This is the first newsletter written on my first laptop with Windows 3.1.The original wording has not been changed, nor English mistakes been corrected.


News from Vienna 8

Mittersill, 12.7.1995


It has nearly been three months since you received my last Newsletter. This is mainly due to financial reasons. As this girl has never paid her part, I had to pay 6666 Schilling (700$) all alone during the last three months (remember the trial !). At the same time I had to take care of new life situations and requirements as I moved into my own flat the day I had to pay the first of three parts of that money. So my bank account was somehow overstretched and as a result, I decided in the beginning of June not to buy anything to eat till the end of June (I had just come back from the conference in Switzerland). Of course, I failed and after two weeks of fasting and being surprised again and again how the Lord provides for us, I spent money I didn’t have on food. Meanwhile the situation grew worse and I was getting worried what I could do. When I reached the lowest point (when I already expected the telephone call from the bank), the Lord wonderfully intervened and provided the money I most urgently needed. So, I still don’t have the money to write my News or buy anything but it’s really on my heart to tell you about all the things that have happened during the last three months. “Gladly“ many people didn’t send back the small coupon so my receivers’ list is much smaller now.

I really don’t know where to start of. I think this time I won’t be so detailed with everything.

As you can see, my News look different this time. That’s because they are written on my new notebook. It was in March when there was a big discussion going on in my family and the result was that my grandparents (mother’s parents) gave me the money to buy this notebook. I got it right after having written my last News. I have to pay back that money, slowly month by month, but another thing will run out in September so that there won’t be any changes really (just the receiver of the monthly amount changes). Anyway, I’m really happy to have that notebook and it has already helped me a lot. It saves a lot of time compared with my old computer (which is worth nothing today). I’m really thankful for how the Lord provided (I hadn’t thought of buying a new computer yet). On the other hand, I spend even more time at the computer now - and especially at the e-mail at university. I enjoy very much communicating with so many people through Internet, although time is passing so quickly as you sit there and write.

I can’t remember now what I wrote last time, but I’ll just tell you what has happened so far and back in Vienna, I’ll look up what you need to know.

In the end of April, two weeks after the Easter conference, I was given the possibility to give my testimony in church. I had wanted to give it earlier but God let me give it exactly the right day. The service was amazing ! We had a wonderful worship time where God took away all my nervousness and made me so thankful and full of love towards Him. Afterwards, I was ready to go up to tell everybody what God had done for me ! But, to my surprise, Omar got up and said that he felt he should give the message before anything else. So he started preaching on “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness“. During the sermon, God continued to work in my heart. In the end, I could hardly await getting up and telling everybody my testimony. It was so appropriate to what we had just heard, it couldn’t have fitted better. So I went up and after one more song - not being nervous at all - I shortly told about my childhood, conversion, and up to the conference. Then I passed on three verses: Heb 10:35-36, which was so important for me, to encourage other people; 1 John 3:1, that God has lavished His love on us (in German translated with given) and Eph 5:8, that we were once darkness and are now light and that we are to walk in the light. After the testimony, Omar gave the altar call and several people came forward while we were again singing “As the deer“. And again - like the Sunday before - about five people gave their lives to Jesus ! That hasn’t continued like that but somehow God is working in a special way, preparing our church for still better things, I believe. I had fasted that day to prepare myself for the testimony and have done so several times on Sundays. I realized the special blessing it brings to commit the Sunday totally to the Lord.

If you wonder how I’m able to remember all those things so detailed, I can give you the explanation : I have printed out all the relevant e-mail-letters I have written and have them here at my side.

What’s about my Bible study with Ansbert ? What’s about Michi ? I haven’t heard anything from Michi for a long time. I intend to send him a book and write a few lines back in Vienna.

Some encouraging news from Ansbert: Rejoice with me, he definitely is a Christian now ! He himself wasn’t sure for a long time but there is enough evidence in the Bible to prove it to him. So I gave him some of those verses and I think he understood. Unfortunately we haven’t even had a second Bible study. Somehow we never made it.

In the beginning of July Ansbert left to go to Germany for the whole of summer, although he had intended to go to the ÖSM-camps. Please pray that he quickly finds a good church and many Christian friends and that he would be able to grow a lot in this new surrounding.

