Over and over again, these two simple verses have become a litmus test for God’s trustworthiness in my life.
As a young Polish girl I was ridiculed and shunned because my parents and I belonged to a weird ‘sect’. In fact we were simply evangelical Christians, but in Roman Catholic Poland under a communist regime, we were seen as strange and slightly threatening.
I prayed a simple prayer of commitment to Christ when I was just seven years old, promising God to dedicate my whole life to his service. Then a year later, in 1981, childhood came to a halt.
Poland was in political turmoil; soldiers were on the streets and curfews were enforced. My father became desperately ill. He was bed-ridden and unable to speak or feed himself, so I had to help my mother take care of my father and younger sister.
Yet, I remember in those difficult times for my family, when it was so easy to think that God must have forgotten us, that our home was filled with Christian friends who would spend hours praying for my father’s health. They would often leave late at night, risking arrest for breaching curfew.
God answered those prayers. My dad was miraculously healed; and God kept answering our prayers. In the 1980s, queues for food would snake round the streets, with shop stocks sometimes reduced to just vinegar and mustard.
But God took care of our basic needs. He blessed us through Christians from the UK, Germany and America sending food and clothing to our isolated evangelical churches. So the more difficult life seemed to me as a child, the more I could see God’s love at work.
Towards the end of that decade, the Holy Spirit worked strongly in the hearts of many young people in my town. Disillusioned by the life around them, they started reading the Bible and asking questions about Christ and salvation by faith.
One Sunday, nearly 40 of those young people came to my church! Their child-like faith encouraged me to be baptised as a symbol of my total dependence on Christ. Immediately, my faith was put to the test again.
In the days leading up to my baptism and 18th birthday, I was diagnosed with the same genetic illness that nearly killed my father. It felt like a death sentence. I cried out to God, ‘Why have you let this happen to me now, when I am about to give all of myself to you in front of the whole world? Don’t you love me? Have you forgotten me?’
Well God hadn’t forgotten me, nor had he stopped loving me. And he did answer me. He led me to see that my life was safe in his hands, no matter what. ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me’ (Galatians 2:20).
I had to learn to live in this earthly body by trusting God’s Son. So I trusted the One who is the way, the truth and the life. I trusted him when my family faced homelessness, my sister fought for the life of her unborn son, my dad’s liver failed again, and I was hospitalised.
I seemed to be losing so much. But I trusted Christ to be all I needed, to be my life that death will not take away from me. I trusted him when he told me to give up my job as an English college lecturer to become a full-time missionary to young people.
And I still trust him now as a woman in youth ministry, balancing pressures way beyond my own strength with the thrill of seeing young people meet Jesus, respond to his invitation to eternal life and experience his grace at work in their lives.
When God answered the prayer of a seven-year-old girl, he granted me an incredible ministry. Working with young people makes me the happiest woman in the world. I rejoice when they trust Christ as their Saviour and I love to see young lives changed by his love, just as his love continues to change mine.
Wioletta works for YFC Poland, one of the partner organisations in Central Eurasian Partners. She visits the UK periodically for mission and ministry. If your church or group would like to meet her in May 2012, or discover more of the work of Central Eurasian Partners, please visit www.cepartners.org.uk or email [email protected]