Toby´s Testimony

Jesus called us to be his ‘witnesses’ (Acts 1:8). A witness testifies in court, or just to other people what he has seen or experienced. This is basically all we Christians have to do: We don’t have to defend God, we are not God’s ‘attorneys’. I hope that you will be encouraged to seek God in your own life by what happened to me…

Regular Resume
  • 26 September 1966: I was born in Braunschweig, Germany. I have two older sisters and an older brother. 
  • 1973-1986: School years in Braunschweig 
  • 1986/87: 15 months Army in Germany 
  • 1987-1993: Studies at the Technical University Braunschweig. I graduated with a Masters degree in Political Science. Title of the final thesis: “Kenya’s development in the 1980s under special consideration of the world coffee market.”
    Minors: Geography and Business 
  • Minors: Geography and Business 
  • February 10, 1989: SAVED! 
  • May 17, 1992: Baptism 
  • 1993-present: Full-time ministry in Los Angeles and in Thailand (see details in Milestones

How God called me
grew up in a Catholic family. My parents were (and still are) very devoted church goers, and so all of us kids went with them throughout childhood and for the better part of our teenage years. This way I became familiar with the stories of Jesus from a very early age and I was taught biblical values, that I never really doubted to be true.
After being rather resistant to my mom’s attempts to get me more involved into youth group activities for several years (I also didn’t want to attend Kindergarten, and never wanted to join a sports club), I finally gave in to go on a trip to Rome, Italy, with the youth group. From that time on I got really involved in the youth group and had a lot of my friends there. I became one of the leaders of the youth group and organized several fund raising events for people in the “Third World.” However, Jesus was hardly a part of any of these activities.

Disappointed with religion
Soon after I joined the army in July 1986, my mom went through some problems that all of us family members thought were caused by her intense involvement into religious activities. We thought that the difference between religion and reality had torn her apart, so that she finally broke down under the tension. That was the point when I said: “If involvement in religion can lead you to this point, then this is nothing for me.” From then on I canceled all my activities at church, and thought that God, religion, church, all this stuff was not for me anymore.

God exists!
It was a couple of years later, that I became best friends with somebody I got to know playing Volleyball at university. After about half a year of knowing each other, he told me one day that he had “decided for Jesus” the day before. My first reaction was: “Oh no, the poor guy.” And honestly, I was afraid that I he would experience similar problems as my mother had. I told him that I could not stop him from doing whatever, but that I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. However, it didn’t take long and I recognized that his Christianity was something completely different from anything I had ever experienced or even heard of. He had so much joy, told me that God answered his prayers, and I saw how real everything was about his relationship with God. It made me curious. So I told myself that if I was honest to myself, I didn’t really know whether God exists or not. But I also said that if this God is real, then I don’t want to believe in him just because somebody (friend, pastor, parents…) told me about him or I read about him in a book. If God was real, then it only made sense to me that he should be able to reveal himself to me in a way that I will KNOW that he exists.
And that's exactly what God did about half a year later, on a mountain in Norway. From one second to the other, I really knew that he exists. I did not hear a voice and I did not see him either, but he revealed himself to me. That's the best I can say to this day. I read later in the Bible that “His Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” And I think that's what happened that day: God revealed himself to my spirit. I knew in the moment on the mountain that I would not be able to explain this to anybody, but I also knew that I would be a total liar from that point on if I ever answered the question “Are you sure that God exists?” with anything else but: “Absolutely. 100% sure. No doubt whatsoever!”

This mountain experience did not happen completely out of the blue. It was preceded by a time of intense reflection about my life, and a real openness to the possibility that God might exist. If I found him, I had thought, I will see how it will change my life; If I don't find anything, then, no big deal - I will just continue to live like I did. Also later, I read that the Bible says that whoever seeks God with all his heart, will find him. I can testify that this is true. During my time of searching, different things happened that made me more and more curious to find out more and to continue seeking. Among those things were answered prayers (yes, I tried to pray sometimes!) as well as a growing understanding of what the Bible says about life. 

A new Life - Sin is broken!
About 6 weeks after the “mountain experience” in Norway, I finally realized that my sins still separated me from the God I already believed in, but that Jesus had provided the sufficient sacrifice for my sins by dying on the cross for me. What a glorious day it was when finally all barriers between me and the God of the universe were taken away! I had driven about 3 hours to the city of Muenster in Western Germany. While driving, my friend and I listened to a teaching tape by Wilhelm Pahls, a German evangelist. I had never heard a man speaking so passionately about bringing people to Jesus, never before and hardly ever since. I knew that the things he said were true, and I knew that he spoke directly to me. It pierced my heart. Without having a scientific proof for it, I knew that the Bible was God's word. I had no defense, no reason not to accept what Jesus had done for me and that he now wanted to come into my life as Savior and Lord. After we finished listening to the tape I had maybe the most terrible two hours of my life. We went to see my friend's girlfriend in a hospital, but I could not participate in the conversation whatsoever. There was war going on inside of me! Part of me wanted what Jesus was offering, parts of me wanted to stay in control of my life, and reasoned against it. I finally found a reason to leave the room, and went back to the parking lot. I could not look into anybody's face and everything seemed to be dark and gray around me. I eventually sat down on the driver's seat and prayed.

Eternal Life!
I don't know what words I used when I prayed, but I do know that the moment I opened my eyes, the world looked different. Everything dark and gray was gone. I got out of the car and I recognized trees, people, LIFE! I literally saw the world with different eyes, instantly! The Bible says that when we come to Jesus we are a new creation. True, true, true. Not only are we ‘saved', and all our sins are washed away. In that moment I understood the world, it was like all loose ends of my life came together and made sense. How empty all philosophy and religion are compared to knowing God! There is such a purity and a joy that nothing else can give but an untainted relationship with God!
The Bible says that eternal life starts HERE, by knowing the Father and the one he sent, Jesus Christ. I know that this may sound arrogant to some of you who read this, but my hope is that you someday will be able to say: Now I understand! Nothing, absolutely nothing can compare to knowing the creator of the universe. He is loving, gracious, faithful, absolutely awesome in everything he does! Yes, we Christians want all our family and friends, and way beyond that, every person in the world to become what we are - believers! This is not rooted in arrogance and pride, but in the compassion of a loving God, and in the knowledge of his glory and eternal life. Yes, there will be a judgment day, and you KNOW that this life is not all there is. But how could anybody trade in a LIFE with Jesus Christ for anything else? Only if you haven't seen him can you still resist him. I pray that he will reveal himself to you even as you read these lines.

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that life as a Christian is always easy, happy-clappy sunshine all the way. Since I walk with Jesus (February 10, 1989) I've tasted victory, hard and fruitful work, His amazing grace, as well as times of dryness, wilderness, loneliness, sacrifice, sickness, sin and ‘backsliding', questions, all the way to total despair and the wish just to give up. But in all of that, I know that he will work out EVERYTHING for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). Life is hard at times, but after every valley comes a “mountain top”. And, even though at times we cannot see or believe it: He, the Lord of Life, is with us, now and forever more!