The 10th of May, I had a marvellous conversation with a fellow-student of mine ! Her name is Doris and I had invited her to have breakfast with me. I didn’t know her too well as we just had had “small talk“ at university. Anyway, I had been praying for her for months. So she came and I had prayed that the Lord would lead our conversation to Himself and that was exactly what He did. He even surpassed my expectations ! It was amazing how the Holy Spirit was actually leading the conversation and not me. I told her the whole gospel but in a way that was extraordinary (as I said: Holy Spirit speaking). The words came from deep within my heart and when I talked about the love of God, tears came into Doris’ eyes. She said she didn’t believe in love and was glad to be able to talk to men today. All she had accomplished was her own achievement. Considering all she had said, it leads to some horrible suspicions. Sometimes I got cold by what she said. She also said that she didn’t want to get rid of her guilt but be made responsible for it herself. She said that it wasn’t fair to let somebody else pay for own guilt. She then said that she had never heard talking about Christianity that way. I invited her to VCC and she said she would probably come. (She didn’t.) She also said that she was afraid of accepting God’s offer - as a reason not to come to church. I felt that she was deeply hurt and how Satan’s work had damaged a lot inside her. When she had left, I could have cried for her ! It was as if knowing her pain myself. When I had offered her to tell her “my story“, she had refused to listen to it. When she left, she took the book “Peace Child“ by Don Richardson with her. I had recently read it and was excited about it. Just about a week later she gave it back to me, just saying that it had been good. Unfortunately we didn’t have the time to talk more. As time was passing, she didn’t come to that lecture any more and so we hardly saw each other. In the middle of June was her birthday - a day she didn’t like. Anyway, some days later Kevin Prosch gave an evangelistic concert and I gave her a ticket for it for her birthday. She said she would come and she did. The concert was a bit disappointing in the way that the gospel wasn’t clearly presented. There were just some songs with Christian context. In the beginning were several fast songs which Doris enjoyed a lot. Later some people went to the front worshipping God and I explained her how wonderful it was to be in God’s presence and to receive His amazing love. Again I realized that she was touched. Some time later the concert was over and I haven’t seen her since then. She is now in her holiday in Salzburg. I haven’t got her address there but she said she would send it to me. Please pray that God would continue to draw her closer and that she would open her heart to receive His love.

Vienna, 18.7.1995

Now I’m back in Vienna, and especially the last days have been quite tough and exciting. Where shall I start ?

Let’s continue. The day I hoped Doris to come to VCC was the 14th of May. That day was also Mother’s day and so I had to go to my mother’s house where the whole family would celebrate. In the morning I went to Grace Church but had to leave before the sermon to be in time. I was quite sensitive that morning and it deeply hurt me when all the different kinds of mothers had to get up and were honored in the service. I was thinking of my family and how much I longed my mother to be one of those women getting up. So when I left church I continued to pray for my family and especially for that afternoon. I intended to invite my family to VCC that night and hoped they would come as a birthday present maybe. For that reason I had prayed for them more than usual. When I then saw them all (my mother and brother, Heinzi, his mother, my grandparents), embracing each other, and they were even loving towards me, my pain grew even stronger. Somehow I saw them through God’s eyes, being lost, living in darkness, and awaiting eternal death. When I embraced them - especially my brother is on my heart - I just prayed for their salvation, tears coming to my eyes because of their rejection of the gospel. I had to go into “my room“ and could hardly prevent myself from crying. I didn’t cry because they had hurt me but because they were lost. I tried to stop my tears but they would come again and again. Finally they called me to come, and somehow I managed not to have tears running down my cheeks, but I didn’t know whether they had realized something. Then we had the celebration, Mother’s day and my birthday at once. I opened the card my mother and Heinzi had given me. I could hardly believe my eyes ! It was an astrological card with my sign of the zodiac and my so called strengths and weaknesses. When I opened it, I held it at a distance, whispering,“such a card ?!?“. I couldn’t believe it. They know exactly how I think about astrology. There was even a card inside to remove and to take with you. I quickly read their words, without understanding what I read, and put the card aside. My mother stood nearby and watched me. I think I had become pale. She just looked at me and seemed to delight in my shock and pain.

Then I opened my brother’s card. It was a normal card, but his words were the more painful and hurting. Then embracing everybody and saying “thank you“ was too much. My concern for them was deepened again by the cards and it seemed so hopeless. I had to get away as quickly as possible ! I just needed to tell somebody - and to pray and be prayed for. So, I told them that I would shortly leave to phone somebody. Heinzi insisted on having me calling from their place but I managed to get away. On my way to the phone booth, I was just crying without holding it back. In the phone booth I tried to calm down again and phoned two people who weren’t both at home. For that reason I broke into tears again: When you need somebody, nobody is there. I then phoned my prayer partner Louise, who said some encouraging words and prayed for me on the phone. I felt better afterwards. Then I returned home. The rest of the afternoon was as usual. They were chatting, and I then went into “my“ room to arrange some things. Later I invited them all to come to VCC. How relieved they all were to have some other commitments for that evening ! Except my brother. He just found some hurting words again in order to tell me he wouldn’t come. I was really looking forward to the service then. What a privilege it is to have your birthday on a Sunday ! Which better way is there to celebrate your birthday ?!

Friday the 19th of May, I met Petra again, after half a year ! I have mentioned her previously, once I added some hand-written information. She has a one-year-old child and her boy-friend is a drug-addict. Petra visited me with her child (she just had her 22nd birthday). It was the first time I really had an opportunity to witness to her as her boy-friend had always been around. I told her everything God had done in my life so far during the two years. She listened carefully, seemingly not understanding what I was talking about. But she realized the difference in my life. She is the only person who always knew about the horrible things that happened in my home and who knew about my feelings. If anybody sees the difference, it’s her. Unfortunately we don’t see each other very often. We had quite a good time together and agreed that we should see each other more often. I haven’t seen her again since then. I also invited her to the Kevin Prosch-concert (as it was her birthday too) but she couldn’t come.

