Jan van de Plas's TestimonyI was born in Holland and grew up in a materialistic society. In my family as I grew up we had to go to church and Sunday school; as a kid I heard the stories about the Israelites and Jesus. But as in so many protestant churches in Holland the one I had to go to seemed dead and boring. It was an outward religion and tradition. Most people in church were hypocrites: on Sundays they were super-holy; during the week they did what they wanted to do.
When I was about 14 years of age I started to reject everything that had to do with God and the Church. I started to live my own life and to make my own choices, which weren't always good choices. I wanted to be totally free, discover life, and have fun. In school this resulted in problems with teachers. On the streets I was part of a gang. We did whatever we wanted to do. Throughout my teens I started to use alcohol and drugs and was involved in crimes. This resulted in a lot of arrests and I ended up several times in youth-prisons. I became worse and worse and hated everything that had to do with authority. I wanted to make my own decisions, be my own boss ,and live a free life-style. I needed money for this life-style, so I tried to steal as much as possible.
Over the years the crimes got worse. At that time I was in my twenties, a criminal, and addicted to cocaine. Certain situations in my life confronted me with death and questions about God and eternity. I suddenly realized that I could lose everything including my soul.
I decided to pick up a New Testament and started reading the gospels. There I read about a Jesus who cared about people, loved them, and helped them. I was very attracted to this person. I knew at that moment that when I wanted to follow that person I probably had to change my life. But I didn't know exactly what to do. One day on the street I saw a gospel band, they were singing and handing out tracts. I got one of their magazines. That night at home I read in that magazine very clearly what the gospel was all about; that Jesus paid for my sins on the cross, and I could receive that forgiveness if only I wanted to repent and believe that He hung there for my sins.
Somehow I knew that I couldn't go on living like this, but on the other hand I didn't really want to give it up. After a struggle, which lasted hours, I finally bowed my knees. That night I was born again and met Jesus.
From that day on I immediately stopped drinking, smoking dope and stopped snorting cocaine. I also stopped stealing and got a job. I couldn't stop reading the Bible and I started witnessing to all the people I knew. All of them were astonished. "How is this possible?" they said, and many were skeptical. But I continued in the faith, got discipled, and got involved in a church.
After six months I turned myself in to the police, and confessed all my crimes. I wanted to have a clean conscience towards society. As a result of that they put me in jail for one year. After that I went to a Bible school in England called Capernwray, where I learned the principle of Jesus living His life in me and through me. I wanted to do further study at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. I got accepted but was refused entry to the U.S. because of my criminal record. For three years in a row I was unable to come to Moody. In those three years I did work in a youth-hostel in Eilat and a youth-hostel in Amsterdam, both called the Shelter. Both are used to reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In December 1990 a miracle happened, and I was permitted to enter the U.S. on a student visa. So at the moment I'm studying at Moody Bible Institute, and hope to be in the will of God for the rest of my life. I want to give glory to God as to how He took me out of the darkness and brought me into the Kingdom of His Son. I want to give glory to God as to how He so faithfully guided me through these few years of my new life. I want to honour God and give Him my life so that He might use me to reach other people with Jesus.