Hello! Nice to meet you here!

 

I'm sorry I didn't write anything here for a long time again. I was too busy to take time for such things :-(

I apologize!

I'll write soon about our last experiences here in Chiapas, about our family life and our work. And I'll introduce our son Daniel... a little late, sorry! He is our "Little Angel" and "Little Dragon" in one person. You may see some pictures in the gallery...

 

Lower is my testimony, part 1 - how and why I became Christian many years ago. And part 2, where I'm explaining about my experience with living God in 1988-89. This is the new version written by our friend Dr. Daniel Morris, missionary and pastor of the Iglesia Bautista Horeb in Tuxtla Gutierrez.

Wishing all the best

 

your Vladan & Jana & Daniel Koci 



 

 

 

 

Vladan Koci - Cellist: Prague, Czech Republic/Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico

Testimony Of How and Why I Became Christian

(Written in English by Dr. D.Morris, missionary and pastor of the Horeb Baptist Church in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas)

 

I was born in 1963 in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (CSSR) in the totalitarian Eastern Block regime of the Soviet Empire. The official ideology of the Communist Party in our country and in all communist countries at that time was Marxism-Leninism where the basic idea and belief was that there is no God in the universe, no responsibility, only the historical necessity of evolution. My family wasn't religious. Religion wasn't "modern" at that time and it was also dangerous for the people to have any different belief than the main stream ideology.

When I was 6 or 7 years old the "brothers" from our neighboring countries (the Warsawian Military Alliance) came with tanks to destroy the peaceful process that was changing our totalitarian socialism to democracy (1968-1969). I became a typical child of the "normalization", the hard repressive time after "Prague Spring". My father lost his job at the university because of "disloyalty" and left the family. He became a worker in the steelworks factory. My mother was only able to stay at the university because she promised to be absolutely loyal and obedient to the regime. The Soviet Army left many thousands of soldiers with nuclear weapons in our small country to "protect" us against American imperialism.

In that atmosphere I started to encounter ideological brain washing in kinder garden and basic school. I had to paint red stars, Lomonosov University, Lenin and Soviet tanks. They made me learn by heart poems about Lenin and other Soviet heroes, and I had to write compositions about the false history of the Soviets and their presence. But one thing turned out to be good. I had to study a lot of Russian literature. I was diligent and I read in the original language with pleasure. My mother was the Russian literature teacher at the university, so I got many good tips about what to read (Puskhin, Lermontov, Tolstoy...). She also inspired me to study history. I loved the history of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome, and also the history of the Asian and American continents. At that time I started to understand more about religions, but I was an "atheist" like all my friends at school.

Since I was 6 I began to love classical music - first baroque music (Vivaldi, Bach, Handel...) and classic (Mozart, Beethoven...), and later romantic (Dvorak, Chopin...) etc. That was important for my future, because in the age of 12 I decided to become cellist. It was a little unusual and extraordinary, because at that time I was a student at the special school for mathematics and physics and my future was to become a scientist. To study music was a big change, but I felt it was very important for me. Science was too "easy" for me and also at that time I started to have many doubts about the main stream natural sciences (evolution for no reason, historical materialism and philosophy etc.). Music was more difficult, more universal and promised me much more freedom of feelings and intellect. I started to practice hard to became a good musician. Also, I decided to go my own way in thinking and living (not to follow the official way).

At the conservatory (a special school for fulltime professional musicians) I became a leading member of the Atheist Youth Group. It was not my purpose to fight against religion, but rather to get more information about philosophy and religion to understand better why people needed those things so much in history. I had the opportunity to study books that were "on Index" (forbidden). The result was - I was fired from the group because of my "difficult questions".

I started to practice yoga, to study eastern philosophies and religions, Greek philosophers and modern European philosophy. Christianity wasn't attractive to me, because I related it to the history of the religious wars in Europe about "Christian" colonialism. I didn't believe in a religion that was preaching love, but doing all those things. At that time I didn't understand the difference between "religion" (a kind of ideology) and a personal relationship to God.