The following day, Saturday 20th, Catherine and I went to Salzburg, to a one-day-conference (prayer & action) for “From Minus to Plus“. I told you about Catherine, the French girl who was so open and interested in the gospel. I was glad she accompanied me, hoping to get to know her better. I was a bit “disappointed“ then about the way the day was held (I’m always worried when I take an unbeliever to a Christian event). The conduct of the prayer meetings was “very charismatic“. Catherine didn’t like it and preferred going for a walk meanwhile. We then spent the night with friends in Salzburg and also went to their church (Mennonites) the following morning. In the service there one of the elders talked about what he had seen the day before at that meeting, and I was so thankful to God for what he said (that different people worship differently etc.). Catherine needed to hear that very much and felt much better afterwards. Unfortunately I haven’t seen her since then. Although she likes to come to VCC, she hasn’t been there for a long time. At least we stay in contact through e-mail. Please pray for her as I feel she turned away from God again and goes the other direction.

On the way to Salzburg, we experienced God’s protection in a special way. We were about 20 km from Vienna when we suddenly heard some strange sound. I wondered what it was and thought of going on anyway while Catherine urged me to stop. So I slowed down and a parking “happened“ to be right there at that moment. When we

got out of the car, we saw that the left wheel in the back had burst. It was even smelling ! I stood there in awe, thinking of the angels that must have held the rest of the wheel in their hands, bringing us safely to the parking. I had read even more amazing testimonies before and had never started a longer trip without praying that God would send His angels to accompany us and protect us since then.

Some days later (it was a long weekend), I left to go to Graz for the ÖSM-annual-training weekend. I had a talk at university right after that weekend so that I had to use every single free moment there to prepare it. As time passed, I became more and more discouraged. Somehow I stagnated in my preparation, not knowing how to go on, then the speaker seemed to be quite “anti-charismatic“, and I missed the fellowship with the others, not being able to join them in their conversations. I asked myself for which purpose I was there and was glad when the Lord spoke to me the last night. He gave me a fresh vision about the ÖSM-work and a new concern for the students. At that time I had already been very discouraged concerning the ÖSM-work. As our group seemed to grow in the beginning of the semester, it had somehow turned into the opposite (although I’m so thankful for one new zealous student in out team). Additionally, there was a general hopelessness and “what is it good for ?“-mood. I tried my best to motivate people but slowly lost my energy myself.

That weekend should still have a kind of peak. I was glad to return in time for the service in VCC. That Sunday a choir from Brussels was to come for which reason it had been announced an evangelistic service. So I invited my grandparents to finally come and see the Vienna Christian Center themselves and they agreed. I was proud to be able to introduce my grandparents (first visitors). During the worship time, I stood there, feeling totally exhausted and having reached my limit, being hungry for good and needing a fresh touch from Him, and not being able to genuinely worship as I was worrying about my grandparents at my side. But the worst was still to come. This service was to be unique so far. After the worship time, one of the elders who had just come back from Toronto, started to give his testimony (I translated for my grandmother). Then there was a time of prayer and altar call. I had to respond to it and went forward for prayer, leaving my grandparents behind. I tried to focus on Jesus and not on my grandparents in the back but it was hard. Finally, as I was prayed for, I went down under the power of the Spirit. A few minutes later, my grandfather tapped on my shoulder and said that they were leaving and that I should phone them the next day. I was a bit embarrassed and couldn’t concentrate on God any more. I then shared with a girl how hard it had recently been and she prayed for me. Why had my grandparents had to come right at that evening ? Anyway, it didn’t have any obvious effects on them. We have been doing our Bible study regularly through the months, without any obvious steps forward either. Although the last two times, my grandmother had made notes in her preparation. I was quite surprised about that. After summer, I have to continue differently. I see how important it is, that they get to know Jesus, and they hardly do so looking up different verses on a topic. I intend to do some classical Bible studies with them in autumn although it requires more preparation.

Back to that weekend in May. The following day I had cancelled all commitments in order to make some progress in preparing my talk. God wonderfully answered the day’s before prayer. I had so much joy in the Lord, and by the evening, my talk was more or less totally prepared. I couldn’t believe it ! Now I was able to look forward to the conference in Switzerland we intended to go to two days later.
Wednesday the 31st, right after the talk, four of us left to go to Bern in Switzerland (900 km), by my car. The conference was held by the church Basilea Bern Vineyard Christian Fellowship. Speakers were John Arnott, Guy Chevreau, Wesley & Stacey Campbell, David Ruis, Ed Piorek, Martin Bühlmann (the pastor), Gary Hayashi, Kevin Prosch (worship) and some more. There were 3000 people from central Europe participating. In the mornings and evenings we had main meetings and in the afternoon workshops. After every meeting I recorded what God had done for me and in me, and there were 12 meetings all together. I’m glad I did that. Like that I can follow God’s gradual work and will always be able to look up what He did. I’ll try to summarize: Every single meeting had its own character as the speakers had. Some meetings God was healing, others gifting and equipping. During that weekend, God continued to heal me from my past. There were some hard prayer times, when pain came up, but at the same time, God poured His healing oil on the wounds. There was one thing God showed me especially: Every time someone talks about God’s love, I’m deeply touched and long to know this love deep in my heart. Every time I went for prayer, I felt like being left out. I realized meanwhile that the more joyful I am when I come to God, the more I receive from Him. So there were one of those meetings again. God showed me then where my continual cry for His love comes from: All my life I had been trying to get in contact with my father, especially after my conversion, and he had never reacted. So I projected this image onto God. I had always thought that everything is Heinzi’s fault. Afterwards, I came before God again and just praised Him for His great love for me, repenting of what I had said before. God has shown me His great love again and again. The following meeting, God blessed me abundantly again ! He is so gracious ! Coming back that night, I just couldn’t stop laughing for some time. I think it was the very first time in my life I have laughed like that as I had never known what it is like to laugh. I had asked God before the conference to teach me to laugh and I’m glad He did (although I still find it hard to laugh).

