Reading Time: 9 - 10min
My grandparents recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary - a marriage that started in the aftermath of the last world war, going together ‘through thick and thin’. I sometimes wish that my life would have been as streamlined as theirs, but God had much more adventurous plans for my life.
Everything started quite normal - apart from the fact that I was born as the oldest of 8 siblings - receiving initially the full charge of parental love, but also coming with the package of huge responsibility. My parents had been believers as long as I can think, with my father being a deacon during my early childhood and with my mother being the spiritual backbone of our family until today. Every child was given a biblical name, and much more than that, a faithful and mostly loving education.
But this is also a testimony between the epic battle of good and evil. What we did not know until weeks before his death, was the fact that my father at some unknown point had given in to the spirit of divination and substantially questioned the Word. He was a very good father and returned to God before his death, but his actions caused a lot of drama for the family and shall serve as a warning for you.
The first blow of the enemy came toward my second oldest sister, who played hide and seek with me and a friend and was hit head first by a car, spending months in a specialist clinic until it was clear that she would survive. She is suffering until today and never had a normal life. But we know that God will heal her one day when she comes to faith.
The second blow came at the age of 13, when a helicopter had to fly me out from a church retreat, where I fell off a castle ruin and spent 6 weeks being washed and rolled over in a hospital bed, sitting by a hair's breadth in a wheelchair.
The third blow came at the age of 17, when my best friend and neighbor died, beheaded in a cruel car accident on the way to a big festival in Berlin. I had previously decided to accompany him and only canceled half an hour before his departure. Divine protection. I will never forget the moment my mother told me the terrible news she just had received after the colleagues of his father, a police officer, had presented themselves at the door of our neighbors.
The fourth blow ocurred when God one night saved my life again from a car accident, making an emergency break at the speed of 120km/h, when a deer landed between the motor and the hood flipped against the windshield, coming to a stop in a curve between a river and a forest. A miracle.
The fifth blow came when my father, being very successful having built up a construction company, had slowly and unnoticeably ‘run out of oil’. God had blessed our family enormously, but a series of simultaneous coincidences led to a sudden and unforeseeable bankruptcy.
This changed nearly everything for our family - from being financially rich and highly regarded to almost the other end of the spectrum. We managed to save our house and I only lost my beloved piano, but my father struggled for years and became very sick, with Hepatitis from a holiday trip and weekly dialysis until his death.
I was now in the difficult age of a young adult, when wrong friends led me to a lot of alcohol and parties, and the mother of my daughter indirectly did the rest to bring me away from church. One week after ending a 2-year relationship and while still being an apprentice, she ‘confessed’ to be pregnant. Unbelief later turned into certainty. We tried to save the relationship for the sake of my unborn daughter. She even moved for some weeks to my parent's place where I had set up an apartment under the roof, but things did not work out under pressure.
While my world seemed to collapse once again -being suddenly in a position I formerly had judged people for- and maturing at ‘hypersonic speed’ while becoming a father, I immersed myself in hard work, becoming an engineer and making a career. Weeks of 60, 70 plus hours as a project manager in the exhibition industry, often compensating the workload with excess of alcohol on the weekends.
I took good care of my now 20-year old daughter, but was living a life far from God. Meanwhile the mother -the same who had indirectly brought me away from God- found Him 5 years later, through a tent mission, together with her parents. I never in my life saw a person change the way she had. The overly self-confident woman I knew became the most decent, humble and loving person. What had been struggles for years in having the right to see my daughter, turned into an apology for the former things and by the grace of God into a friendship, even being present at her wedding with a brother in Christ and happy to see them start a family of 6.
I found Christ only years later in 2012, in one of God’s mysterious ways through my second relationship. Meanwhile, the financial crisis of 2009 also reached Germany and caused me to lose my job. What was thought to be a time-out in Ecuador and learning a new language, turned out in a breathtaking backpacking trip all over South America. We lived 2 years in Buenos Aires and then moved together to Bogotá to accompany her father in his final months of cancer. The relationship later broke up under the huge stretch between countries and the ongoing hurt of loss. But it was her -having years earlier broken away from her faith through a dramatic story and not having experienced healing- who previously took me along for a house church meeting at a friend’s place and once to his church.
Months later, being emotionally broken after the separation, I remembered on a Sunday morning the rough location of the church. I got off the exact bus stop in a 10-million city and was led by the Holy Spirit to walk a few blocks to a church hardly discernible in a factory hall. This day a sobbing 'Gringo' foreigner was standing in a small church in the nowhere of Bogotá, making the first of many big steps back to Christ.
