I grew up in Germany. My parents divorced when I was five years old. I lived with my mom after the divorce, and things got worse. My mom began drinking, and she became very difficult to live with, so at 14 years of age, I ran away from home. I would go from friend to friend because I couldn’t afford to live alone. I finally got accepted into the Ford apprenticeship program.
It took me three and a half years to complete, and then I finally got a chance to work with BMW. After a while, I was transferred to the United States at the Greenville/Spartanburg plant. I couldn’t speak any English when I arrived.
I was shaking like a leaf at the immigration office. I learned English on my own by watching old Arnold Schwarzenegger movies and reading the subtitles. After being here for three months, I met my wife, Becky, and a year later, we were married. After 11 years of marriage, she became very ill and passed away. It was so hard after Becky passed, and I was so hopeless. I didn’t understand why this was happening to me. I had no purpose and no family or friends to help me through this most difficult time in my life. I was angry and hurt.
"For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another." Galatians 5:13
I soon became acquainted with a couple here at Fellowship Greenville, Craigen and Cindy Schoen, with whom I rented my house for a year. It’s funny because when they moved into my house, they began inviting me over to my own house for dinner. I started building a relationship with them, and shortly afterward, they invited me to attend FG with them. I had never been to church and didn’t know what to expect. After four weeks, the Holy Spirit began to work on my heart. Craigen and I would get together to study the gospel of John. After reading and discussing the first chapter of John at our favorite restaurant (Kitchen Sink), I told Craigen I was ready to trust Christ as my Savior. I then prayed to receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
After following Jesus, I feel a source of strength when I have to do challenging things. Walking with Christ has made me care and interact with people in a new way. I now always think about forgiveness, compassion, and kindness when I connect with others. Following Jesus made me feel more supported in my life than ever before. I believe God has been pursuing me for a long time, and I just did not know. I believe God is teaching me the power of gratitude and finding joy in every moment of my life. And because of God’s grace, I am now my name, a “Christian.”