God also equipped me for serving Him in different ways. Especially in the last meeting, when we were sent out, God deeply touched me and filled me with His Spirit. I tell you, it was an amazing weekend. I think, the most impressed me the wisdom and gentleness of the leaders and the prayer team. God had started moving that way in this church a year before, and so they meanwhile had some experience - and had been transformed radically !

Coming back from Bern, I felt so close to God and was eager to serve Him with all He had given me. Nevertheless, I didn’t feel very well about telling Heinzi the “whole story“, as I had scheduled for the 6th, and decided that it was too early to do so. When I prayed before going there, I felt God giving me His power and strength. Then I couldn’t await telling them. I was totally excited and full of God’s love. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my parent’s full attention as they were watching TV. So I just sat there and told them about the conference. Then I told Heinzi for the first time that I would love him. (There was a humorous atmosphere, an atmosphere of laughter.) I then told him that it was a miracle for me that I’ve never believed possible and that only Jesus was able to do that. I said those things out of my heart, telling him also how much Jesus loves him. He was only laughing and smiling, nodding with his head. Then he repeated several times, to the rest of the family and at every opportunity, that I love him, making jokes about jealousy to my mother. I realized that it was enough for that evening and that I wouldn’t get more attention from them. I asked whether I could pray for them to bless them but they refused. My brother was even running out of his room when I wanted to bless him. Unfortunately, he hadn’t heard what I had told my parents. I’m sure it was an important step forward for Heinzi what I had told him. He even asked my opinion as a Christian later, about Muslims etc.

Since the conference, one thing that has changed is my hunger to study God’s Word. Three weeks before the conference, I was given a “Full Life Study Bible“ by VCC (because I’ll have a cell group in my place after summer) which immediately gave me a new impulse to study the Word. Now I still enjoy very much reading my new Bible - and all the commentaries ! My quiet times have changed significantly since the conference.

The other important event that was scheduled, was the meeting with my father the 10th of June. The day before there had been the Singles meeting and VCC prayer night, and that morning then the ÖSM-prayer meeting. So I was glad for that “preparation“. Nevertheless, I became a bit nervous as the hour was approaching. I had finished my “sentence“ more or less : Ich liebe Dich und möchte Dich sehen (I love you and want to see you). My father had never reacted to those cards. So I didn’t really expect my father to come but still hoped he would. For that reason I wasn’t that much disappointed at first when he didn’t come. I considered what to do next. So I thought I would give him “another chance“. It was still possible that my father had been away or had another reason not to come that day. So I decided to continue sending my cards and proposing another meeting, the 1st of July. Two days later, I received a letter from him. I didn’t dare opening it alone but realized later that there hadn’t been any reason to fear :

Vienna, 11.6.1995

Dear Claudia,

I’m sorry, that our meeting wasn’t realized but it wasn’t but before tonight that I was able to read that you wanted to meet me yesterday. Since I come to Vienna every third week in the average, it’s impossible for me to react so quickly.

Besides, I’m quite scared thinking of that meeting. I’ve read all your cards and know, that you have a flat and need much money for it. And that’s exactly where I can’t help you at the moment. I’ve already been without job since October 94 and from August 95 on, I won’t even get any unemployment benefit any more. During the last years I have been managing director in Prague but just when everything worked without problems, they didn’t need me any more. During the last months, I had to learn that at the age of 45, you’re already too old for a new job. For that reason, I really don’t know what’s going to happen in the time to come.

Nevertheless, I’m going to get married soon. I don’t know the date and place yet, but the person. She’s from Prague and another reason why I hardly ever am in Vienna.

Most of the time I now live in an old farm in Waldviertel (a region 150 km north of Vienna) and that’s also my main residence.

In case you still want to see me in spite of my situation, you should better write to [...]. I read my mail much earlier there. There is also a telephone : [...]

Okay, I think that’s maybe all at first. Claudia, I’d also like to see you, but my trepidation, my inhibitions and fears are so unpronounceably big.

With love,

your Dad

I tried to phone him immediately but he wasn’t at home. I then decided to write back a long letter as I had so many things on my heart but failed because of the lack of time. So I just continued to send my cards (to his permanent address), but wanting to phone him to get assured of the 1st of July and also because it would be easier to talk to him after having talked to each other on the telephone after such a long time (8 years).

