I was born in Vilnius, Lithuania at that time when Lithuania was still one of the fifteen republics of the Soviet Union. As the rest of my peers, I grew under the heavy yoke of communistic regime. From my school years I was strongly taught that that there is no God.
Teachers at school would scoff at if any of pupils would confess that he and his family were believers. That was not the case with me, though. My parents were not Christians and we did not attend any church. Nevertheless, such values as truth, freedom and worth of human life were often spoken about in our home. Thus, questions about meaning of life and search for the truth were my constant companions during my last years in a High school. The search for meaning and happiness led me to climbing mountains and beginning to practice Eastern religions. But that did not fill my emptiness. I tried to find happiness by drinking alcohol and testing different kinds of drugs. I became even more depressed and unhappy. But let me tell you, how God reached down and lifted me out of the pit of despair and set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand Ps 40:2.
I had a friend who wanted to become a Catholic priest. We loved to discuss with him issues like "Is there life after death?". But something happened to him. He changed his mind about becoming a priest and began telling me that God was real and that it was possible even for me to get to know and to experience God. He told me that it is our sins that hinder us to be connected with God. But Jesus Christ died for this very purpose - to take the sins and the penalty for them. He bridged the gap between us and God and now by faith we can come to God. Up to this day the words of my friend Jesus Christ is able to fill your emptiness if only you would let Him have been echoing in my heart. Although I saw that my friend had changed from being dogmatic religious person to a ‘normal' and very excited one, I still was very skeptical about confessing Jesus as my Savior. The idea of me becoming a person that has any relation to religion somehow did not fit into the portrait of my identity. I was twenty years old, loved to hang out with my buddies in the old town of Vilnius, never attended any church and did not feel I wanted to.
My biggest desire was to show my friend that I was not lesser than him, and could understand and explain spiritual truths no worse than he did. Actually, that was the first motive and reason why I began studying the New Testament. However, it happened that while reading the Gospels that unknown warmth, kindness and peace would overwhelm me. Still, most surprising was the enlightenment of my understanding. I was able to find answer after answer to my desperate questions. Don't misunderstand me, to this day I have a lot of questions without answers, but the Bible has shed light on many of the spheres that used to be so gloomy. But the most important thing was that God became real to me. That happened when I finally ventured to pray. I was alone in the kitchen. As I began uttering the words Jesus, if you are real, please enter into my heart, all of the sudden I saw how the space between me and the window was ripped apart and a flash of fire came down through my body. I saw the light and felt the heat. Some unseen power has lifted my hands up in the air. I was scared and began to cry loudly God, please go away or I will burn. This part He would not answer. To this day I know and I feel He is with and within me. And I learned my first lesson, that it is not words but the heart that matters when we approach God. That experience changed something inside of me. I understood that many of my failures in life were because of my arrogance and self-centeredness. It used to be a pleasure to put others down but suddenly I felt so ashamed of that kind of attitudes. I did not want to judge others anymore, I felt as if I was able to love them and help them. It was as if someone opened a tap and a stream of new strength began flowing through me. Only later I found explanation in the words of Jesus: If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, streams of living water will flow from within him. Depression that used to make my life so miserable was gone. I stopped smoking and using drugs. It was not that it took a lot of a will strength. I just simply did not need them. Little by little my whole life began to gain a totally new shape. The words of my friend and not those of my High School teachers did turn to be true. Now from my own experience I can say assuredly that it is possible to have a living relationship with God and enjoy life with Him. And that makes all the difference.