António writes:

I was born in Sá da Bandeira, I was the fourth generation living in colonial Angola. As all traditional Portuguese, we were born catholic and were meant to be faithful to our customs and die catholic. At the age of 6, with the Portuguese colonial war, we all had to tragically flee the country and start a new life elsewhere all over again. We eventually settled in Portugal.

I began searching for God at an early stage.   I had a lot of unanswered questions,  I spoke to several priests, all they told me was that I had something special inside of me.

As I pursued my search for God,  I once visited a priest with  a “special calling”, as they told me,  I was about 17 years of age.  I asked him many questions, he tried to answer in the best he could.  He told me then, I see you have a calling inside of you, God has a special plan to use you.  He then told me something very interesting and powerful! He told me to go home and pray to Jesus, that He would reveal Himself to me.

I certainly did that. In fact I was already doing that, hence the reason I went to visit that priest. I remember going as a youngster to the Catholic Church with my mother and father, and I went empty and left empty… It was too much of a religious set of words and actions.That wasn’t what I was after. I was after God. If God exists, I said, I want to know Him!

And I pursued that prayer: “Lord Jesus, reveal yourself to me.  ”I went to the army when I was 20.  One day  I sat at the tuck-shop, having a beer with a friend, Stelio,  that lived in the same city as I in Leiria.  Somehow the conversation lead to religion, and Stelio said to me, that he used to go to church. I asked him about God, what did he believe in.  His words to me were “ the experience I have with God, I can’t explain to you. You have to experience God, yourself.”

I was AMAZED with that thought! I told him, that was what I wanted.  He promised to take me to his church on Sunday.  That Sunday, I was spending the weekend at my parents, and he came and  pick me up with his pastor.

They took me to a place, that wasn’t what I was expecting. I was expecting a big building,  some form of a  cathedral … but no. It was just a small hall on the ground floor of a building.   I was a bit uncomfortable… But I couldn’t really go back…

As I went in, I was attracted to the praise, the freedom, the form of praying to God as a father, as friend.  At the end, I went forward and received Jesus Christ in my life.  After that, one lady came to me, and congratulated me saying, I feel that you have a calling of God in your life.  Another lady came to me and said exactly the same, and said, God is going to use you.

My life was changed from that day on. I was excited! I just wanted to learn about God. The next day was  Monday and I was back in the army.  At 7am,  I found myself sharing to my friends what happened to me and I was answering questions about God as if I was a teacher of the Word!! Praise God for His Spirit, salvation and friendship!

António Moinheiro