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watch out for what you don't like!

When I was a child, my mother wanted for me to become a priest. To me the idea was unimaginable, because I did not like the church or religious people. My dream was to become a merchant sailor.

I was born in Romania, when communists were in power. The Ceausescu's regime was very restrictive and spiritual resources (the Bible, Christian books, magazines) were prohibited.

What I learned in schools and I saw at TV shaped my atheistic perspective about life and the world origins. I had a sense of superiority and an assurance full of pride that I knew everything about what I wanted in life.

After high school I went at the Naval Academy in order to become a navigation officer. At that time in our country the communist regime came to an end, as a result of a spontaneous revolution. Many young people, students and innocents died on the streets or in prisons. Some of my friends experienced first-hand the event in dramatic ways, even facing death.

I began to feel the nothingness of my life, the smallness of my theories, the emptiness of my heart. I wanted to know more about God. I began to realize that my life without God was empty and ugly. I was reading nihilistic philosophy and the desperation in my heart reached the tipping point.

The following year I had my first opportunity to read about Jesus. A classmate gave me the New Testament and some spiritual literature. I liked reading about Jesus' life, and the thing that impressed my heart the most was His teachings on loving the enemies. I recognized a power and a greatness in living like that: to love people unconditionally, even your enemies.

When I first learned about Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, I wondered why He willingly died even though He could have avoid that. At that moment a voice within my heart told me that when I would find out the answer to that question I will experience the freedom of my spirit. Soon I understood that Jesus died for me. I wanted to be Jesus' disciple!

One day I read in my Bible about the biblical Sabbath of the seventh-day of the week, Saturday. I realized that my church neglected this commandment, and also that it allows worship of images, contrary to the ten commandments.

Having many questions, I visited an old friend that I knew observed the Sabbath and he invited me at the Seventh-day Adventist church. The people welcomed me and I felt as at home. I decided to attend every worship program on Sabbath. I took Bible studies with an experienced Christian leader and my faith became stronger. I began to share God's love and Jesus' teachings with non-believers. The visits and conversations with people interested in salvation helped me clarify my own decision and I asked to be baptized.

I was so happy sharing Jesus' message, that I lost all my interest in navigation. I realized God was calling me to serve Him full time. I left the Naval Academy after two full years and I went at the Adventist theological seminary.

I met my wife in my first assigned church as a pastor. She was the youth leader and I liked her love and dedication for ministry. We celebrate our fourteenth year together and as a pastor I was truly blessed serving the Lord for the past sixteen years, in three countries on three continents. (Daniel Cucuteanu, pastor)