Testimony

Posted on Wednesday, January 2, 2008 at 0:04 by Sven Rafferty
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You may be asking yourself, “What’s a tech site doing with religion on it?” Good question. Basically, I’ve been saved from something horrible and I want to tell the world about it. I mean, if you were in a car hanging off the edge of a cliff and someone grabbed you from the car just in time, wouldn’t you want to tell the world about it, too? Read on, trust me, there is definite interest for you here.

Okay, hope your ready for some shocking stuff, ’cause my life was just that. First, I must say that parents are, and were, loving parents to me and wanted the best. But like me, they didn’t know Jesus and thus made for a difficult time for all of us. Thankfully, God has given his Grace upon my family and saved them all. We are now all saved and in the family of Christ. Praise God! Second, I need to really emphasize that things below may not be appropriate for children and they should be discouraged from reading this without prior approval. Ok, with that said, here’s my testimony.

I was raised to make my own choice about God. My mom wanted her children to maker our decision about God. Because of that, we never went to church as a family. I was allowed to go with friends of hers to their churches. I couldn’t tell you what denominations I went to, but one church sticks out in memory and one family. The church that I remember was more of a Summer Vacation Bible school thing as I went during the summer. I remember this was a service of worship and then we would go to “Sunday School”. I must have been around nine or ten and do remember the teachings vaguely. I was quiet and reserved. Listening and not talking much. That was unusual for this little hyperboy. :) I remember one of the children telling his mother that I didn’t love Jesus because I never sang. She re-assured him that I did because I always gave her flowers when she picked me up and it was my way of thanking her to bring me to hear about Him. I don’t know if that was really the case or not, but I was encouraged by her answer.

That summer was the only time I went with that family and I don’t remember much of going to other churches. There was a family that lived down the street from us and were like the second or third family to move on our new track home circuit. So I quickly became friends with the boy, Kevin, and his sister. I do remember thinking just how different they all were. The whole family. So, I asked the mother once why they were so different and so happy. Something I didn’t see in my own family. She told me it was because they loved Jesus. She proceeded to tell me about Him and read me many children Gospel books throughout the years. As I got older, I drifted away from them and soon never spoke to them again. But who knows, they may have been the seed God planted on my heart.

Soon after that, I started becoming more “intellect” and started reading stuff. I would guess I was in seventh grade by this time and started reading lots of science stuff. I got really heavy into astronomy and of course, it was filled with evolution. Being young, dumb and impressionable, I began to believe what I read from these “wise” men. It all made sense and this God stuff just seemed to be fairy tales. If there was a God and He did love me, why did I have such a miserable life at home?

I guess I should talk about home to give a little background. As you read in my bio, I was born in Germany and moved here to the States with my mom whom married my step-dad. Today I regard him as my dad. I’ve known no other then him, so he is dad. At first, he was the greatest thing, but then my brother was born and things changed. Again, no guilt trip to my dad, I’m just observing. Through the years, we became more and more rival then father and son. We often yelled at each other and other stuff just too hard to print. It was tough growing up with him and by high school, it was miserable. But looking back to those years, I can say he did love me. He did try and I do see that today.

Ok, so back to Junior High. Here I am reading about this magnificent universe. My mind was being filled with the lies of science and corrupted with the false assurances of drugs and alcohol to rid the pain of life. I latched onto both whole heartily. It was the summer of 6th-to-7th grade when I smoked my first joint. A friend spent the night and he grabbed some of his dads stash. Him, my friend across the street and I snuck out late that Friday night and smoked it at an elementary school about a mile away. Ironically, it’s the school next to the church my parents now attend! Anyway, that was the start of my drug “career” and alcohol abuse was just around the corner.