From the small church, I made some months later my way to a megachurch in Bogotá, where people who did not line up 15 or 20 minutes before the service, did only make it to what they called in hip terms the ‘overflow’. A wonderful church, but with a detailed curriculum of at least half a year of membership in order to get 'authorized' for baptism. I eventually moved to Medellin and did not find a good church there anymore.
My beloved father died in 2015 after a sequence of small coincidences. Previously he had survived situations when doctors shook their heads in total unbelief - one time with 3 liters of blood in the stomach. But this time it was serious and the doctors gave him 24 hours to live. By the total grace of God he lived 4 more days until I arrived from Medellin. I went straight to the hospital room where all my family was assembled and where he had waited for me, only to die a few hours later. A miracle to see him in his last hours. The funeral oration was the most difficult speech I had to hold in my life. But most importantly, he reaffirmed his faith before his death.
In the time before and especially after my father’s death, the Lord prospered me (in financial terms) as he had previously done with my father and He nearly led me through the same lesson. I started as a travel agent in a call center, soon had responsibility for several travel agencies in Colombia and a few years later over 50 agencies all over the Americas. My mother repeatedly exhorted me to not rely on online-church only and to be a regular part of a church body involving accountability. I became sort of rich and slowly walked away from God, while still not being baptized. Travelling more than 100,000 km per year and the influence of a sometimes very loose South-American culture brought me into sexual sin for more than a year. God then did not allow my contract to be renewed and broke me through a woman - the best thing that could have happened.
On one of my trips, I visited Vancouver and fell in love with the city. Half a year later and with many simultaneous events pointing me to move on, I sold most of my inventory in Colombia and made my way to British Columbia.
A staff member from my former church received me at midnight in the place I would stay for the next few months. A Facebook group from the church opened this door after a lot of prayer. While packing in Colombia and starting my life in Vancouver, I made dramatic cuts in my life. Nearly no more traveling - the biggest stress factor and idol. God also broke unhealthy friendships and set me free from every financial debt.
I finally received my baptism in August 2017 - on a beautiful summer day at a beach called 'English Bay'. The best moment of my life - with a joy never felt before. It was after the baptism when I received a card with a Bible verse from Ezekiel 36:26 :
Tears streamed down my face. One year earlier I had visited at one of my business trips a Christian orphanage in Paraguay, where I had received the very same verse through a beautiful card painted by child's hands. Back then I pondered for a long time over the card. Now the picture was complete and the enemy lost me now forever.
Since then I underwent dramatic testing. God once again saved my life from a car accident, after sliding down a snowy mountain road from Elfin Lake and gaining grip just feet away from a cliff.
I endured multiple illnesses, lived for a few months with an ex-prisoner and now brother in Christ and picked up just months ago a homeless senior after street evangelism, only to discover after his stay through a variety of old press articles that I had hosted for 2.5 weeks a seemingly very well-educated man who also told me his 'story of cancer’, having been in prison for fraud. But God used me to bring him twice to church and to tell him a lot about Jesus Christ.
Though & through the small and big trials, God lifted and built me in the last 5 years continually up, going through many volunteer positions, leading several church groups and even leading the construction of the newest campus for my former church. And much more important than a sometimes 'glossy' frontline position in church, I learned how to do ministry on the street, the 'dirty' work with all its beautiful and ugly facets.
A few years ago I was close to becoming engaged to a sister, but God gave me to my surprise a clear 'no'. Some people judged me for a hard decision I had to make, but I learned a few months later that my obedience to God was the essential step of making room for an online ministry He was leading me into. What was initially part-time next to a project management job, became nearly a full-time ministry after I asked God for guidance regarding my former workplace. Within a matter of days after the prayer I received the news that my boss would leave the country. What was thought to be some months off, resulted during Covid in daily volunteering at a foodbank and spending long days and nights creating Bible studies, while experiencing a financial rock-bottom season and trusting in God.
Covid separated me from my former church, but I kept very busy with the Fit For Faith - Ministries, being now able to reach many believers all over the world and to provide them with own Bible studies, comprehensive resources and a discernment ministry. It is truly remarkable how the Spirit has led me in every step of this ministry and it is pure joy to work for His Kingdom, no matter all the long nights and small throwbacks.
An incredibly costly and consuming journey - over 3 continents, 5 countries and 7 churches. Stronger than ever, by the grace of God. He miraculously protected me throughout my life - even in the times I was far.
The decisive factor was my praying mother.
Thomas Lorenz · December 2021