In the first year of high school, I already knew a bit about the Bible, so during catechesis I liked to comment on the teacher’s statements based on the Word. One time the teacher asked me to stay in class after the lesson. He said he can see in me the desire to know God. This surprised me. Of course, I wanted Jesus only, but I did not expect my catechist to talk directly to me about it. Catechesis is a lesson about the Roman Catholic religion, not about God. That’s how I saw it so far. This teacher told me about the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. And about the retreat that will take place during the summer holidays.
I went there because what I read on the internet seemed to be what my brother had told me about a few years earlier. And it was. It was there that for the first time I met people who knew God. Who spent time with him because He is a friend. Who lived with Him every day, not only forty-five minutes on Sunday. There, for the first time in my life, I publicly said that Jesus is my Lord*. There, too, I was baptized in the Holy Spirit** and a few days later, in my room in my family home, I started praying in tongues.
Once again, I felt that a new, spacious life with Jesus had begun for me. Which quickly, however, squeezed inside me when I started dating a boy who was not interested in God. Today I know very well that my wrong decision was caused by all the hurts from the past and to have a romantic pattern of relationships in me. I was enchanted by someone’s interest. And so I was stuck in misfortune for the next three years. These were not years without God, however. I used to come to meet Him, but it was harder for me to find Him. As if behind the wall. As if far away. I also avoided other Christians, bearing the guilt within me for not doing what I should. I still wanted to live only for God, but the unhealthy relationship was holding me back. At the same time, it brought more wounds into my life.
It was during my first year of university, in Gdansk, Poland, when I found the strength to end this relationship. At that time, I was living with my brother, the same brother who had come to our family home a few years earlier. That day, I told him about the last three years of struggle. It was a relief. And immediately I threw myself into Jesus’ arms.
The church my brother went to attracted me. I remember the first time I went to visit. I entered the home, although the church was in an old warehouse near the train station. Immediately there was an unexplained closeness with people. I told about my life to people whom I only knew from my brother’s account. I wanted to be part of this home. And yet I couldn’t stay.
Brought up in the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church, I carried its doctrine within me. Deeper than I thought. Every now and then the question returned to the back of my head: what if being in another church was a sin after all? What if there really is no salvation outside the Roman Catholic Church? Then the heart met God and the certainty came that He was above names. That I cannot deny meeting Him.
I needed someone from there to listen to me. But where to find a priest? How to make an appointment with him? I went to confession. Not so much to confess, but to share my dilemma. And the priest said he couldn’t imagine life outside the Roman Catholic Church. But if God draws me to another church, if I see life for myself there, then I should go there. I can not stay.
I left there and never came back. I needed someone to let me out with good words, a blessing. I found out about that when it happened. Freedom came. The next Sunday, I was at the first service in a place that I later called my home for years.
That Sunday, for the first time, I heard God speaking to me in sentences, not as before, with feelings or convictions. At that time, I wasn’t sure if it was really Him. These words were impossible for me, but I remembered them: “You will preach the gospel to the nations.”
It was 2006. I was baptized in water in summer.***
*Romans 10:9-10,13: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (…) For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” By His grace, God has already done everything to provide salvation. A person’s part is simply to believe and receive.
**Luke 11:10,13: “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (…) If you then (…) know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Loving heavenly Father wants to give His children the supernatural power they need to live their new life. All the person has to do is to ask, believe, and receive. If she/he believes His promise, she/he is filled with God’s supernatural power. Some syllables from a language she/he doesn’t recognize will rise up from heart to mouth. (1 Corinthians 14:14: “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.”) As they are spoken out loud by faith, God’s power is released and a person builds herself/himself up in the spirit. (1 Corinthians 14:14: “Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church.”)
***Mark 16:16: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Water baptism is a visible sign of a decision that has been made by faith – decision to believe God and accept salvation.