I was pretty good grade wise in school but never applied myself. Having a very high IQ, I was ALWAYS told by teachers and by my parents how I didn’t apply myself. I hated hearing that. I smoked more…and I read more science stuff. I drew further and further from God and by eighth grade, there was no God, only Evolution. By that time, I was also drinking lots of beer and hard liquor. In fact, one day I threw an impromptu party in my backyard. It faced the very same school I attended and I stood there yelling and mocking the soccer team. I drank, I smoked (cigarettes) and just went nuts openly. I blacked out and later found out I had done a lot of crazy stuff (like inviting the whole soccer team over!) I got sick all over myself and when my mom came home hours later (apparently, I still had the sense to clean the house!), she made me eat bacon and eggs to teach me a lesson. I stayed away from Schnapps’ for about a year after that, but not parting. That had just begun.

By my freshman year, I was regularly smoking pot and drinking TONS of beer on the weekends. In fact, I was well know for holding my liquor. I took on one friend from school, a Junior, in a beer drinking contest one day after school. After sixteen beers and like four hours, I walked home and my friend had passed out a half of dozen beers earlier. He still remembers that afternoon to this day. Then, I was proud of that accomplishment, today I think, ‘What a waste’. That was an accomplishment? Shesh.

Through all this, smoking pot every morning at the bus stop before school (only a hundred feet from campus!), drinking every Friday and Saturday and being wild, I still kept up my grades and engrossed myself in science. I knew much more about astronomy and physics then the average high schooler. In fact, I was able to breeze through all my science classes all of high school, except my second semester of Chem my Junior year. See by that time, I had discovered cocaine. It was so much better then pot. I could think clearly and read lots more since I was up all the time. But the thing was, Chem was lame and stuff I already knew, so I stopped showing to class. It was right after lunch and I used that time to snort lines. I went from an A the first semester to an F the second. Good thing I had extra credits. The funny thing through all this was I still read stuff about science. I even started reading anti-Christian stuff. Fuel for the fire against all those goody-goods.

One goody-good that was just soooo good drove me nuts. Terri was class president, class brain and class everything. She was also the younger sister of my brothers tutor. So, I knew her and she knew me. She was just sickened by me and well, she was popular and a cheerleader and liked Duran Duran, but still, she was a goody-good. We were polite to each other being Kim was our bridge, but that was about it. But she was the just the type of person that I had to prove wrong in her lame beliefs. So I read lots of stuff against Christianity.

Things got really bad by my Senior year. I was a total coke addict, doing a 16th to an 8th a day (the average “weekend” coker does four to eight times less then that in a week!). Still being somewhat “smart”, I dealt the drug to sustain my habit. People on campus knew I dealt, but I never brought it on campus. I made my deals, if at all, with people from school at their homes. Most of my clients were actually adults. See, they had bad habits like me and a cash flow. Teens in high school usually didn’t.

So, I’m basically a full out coke addict, dealing away, up late every night and up early for school every morning. It was the coke that kept me going all day. By this time, I only had four classes (Seniors only need four at this time) and I was out early in the day to keep the speed up. Before work, I’d do lots of lines, smoke lots of cig’s and read lots of magazines and books. Omni, Discover, Sky and Telescope, Science (journal) and various books. Oh yes, I was sucked into the lies of the world. I was definitely on the way to hell in a hand basket!

But God’s Word says He protects us even when we don’t know Him. I am living proof of that. I don’t know how many nights I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest. How many nights turned into days, turned into nights and days again before I slept. How little weight I was (I was about 120 pounds at 5’11″ at age 18). I’m amazed I didn’t die. One of my friends, Ray, told me once, “Dude, you look like a skeleton with skin on it”. That shook me. But what rocked me the most was Mr. Orlando. My English III Honors teacher my Senior year. One day at lunch, I had to come in and discuss my grades with him. I was doing alright in my other classes but horrible here. It was an honors class, so it was tougher then others. He showed me my grade, a low D, and looked me straight in my eyes and said, “You can sniff your life away if you want, but if you do, I want you out of my class. Don’t waste my time, too.” I was stunned! He knew!! How?! With that, Ray’s comment and hard thinking, I went to work that Friday night with a tough choice. I told my boss, another addict and my best customer, “Dude, this is it. Tonight we party like it’s 1999 and we quit”. He was totally with me and we did an entire eight ball that night. I went home at dawn and went to bed. I woke up late Sunday morning. When I did, I went to McDonalds and ordered eight cheese burgers and ate them all. That was late February of 1989. I never touched cocaine again. Next to heroin and cigarettes, cocaine is one of the most addictive substances and I quite cold turkey and never touched it again. God was with me. Unfortunately, my boss couldn’t do it and I knew I couldn’t be around it, so I quit my job a week later.

