Daniel Schoch

Hallein, Austria

Jesus found me

„My God – if I survive this, I will believe in you“!

Looking back, this thought more than thirty years ago was a bit ridiculous. “This” to survive was all but a simple surgery after I had torn a ligament with a hasty step at work. And the thought occurred to me, whilst I was waiting on a stretcher for my turn in the theater.

History has it: I obviously survived. I survived so well, I forgot all about this promise for quite a while. My two-year course in office-skills came slowly to an end. I scored what was supposed to be a career job as a salesman with a respected Swiss trading house – I even voluntarily bought my first tie. Top job it was: within three months I went from being a non-smoker to a pack a day. Soon I asked myself: “is this all the good Swiss life has to offer”? To find an answer to this I decided to check out the world to see if there is really no better place to live. I got myself a residential visa for Australia and a tourist one for USA.

Somehow deep in me and very slowly the realization grew: “I need to utilize this time-outfrom all social strings and habits to decide on my very own attitude towards God. Will I believe in him or not?” For this reason I accepted a book about God a girl gave to me and the Bible my mother gave me. Well, perhaps God has the better memory than I have and perhaps he remembered my promise better than I did.

Well, off I went. Hitchhiked to Frankfurt Airport, took the cheapest flight to NY (Pakistan Airlines), got a 30-day Greyhound-Pass and America, here I come.

These 30 days disappeared in flash and I decided to take up hitchhiking again. From LA to El Paso was to be my last leg on the bus. Unfortunately my luggage didn´t arrive, forcing me to spend the night there. The YMCA being boarded up I got myself a room for $ 3.50 or so on the cheaper side of the town. Eventually finding sleep I soon after was woken up by the shattering of my window, seconds later someone banged on the door and I was hiding away behind my blanked. Well, true Americans know what will happen when the second of the two ropes holding up the window snaps too. And the guy who tried to crash the locked door was the proprietor who thought he had to rescue this stupid gringo from being murdered.

Needless to say, that I was looking forward to leaving town. But no-one offered me and my backpack a lift towards Florida. Late afternoon two guys came walking down the road. After the usual hi-phrases they introduced themselves as being from “The Jesus Center”, a private institution which offered hitchhikers accommodation for a night or so. Well, it couldn´t be any worse than the night before, so I went with them. Sure enough they led me to a small dwelling with a double garage full of bunk-beds and some more gypsies like myself. All had to take a shower (much needed!) and a fine homemade dinner was served (much needed too!). Then the leader of this house got us all together and started to explain parts of the Bible to me. I dug out the Bible my Mum had given me and tried to match it to what little I understood in English. For the first time I concerned myself with the Bible. Perhaps God really didn´t forget my promise…

Time went on. I decided neither hitchhiking nor busing was the way to discover America and got myself a motorcycle – a 500cc four-in-one Honda and started to head towards Alaska. Now my tent came in quite handy and I started to enjoy life. Going north evenings became longer and longer, a time I started to use for reading that book about God. One evening – somewhere in Michigan – something in this book convinced me: Yes, it is worthwhile to believe in God. Yes, it is worthwhile to believe that Jesus Christ has died at the cross for my sins, that he is risenand that he ascended to heaven where he reigns now. Yes, all this I desired to believe and I prayed another prayer promising God to believe in him. This became a turning point in my life – but that would fill yet another page of the “my-story” book.

Somehow I just knew I had to let the girl back in Switzerland know about this change in my life. I sent her a simple postcard. Years later when we  caught up again (this was ages before texting or internet was invented) she told me her  side of the story: For a couple of years she habitually prayed for me that God would be kind to  me and that I would begin to believe in him and in Jesus Christ. All of a sudden she felt inhibited to continue. Instead she felt like thanking God for my decision. Soon after my card arrived and she knew, confirming to her what she already knew.

Yes indeed, we have a God who remembers promises and who answers prayers.

And, oh yes, I must not forget to mention that this girl is now my wife.

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