While I was cleaning up the drawers of my desk I came across a page of a Christian Dutch magazine which somebody had sent me a couple of years ago. This page contained the story of a man who came into our lives some 37 years ago. He wrote his testimony in 1998.
Although his name was familiar, I did not realize that his testimony would mention us. It took us rather by surprise when we read our names. Here you see that we never know the impact we make on people's lives when we present the Gospel in word and deed. I decided to translate Henk Reitsema's testimony, which was posted in the "Opwekking" (Revival) Magazine, summer 1998, in the Netherlands.
One evening I called a cab while at the bar. I was quite tipsy and I asked the cab driver to bring me to yet a better bar. The cab driver nodded and after about ten minutes he stopped, turned around to me and said, while pointing at a small building: "You will get more thirsty there." I staggered to the door and was just inside when a friendly man walked up to me and welcomed me. He then ushered me into the meeting hall where some sixty people were listening to a man who interrupted his speech and said: "Welcome, Brother." He then continued with his preaching.
After half an hour I started to sober up a bit and when the meeting was over I wanted to disappear as fast as possible, because this was not the bar I had been looking for. I was not even a block away from the building when somebody caught up with me and grabbed me by the shoulder. It was the man who had been preaching.
He was out of breath and said: "Hey man, I nearly lost you." In the mean time he took a small book out of his pocket and said; "Here, that's yours, and I want to ask you a question, is that alright"? "Go ahead," I said surprised. " Well," he continued: " I am Casey Veerman and my wife's name is Trudy. We have three small children. I have a strange question ... would you want to become our friend?" "Don't you have enough friends?", I asked somewhat irritated, for nobody ever had ask me such a strange question. "Besides, why should I be your friend?" "Well, it's this," answered the preacher, "I was just like you, but then Jesus saved me. He also longs for you. Listen, I live close by and my home is your home. So, you're welcome. Find happiness and read that little book. That is the Bible." Casey turned around and disappeared.
I staggered to my place of lodging and was welcomed by the lady of the house with: "Where have you been? Of course, you've been drinking again. Nothing good will become of you, bum! ! ...and suppertime is long past."
The TV was on, and I heard the same thing being spoken as in the meeting. It was about love. I stood up and went to my room to take my coat off when that little book, which I had received from Casey, fell out of my coat pocket. It had fallen open at the Scripture in Corinthians, which also speaks about love. I now realized that this was not just accidental.
That night I couldn't sleep and I had to think about the man who told me that he wanted to become my friend. I thought about the message of the TV program and the Bible verse about love. It was just like a beautiful dream. But how could I trust a stranger? I had often been robbed, rejected, abandoned and despised.
For some six weeks I tried to find out all about this Casey and Trudy. I spied on their house and inquired about them, but I couldn't find anything negative about these people.
One evening I knocked on their door. Casey himself opened it and recognized me immediately: "Hey guy, you're just in time, the coffee and cake is ready, it is our daughter's Birthday today."
We had a long talk that evening, about the little "book", about my alcohol problem and about my cursing and swearing. It was midnight when we agreed that I was going to live with Casey and Trudy.
Many troubled people came to this house, but also many happy people and much singing could be heard in this place.
At one time, after Casey had thanked the Lord for His goodness and His love, I couldn't contain myself and burst out in tears. Casey and Trudy prayed with me at that time and I felt chills running down my back. I became filled with joy and said: " I believe I just received that which you have also."
Since that time I could pray by myself and Casey taught me to keep quiet time with God. Not long after I got baptized by immersion in the breakers of the North Sea. People who passed by called: "Hey, they're drowning somebody." "That's right," Casey replied. "But there's a new one coming back up instead."
John 7:37...Jesus stood and cried, saying, if any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
Isaiah 12:2... Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation.
Translated by Dr. Trudy Veerman after the original publication written by Henk Reitsema.