While practicing yoga I studied a lot about myself, about my body and spirit. However, one thing I couldn't believe was the concept in oriental religions that I am a part of God. I was too imperfect to accept this idea. I couldn't imagine any Creator who needs to use me to become aware of Himself. I only knew that I'm not a god. I was only a man and very far from God. I also didn't believe that reincarnation makes any sense, because if our life here is any kind of punishment for a previous life, why can't we remember that? If I'm in a prison I have to understand why in order to become better!

But I could feel God's presence in nature and I was looking for Him. I had big problems at school because of my disloyalty towards their ideology and system. They didn't allow me to perform and travel, and they wrote a very bad official political report (profile) about me, so I did not have any chance to change to

another school and study more. In the same way, my cello teacher kept me from advancing and told me I have no chance to became a good musician.

At that time (1981) I got a Bible from my brother. He had become a Christian a few months before. I didn't believe in the God of the Bible, but I did want to study it, in the same way I studied other religious books to think about what they said, and keep what was good for me.

I didn't know what my purpose was for the future so I was going to nature to look for answers and to meet God, the Creator there1. In June 1981 I came across a bear in the mountains in Slovakia. My reaction was completely wrong. I ran away, praying to God to help me. I escaped and promised God to look for Him more.

After that experience I started to study the Bible more. I didn't like it because there was too much blood for a peaceful man like me. But I could feel very clearly, that the story about Jesus is unique and very surprising. It is the only religious message in the world in which God opens the door of heaven to men. In all other religions you have to do many things to became better and you hope, that once MAYBE your god will accept you because of your good behavior. But Jesus, the only Son of the living God came to pay my debt beforehand! He accepts me just I am now if I will trust Him as my own Savior and Lord! Incredible! Yes, I couldn't believe it either.2

Afterwards I visited a Christian meeting in an illegal Pentecostal church in a small flat in Prague. It was a terrible experience. I thought they were crazy. But during the prayers I could feel the presence of God in a way similar to how I felt in nature when I was alone looking for Him. That was interesting to me.

I moved to Prague, the capital of our country. I applied at the famous Prague Conservatoire to become a student there, but they didn't accept me because of my political profile report from the last school. I was looking for job and thinking about what to do. At that time I visited a famous conductor, a very old and noble man, who had asked me many years before to visit him if I needed any help. I played a recital for him in his house to see if he thought it made any sense for me to continue studying music. He was moved by my performance and my story, and he wrote letters of recommendation to all of the important cello professors in Prague.

In those days I was praying to God to help me. I told Him I couldn't believe the message of the Gospel in the Bible. I asked Him to give me faith if that story about Jesus is true.

In the flat I was renting in Prague there was an old gramophone with old LP's. One of them was the St. Matthew Passion by J. S. Bach (written to the glory of God). I didn't know that piece, because at the communist school where I used to study, listening to religious music was not permitted. They taught us that religious music was an unimportant part of Bach's compositions (an outright lie). The main text of that great work for soloists, chorus and orchestra is from Matthew chapters 26 and 27 in the Bible.

I decided to listen to that music during my lunchtime. I was eating my simple soup and reading the 26th chapter of Matthew's Gospel. The music was playing in the next room on the old gramophone and the quality of the sound was not very good. At first, I was only curious and did not especially have any emotional response to the music. However, after I turned the first LP over and was listening to side two, I suddenly felt teardrops falling down from my eyes and I became SURE, that Jesus died for MY SINS - He came to save and redeem ME. It was like light from heaven coming to my heart. From that moment I became Christian; not a "religious" man, but rather I gave my life to Jesus and asked Him to accept me as God's child forever. I was given faith as a gift from God3 who was protecting me in the most difficult times of my life. I'm a weak man, but God helped me to go through the communist prisons and become a good musician.