So the time passed by and nothing happened. Then, one Sunday morning (June 25th), I got up late, intending to commit that day totally to the Lord, and was looking forward to an extended prayer time and Bible study. After some time of Bible reading and prayer, I felt that the way was cleared to phone my father. I don’t like phoning very much, especially when there is an inconvenient reason. But I then felt I could do it with God’s help. So I prayed some more and asked God for His strength and wisdom as I would talk to my father. Then I rang him up and this time he was at home. He picked up the receiver and said, “Wintoch ?“ I said, “Who is speaking there ?“ (I didn’t recognize his voice.) He said, “Wintoch“ I said, “Wolfgang ?“ (That’s his first name.) He said, “Yes.“ I said, “That’s Claudia speaking.“ I heard a kind of emotional shock on the other end. I myself was really in God’s arm as I talked and wasn’t really nervous. I just wanted to talk to him a bit but obviously he tried to finish the conversation as quickly as possible. I asked him whether it was okay for him to meet that Saturday and he agreed. So he said, “See you on Saturday and then we’ll talk.“ and that was it more or less. Afterwards, I felt feelings of fear coming up. We hadn’t recognized each other’s voices, I had realized his language being unfamiliar and had felt like talking to a stranger. Eight years ago, when we had met, I had been shocked by his appearance and his way so that I hadn’t wanted to see him again. What if it would be the same the 1st of July ? What if I felt rejection towards him ? What if I wouldn’t like him ? What if I wouldn’t like to talk to him ? What if I wouldn’t want to see him again ? On the other hand I had been waiting and praying for that day for such a long time. So, all kind of thoughts went around in my mind during that week. Some of you got “News from Vienna 7,5“ where you were able to read everything I have written now. Now I tell how the story went on: As mentioned I was a bit nervous as I went to the appointed place. My father was already there and waved from afar. How could he recognize me from that distance ? We then sat in the ice-cream-shop and talked for two hours. First we talked about our present situations and our plans for the future. Then he asked me about church and the ÖSM. We then started to discuss about the Christian faith, what it meant to me, about my father’s beliefs, I then explained him the whole gospel and how you become a Christian. My father said he loves to discuss about that topic. Then he started to tell me why he had left us 17 years ago, and what it was like afterwards. I learnt a lot of new things and began to understand why he had left. I especially learnt new things about my mother and her parents (and not positive things) which made me very sad. After those two hours, we separated again, making another appointment to see each other two weeks later. I then went home, thoughts going through my mind. I didn’t really know how to feel but was glad the meeting had been so good. Thank you so much for all your prayers ! I really felt in God’s arms as I was talking to my father.

Two weeks later, after having been away for two weeks, I left early on Sunday morning the 16th of July to drive to my father’s house out in the countryside. I arrived there at 10 am. I then got to know my father’s fiancee Irvana from the Czech Republic. She is divorced herself and has two daughters, one at the age of 15 and the other one younger. She sees them once a week. I like Irvana, although she hadn’t said so much.

We then started talking again, about the past and about the faith mainly. Again I was amazed about the freedom I had to share the gospel with him (Maybe because he is like a stranger to me ?!). He listened carefully, asking questions and saying his opinion. He then said he was impressed about my strong faith in what I believe.

Again I learnt some new things about my past and my father’s past. I want to summarize them shortly: My father had met my mother when he was 17 and she was 15. After three years my father tried to break up their relationship. As he said so, my mother became angry and said to my father, “You have to explain that to my parents.“ For that reason they kept being together. During the following two years my mother always urged my father to marry her, but he had never intended to do so. He knew that they wouldn’t fit together. After those two years, in a weak moment, he gave in. Two months later they married, after two months of doubts in my father’s life. They thought a child could change their situation and for some time it did. I was born one year after their wedding. Besides, two days before their wedding my mother attended her last lecture at university, never intending to continue again (one of the things she had told me differently). She had always been the best student. Maybe you know that my mother’s father is in the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (he plays the viola), and professor at the musical university (now retired), and so part of the high society. For that reason, my grandparents had always tried to bring their daughter together with a young, well-gifted, future musician in the Philharmonic Orchestra, but she wasn’t interested. Now there was this “poor“ guy from a technical school coming and marrying their daughter. They had never accepted him and made his life to be hell on earth. They worked against him in every way they could. Their influence on my mother, and on the young family, was very strong. They got involved in everything and made more or less the decisions. They took every opportunity to make clear that they had no money and paid all kind of things, like holidays for example. When my father came back from a business trip, bringing several new dresses for his little daughter, my grandparents threw them away, calling them “cheap rags“, hurting my father deeply. He tried to talk to my mother but she would rather run to her parents, never wanting to discuss anything with her husband. She is more the explosive person that solves problems through shouting and punishing. My father is quite sensitive, not being able to shout at all, and wanting to solve every problem through discussion. As the pressure grew stronger and stronger, he spent more and more time away on business trips. He couldn’t stand his in-laws’ terror any more. At the age of 14 he had started having depressions and thoughts of suicide (exactly like it was with me !). He told me that his father was quite violate-tempered and had beaten him. He had seen his mother for the last time at the age of 14. She now lives in England and he hasn’t even been in contact with her for many years. This English grandmother even writes to me for birthday and Christmas ! He told me another story when he was badly hurt when his mother had come to Vienna for some hours and hadn’t phoned him but my mother, seeing her and her grandchildren instead of her son (whom she hadn’t seen for 10 years). Because of his own past, my father had wanted to raise his children in love, giving them everything he hadn’t had. Strangely enough, my childhood turned out to be very similar to his.

One year after their wedding my father again couldn’t stand it any longer and just saw two possibilities: either leaving or committing suicide (a choice I had never had). So he said he would do the latter and left the house. When he came back late in the afternoon, after having walked through Vienna, my mother called the police. Policemen came and brought him to the police station, from where he was put into a psychiatric clinic, without ever being asked one question by anybody. Three days later he could leave again, being terribly bitter towards my mother for what she had done, never forgiving her that phone call. Obviously some time later they thought a second child would help and so, three years after my birth my brother was born. I ask myself how my father had endured all those years. Finally he gave up before destroying himself and left forever, wanting to leave everything behind and to start a new life.

