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Vieraskieliset / In-english

Blog: I met a man who had found a tre­a­su­re

Vieraskieliset / In-english
30.4.2020 6.15

Juttua muokattu:

14.4. 09:48
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I re­cei­ved an in­te­res­ting email last sum­mer. It was from a man who was about my age and had re­cent­ly re­cei­ved the grace of re­pen­tan­ce through on­li­ne ser­vi­ces. He wan­ted to go to the Sum­mer Ser­vi­ces, but did not know if he could go there just like that, and how he should pre­pa­re for going there. He had not yet had the cou­ra­ge to go to lo­cal ser­vi­ces. He came from out­si­de the Con­ser­va­ti­ve La­es­ta­di­an com­mu­ni­ty and was not fa­mi­li­ar with the pe­op­le, their cus­toms and cul­tu­re, the com­mu­ni­ty, or anyt­hing el­se. For him, eve­ryt­hing was new and spe­ci­al.

I was as­to­nis­hed. Do things like this re­al­ly hap­pen in our time? I had thought that on­ly be­lie­vers were wil­ling to come and hear God’s word. But I was cer­tain­ly over­jo­yed. We exc­han­ged emails, and I en­cou­ra­ged him to come ser­vi­ces. We de­ci­ded to meet at the Sum­mer Ser­vi­ces. On the lar­ge fields of Mu­hos I met a hap­py man, who was very ex­ci­ted about his vi­sit. I was ex­ci­ted too, and we found right away that we got along very well. We went for a cup of cof­fee at my wife’s pa­rents’ mo­bi­le home and tal­ked about the Sum­mer Ser­vi­ces and about being a be­lie­ver. He had many qu­es­ti­ons and was won­de­ring about many things.

Right from the be­gin­ning I was deep­ly touc­hed by the great joy of this new friend who had found a tre­a­su­re. God’s king­dom ap­pe­a­red be­au­ti­ful to him. His joy was mi­xed with re­lief. The most im­por­tant mat­ter to him was that he had been ab­le to be­lie­ve his sins for­gi­ven and le­a­ve be­hind his old life, which had been dif­fi­cult in many ways. He was ea­ger to en­ga­ge in pro­found dis­cus­si­ons of mat­ters re­la­ted to life as a be­lie­ver.

And we did dis­cuss. My wife and I in­vi­ted our new friend to vi­sit us af­ter the Sum­mer Ser­vi­ces. We had me­als and cof­fee to­get­her and all the while we dis­cus­sed “the way and the jour­ney”, as ol­der pe­op­le used to say. We tal­ked about the mi­ra­cu­lous po­wer of re­pen­tan­ce but al­so about ser­vi­ces, work lists, camps, opis­to work, and ot­her im­por­tant eve­ry­day mat­ters. Alt­hough my friend did not know much about these to­pics, we un­ders­tood things in the same way. Qui­te cle­ar­ly, we had the same faith. We dis­cus­sed faith and life with ge­nui­ne open­ness and sin­ce­ri­ty wit­hout any dif­fi­den­ce or in­si­nu­a­ted un­der­to­nes of “well, you know”. There were no such un­der­to­nes and no li­mi­ta­ti­ons, and it was ea­sy to dis­cuss eve­ryt­hing.

This is not al­wa­ys the case. It is so­me­ti­mes dif­fi­cult to talk about faith even with child­hood Chris­ti­ans. I have been won­de­ring about this. Why is it so? It so­me­ti­mes seems down­right sha­me­ful to speak open­ly with ot­her be­lie­vers. Es­pe­ci­al­ly if one is not sure about the ot­her per­son’s way of thin­king. But there may be ra­ti­o­nal exp­la­na­ti­ons for this.

For many of us, Con­ser­va­ti­ve La­es­ta­di­a­nism is like the air that we bre­at­he. If you were born in­to a be­lie­ving home, have spent yo­ur free time with be­lie­vers, and have friends who be­lie­ve in the same way as you do, faith may seem like a self-evi­dent part of eve­ry­day life. We may live for long pe­ri­ods hard­ly tal­king about the per­so­nal me­a­ning of faith. Alt­hough we may go to ser­vi­ces and par­ti­ci­pa­te in the work of the cong­re­ga­ti­on, we may for­get to mar­vel at the gift of faith. We do not know what it is like to re­pent from un­be­lief. We may not even un­ders­tand how dif­fe­rent­ly things could be.

For this re­a­son, it see­med so spe­ci­al to meet a per­son who had been re­cent­ly “awa­ke­ned”. Our friend told us about his life on the ot­her side of the fen­ce. He had been fa­mi­li­ar with King Al­co­hol, and his life had been full of ac­ti­on. Still, his jour­ney along the broad road had not brought him hap­pi­ness. Life had see­med me­a­ning­less and lac­king pur­po­se. Fi­nal­ly, he had on­ly been ab­le to make a simp­le ap­pe­al to God. His cons­cien­ce had been awa­ke­ned, and his dist­ress for sin had been overw­hel­ming. Thin­king back to his child­hood, he had re­mem­be­red some friends who had been be­lie­vers. This had made him lis­ten to on­li­ne ser­vi­ces. Fi­nal­ly, he had been gi­ven the strength to be­lie­ve the gos­pel per­so­nal­ly.

Pain and dist­ress had been rep­la­ced by pe­a­ce. He desc­ri­bed how all of the old bur­dens had been wi­ped away, and he had felt free in both soul and body. His mind had been fil­led with a de­si­re to che­rish this pe­a­ce and to live like be­lie­vers live. Ser­mons and the gos­pel pre­ac­hed as part of them had be­co­me the nou­rish­ment that he so­re­ly nee­ded. The Bib­le says that re­pen­tan­ce is a chan­ge of the mind. This was conc­re­te­ly vi­sib­le in him.

Mee­ting this new friend, I see­med to have some idea of the lar­ge his­to­ri­cal awa­ke­nings. Old pe­op­le still re­mem­ber how a lar­ge por­ti­on of the adult in­ha­bi­tants in some lo­ca­li­ties re­pen­ted. This must have had an im­pact on cong­re­ga­ti­o­nal life and dis­cus­si­ons. Things are dif­fe­rent now, alt­hough there are oc­ca­si­o­nal re­pen­tan­ces. For me, it was me­mo­rab­le to meet this man who had found a tre­a­su­re in the field.

Text: Sau­li Ter­va­nie­mi

Trans­la­ti­on: Sirk­ka-Lii­sa Lei­no­nen

You will find the ori­gi­nal blog post here.