It was September 23rd 1981 at noon that I became a Christian. That evening I told it to the members of a small illegal church4. The next day God decided my future as a musician - I could play for the most famous

1 Romans 1:18-25 2 Mark 2:17
3 Ephesians 2:8
4 Romans 10:9-13

 

 

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Czechoslovak cellist of that time, Prof. Milos Sadlo at the Prague Academy of Music. He wanted to accept me immediately to study in his class, but on September 24th it was too late so I became his private student for one year before I could enter the Academy.
Prof. Sadlo made a telephone call to the Prague Conservatory and the day after that I became a student of that school, in spite of the fact that they had not accepted me a short time before because of my political profile. Nineteen years later I became a professor there after changes in the political system in eastern Europe.

A short time after becoming a Christian, I was baptized5 secretly in a pond (about 12°C) near Prague. It was a dark fall day but for that moment the sun began to shine and, with my heart filled with joy, I felt like staying and swimming for a while. I also asked our Father in heaven to fill me with His Holy Spirit6.

After few easy and happy years serving God and studying music I had to decide about my future and future of my family (I got married in 1984). The totalitarian communist regime was becoming very stable and strong. It isn’t easy for me to write about the persecution in the communist regime in the last years before the “Iron Curtain” fell. On one hand it was the most “famous” period of my life, the deepest personal experience with my God, Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. On the other hand it was also one of the most difficult experiences which ended up damaging my spiritual and private life for many years. It sounds like a paradox, but that is really how it is.

These experiences began in 1985 during my military training in the “folk army”. At that time I wasn’t soldier, only a student in the military department at the Academy of Music and Visual Arts in Prague (AMU). Every young male student at any university had to be trained as a soldier for our Czechoslovak Folk Army. During the training we had to learn by heart the military oath. We had to sign and proclaim it in order to become real soldiers and members of the communist “war machine”. In the text of that oath was a very interesting part: I had to promise to be ready to fight with the gun in my hands against “ANY ENEMY”. The main job of the communist ideology and propaganda was to tell who that “universal enemy” was. My job was just to obey the commands of the communist party, the president of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (CSSR) and my commanding officers, etc., to cooperate with the “brothers” in the Soviet Army.

My short experience of how the communists were using the “folk armies” was The Prague Spring of 1968-69. During that time the Soviet Army and other “brother’s” armies came to “help” us to keep the “nice” communist regime forever. They successfully "saved" us from “evil democracy” for the next 20 years. At that time I was 5-6 years old, but I remember well the tanks and heavy weapons coming during the night to our country from all sides. That invasion destroyed the young democracy in our country and changed or destroyed the life of many simple people (like my family).

I had to think about those things, and decide if I would become a little wheel in the “machine”, or I would go my own narrow way with Jesus. I started to study the Bible to get ideas and answers to many questions I had. I also started to pray a lot, fasting and looking for the Living God. My friends, even Christians and others asked me to be “clever”, to go the simple way as an obedient servant of the state - in order to have a good and comfortable life as a successful musician. All my family members were thinking in the same way. I wasn’t surprised. It is very normal in any country which has a totalitarian regime - the people prefer to collaborate in order to lead a “normal comfortable life”. But in my conscience I felt something different.

They told me “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” - so I asked the Lord what that means (Luke 20. 21-25). I was praying to understand my situation better and God helped me in my weakness. Suddenly I knew - that story is about money! I can give "Caesar" my work, my property, my time, etc., but my conscience, my soul belongs only to God! This world can ask me to be a servant in material things, but not to be loyal to evil, not to collaborate with the regime which used the army against true and innocent citizens.

I knew I would have to say NO to military service to keep my conscience pure. But the only alternative was prison for one to five years first, and later more, no contact with family, no music, only hard work as a slave in the prison workshops. I could spend 7 to 15 years in the prison if I repeatedly refused.

5 Acts 2:38
6 Luke 11:13

 

 

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The totalitarian regime also tried to control the churches obligating them to collaborate. The official churches did so with pleasure. Sadly, the illegal church I used to be a member of also began to collaborate in order to get the chance to become official and receive state financial support. After the “Velvet Revolution” I found out that the pastor of “my” church was on the list of agents of the State Secret Police (STB). He used to give important information about the church members to his commander. I had already felt that something was wrong, and I didn’t trust anybody who told me to be “clever” any more.