Can you imagine how I feel by hearing all that ? I see all the hurt, despair and darkness in my father’s life, reminding me so much of my own past. He was talking about suicide for some time. He spoke about somebody who had written a book on suicide before committing it, and my father had tried to get this book for a whole year before achieving his goal ! After some time I actually felt the powers of darkness present and stopped my father, telling him what I believed about that topic. He asked me how my feelings of having no worth etc. had changed after my conversion and I witnessed to him. When I talked about the amazing love of God from my heart, and told him how precious we are - and he is - to God, again, I could see how God touched Him. His eyes were getting red, looking so longingly to receive what I was talking about. When our conversation seemed to had come to a kind of end, I asked my father whether I could pray for him (see explanation later, Love Europe-conference). He agreed and I prayed. You can image how much I long to see my father turn to Jesus so that He can heal him from all this damage ! When I think of my “short“ life of 20 years before my conversion, and how hard it still is to get rid of everything and be healed, how much harder must it be for my father, at the age of 45 ! Please pray that God would continue to work in his heart, bringing light into his darkness and showing him that His offer is for him.

I myself are still waiting for the “crisis“. So far it hasn’t been very emotional for me and I’m bit surprised (worried ?) about that. Perhaps because my father is more like a stranger than a father to me. It was different for him. Sometimes I could see how moved he was.

One thing I’m more struggling with are all the terrible things I’ve heard about my mother and my grandparents. I don’t want to accuse them of anything and forgave them for what they had done. I wished I could talk to them openly. You can’t imagine how hard it is to be with them, having all these questions in your mind, and not being able to ask them. I would want to hear my mother explaining me her lies, and explaining me her motives for what she had done. I would want to challenge my grandparents who claim to be Christians about what they had done to my father. I would want to get answers ! Today (18th of July) I had my “first“ Bible study with my grandparents again. I had to think about my father most of the time, wanting to ask them. It’s my desire that our Bible studies are not affected by my “new knowledge“ and that I don’t hold anything against them. Please pray for me concerning that point. I’m sure the day will come when I can ask them these questions.

So, at 3:30 p.m. we all started off to Vienna. At the first meeting, I had invited my father to come to VCC that day. I hadn’t really believed he would come as he was skeptical but now we started off to be at the service in time ! During the one and a half hours-drive to Vienna I was praising God, thanking Him, and interceding for my father and Irvana all the time. We then arrived half an hour too early. I was a bit nervous. What would they think ? That night, I was quite hungry for God myself, as I had just gone through some tough days (and weeks - more about that later) and somehow I regretted not to be able to genuinely worship God. After the worship-time, the first visitors had to introduce themselves. So all three of us got up and I said, “It’s very special to me to introduce my father from Austria and his fiancée from the Czech Republic.“ Omar (the pastor) then said something like, he appreciated me being involved in VCC. I then asked my father how he would like it so far. He hesitated and then said he was shocked. I asked why and he answered that the worship seems to him like bringing people into trance (we sang several fast songs and one slow one: When I look into Your holiness). Now I was shocked by that answer. When the guest speaker started preaching, my father and Irvana left. I then felt terrible but continued to translate the sermon. After the service I felt completely down. I will continue here later when I explain more about the weeks before.

Now I won’t see my father again before their wedding. They agreed to wait till I’m back from England. I intend to write a letter to my father, giving him my address in England and thanking him for last Sunday. We had had a nice day before the service.

Now back to June. The last three weeks I had several exams (I failed one of them), and had to finish writing two papers. So I was quite busy, still doing all the other things beside. At the same time, I enjoyed having “more time“ for my quiet time in the end of June as the lectures were ceasing. There was one week when I studied the whole book of Revelation, learning so much about God’s future plan and also about God’s wrath. At the same time I didn’t feel very well with different problems and feelings of failure. I usually set my own level quite high and at that time, I failed to achieve it several times. I also became more aware of my sinful behaviours. And then I was slowly coming down from that peak where I had been after the conference.

Then one Sunday, I was told about the possibility to go to the Love Europe-congress as a volunteer worker which started one week later, the 1st of July. I had to decide within a day. As I was praying, I got assured of God’s approval and was looking forward to the conference, although it meant quite a busy week before. I then left one day later, the 2nd, as I had met my father before.

The conference was held in Budapest. There were 500 young people there who were to go out to Eastern Europe after that week of training. My job was to sit at the information desk and help people what I enjoyed very much. Especially during the meetings, there weren’t hardly any people passing by, and so, I had a lot of time for reading. And I was surprised to see that I had a lot of free time. So I could participate in several meetings and seminars. I’m especially thankful to God that I had all the mornings off. There were four-day-skill-tracks. It was hard to choose between sketchboard and prayer and spiritual warfare, but I finally chose the latter. And I’m so glad I did ! The speaker was English, Trevor Gregory (with OM in London), and he is one of the most amazing speakers I know ! His seminar was excellent and I learnt a lot, and not only theoretical things but things I have already been able to put into practice (more later). If he had written a book, I would immediately recommend it to you. Another interesting thing was to get to know George Verwer, the founder and director of Operation Mobilisation. I only heard him speak once. He is quite unique.

