Father of two children, evangelist, once worked as a translator, today works as a member of the European Parliament.
I was born and brought up as an atheist and I can confirm that I had never been told me anything about God during my first 20 years of life. It was something that was an unknown concept for me. We used to live in a small town in Slovakia and our parents tried their best to provide everything we needed and I can say that we were nicely dressed, never starved and attended the school regularly.
However, I have to confess that the marriage of my parents was in some way miserable and I experienced a permanent feeling of unhappiness, a kind of loneliness, having just a few friends and later, when I was 14 and started my teenagers years, they divorced. Their divorce shocked me a great deal though at that time I was not aware of it. Anyway, when starting the secondary school in Bratislava my life started to be disordered with many inner difficulties. I was searching for some identity, also for something pure and good.
I could not find it around me, I could just see the two-faced nature of many friends. I did not like going to the school. After some time I became a member of a punk gang where the meaning of life was sought in a good music and some mind of philosophy brought about by this movement. I have to say that there was a kind of a community created offering some close friendships; and we also felt that we belonged to something. Punk had a meaning for us and it felt very good.
So this is how I spent couple of years. It was quite a problem for me to attend the school and I repeat, I experienced desolateness, something very heavy inside me. I had no perspective. I would soon become 18, completed education and started to work. My life was grey and without any hope.
It meant to go to work, be with other co-workers, then go from work, and then drinking in a dive or going to a concert with friends. It was a just a circle.
I was called up for military service when I was 18 and everything I knew there was just a big disappointment, mainly pointlessness of me being there; I was angry to the political system and the social pretence.
And then something unusual happened to me. It was an ordinary, pleasant afternoon in June 1990, during the lunch break, I was going out, walking next to a building. Suddenly something happened, something so strong that I stopped and looked around. I was surrounded by something amazing. I did not know what it was, but it was there. I did not see anything, but I could say that I perceived it. I perceived that something was all around me, that was good and I could describe it as something very warm, hugging me. I could say that it was very light and yet I did not see anything. However, I just knew that this great something was penetrating everything around me: buildings next to me, training pitch nearby, our car park, all the trees, all the air, everything that exists even me. I was penetrated by this great being. And deep inside me there was an extraordinary joy, peace that started overflowing me.
The whole experience finished after some while but I had a clear mind with one single fact which resonated as a very clear idea, as a very clear word in me though I had not heard anybody speaking, but it was all in me – GOD DOES EXIST. I was a convinced atheist and I had never encountered anything like this. Nobody stood by me, nobody tried to persuade me. And all of sudden I knew that I had just encounter the presence of God. He was not an idea somewhere far from me or just a picture in my mind; it was a reality what had happened and immediately I knew that this reality was everywhere. It was incredibly beautiful and tremendously good experience, embracing and giving meaning. And all of sudden I knew that this is the meaning of everything, that GOD DOES EXIST.
Since that moment I had experienced next couple of days as days of some special euphoria or joy. I used to go to sleep knowing that it is good that God EXISTS and I used to wake up in the morning with smile saying to myself: he is the answer to everything. Others started to think that I have become nuts in some way. However, I knew what I was looking for and started to ask those whom I knew that had been brought up in the villages or have come from villages and I knew that they attended church that they had been brought up in that way. So I was asking them about God, church, anything that could give me more information and I encountered a big mockery. I was recommended to wake up and to realize that soon I will be back into the civil life and so on. Eventually, after a few days I understood that they did not know what I was asking for and that something strange was always within me. First of all, I experienced the deepest ever inner peace. I was aware of that peace. I realized that “something” that touched me before was a concrete, personal God. Later on, I became frustrated from my permanent search and so I came to the local parish office and knocked on the door. It was in a small Bohemian town west from Prague. So I knocked on the door and the local priest was a real man of prayer who had known God personally, he spent some time with me and talked a lot about God with me.
Though it was still a long process after that – to accept it rationally, to understand the arguments and accept them – I really knew and perceived that God was leading me and talking to me.
So after some time I returned back to the civilian life and moved back to Bratislava. I knew clearly that I did not want and could not see the old friends and that I wanted to keep my new life. I learnt to pray, I learnt to hear God and I discovered the Word of God – the Bible. I started to read it just to find out that it was a living book addressing many areas of life and that it offers very clear guidance for me. All of sudden I have found out that the my life is full of something beautiful. No more was I hungry for something that would fill up my life. God has been in my life and started to give me everything good what I could have only imagined. So I could see that it was Him who was putting all those things into my life. I met some other good priests later on who have become spiritual guides on my journey.
One of the priests actually brought me to a small group of Christians who used to meet regularly to pray together, to share the word of God, to learn how to live their faith and to encourage each other; and later, when I already belonged to that group we often went to see other people – either we went for a trip with other people, or we met other people on the streets and talked about our God to them. Wherever we were we spoke about our experience with God and what He gives to us. I can really say that this community of people, with whom I use to meet until now, has caused a totally new form of life for me and I have experienced something very beautiful, a great blessing. I am so happy that I can know God and I want to share this experience with people. It is not easy to live an active and disciplined life of a Christian, but it is tremendously rewarding to see the fruit of it brought for yourself and for people around you. (source: mojpribeh.sk)