In the spring of 1987 I got the opportunity to see the movie “Gandhi” in the official cinema. It was incredible! The communist censors were so stupid - they allowed that movie to be shown which shows very clearly how peaceful resistance is the best way to confront any totalitarian system. It was such a deeply moving experience for me. I already knew about Mahatma Gandhi, but this movie was a very strong and profound testimony about his life and work. It was also a great demonstration of what is possible, when a simple man follows his faith and hope, and does the good things that he feels he has to do, trusting in the Creator of the universe.

Compared to Gandhi's courage and purity I felt very ashamed of myself. I was thinking, “I’m a Christian, I believe in the living Almighty God. I believe I’m His child in Jesus Christ and I believe His Holy Spirit lives in me. Yet, I’m so weak, so doubtful and undecided. Where is my faith and the power of the New Life in Christ? Is all that story about Jesus and His disciples in the New Testament only literature? Is everything different today? Do we have to be “clever”, humble, modest and obedient in ANY situation? And do we have to agree to fight against ANY enemy just because some very stupid and incompetent politicians decide about what is good and what is not? Must I obey those who say that there is no God, no responsibility, only their "holy" evolution and the philosophy of historical materialism?”

As I was praying and studying the Bible, I suddenly saw many parts in a new light. For example, the Sermon on the Mount became so much more powerful to me.7 By God's mercy I was able to better understand many things that had been difficult for me before. I was looking for God. For me it was the main thing in life at that time (and should be forever). I knew very well that without Jesus and His real presence in my life I am lost in this world and incapable of following my conscience and doing good.

When I prayed, I knew I had to make a decision soon. At that time I decided I was able to “bang my head against a brick wall” - to go the way of passive and peaceful resistance. It was “easy” to decide that, but I didn’t really have the courage or power to do it.

To better understand my situation, you have to know that I was already married and had a 2 year old son. My wife believed in Jesus and trusted in His powerful help. She decided to support me as much as possible. We prayed together and God started to speak to us directly. I remember that moment well. I was praying without any expectation of a direct answer. Finally I didn’t know what to say to God any more. I didn’t have any more words or ideas. I told Him that. I was in silence for a certain time, when suddenly He started to speak somewhere in my mind: “Now you can finally hear me”. I was very surprised and started to ask Him about many things to keep the “connection”. I asked God to talk to my wife to make sure I was not crazy or something. I asked Him to give us the same understanding if we had to do something important. He did and we started a very intensive relationship to our Lord and God. We knew we should not trust every spirit, so we kept the communication only in the name of Jesus Christ8. In that time many wonderful things happened.

In June 1987 I suddenly got the opportunity to leave the country for vacations. It was a kind of miracle, because the state police knew quite a lot about me. I could go with my wife and son for two weeks. We received official permission to leave our "big prison behind the Iron Curtain" and go to Yugoslavia - Croatia. Many offices and people had to agree before we got that paper! It was a real miracle. I started to plan the trip through the mountains of Slovenia to Austria. It was dangerous, but possible to travel through the wild rocky Slovenian Alps to the Austrian border. Our neighbors traveled like that to Austria and later to Canada with two small children.

7 Matthew 5:34-37, 39-48 8 I John 4:1-3

 

 

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I was praying: “If it is possible to escape, please give us your blessing and help.” God’s plan was different. Before the trip we told my wife’s parents, (very normal, kind, nice, tolerant Czech people), about our plan. Their reaction was shocking. They said they would inform the state police if we took our son Tomas with us. We could not understand why they would say this because at that time people were allowed to visit close family relatives in western countries. This was because of the international agreements regarding family contacts. At that time the communist regime had softened the harsh rules that had been established after the "Prague Spring" and invasion of Soviet troops (1968-1969). But they were afraid of getting into problems because before that, near relatives of escapees were persecuted. We understood that, and we didn’t want to make trouble for anyone. In such a situation we spent time fasting and praying in order to understand exactly what we should do. God told both of us to come back, so we did.

