Am I Crazy?

When I first met César, I interpreted his easy going demeanor as meaning that he had led an easy life. Nothing could be further from the truth.

At fourteen, César lost his parents to a fatal illness, and was sent off to live with an uncle he barely knew. His childhood was shattered. Growing up, he doubted the existence of God, but was intrigued by Buddhism. He learned about karma and reincarnation, and thought it would be wonderful to reincarnate into the same family as his dead parents. He continued to attend a Buddhist temple, even after being adopted by a family in France and moving to Paris. Then, in Paris, he met some Christians. His life soon became a morass of contradictions, as he studied Buddhism, attended church and frequented the Parisian clubs at night. It all came to a climax one day while he was helping a friend paint an apartment.

Out of nowhere, César felt invisible fire and light fall upon him, filling him with fear and a sudden desire to worship Jesus. Was he going crazy? In a panic, he phoned one of his Christian friends. “That is the Holy Spirit!” his friend told him.

“That day my life was forever changed,” César says. By then he was married, a father of three and working in an upscale restaurant in Paris. His passion for Jesus led him to become a lay leader for the youth group at a local church. But he wanted more. One Friday he saw us at the open market where we do weekly Bible distribution and evangelism, and excitedly asked to join us. His job as a waiter kept him from coming regularly, as his employer pressured him to put in more hours and take on more responsibilities over the weekends. When César instead asked for Sundays off, and to work fewer hours, his employer angrily re-scheduled him to work almost every Sunday. It became intolerable.

“I knew I had to choose,” César recalls. “I decided that opening my own business would allow me to dedicate more time to ministry.” It was a risk, as his wife was pregnant with their third child. But in faith, César quit his job and began taking classes with associations that help new entrepreneurs plan their business ventures. “Am I crazy?” he asks, smiling widely. “Perhaps! But I must follow Jesus.”

By C & F