I was born in December 1953 in a small town in Germany, called Bad Mergentheim. When I was four years old we moved to a newly-built house in the suburbs of Nürnberg in Bavaria. My sister Monika is four years older, and my brother Winfried ten years younger.
Adolescence hit me with all its turbulence. I had developed into a very quiet and shy young man. It was during those years that I discovered a great love in my life – aviation. Not many pictures from that season – I hated having my picture taken.
After an aborted suicide attempt I “escaped” by train from Nürnberg, Germany to Stockholm, Sweden in February 1972. There are no actual pictures from that trip. I had no camera and was not exactly in a tourist-mode.
After meeting Johan I ended up staying at a street called “Svartensgatan” in the beautiful old city of Stockholm. During that short period I could have easily fallen even deeper, but ended up meeting people whose love and care would help me find true hope in life.
Stina, who volunteered at the “Agape” coffee house invited me to visit her sister and family. Karin and Bosse opened their home for me and showed me a love I had never known. Without their act of kindness there would not be a story to tell.
While living with Karin and Bosse I watched them closely, and it did not take me long to decide that I wanted what they had. I began reading the New Testament, and a book called “The Cross and the Switchblade” by David Wilkerson. Then I knew what I had to do. I knelt down by my bed and surrendered my life over to God. The next day I wrote my first song.
The next few weeks were filled with many changes. I found a job as a “nanny” with friends of Karin and Bosse. I began working for Carina and Leif by taking care of their three children, and helping around their home. I moved into an apartment with Carina’s brother, Willis, and joined his youth group in a town called Norrtälje. This group was also a youth choir that was active every weekend. Lots of new friends and incredible joy in my new-found faith in Jesus.
God had already spoken to me about becoming a missionary to Asia, and now he confirmed it. I was far from ready, and impatient. My first public testimony had me worried sick, but when the time came I experienced an unexpected release, and I even sang one of my songs.
Though I knew that God had spoken to me regarding Bible School, I went ahead and signed up for a one-year outreach with OM. On the way to my destination I took some time off for skiing in Austria and broke my leg. A week later I was back in Sweden, and was on crutches for the next 6 months – lesson learnt!
After 18 months in Sweden I left for the US east coast. At first I connected with distant relatives in Long Island, and my two great aunts in Philadelphia, then I went up to Faith School of Theology in Maine to start my first year of Bible school. This was a season of great adjustments.
So much happened in this chapter. I made it through my freshmen year and returned to Europe for the summer. Reunited with my friends in Sweden as well as my family in Germany. Before I returned for my senior year I met Cathy and we fell in love – 8 months later we were engaged. After that, trips to Finland and Israel, my senior year and graduation from FST.
On June 5, 1976 Cathy and I got married in New Jersey. Two weeks later we moved to Germany where we began our ministry as Bible smugglers. For the next 2 1/2 years we traveled once a month to an Eastern European country behind what used to be called the “Iron Curtain.” An exciting season, but limited opportunity for taking pictures.
After much consideration, we realised that God wanted us to return to Nürnberg – the very place I had escaped from. We served in a church for four years, and during that time our sons Björn and Nils were born. My call to Asia was ever-present, and I felt a particular longing to go to Cambodia.
Another very turbulent season in our lives. We moved to the Swiss border to help plant a new church. Things went well at first, but tragedy hit a few years later. Developed new relationships, and found a place called “home” that would eventually lead us into the Vineyard movement. Our daughter Carina and son Lars were born, and I took my first trip to Asia.
On May 1, 1988 we finally left for Asia – the Philippines. An incredible time of transition for the whole family. After initial set-backs I found my place alongside other missionaries training church leaders. The eruption of Mt. Pinatubo caused us to move north and run our first discipleship school while evangelising the Aeta refugees. Experienced God’s grace on all levels.
Cambodia – we finally made it! Eja was born at home. Part of a large team. Training leaders again. Private zoo. Miracles and God’s manifest presence. Rough on family, but God’s grace stronger than ever. Helena born in Penang and miraculous healing. Leaving after 4 years with changed hearts.
Moved to the island of Penang, Malaysia, which seemed like paradise after Cambodia. Most kids went to international school and Björn and Nils graduated there. Worked in local churches and ran two big discipleship schools. The family enjoyed the wonderful nature, and the luxuries of a more developed world. I missed the presence of God we experienced in Cambodia.
This chapter spans 11 years in Chiang Mai Thailand. A very historic place for our family: 5 high school graduations, 2 weddings, 4 children leaving the nest, a new house, and 15 puppies. On top of that 2 church plants, 5 training schools, and lots of trips to other nations. Not a bad season, but it ended quickly, and in a big surprise. Lots of pictures thanks to digital photography.
After a surprise visit to Sweden to a reunion with my old youth choir, things began to shift in my heart, and I could see myself leave Asia for the first time in 24 years. This was confirmed a year later when the Lord made the story of the salmon come alive in my heart. Within 6 months we had transitioned from Chiang Mai to Stockholm, Sweden – the salmon had returned after 40 years.