I’m a 23-year-old from the city of Forlí in Italy.
When I was about 6 years old, I almost drowned in the warm Mediterranean Sea. I was underwater, and fearing all was lost, when a hand yanked me out of the water and brought me ashore. My parents came to hug me, and in that split second my unknown savior disappeared. That night we celebrated and thanked God for saving my life.
This short story, in a way, describes what has happened to me in life:
In my adolescence I drifted away from anything related to God—prayer, Bible study, church . . . Instead I frequented places and parties I should not have, with people who influenced me for the worse. I forgot what it was to have a relationship with Christ, and I believed there was no need for Him, since I had everything I needed. I had found new “friends,” I was having fun; I felt free to live without rules and limits.
But I soon hit rock bottom, and the side effects of my lifestyle took a toll on me. Suddenly I was always mad, lost, and frustrated with the world without really understanding why. Most of all, I felt empty, and completely lost confidence in myself.
In 2014, in my lost state, I traveled to Rwanda to volunteer at an Adventist orphanage near Kibuye. I met great people in Rwanda, friends that lived out their faith in God in great ways, and showed confidence that God was in fact in control of their lives. Through them God began to get through to me. Still feeling unworthy to be forgiven, I began to discover that I was the one who wouldn´t forgive myself! Then and there, far from home, God knocked on the door of my heart. Kneeling on the floor, broken and crying, I opened the Bible randomly to Isaiah 51. I received my answer.
I have not always been as close to God as I should, but He has always been my salvation, my strength, my refuge. He has forgiven me, and given me new life! He is changing my heart, and I have started a journey that I will never end. Before I had no self-esteem, no confidence. But God has slowly put me back together, and He is helping me understand that I am precious in His eyes. I began to understand that He loves me for who I am, and He has a future of hope for me.
Just as when I was a little girl, life almost drowned me. But God reached out and yanked me out of the water. I now live because Christ lives in me.
Deborah Prati was a sociology major at the University of Bologna when she wrote this story. She is passionate about living the gospel of Jesus Christ in her secularized European homeland.