"Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." Matthew 4:17
"For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matthew 16:26

The Pastor’s Testimony

testimonyMy life had become unbearable, not only affecting me but also everybody around me. It is not an exaggeration to say that I was just a ‘moving problem’. My parents were terrified and my brothers absolutely embarrassed because they did not know what to do to help me. All the problems started during my early adolescence. When the Turkish invasion took place in Cyprus in July 1974, I was 14 years old. Though our house was very close to the cemetery, I did not have any problem with it whatsoever. In fact, when I was very young, I even used to play with my friends in or around the cemetery and considered it quite normal.  However, after the invasion which soon took place in Cyprus, things took a turn for the worse. My two eldest brothers were soldiers at that time and on the same day both of them were wounded during the war. I remember the great suffering, the grief and the pain which filled our house as a result. I remember that every day the cemetery was full of people who wept and mourned over their beloved relatives’ unfair death, as a result of violence and war. I was unprepared and did not know how to react to all those unexpected and unforeseen tragic events. That is what usually happens to people who don’t have Jesus living in their hearts and have no hope. The Word of God tells us that Christ in us is the hope of glory! Having therefore no hope for life, I began to be afraid of death and of anything that was related to it. I could no longer stand to hear anything which had to do with death. If someone happened to say, for example, that somebody had recently died, this very word was enough to fill my heart with deep depression and uncontrolled dangerous anger. I would suddenly get very angry! I could no longer bear seeing anything that had to do with death. If I happened to see a cemetery even from far away, I would have the same depressing feelings again. If, all of a sudden, I happened to see a hearse or even a coffin, I would have the worst feelings and I would break down and start weeping! Not only could I not hear or see anything which had to do with death but I was absolutely unable to utter any word that was in any way related to it. As a result of this behavior, I stopped being social like I was before. I left my friends one after the other, even the people I had been friends with for years. If I happened to meet them I wouldn’t talk to them and when they talked to me I turned away because I didn’t want to talk to them. In my mind I had associated them with cemeteries and death and for me they were just “contaminated and bad!” In order to avoid them completely, I decided to change schools even though my new school was very far, but at least I would be away from the cemetery, my neighborhood, my neighbors…away from whatever was “contaminated and bad!” However, we all know that running away from a problem is not the solution. On the contrary, it makes it grow bigger and it gets even more complicated. That is what exactly happened. I would not only avoid my friends and neighbors but even tried to avoid my parents and my brothers. This, for me, was the most tormenting and the most painful thing of all: to have to avoid those I really loved. I couldn’t understand myself, and of course no one else could understand me either. I started to intentionally avoid the people I loved more than anything in the world: the ones who had given me my life! This was of course extremely painful. My situation was not just a matter of mere depression or phobia within physical bounds· it had to do with bonds. I was bound…satanically bound. The devil had caught me in his tentacles. One after another his tentacles grabbed tightly around my soul. I was steadily heading to destruction. The depression was gradually getting worse, the phobia within my mind was increasing, the bonds in my mind were growing bigger and bigger and my antisocial behavior seemed to be getting off limits. Christ was not in me, I did not have the hope of glory. (Colossians 1: 27) I did not have the hope of being delivered. As I was in this desperate situation which was little by little getting worse, I began making plans to commit suicide. Of course it was not me who was making these plans· it was someone else who was planning them and placing them in my mind in the form of suggestions. In the Gospel of John 10: 10 we read that “the thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” The devil hates man so much that he wants to utterly destroy him because he himself is already destroyed and has but only very little time in his hands. For about eight years, 1974 till the early months of 1982, my life was speedily heading to a thorough destruction. Psychologically, I was in a deep despair and hopelessness. Besides the psychological pain I was going through, there was something else which added even more pain in my life. It was a bodily disease in the form of allergy which appeared to me in my early childhood. I remember my mother taking me to hospital at such a tender age, desperately hoping for a remedy which would put an end to my pain and distress. However, Christ, the hope of glory (Colossians 1: 27) the hope of healing, was not in my heart. I wish I had met Him at that time…! The allergic disease I had was called “Erythema Multiformee”. At the start it affected only the area around the mouth and especially my lips which started being