My name is André and I come from France. My parents had a small business and worked very hard. But, as I grew up, there was a very big problem – my father. He was a harsh man and when we made mistakes, he often hit us. Sometimes he drank too much strong drink. This made life very difficult for all of us. I never saw any love between my parents. They often argued and he would hit my mother. She cried a lot. When I left school I found it difficult to live with my family because of my father. So, at last, I left home. I had a job, but all I lived for was the weekends, when I could party with my friends.
Too fast to stop
One Sunday I left a bar at midnight with two friends. We had drunk too much. I began to drive us home. As we were going down a hill, I switched off the headlights and the car engine. The car went faster and faster, but I could not slow it down, nor could I see what was in front of us. One of my friends shouted, “Switch on the headlights, I think we are near a hairpin bend!” I said, “I will do it soon.” But it was too late. The car crashed through a fence, fell into a ravine, rolled over and ended the wrong way up, on its roof. Making a big noise, it slid until it was stopped by a tree. I remember hearing all the dogs in the nearby village barking loudly. I found I was sitting on the ground without shoes. My friends were trapped inside the car, but not one of us was hurt.
Did this make me think about God and how he cares for us? I had learned about him when I was a child. But no, I went on with my life. I got married and had two children. Seven years later our marriage ended. My mind began to fill with dark thoughts. I worked hard so that I would not have time to think about my troubles.
I thought he was brave
In 1990, I went to work for a car company. We prepared the fast cars for racing. This became my passion – cars filled all my thoughts. Then one evening, I was looking at a newspaper. I saw an advertisement that showed a picture of a man who was a follower of Jesus. He was asking people if they would like to study the Bible, the Christians’ holy book. I thought, “This man must be very brave to show his picture in a newspaper. I must see him. I will go to the place and find out more.” On the way I was afraid and thought I should go back home. I stopped at the door, still afraid, but I went inside. There were 15 people there, all followers of Jesus. They welcomed me. The meeting gave me a good feeling inside that did not go away. I went again and two weeks later I became a follower of Jesus too. Yes, God had been looking after me. My whole life changed. Jesus became my new passion.
My job with racing cars
Soon after this, I went to work for the car company Peugeot. My job was to test engines for racing cars, to make them go faster. I spent four years with famous ‘Formula One’ racing teams: first the McLaren, then the Jordan Team. We worked with racing drivers like Mika Hakkinen and Eddy Irvine. This was a very exciting time for me!
I put things right
But I knew there was something else that I must do. When we become followers of Jesus, God sometimes asks us to put things right we have done wrong in the past. One thing I had done was to get money from my insurance company. I told them my car had been stolen, but really a scrap dealer had taken it from me and broken it up. By doing this, I had lied and stolen money from the insurance company. I knew I must go and tell that company what I had done.
I said to the man in their office, “I am now a Christian and I want Jesus to rule my life.”
The insurance man did not believe me. He replied, “You are in trouble with your wife.”
I kept on telling him and at last he understood. “Let me think of the best thing to do,” he said.
He thought for a while, then said, “I do not want you to pay back the money, you can keep it.”
I told him, “You have not understood what I am saying. I want to pay back the money I stole.”
He said, “I have understood. The lies you have told are your problem. But I can decide if you pay back the money or not.”
He would not take back the stolen money! So I have put it in the bank for my children to have one day. I can tell this story now because I know God has forgiven me, just as he forgives everyone who truly says they are sorry for all their wrong doings. God wants to give us a new start in life and he will be with us, now and for ever.
Questions to think about
● Have you done wrong things that you need to put right?
● Is God working in your life, helping you?
● What is your passion? Is it more important to you than knowing Jesus?