Ray got me in with his job as a security guard. My life was about to change. I cut my long (crappy looking) hair short, dressed in slacks and button up shirts (goodbye Ratt T-shirts) and went full force in my studies. Being a security guard, I was able to read TONS more and bring up my English grade to a low B. Not bad from a low D. Through this time, I started reading lots of philosophy.

My relationship with my dad still wasn’t the best, so I had to find a new “answer”. Drugs weren’t it and there had to be something. Who better to read then Freud? He’d have the answer. Funny enough, he was coke addict, too. Great start for me, huh? ;) Anyway, I read tons of his stuff and quiet honestly, didn’t get most of the stuff he was saying. My favorite “huh?” thesis is that of a burning candle stick dream. It’s totally off the wall and is so lame, I won’t repeat it. But that was the one that made me say, “This guy is nuts. I’m not reading his crap anymore”. So, I then started reading Nietzsche. Great switch, hehehehe. He made more “sense” and he was very anti-God. So I loved his work and read it like it was the new sensation. I started remembering his quotes and using them daily in some cases. Hey, it impressed Mr. Orlando. From coke to stoked!

But, the good ol’ commy himself couldn’t explain my sorrows. Nope, I had to drown them out. So, I returned to alcohol. Hard liquor was a rare occasion, but beer was the main event. I drank a six pack minimum nightly and sometimes a twelver. I’d drive home from work after six often and was surprised I didn’t kill someone or get arrested sooner. See, I did finally get busted for a DUI by the time I was in college. It was tough and heart breaking. The very fact that I hid it from my parents, and all this drug use up until just a few years ago still amazes me and my friends. I played the game well. Very well.How it only breaks my heart now that I hurt them so with this bad habit (especially since my mom vigorously warned me all my life not to do drugs.)

So, I got back into partying heavy and I lived for it. So much in fact, I searched out other friends with places to stage parties at. One night, I had one at Andy’s. It was like the second one there and would be one of many to come. This particular night, I met Elizabeth. She was with her sister who was married to an old high school acquaintance of mine, Tom. Tom bumped into Ray at the store and Ray invited them to the party. So, they showed up and Elizabeth caught my eye. I really liked her. I followed her and her sister and tried to impress them all night. They came to a second party and that’s when my friend Rob got all belligerent to them and I called to apologize to them later.

We became friends and talked on the phone nightly and I ended up at Tom and Rebecca’s house warming. Tom and I were hanging out and I told him jokingly, “Dude, wouldn’t it be funny if you were my brother in-law some day?”. In classic Tom style he answered in a straight face, “No.” hehehehe, who would have known what was in store for us all.

See Tom and Rebecca lived a block from Milpitas Bible Fellowship. Rebecca was really convicted one day to go to church. They ended up going one morning and soon after they gave their life to Christ. They changed and Liz and I saw it. By this time Liz and I were together and we grew distant from Tom and Rebecca. They weren’t “fun” anymore.

So Liz and I just kept at our normal pace. We sinned, sinned, sinned, and loved it. Being she was raised in a broken Christian home, she knew the lingo, but didn’t walk the walk. She wasn’t truly saved and didn’t really understand that until later. She did tell me all the time that I was going to hell and I’d laugh at her and tell her there was no hell! Anyway, one day she wanted me to do something for her. She always relied on me to do things for her and I wanted to teach her independence. So I told her if she did this thing herself, I’d go to Tom and Rebecca’s church as she had been requesting. I never in a million years thought she would. She did and I kept my word and went.

