My father was a member of the Communist Party. Seeing the advantages we as a family had because of that, I thought that Communism was something I could live for. I wanted to be a part of something, and when I was in High School, I became a Communist youth leader; I felt I was fulfilling my life purpose until the Romanian revolution in 1989 when communism fell and all my "glorious" future fell too. I didn't know what to do with the new freedoms we gained after the revolution that December.
I grew up feeling insecure and afraid. My father was either away from home or drunk. My mother was also usually gone. She had to work long hours to make enough money to take care of four children and pay the rent. I often feared that something horrible might happen to my parents and that I would be left alone. I wanted to be sure that I was a good child so that they would not leave me. I wanted everyone to think that I was a good boy and worth loving.
The Romanian peasant was on his knees, frantically gathering the half-rotten apples strewn all over the mountain road. In the pitch darkness, our rickety little car had plowed into his cart, throwing him off and somersaulting his two horses. As a cold rain and snow fell on this surreal midnight scene, I had never felt less in control. I asked myself, “What in the world am I doing here?” At age 12, I had accepted Christ. The preacher in the big tent at the summer Bible Camp helped me to understand that I was a sinner and needed to receive God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
After a long pause on the telephone, the nurse finally said, "I will need to have the doctor call you back in a few minutes with the biopsy results."
I knew by her response that I did have cancer and that my life would be now going in a completely different direction than I had planned. It happened in a moment.
Have you ever read Jesus' advice on real estate? They say that the three rules of real estate investment are: location, loation, location. This isn't new. Jesus told a story about two men who built houses. One built on sand, probably waterfront property. The other guy built on rock, that was me.
Once again I was in darkness. My twin brother with whom I shared a room always fell asleep quickly. I enjoyed wrestling with him during the day, but I dreaded the wrestling match I faced each night. Out of the darkness imposing thoughts seized me like, "What would happen if I were to die tonight?" I didn't want to die, but it was the uncertainty of what followed death that really terrified me. In the morning after a particularly long night of struggling to fall asleep, I approached my mother in the kitchen.
"Jim, what is the matter with us? We say we are Christians, but our lives are no different than someone who doesn't claim to be one."
I grew up in a religious home. However, God was not real in my daily life. I was troubled by doubts. Religion for me was more of a tradition and following a list of dos and don'ts. God seemed far off.
During university, I was tempted to reject God but I couldn't honestly do so because of the exemplary life of my father. He was a biochemistry professor and also a true follower of Jesus Christ.
I suffered no abuse. I endured no trauma. But growing up I lacked a sense of internal security. The thought of eventually becoming an adult, with all its responsibility, felt elusive and frightening. Though our family believed in God, we rarely attended church. The notion of God, or lack thereof, felt elusive and frightening to me as well.