrounding that theft. For that reason, I was again given only a suspended sentence. Then I began to search for God even more. I was convinced that only God had saved me from serving a prison sentence. I met some Mormons and I joined the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”. I thought I would find God among them. For 6 months, I attended their meetings regularly and I studied ,,The Book of Mormon’. The prophecies and revelations written there seemed to me like fairy tales. I also knew that Mormons should use the Bible. However I noticed that they did not read the Bible very much, only a little. Mainly they just used ,,The Book of Mormon’. I asked them frankly where I could find the truth. They recommended me to ask God personally for the answer. It was good advice!
God showed me that the Mormons are a sect, but in spite of this God used them to lead me to the right way. I found it unbearable to be constantly searching, so I begged God to let me find Him in order that He could transform me. God answered by sending me my brother-in-law (my wife,s sister,s husband). He is a true Christian and he told me about Jesus Christ. He explained to me that there is only one God and that reconciliation with God is possible only through faith in Him and in His Son Jesus Christ. My brother-in-law also explained to me that Jesus Christ died for me on the cross. That very evening, I knelt and asked Jesus Christ to become my Saviour and Lord. I confessed my sins to Him and God touched my conscience deeply.
After leaving the Mormons, I began to read the Bible eagerly. I read the whole Bible through from the first to the last page. Then I understood that Jesus Christ is the only Truth and He is the Life, because only He died for my sins and gave me forgiveness and salvation. I found everything I was reading in the Holy Scriptures seemed to be straightforward and true. For example, in the New Testament I found this passage:
,,He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.’ (Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians 4:28)
Therefore I went to my former companions and told them that I couldn,t carry on stealing with them any longer. They laughed at me and were sure that my new way of thinking would wear off sooner or later. However, my companions had the opportunity to witness that the changes within me were permanent.
I gave up drinking and smoking. It happened sort of automatically. I desired to follow Jesus with my whole heart and God led me in this process step by step. Before my conversion, my life had been tangled and messed up. Along the way I hurt many people; now I really regret this. Through my own foolishness I lost my home, my family and everything that was dear to me.
After becoming a Christian, I tried to be reconciled with the people I had hurt. The first people I asked to pardon me were my wife and my mother-in-law. Both of them forgave me. However the suffering which my wife had experienced because of me is still painful to her. We have contact by telephone and slowly, step by step, my wife is beginning to trust me again. However it is not enough yet for her to return to me. I still constantly pray that God will heal her heart and the emotional wounds that I inflicted on her.
Shortly before my conversion, my daughter Kamila left me. She was beside me and experienced the whole chaotic process when I searched for God, changed my beliefs, and then returned to drinking. Kamila witnessed my obvious instability. After two and half years staying with me, she went back to her mum. For me that was a dreadful experience because I felt that once again I had let her down. After my conversion, I began to seek other believers around me and I attended every Christian meeting nearby that I could. I found a suitable Christian church and after 4 months there I was baptised by full immersion in water, as it is described in the Bible. I asked God what I should do now and how I could serve Him. At that time, many people with serious addictions were visiting our church. One member of the church established a Club of Hope. This man began to meet regularly with addicts. I joined him and helped him to run this ministry, which I am still doing. It gives me great joy. We meet with these addicts every week and often during our meetings I tell them how God changed my heart. I have seen many people find new hope for their lives. I am also one of a group of church members who organize meetings in a local prison once a week. Those prisoners are very close to my heart, because I know that in the past I almost found myself behind bars.
Everywhere I went I talked about God and explained what Jesus has done for me. People who knew me before my conversion thought I had gone mad. However, I knew that I had finally found the truth, because the emptiness in my heart had been filled and my love towards other people around me was sincere. My life began to make sense and became rich. Things like hatred, vengefulness, anger and covetousness faded away. Instead of the emptiness I previously experienced, now my heart is full of love and compassion.
I stopped watching explicit scenes and brutal films on TV. Suddenly the strong language began to hurt my ears and the violence brought tears to my eyes. Before I went out onto the streets only to beat somebody; now I walk around the city and with joy I tell other people how great and how merciful God is. I used to squander the money I stole; now I work in a smelter and earn my living honestly. Once I did not respect the elderly; now I happily give up my seat on the bus for them and help them when I can. Where before I hated those who were weak or ill, now I pray for them.
Previously, I was the sort of person who persuaded other people to drink or do other bad things. Now I help other people to see what sin is and advise them how they can get rid of their addictions. I used to avoid meeting with policemen as far as possible, but now, together with a former policeman, I share the message of Jesus Christ publicly. Once I feared prisons; now I visit inmates in various prisons and show them that there is hope for a better future for them. Before I was always short of money. Now I have enough money for everything I need and even have savings. I am so glad and grateful for what I have and I can thank God for everything he has given me.
My whole outlook concerning my life and my family has changed gradually. When I read the Bible, I realised how great my faults were and how much I hurt my wife, daughter and other family members. Finally I understood what the role of a husband and father should be. I began to try to mend my ways and I asked God to help and guide me in this. First of all, my relationship with my daughter improved, then as a result my relationships with other family members were also repaired.