Before we get into what happen that God ordained day, lets discuss my evolutionary thinking at this point. I remember struggling with some issues of evolution and how things didn’t add up. I was a faithful evolutionist and believed in it like Tom and Rebecca did God. But I just couldn’t get passed a few issues. The missing link was the big one. If evolution was in fact a fact, as it is now taught, then were is was at least ONE link?! If we had been around millions and millions of years, there had to be a link somewhere! But there wasn’t.

Further, the astronomy/physics side had major holes, too. The three laws of thermodynamics so disapproved evolution that it often cracked me up that evolutionists even referred to it. One of the laws being, all things breakdown. I thought evolution says things improve and become better! Another law states energy can neither be created or destroyed. How’s that fit in with the Big Bang? So, where did the energy come from prior to the bang? And it was that question that nagged me. It was easier for Christian’s to say God has just always been, but that wasn’t acceptable for science to say about the elements of the world that would create the universe. Nothing just appears out of nowhere. But, that’s what it sounded like the science community was trying to say.

So, I walk up to Milpitas Bible Fellowship with Liz and Tom and Rebecca one sunny Sunday morning in the fall. Here’s this guy, Bob, greeting me at the door and gives me a great big hug. I was like, ‘Umm, helloooo.’ I was not an affectionate guy and that was not my cup of coffee. But I was polite and greeted him and walked in. We sat down, said hello to some people and then worship began. It was contemporary and it was different for me. I stood, sat and did the things everyone else did, but sing. I did read the lyrics with interest, though.

So up comes this guy who kinda looks like Ned Flanders from the Simpsons after worship. His name was Brian Anderson. He begins his sermon with an announcement that he will be taking a break from the book of John to do something different for the next six weeks. That series was “Who is God?” Don’t you just love how God works? :) Yes, if anyone needed to know who God was, it was a certified atheist named Sven. And here I sat in the pews attentive and ready to hear just who this God was. What happened in the following weeks was amazing.

I remember getting the visitor card and actually filling it out with valid information. Heck, I didn’t even use my PO Box address but my home address. From it, I received a letter from Brian inviting me to meet him and discuss anything I wanted. So, I took him up on it and came armed.

We met at Lyon’s in Milpitas, just down the street from the church and he offered me something to drink. I got water. I was self conscious of making him go broke since Liz told me he was probably really poor being a pastor. So, he asked me about myself and my past. I told him a lot, not as much as here. He then asked me about being an atheist. I told him why I thought there was no God, or devil for that matter. I laid out my proof and had brought a recent issue of Newsweek with me. It just so happened to have an article on the Middle East problem with the PLO and Israel. How could their be a God with this mess? My point was millions of different religions but only one God? Also in the same issue was an article about starving people in Africa. If God was a loving God, how could he allow this to happen? How could he allow my cruddy family life to happen? If we’re suppose to store our treasures up in heaven, why is the Catholic church’s Vatican dressed in treasure?

What Brian did was something no one else in the past had done for me. Answer every question with Scripture. He tackled the tough ones with tough Scripture. It was all in the Bible. I had never even read a Bible before, but all the answers were there. I must admit, I was stumped and impressed. I left with his foot in my door.

I continued going to church and listened to the series with wide open ears. Brian went over the beatitudes of God and they were very interesting to me. His Holiness really opened my eyes to things. I didn’t mock anything Brian or anyone else said during those first few weeks and Tom and Rebecca and Liz didn’t pressure me about it. In fact, it was Brian at the door of the church every week when I left that asked me questions. One day he asked me straight up, “Do you believe in Jesus Christ?” I thought about it and said, “Yes”. “Do you believe He is the Son of God?” “Yes.” “Do you believe you are a sinner and need of a Savior?” “…yes.” “Do you believe that Jesus is the Saviour?” “Yes.” I could hardly believe my ears. But I said it all without any problem. It just flowed out easily.