full of sores and melting. I was not able to eat any solid food and even had a hard time drinking liquids. When food or drink touched my lips which were full of sores and were melting, I felt an excruciating pain as if someone was scratching these sores. There did not seem to be any known remedy. The doctors only tried to cauterize the sores using all sorts of ointments. As I grew older, the disease not only failed to respond to the treatment I was given, but it kept increasing inside my mouth all the more, especially after the age of 18 when it begun to appear all over my body. During my military service I was admitted to Paphos Hospital where I was examined by different doctors. One of those doctors suggested treatment using 10% nitric silver if I am not mistaken. This cauterization was one of the most painful things I have ever suffered in my life so far. When this acid touched the sores on my lips and the outer part of my mouth, it was so severe that it opened small holes even on my teeth. During my military service as well as later on I was being examined by a doctor at the Nicosia Hospital. On one occasion, Andry, my fiancée – before we got married- had accompanied me to the hospital and, secretly asked the doctor about my case: “I want to know all about this man. I am going to marry him and I have the right to know what’s happening to him.” Then the doctor said to her. “Unless he takes his medicine he will die…” I didn’t know anything about this. The doctor had given me pills which contained cortisone, as I later discovered, and told me to take them regularly in order to fight the disease. However, this treatment had no results at all. The disease would appear again and it grew worse all the time, at a very fast rate. When I was younger the disease would appear once or twice a year. Later, however, it manifested itself almost six times a year, with the symptoms lasting longer and getting worse. In January 1982, my wife’s brother Nikos started talking to us about the Lord. One day, as we drove him to the church, he persuaded us to attend the service “just for fifteen minutes.” Those “fifteen minutes” however, never finished for us because ever since that time we never left the House of the Lord! As soon as we went into the church we felt that there was something different. The Lord had attracted us to Him for ever so we began attending the church quite often. One day we went to the pastor’s house and, after he had preached to us the Word of God, we knelt down and prayed acknowledging Jesus and making Him the Lord of our lives. It was Sunday night and we had also prayed for the problem of phobia I had and which was a real torture for me. On Monday morning the Lord was glorified with the awesome healing he performed in my soul. Andry and I had planned to go shopping first thing in the morning. As soon as we came out of the house we saw the worst thing I could have ever faced: a hearse! Andry, being sure of how I would react, looked at me straight in the eye, but, to her amazement, she saw that I was absolutely calm and quiet. The hearse, not only happened to pass in front of us but it stopped a few meters away, then it reversed and pulled up just in front of us. The driver asked us to tell him about a certain house he was looking for. I explained to the hearse driver how to find the house and, turning to Andry I told her that I was feeling absolutely calm in my heart. At once I realized that I was totally free! On occasions like this, the way I would reacted if I had not been set free, would be to start breaking whatever was in front of me and be extremely furious. I would shut myself in my room and not let anyone talk to me. But thank the Lord, since that very moment I was free, forever! Finally, totally free! Hallelujah! “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36) Ever since that day, I had several opportunities to prove my freedom. And I did prove it with God’s Grace. My parents were hesitant and didn’t even dare to believe it. My brothers were astonished seeing this total change in my character. Death, as well as any other similar words, did not scare me anymore, since I had personally met the ONE, Jesus Christ, who destroyed him that had the power of death. (Hebrews 2:14b) Jesus healed my soul and set me free. Hallelujah! I had every reason to be excited with my new life in Jesus Christ, free from satan’s oppression. However, during the first months after I got saved, quite unexpectedly, there appeared once again that awful sickness which would make my mouth decay. When the people at church saw me they said to me with compassion: “Jesus Christ can heal you”. With an innocent and child like faith I believed that. I believed that Jesus Christ who was now the Lord of my life can heal me. Then the people at our church suggested that the whole body of Christ as a church should fast and pray for two days so that I will receive my healing. With joy and excitement in my heart I accepted this lovely suggestion. I thought in my heart: “if so many people are determined to pray and fast for me for two days so that I will receive my healing, this is undoubtedly pure and genuine love.” So after the two days’ fasting (we drank only water), the brethren gathered together and prayed for my healing in the Name of Jesus Christ. At night, when I went to bed, I had a very stirring dream. There appeared before me a picture of murky darkness without the slightest sign of light. All of a sudden, I saw in front of me the Lord of Glory Jesus Christ walking towards one