I knew that Kamila had been planning to go to live in the Republic of Ireland for some time. I wanted to meet her before her departure. Previously, I had bought a computer for Kamila. I knew that she would not need it in Poland anymore, so I asked her whether she would leave it for me. Her answer hurt me so much: “I will give it to my mum. I don’t have to give you anything because I don,t owe you anything!’ I knew that I had been guilty and I could not turn back the clock. I could only beg her for forgiveness. That evening, I went home completely broken-hearted. I wept before God and I begged God to perform a miracle so that I could be reconciled with Kamila before she left Poland.
Two days before her scheduled flight I phoned Kamila. At that moment she did not have time to meet with me. However she told me that I could come to her on the day of her departure to say goodbye. When we spoke on the phone, I asked Kamila to leave me a photo of her at least to remember her by. She answered: “Why do you need my photo? You have had me since my childhood, but you did not want me. Now it is too late.’ The whole situation looked hopeless, but I asked my friends from church for their prayers in this matter, as I knew that nothing is impossible for God.
Two days later, first thing in the morning, I went to visit my daughter. I knew that she would fly that evening. To my amazement, Kamila gave me the computer and told me that there was a surprise on it waiting for me. God also performed another miracle for me. That evening, I was able to give Kamila a lift to the airport, although previously that had seemed to be out of the question. I was able to say goodbye, give her a hug and tell her that I love her. Kamila answered that she also loves me. I am not able to describe in words how much that meant to me.
Later that evening when I got home, I switched on this computer. There I found many of her photos. There was also a letter in which Kamila wrote that she forgave me. Tears flowed from my eyes and I thanked God for this. Even though for many years I had not been able to be a true father to her, now thanks to God,s love and mercy my relationship with Kamila is very good. After 2 years living in the Republic of Ireland, Kamila returned to Poland. We keep in touch all the time. We meet and we go on cycling tours whenever we have the chance. During the last couple of years, Kamila has begun to trust me anew. She turns to me with requests for help and advice, which gives me great joy.
I now see very clearly that in this world there is somebody who loves me and to whom I matter. There is somebody who embraced me and offered me his helping hand when everybody else cast doubt on me. This person is Jesus Christ. Only Jesus Christ gave me a new life and changed me into a new person. He allowed me to discover what joy and true love is. Through knowing the Bible I can distinguish right from wrong and I can make correct decisions.
Before I thought that freedom means I can drink, have fun and live it up. I can do what I want with my life without limits. Today I know that true life means: 'Everything is permissible for me’ – but not everything is beneficial. 'Everything is permissible for me’- but I will be not mastered by anything.’ (1st Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians 6:12)
In the Bible it is written: ,,I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.’ (Book of Ezekiel 11:19)
Once my heart was a heart of stone. God transformed it into a new heart, which is able to love and have compassion towards other people. It is a wonderful feeling that I am able to love other people and not only myself. I know that everybody has this opportunity, it is not just for me, because God does not show favouritism. In God,s eyes, no one is incapable of change or written off. Jesus Christ died for every person who acknowledges him as Lord and Saviour. He loves every sinner and stretches out his hands towards them. It is enough for us just to come and accept Him. Jesus Christ wants to cleanse us completely and He wants to set us free from the suffering caused by our sin.
Dear reader, if today you have read this story, it means that God is knocking on the door of your heart too. God wants to give you what you were really seeking. He is just waiting for your response. Therefore do not harden your heart! Jesus Christ was crucified together with two criminals. One of them hardened his heart and did not change. Do not be like he was! I gained God,s forgiveness and became a child of God; so you can also gain God,s forgiveness and become a child of God. Concerning my ex-companions, I can say that 7 of them drank themselves to death, 3 of them were killed by somebody else, and most of the others are currently in prison. However, I am still alive! Who knows? Maybe my life was spared for just this reason: to tell you all how great and wonderful God is. If God is not yet your personal Lord, then you can kneel just where you are now and you can ask Him to come into your heart and take you as His child.
As I said, Jesus Christ was crucified together with two criminals. One of them hardened his heart. However, the other one accepted Jesus as his Lord and Saviour and Jesus offered him eternal life. Jesus Christ forgave my sins and he wants to do the same for you. He wants to wipe away your tears. Trust Him, commit your life to Him, and He will make things right.
In the Bible it is written:
,,Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the down, the justice of your cause like noonday sun’. (Psalm 37: 5-6)
Make the most of the opportunity! While we are alive there is the possibility to cry out to Jesus Christ. However none of us knows when this time will end. Therefore now is the time to turn to Jesus, before it is too late. Jesus Christ said:
,,Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Book of Revelation 3:20)
,,For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.’ (Gospel of John 3:16-17)
,,So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’ (Gospel of John 8:36)
God said: ,,The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make his face shine upon you be gracious to you; The Lord turn his face towards you and give you peace.’ (Book of Numbers 6:24-26)
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