Brian told me that I needed to pray for forgiveness for my sins and to ask Him to come into my life. So, that night after work, I knelt before my bed. I had never done this thing before, so I didn’t know what to really do. I put my hands in the classic “prayer pose” and prayed to Christ. I asked Him for forgiveness and to come into my life. I’ll never forget that night. It was late, like 1:00 a.m. and I was tired from a full day, but I felt a sudden freshness of energy and just electrified. I felt, new! And I was, I was a new creature in Christ!! It was awesome.

I told Liz the next day and Tom and Rebecca. They were all ecstatic for me. The church was told and they were all amazed, too. I started meeting Brian every Wednesday for disciplining and my baptism came up. Of course I wanted to be baptized. I wanted all to know! When I told my parents about it, they were shocked. My mom said she thought I had been joking all this that time about going to church. She didn’t know what to think. But, they and my friends all came to see me get dunked. I read my testimony, not as revealing as this one, and even read some of my poetry, before and after stuff. It was a glorious day indeed! Only six weeks from my first Sunday there.

To prove God works in amazing ways, remember Terri? Kim called her to tell her that I was saved. She told Terri, “Guess what? Sven is going to church!” Terri’s immediate response was, “Which cult?!”. LOL. Hey, that’s how unbelievable my conversion was! What’s even more unbelievable is we are now very close. Their family is a big part of ours and we love them dearly. God gave me a new life and a new family.

In the year following my conversion, a lot of things changed. I quite smoking, cold turkey, over coming that bad habit. I read as much of the Bible as I could. In fact, I think I nearly read the entire thing. I listened to hours of taped sermons a week. I was engrossed in this stuff and lived it to the fullest. I was on fire for Christ. I think the greatest compliment and testimony to my new faith was my best friend Brian (not Anderson). He told Liz one night that he had seen me get excited about things in the past and go with it at full force to only later drop it. But this was different. He didn’t see that happening. He knew this was for real.

I believe God also used my life to change others. I was His tool. Soon after my conversion, Liz became a true born-again Christian and shed herself of her said-faith Christianity! It wasn’t soon after that I proposed to her, too. After that, my brother Sean became interested in my conversion and started asking me questions. Being seven years apart in age and never really close, I loved talking to him about Christ. I told him how much better things were. How I was happier, how things made sense and most of all, now I had hope. Atheists have no hope, only a void in death. So, through my witness, he soon followed in his older brothers footsteps and gave his life to Christ.

My mom, on the other hand, became angered at God for taking her boys away from her. She didn’t know God’s plan for the family and was disappointed that the one signal day I didn’t work, I was at church. She came to church once in awhile and the Holy Spirit convicted her. She cried often and one day she told us, she had accepted Christ as her Saviour. To see my mom in the same baptismal as Sean and I were in was awesome. To hear her say Christ was her Saviour was too cool! Now all that was left was dad! :) And it wasn’t soon after that he too committed to Christ. And as if not to stop the Angels from celebration, Sean’s future wife and exchange student of my parents at the time became saved at a Billy Graham Crusade in San Jose!

In looking back at my life, I see two parents who loved me very much and did everything they could for me. Yes, my dad and I had a rough time growing up and it wasn’t all him, trust me, I didn’t make things easy and we have already established I was no angel. ;) But you know, today I see my father really broken about our relationship back then and I’ve told him, like my sin in Christ’s eyes, the past has been forgotten. We have a wonderful relationship to this day and I love him more then these words could every express. Same with my mom, she always tried to the best she could do in every situation. We all know that we were just working without God in our family and that was the difference that made the road rough.

So, my blessed day of saving faith was in late 1994 and now a decade has passed and I still believe and believe strongly. I have studied Creationism and even taught a class on it to refute the lies of evolution. Sites like Institute for Creation Research, Answers in Genesis, VisionForum, The Creation Research Society, and the Creation Resource Foundation are excellent places to read further about Creation Science. I also believe strongly that God chose me, not me choosing Him and hold strong to the Cross that saved me. It’s my hope that my testimony will plant a seed in you that will make you wonder, “Who is God?”.

sven