The weather was brilliant all the time, and one afternoon we went into the inner city, what I enjoyed too. I also got to know some people at the conference with whom I hope to stay in contact. I’m really very grateful that God sent me to that conference and even provided the financial means. For some time I was wondering why God had wanted me to go there. I slowly begin to understand now.

I came back from Budapest Friday the 7th of July, going directly to the Singles meeting-barbecue. The next day I had to film my parents at one of their dancing competitions. There I learnt that a nineteen-year-old boy I had spent some time in my childhood with, had just committed suicide. He had jumped into the Danube. (His mother was a friend of my mother.) When I heard that, my heart was deeply stirred. Especially in Austria, the rate of suicides is very high. If he had known the good news of Jesus, he would still live. If somebody would have told him, he would still live. If more Christians were concerned about the world around them, more people would live. I had to leave the place (it wasn’t my parents’ turn yet) and went into the nearby woods, where I sat in the grass and interceded for all the broken people living in despair and hopelessness. Again, I asked God - or rather pleaded with Him - to use me to bring His good news to the lost and broken.

The following day was Sunday and I was looking forward to the service, after having missed the one the week before. I still didn’t feel well, like in June, and hoped to meet with God that night. It does happen from time to time that I leave exactly the same way I had come to church. I felt as empty and down after the service as I had before. Those nights are the most terrible ones.

The following morning, July 10th, I left to go the training week in Schloß Mittersill, which had started two days before. The theme of the week was Parables of Jesus, and the speaker our leader Fred Bailey and his wife. There were only 50 students there this year. I had the privilege to lead a Bible study group what I enjoyed a lot ! I felt so weak when I came there that I didn’t know how I should lead that group. But I love to prepare passages, especially with a library like in Mittersill at hand. So I took several commentaries and explored the chosen passages, learning so many things just by preparing. I was then able to pass on in the group what I had learnt myself while discovering more in the discussion. I tell you, these times were the highlights of the week for me. I also enjoyed the talks in the evening generally.

When I came to Mittersill, I was already quite tired. I decided only to participate in the “most important“ things, having the most rest possible (which wasn’t very much). During that week, my spiritual condition somehow became worse. It was strange, because I felt good and bad at the same time. I still enjoyed studying God’s word and having my quiet time (although it decreased too), at the same time God seemed to be more and more distant. As the days were passing, I was crying for God to draw me closer to Himself. I didn’t understand why I was in that situation. I loved God with all of my heart and needed His presence more than anything else. I became aware how dependent I am on God. I can’t do anything without Him. It also came to my mind that God might be testing me. I had just been going through amazing encounters with God, which were powerful, where God had visibly been very near. One thought was that God wanted to test my faithfulness when He seems to be distant. Thinking of that, I was even rejoicing and saying, my dear Lord, I won’t forsake you. Thursday seems to be a significant day in my life (I converted on a Thursday, had special encounters with God on Thursdays etc.). It was on Thursday when I reached the bottom. Again I cried out for God and asked Him to send somebody by I could talk to. My prayer partner Louise was very busy, and didn’t seem to be interested to talk with me. So I was glad about our leader’s, Fred’s, sensitivity who realized that I wasn’t okay. I talked with him and was so thankful when he prayed for me. The following day, we had a “good-bye-evening“ for Fred Bailey & his family because they are returning to the States (Canada) after having been in Austria for 10 years. I think, Fred is the most “godly“ person I know. He is the person I have trusted most and had most confidence in, and whom I have a lot of respect of. For me, Fred is a real example, a high ideal, so that I look up to him with reverence. That evening was very hard for me. Especially when we sang the song “Go under God’s grace, go with God’s blessing, go with His peace wherever you go“, I was overwhelmed with pain. I couldn’t hold back my tears which were running down my cheeks. Finally I wasn’t even able to sing anymore. I was glad I stood in the back. After that evening I immediately went to bed. The moment of finally saying good-bye is very close meanwhile.

When I came back to Vienna on Saturday afternoon, I was glad again to have another opportunity to talk and to pray, this time with Louise. I was quite down. I felt like not being able to fight any more, against all those thoughts from my past coming up again, all the things that had been said to me during the first 20 years of my life. Again I had to realize that my healing process isn’t finished yet and that Satan will always have something to attack me with. Anyway, I felt much better after having prayed with Louise.

I spent the following day with my father as described earlier. Driving back to Vienna and praying for my father in the car, I felt close to God again for the first time. As I said, I then felt terrible after the service. The days before had been so hard and I felt like not being able to fight any more. I needed God so much. Again, it had been one of those “empty“ services for me. As I was talking to some people afterwards, they even realized that I wasn’t okay (In Mittersill, somebody even addressed me saying, “What’s wrong with you ? That’s not the way I know you.“). Two of my friends asked me whether I would like them to pray for me. I agreed, more or less thinking, okay, another prayer, that might help me. As they prayed for me, asking God to fill me with His Spirit etc., I just fell to the floor after some moments. I hadn’t expected that at all, but I was so happy about God’s touch ! I felt like God saying to me, I’ve heard all your cries and seen all your tears and the longing of your heart, and I’m here with you. God comforted me so much and I was so thankful ! That evening I felt so close to God again, rejoicing in Him, in His kindness, graciousness, love, ... .

God had taken care of my financial difficulties in Mittersill again, like in Budapest. I couldn’t believe it ! Just when I felt worse, I learnt that the whole amount the week cost would be paid ! I could have cried about God’s faithfulness and care, especially at that moment. That was a real miracle to me. It showed me, too, that God is not dependent on our faithfulness to him, He will always be faithful to us.