I had a similar experience in October when I went to Austria to play an exchange concert between our school and the Music University in Vienna. I spent a week afterwards in the Austrian Alps, in the beauty of nature alone with God in order to have the strength to go back to the “prison”. I had the opportunity to continue my studies in Vienna, but God encouraged me to go back. I had promised that to my wife also, so I did again. But I wasn’t very happy at the moment. I wasn’t a hero. It felt like going back to hell after a short trip to heaven. The Lord promised me that I would suffer for only a short time. But what is a “short time” for God?9

In the fall 1987 I finished my studies and started my first job as a professional musician. I became the principal cellist in the Chamber Opera Prague for a short time. I didn’t get permission to teach at the music conservatory in Finland, because I would have had to do military service previously.

Soon the army told me to become a soldier. I refused and went to the main army office in Prague to explain my reasons. I told the officials that I would serve the state with my work, but not as a soldier. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN 1948) gives the right to follow one's conscience as a Christian who loves people, and will not kill them for just any reason. I explained to them that I could never fight against "any" enemy in the name of the regime. I was ready to serve in the war helping people everywhere, but never as a soldier, or member of any “folk army”. They were very surprised at first, because at that time only a few Jehovah’s Witnesses did such crazy things. And I was “only” a Christian, a musician and well educated person. They were shocked, but then they started to yell at me and threatened to send me to prison and break me. I gave them the call-up papers and went home to wait for what they would do.

It was January, 1988. My service was supposed to start the 1st of April. After that date I was considered a criminal. The officials didn’t know what to do with me. First my employer was commanded to fire me. From that moment I couldn’t get any regular job or leave the country. The only job that I could to do was to play at funerals in the crematorium of Prague. I did that a lot, and later my wife also. So, thank God, in that way we were able to survive those years. We were praying a lot to know what the Lord would have us to do each day and God gave us many signs to encourage us.

For example, once when I was reading the Bible, He showed me His power over my life by stopping my heart even though at that time I felt very strong physically. I was going to die and I couldn’t move or say anything sitting only two meters from my wife. I was only praying in my heart: “God, if I have to go, please take care of my wife and son in this evil world.” Suddenly that “dark” power that came from above over the left side of my body disappeared and I could feel my body again. After that I asked my Lord what that experience was. He answered: “I can call you any time to come out of this world, even if you feel very strong and healthy, and I also have the power to give you full health and energy if you feel you’re going to die.”

I was waiting for the policemen to arrive at any time. One time a secret police agent was standing in front of our house to watch who was coming in and going out. I think they also had microphones inside. Maybe they could listen to how we were praying for them too!
It was a hard, but also pleasant time. I made new friends from the “underground”; people from the Independent Peace Organization, from Charta 77 (dissidents) and members of Amnesty International from all over the world. My very close friend Tomas Tvaroch (1964-92), an excellent pianist, connected me with new friends and with the world on the other side of the Iron Curtain. His father was an English reporter who wrote about human rights. He was secretly a part of the few civilians present in my first trial at the military tribunal in July 1988, and thanks to him I became a well known “political prisoner”. BBC, Voice of America,

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9 II Peter 3:8

 

 

Radio Free Europe, etc. reported about my case. Many people were praying for us, sending letters, postcards and packages from all over the world. We received only a few of those things, but it was very encouraging to know we aren’t alone in this world.

My defense lawyer, Dr. Otakar Motejl, (who was later an important politician in the new democracy after 1989 and first ombudsman of the Czech Republic) was the only one who had permission to defend the persecuted “disloyal” people.

At the tribunal I could see in reality what Jesus was speaking about in Luke 21:12-15. The judges and the advocate didn’t even tell me what I was doing wrong, evil or criminal. To everyone there (students of the military school and few civilians) it was clear that I was right and the official “law” was wrong, that the state was breaking international law and agreements, not me. I was sentenced to 15 months in prison (it could have been up to 5 years). God had promised me it would be a “short time” and actually after few months on the 28th of October 1988 (the 70 year anniversary of the 1st Czechoslovak Republic) I was freed because of the amnesty. The officials possibly believed that after that experience I would be more “flexible” and they let me go home.