specific direction. He was meek, with an impressive countenance, radiating a brilliant light. At once I heard a loud voice as if it was coming from the universe and which said: “I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD”. At that time I had no idea that those words were from (John 8:12) in the Word of God, they were completely unknown to me. God was teaching me His Word. As soon as I saw Jesus and heard that voice, I felt an irresistible attraction to the Lord and I started running towards Him with all my strength, as He was walking meekly and peacefully, looking steadfastly and decisively only to the front. Nothing seemed to be able to distract His attention. It was as if He was telling me: I Am the Way, there is no other way, that’s how the believer should walk, steadfastly and decisively towards his destination, without swerving to the left or to the right. I managed to stand next to the Lord, and I started running towards the direction He was heading, without saying anything to Him. I just kept running with all my strength while the Lord continued to walk quietly with His eyes always fixed ahead. At a certain moment, I saw just in front of me a huge glass door. I ran as fast as I could to go past Him towards the door. I made a great effort to reach the door and I opened it, I bowed down and said to the Lord from the bottom of my heart: “Come in, Master.” The Lord made His way in and, being about two meters passed the door He turned and fixed His eyes on my eyes and said: “For this reason my child I will heal you, and use you”. The message from this dream was crystal clear within my heart: John 8:12, 14:6, Revelation 3:20. Without any delay I opened my heart and invited Him to come to my life. Ever since that time Jesus had become my Saviour, my Lord, my Healer and everything for me. A couple of days after this dream, I was admitted to the British Hospital in the military base of Acrotiri, after a predetermined arrangement, for some further examinations for a possible remedy by distinguished British doctors. Bear in mind that the admittance to that specific hospital is not an easy matter. Only if the other hospitals and the doctors in Cyprus could not do anything concerning your case, were you given the opportunity to be admitted. This was therefore the last effort…from the human point of view. Also keep in mind what preceded my admittance to the hospital: collective fasting and prayer as well as the vivid dream I had had. Quite soon, doctors of various specializations began to examine me carrying out different tests on me. I had about 15 blood tests (half of them had been sent to England to be examined). The doctors made a puncture in my vertebra to get liquid and they also took filings from the skin of my toes. When they had the results in their hands, they came to explain to me. All of them had the same opinion as far as the diagnosis is concerned. They all said that I was suffering from “Erythema Multiformae” and the course of treatment with cortisone was the only advisable treatment which could only “delay the reappearance of the symptoms.” In other words the message was: “There is no remedy!” Disappointed with the doctors’ comments, I asked them very simply: “Do you mean there is no remedy?” They answered with these “comforting” words: “When you are about 50-60 years old this disease will gradually start to appear more rarely.” From the human point of view I was totally disappointed· however, with the Lord, I was not disappointed at all. After a few months, specifically on the 4th of July 1981, I would marry Andry and, soon after the wedding we would go to America for studies. Normally, this allergic sickness would have appeared twice till that time and, what is even more alarming was the possibility that it could appear during the days of our wedding preparations. If this had happened, then everything would have had to be postponed. Thank God, the wedding was held as we had planned, then we went to America and everything was normal. It was then that the Lord vividly reminded me of the dream I had had and which had sealed the answer to the prayer for my total healing. I was healed! I then started to confess my healing with joy and boldness and my pastor brother Dimitris Cospetas, who with much love and care taught me the Word of God as regards healing and how to keep this healing. I thank the Lord for healing my body from the oppression of this sickness. Finally, I was totally healed… and I still am healed and whole today! “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.” (Matthew 8:17) “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24) “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written. Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” (Galatians 3:13) The devil had attempted to destroy my mouth but the Lord set me free to confess Him and He made me preacher of the Gospel. Our Living God is Wonderful indeed. Hallelujah! Today I can shout it out with boldness and it can be heard, I am free: Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17), Soul (James 1:21) and Body (Isaiah 53:5) “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away: behold all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:21) “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:31b-32, 36) “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.” (2 Thessalonians 5:23-24) “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) Jesus is Lord. Amen! With His Love, Pastor Sophocles Christodoulou

† Celebrating 30 Years in Cyprus †