Bruno, France, Age 26
I met the 26-year old Bruno in March of 1987.
Many years earlier, this young man had begun to ponder the meaning of life. He felt empty on the inside an emptiness that neither his Roman Catholic upbringing nor worldly pleasures had filled.
As a boy, Bruno noticed that those who taught him about God failed to practice what they preached. As a rebellious teenager, he observed a world filled with injustice. By age 18, Bruno’s singular purpose in life was to hang out with his friends on weekends, get drunk and forget his misery. His despair was intensified when his girlfriend was killed in an automobile accident. He became angry with God.
Bruno decided to travel to India. Perhaps he would find the meaning of life among its many religions. After a grueling voyage by land, Bruno arrived in one of India’s crowded cities where he was confronted with intense religious fervor and indescribable human misery. In Bruno’s own words, “I saw people who, despite their religion and faith, were more miserable than I.”
After spending nearly a year in India, Bruno concluded that if he was ever to discover ultimate truth, God alone must reveal it to him. Thus, he addressed this simple prayer to his Creator, “If you exist, reveal yourself to me!”
One day, while walking the streets of Calcutta, Bruno noticed a shop with a sign: BIBLE HOUSE. On an impulse, he stepped inside and asked the clerk, “Do you have a Bible in French?” They had one copy.
He bought it and began to read.
Many things surprised him. For instance, he was struck by the first and second of the Ten Commandments in which God says, “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.” (Exodus 20:3-5) Yet what Bruno witnessed around him were temples of idols with people bowing before them. And as he thought about the religion in which he had been brought up, he realized that the religious people he knew were also guilty of breaking God’s commandments as they bowed and prayed before statues of Mary and the saints.
Bruno was also impressed by this verse: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)
Convinced that the truth he sought could be found only in the Bible, Bruno left India and returned to France. However, instead of continuing to read his Bible, he set it on a shelf and went back to working and partyinga way of life that left him with a bitter taste and an empty heart.
Four years went by.
One day, as Bruno thought on his meaningless existence, he remembered a Bible verse in which God promises: “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) Bruno prayed, “OK God, I will search for you with all my heart to find out whether or not your promise is true.”
To separate himself from the influences of home, Bruno decided to take another journey, this time to Africa. As he traveled by land, he read his Bible and prayed, “God, lead me to your truth and keep me from falsehood.” After crossing the Sahara he came into northern Senegal. He spent his first night in the same town where my family and I lived.
The next morning, Bruno went for a walk in town. As in Calcutta, a sign over a door caught his attention. This one said:
ECOUTEZ! CAR L’ETERNEL DIEU A PARL!
(Listen! for the LORD God has spoken!)
It was my office. Looking up from my work, I saw a bushy-bearded man holding a small, blue, well-worn book, the Bible he had purchased in India. I can still hear his first question:
“What are you, Catholic or Protestant?”
“I’m just a Christiana follower of Christ,” I replied. Bruno was surprised and pleased by this response, since, in reading through the Bible, he had observed that it never mentions Catholics or Protestants, but it does speak about Christians, believers in Christ. Later, Bruno told me that if I had answered either “I’m Catholic” or “I’m Protestant,” he would have turned on his heels and walked out. He was weary of religion. He wanted reality.
Over the next several days, Bruno peppered me with questions. I pointed him to God’s answers in the Bible. On the eve of his departure (he planned to travel to South Africa), I challenged him, “Reread your Bible and look for what God has done for you.”
Six weeks later, my wife and I received a letter from Bruno in which he explained that he was renting a room in a nearby fishing village. He had just finished rereading the entire Bible, comparing the Old and New Testaments.
He had seen Christ in all the Scriptures.
In Bruno’s own words, “One night, as I was outside all alone, Jesus’ promise came to my heart with power, Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ (Matthew 11:28) In reviewing my life with all its failures, bitterness and regrets a great conflict raged in my heart. I knew that if I followed Christ, I would no longer be free to follow my lusts and desires. At last I gave in. God opened my eyes. I believed that Christ shed His blood on the cross and rose again for me. Peace flooded my soul. I began to cry and couldn’t stop. The heavy burden of my sin was gone!” Bruno went on to say, “En somme, je suis n de nouveau!” (“To sum it up, I’ve been born again!”)
Bruno found what he had been searching for: a cleansed heart and conscience, a relationship with His Creator, and eternal life. He now understood why he was on earth and where he was going.
His search was over.
The Bible says:
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Immediately Bruno’s life began to change in small and big ways. For example, although he had smoked cigarettes since he was eleven years old, the Lord delivered him from this habit. His self-absorbed, drunken and immoral lifestyle became a shameful memory of the past. The Scriptures now made sense to him and prayer became as natural as breathing.
Instead of traveling on, Bruno spent the next six months in Senegal to study the Scriptures, spend time with believers in Christ, and tell others what God had done for him.
Bruno had become a new creation.
Though nearly two decades have passed since I first met Bruno, we still keep in touch. Today the “new Bruno” lives in France where he and his wife are walking with God and raising their four children in the knowledge and blessing of the Lord.
Does this mean that Bruno’s life is free from heartache, struggle and pain? No, both he and his family face a variety of trials and temptations, but they are not alone.
The Lord Himself is with them.
Used by permission.
Taken from ONE GOD ONE MESSAGE by P.D. Bramsen.