My first experience in the prison was very difficult, but God was with me and He protected me. I met some interesting people there and had the opportunity to speak about Jesus to many. My lawyer told me that after this the government would no longer call me to become a soldier. They knew me too well and didn’t want me to become known more than I was.

But it wasn’t true!

I spent a few months playing at funerals again. Two times I performed as a soloist with the official military orchestra, which was a little like a crazy comedy because they didn’t know anything about my military experience. God sometimes makes jokes like that with people because they feel so important and wise.10 Possibly, after these concerts, the persons responsible got into big trouble.

In January 1989 they called me to military service again. It was hard, because if I refused a second time I would be sentenced to prison for at least 3 years. I was praying much to be able to make the right decision again. Of course I already knew what was right, but I hoped God would show some other, "better" way for me to go through that terrible situation. I really was not a strong person at the moment. All I could to do was pray and look for God's answer. Very often God takes time to show you the many things in life that you have been focused on besides Him. He wants us to be free from this world in any situation. We have to look for His kingdom and His righteousness, not for the things of this world.11 But sometimes it isn’t very pleasant for us.

Once again I got the idea of escaping, because for me to just wait was very exhausting. I got the crazy idea to go to Hungary through the Slovak mountains and try to leave for Austria on the Neusiedler See (the border of Hungary). I really didn’t want to go to prison again. But there in the beauty of nature God helped me to have enough courage and go back again.

In June 1989 they arrested me again for about one month. The trials were similar to the first one. God protected me in a wonderful way. The judges didn’t have any argument against me - only that I would have to go to the prison because I was not loyal to the regime and the (criminal) law of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, which wouldn't allow me to serve in civilian service instead of the military. The very aggressive military advocate, who promised to break my resistance and to keep me in prison for at least 3 years, had a serious accident and couldn’t come to the trial. His colleague was very kind, and was sleeping there all the time. So, I received the penalty of only one month longer than the first time. After the second trial I was able go home. I had to promise the officials that I would come back if they called me.

I was very happy and thankful to Lord that he saved me from going to prison. But something "wrong" happened at the moment which I did not understand until now. In my prayers I had understood that God told me that I would not go to prison again. I didn’t think that I could be mistaken about this. I trusted that God

10 I Corinthians 3:19 11 Matthew 6:33

 

 

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knew that I had understood that He told me this. In an interview with the illegal magazine of the Independent Peace Organization Fellowship (I don’t know the exact name in English) I had told them about this promise.

But in August 1989, after the demonstrations against the regime in Prague (The 20 year anniversary of the attack of the Soviet Army and other armies and the destruction of the peaceful democratic process that our country had from 1968-69) they called or arrested all persons who were suspected of disloyalty, including me and some of my friends. I was expecting a miracle, because I believed that this would not happen. We were praying and fasting. But on September 11th I went back to the main prison in Prague, because I had given my word that I would go if called. To the last moment I believed that something would happen and I would be free again. And then, suddenly I was inside. That was a very hard attack against my faith. I felt so alone, so weak and empty. I didn’t have the courage to ask God about it, or even to talk to Him. I was completely confused. I felt like what is written in Jeremiah 15.16-18,

16 When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty.
17 I never sat in the company of revelers, never made merry with them; I sat alone because your hand was on me and you had filled me with indignation.

