I thought that faith was something for fools
‘When I was 15 years old, I began to discover the ugliness of the world and of life and I abandoned faith in God.’
Disillusioned by a God whom he saw as someone who should (but did not) make everything good in his life, Gianluca decided that God was not there – or if he was, he just didn’t care about people.
‘So I searched for more "mature" alternatives because I thought that faith was something for fools. I started to meet my need for meaning through science, culture and philosophy. I was convinced that life had no meaning other than what we give it, that mankind was a tiny speck of dust in pain.’
Then something changed – Gianluca moved to a new neighbourhood. There he met four girls – who just happened to be Christians and members of GBU Italy! Curious, he began to ask them questions. ‘I liked the way they spoke of faith! They told me that they try to live according to the teachings of the gospel, that Jesus and the Holy Scriptures were the authorities in their lives. They told me that they had a personal relationship with Jesus, who was the most important thing in their lives and their source of joy.
‘So it was out of this curiosity that I decided to join a seekers bible study on Wednesday nights, led by GBU staff worker Sarah Breuel. My first impression was shocking: I discovered in the bible a marvellous figure, so human when angry and indignant in the face of unbelief and hypocrisy, and so divine in speaking with an authority never seen before… and even able to forgive his persecutors!’
Day after day passed. Gianluca became enchanted with the truth as it was embodied in Jesus, but still he could not believe. Feeling as if a great battle was going on, one day he decided to ask God for a sign. ‘It was not a real prayer, it was more a desperate attempt of a person to launch a super-rational request in a vacuum. I was a little dot in the universe which launched its request in total darkness, convinced it would not go anywhere!’
But it did! ‘I started reading the gospel of John. I read, I read… and as I read the ideas were becoming clearer, I felt liberated. Then I had a powerful experience that I cannot describe… I was in chapter 15 when I opened wide the doors of my heart, I found answers.
‘From that moment the love of God began to live in me. I felt like a small glass beaker into which an ocean had suddenly been poured! And at that precise moment I received the gift of faith and of prayer: now I was sure that someone was listening!’
A simple testimony in some ways – but one that reminds us that God uses faithful people. Four girls lived faithful lives that pointed to Jesus. A staff worker was faithful in leading a bible study and taking time to patiently answer questions. And God is faithful – as he promised, his word will not return to him empty, but will accomplish what he desires (Isaiah 55:11).
This year, let’s remain faithful, and trust that as we live lives that reflect Jesus, God will use us in mighty ways to touch people who don’t know him. And let’s pray for Gianluca, and many like him, that they will be God’s faithful witnesses in universities around the world.