Now, what is happening at the moment ? During this week and the following, we have an IFES-summer team here, with daily coffee-bar, going on the streets etc.. Monday night I took the chance to participate and go into a residence with the questionnaire. I intended to apply what I had learnt in the prayer and spiritual warfare- seminar at Love Europe. So I have to pass on to you one of the testimonies Trevor had given us, that encouraged me so much :

We did an outreach in England when I met two Muslims, a Lebanese and a Syrian. We sat in a café and talked about our beliefs. After one and a half hours I realized that we were going in circles and said that I would have to leave. I offered them to pray for them before leaving. They discussed for some time and then said, "if you do that, then head off." I said, "you or me ?" The Lebanese said that whoever in his village allows a Christian to pray for him, is killed. Then they discussed again and agreed that I could pray for them. As I prayed that they Holy Spirit would come into their hearts and bring the Kingdom of God, the Lebanese started to cry. So I went on praying. After some time, the Lebanese asked whether I had a tract and I gave him the gospel of John. I didn’t expect to see them again. The following day, they were at the coffee-bar, wanting to ask me several questions. The Lebanese told me that he had gone home and started to read the gospel. Then wrote down all his questions till early in the morning. The following day he went to work. At lunch-time he called all his friends and shared with them what he had read. Then they added all their questions. In the evening all 13 of them came to the coffee-bar, with 4 pages of questions. After having received Christ, they then started a Bibles study group.
(I quoted it from my memory.)

The point Trevor wanted to make was: Never leave after a conversation without having asked whether you could pray for that person. So I decided to apply that Monday evening. The first person I talked with was a kurdish student. We discussed for a long time (he had said that he wasn’t interested in God at all !), and it seemed to me that he became more open. Finally I realized that it didn’t make any sense to go on discussing. So I asked him whether I could pray for him. He agreed (like Trevor had said, nearly everybody agrees !) and so I prayed for Reza, that God would come by His Holy Spirit and enlighten His heart, showing him how much He loves him and longs for him to come to Him, that His kingdom would come in his heart etc.. When I stopped I realized that Reza had been touched. He was quite moved and took the gospel with interest. I hope he’ll come to the coffee-bar. The other person I prayed for was a young female student. She said she was catholic and considered herself a Christian. Nevertheless, I also saw that she was moved by my prayer for her. Especially when I prayed for the kingdom of God to come (both times), I sensed the presence of God very strong. I’ve just read how central the kingdom of God is in Jesus’ preaching and how much we neglect that. I think that’s true. I was so encouraged by those conversations (we didn’t have more time to go on) and so excited ! I hadn’t felt the joy of the Lord that much for some time. I will never do evangelism like before again. I would have loved to go on and to participate in the whole summer-team, going out every day, but I don’t have the time. I will have to be patient and to wait for “my“ summer-team in England.

This week actually is very busy. There are so many things to organise and think of that I don’t know how to do everything. And my first priority at the moment is to finish my News and send them out. You haven’t heard from me for such a long time and I know, how eager most of you are to hear about the meeting with my father.
Next Tuesday, the 25th, I will leave Vienna, together with Rainer (he is in our team and will also do the summer-team in Bournemouth), and by car. It’s so amazing for
me to see how God has arranged everything with our trip. We had been looking for a third person to come with us but although there were several interested people, nothing worked out. Then I heard that one of the team-members in Bournemouth was looking for a way to go to England, and that he lived exactly where we had intended to stay for the night, not knowing yet where to stay. So I phoned this German and he agreed to come with us (actually he lives 200 km north to that place). So, after having spent the night there, we’ll go up to Paris (Wednesday, 26th). Then we’ll stay there till Monday, 31st. I’m looking forward to see my friends and “my city“ again ! I have tried to organise Paris-London in Vienna (through the tunnel) but that turned out to be impossible. So we’ll see how we’ll get to London where we’ll stay till Thursday, 3rd, when the outreach will start in Bournemouth. It will then last till the 22nd of August. Afterwards, I’ll stay three more weeks in England, possibly Bournemouth. I intend to start writing my biography then. Again and again I had seen the need of passing on a testimony like mine and I want to help people with my past. I think it’s God’s will for me to do so. Sometimes I feel a strong urge to start writing. Please pray for me, that the way would be clear to do so. At the same time I would like to see some friends in England, and have more freedom to do so with my car. I’ll then leave England the 13th of September. Angie (who is in the IFES-team in Vienna) and hopefully another future IFES-team member will come back to Vienna with me then. Then I’ll have another two weeks (of preparation) before the lectures will start again.

Now, if you’d like to write me in summer, or see me if you’re in England, I would be glad to hear from you. This will be my address from now on till the 13th of September:

c/o David & Catia Smith
1 Redhill Crescent
Tel.: +44 - (0) - 1202 / 53 46 80

The only thing that didn’t work out so far, concerns my flat. I had found somebody to stay here during those seven weeks but he has changed his mind. Now it seems to stay empty, which means less money. But I’m sure God will provide me again with everything I need.

As the page is just reaching its end, I’ll close for today (without summary of prayer requests). I hope to hear from you soon.

May God keep you and bless you abundantly !

Phil 4:4

With much love in Christ,

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