From the Colony to Christ
I was born and raised in a Hutterite colony, in a home where the Bible was read frequently. When I was a young boy, my dad told us stories from the Bible, taught us how important it was to obey God’s commandments – and, of course, all the colony’s man-made rules. From the viewpoint of a blessed inheritance, I had everything to appreciate. I should have “lived happily ever after,” but that was not the case.
The teaching I received from my parents and the elders was that if I tried to obey what the Bible teaches and follow the colony rules, I would probably get to heaven, but could never be sure of my eternal destiny. I tried very hard to be a good boy, and I was very religious. I never had a radio, TV, or a tape recorder because that was considered worldly, although many young folks had all that. Some others often considered our family odd and self-righteous. We respected the ministers, but I was never aware that “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).
I was baptized (by pouring) when I was twenty-one years old. No one had ever mentioned my need of salvation. Instead, we went to the minister to confess our sins. The minister then prayed before the congregation and our sins were “forgiven.” Baptism was considered to be the new birth. I went through all those rituals in all sincerity. I must admit I felt cleaner and more free than ever before, but it did not last. Some of my sins that I had confessed to the minister kept hounding me. After marriage six months later, I found that my wife had the same struggles. I remember quoting to my wife, “There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5); however, I didn’t understand its meaning because of what I had been taught.
These false teachings had been engraved in my mind since birth. I was very fearful of being led astray; yet, what I read in other books seemed to be in harmony with the Bible, but not with what I had been taught. My confusion, as well as trials in my life, drove me to study the Word of God even more. I was confused and was searching for answers that would bring me peace.
One day in a shopping mall, I saw a man handing out tracts and posters. Thanks be to God for His marvelous grace! Finally I had met a man who wanted to talk about the Bible. His name was Steve Kember. I was so thrilled that I invited him to my home. There we sat for hours in the evening, listening to and asking questions about the Word of God.
During one of the first visits we had, Steve presented the gospel so simply and clearly, that I believed what the Bible said and was saved. He first explained that, according to Romans 3:23, we are all sinners. I was no better than the prostitute on the streets of New York, for the Bible says there is no difference. Ouch! That was a hard pill to swallow. Steve then went to Isaiah 53 and showed me how the Lord Jesus was afflicted and bruised for my iniquities and that I’m healed by His stripes. He quoted John 3:36: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.” What joy and peace that brought to my searching and anxious soul, knowing sins forgiven and best of all that He will remember them no more!
I could not keep this to myself, but started telling other people about God’s saving grace. Gaining favor with God is not by what we do or by living in the Hutterite colony. By what Christ did on Calvary, once and for all ages, we are saved. That did not sit well with our ministers, because, apparently, I was preaching as the worldly preachers preach – the easy way to heaven. They persecuted me for preaching Christ and Christ alone.
Quite a few of those that had been saved were baptized as believers by Steve Kember. We were therefore expelled from the colony, so in October of 2001 we moved to Coalhurst, about forty miles north from our colony. That first exodus included about thirty people including children. Shortly after, another thirty left from a different colony.
John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” Humble yourself in repentance and receive Christ today.