18 Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable? You are to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails. (NIV)

That was a very hard time. I was alone with my doubts and weakness between criminals and very evil guards. I didn’t know anything about the “Velvet Revolution” coming a few months later. But the Lord strongly protected me. They sent me to the Pilsen prison again like the first time. The guards and the prisoners there thought that I was a crazy, foolish man. They tried to break me down, to show me who is the real boss in this world. God gave me courage to continue to speak about Jesus, about what is good and what is not. But I was such a small, weak person. I felt like a child among beasts. Now I understand that feelings are not what is important. In ANY situation we can trust that God is with us.12

The most evil guard wanted to send me to the worst work section where it was very dangerous and the prisoners were frequently injured (especially hands and fingers - he knew that I’m a professional musician). First he acted “kind” trying to change my opinions and belief. He wanted to change me to a true communist. We talked together about Marx-Lenin philosophy, history and religion. But his knowledge was poor and my arguments too strong for him. He decided to break me in a different way. He didn’t allow me to do anything - receive letters, contact the family, read the Bible or study languages. I could not even play a guitar or any other instrument, which other prisoners were allowed to do in their free time. I was working in the small hospital section, because I had received medical training as a student of the military department during my studies at the Music Academy. I was doing hard work from 4 am until 11 pm, but it wasn’t enough for him. He wanted to place me with the worst criminals in the worst section of the famous Pilsen-Bory prison. It was a really bad situation. I was praying and asking my Father in heaven to help me immediately. He did again! I was saved at the last moment because that evil guard had a bad accident and broke his leg. He came back about three months later during the time of the revolution and was ordered to let me go because I was a well known political prisoner.

The time of the revolution was also very interesting. I could see how people were changing for superficial reasons. I was the same person as before, doing the worst and most dirty work, speaking and thinking in the same way as always. But now the prisoners and guards heard about me in the TV news! That caused a change! They asked me not to do any more hard work. They begged me not to speak on TV or in interviews about my experiences in the prison, about the concrete prisons and other things. Suddenly I was a celebrity to them. That is very sad, but also very normal.

On the 1st of December, 1989 I left the prison. I started a new life. People asked me to speak, play concerts or sing my songs in special meetings and events during the Velvet Revolution. They asked me to become a politician which I didn’t accept. I didn’t think that was my way. I started to work on my instrument again and finally I decided to leave the country for certain time. I knew that after the euphoria of the revolution, most of the evil people would again start to ascend to the upper levels of political life in our society. It was

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12 Romans 8:35-39

 

 

true. They stole everything from the former state property and many of them became very rich. That’s the world we live in.

Many things changed in a good way. One was the law about military service, in January 1990. The democratic deputies used my story as an example to change the rules and to establish civilian service for two years like other countries in Eastern Europe at that time (Hungary, DDR, Poland, etc.). After that, the “Iron Curtain” fell and Eastern Europe became free. Thank God for His mercy!

I have to tell you one more thing. In the communist totalitarian system it was very easy to see what is wrong and what is right. In the new democracy the line between evil and good disappeared. It was much more difficult to see clearly what is dangerous for our souls and our conscience. I needed God's help and presence much more than I had needed before! The democratic world can damage our souls just like the totalitarian ideology. The “holy consumerist life style” is a very strong and evil ideology, a religion of prosperity, the new world that can damage or deform the character of many innocent children and people.13

I know that well, because I wasn't careful enough myself. I wanted to have a simple life after my hard experience. I was confused in my relationship to God because I had understood wrong about the last imprisonment. I believed I was like a false prophet.14 I didn’t want to have any experience like that again. I decided not to listen to God directly like before, but to go my own “clever”, religious, humble way as a simple man. I was tired and foolish, I didn’t think about what king David said in Psalm 139.5-12.

5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are

both alike to thee.(KJV)

I wanted to escape again, and I believe Lord let me go, because He loves me. We always have the freedom to go our own ways. I feel very sorry now, because after that decision I did many wrong, stupid and bad things, many sins that weren’t necessary. God didn’t protect me from this world like before and allowed me to fall many times. I hurt my wife and family leaving them after 30 years of very intensive family life. I was completely exhausted and empty, because I tried to do too many things without daily contact with God.15 Finally I was going to die, without energy and interest to do anything more in this world.

I was praying often to God to help me in certain things and activities for other people (charity concerts, etc.) and I’m sure He helped me a lot. But very often I was doing and planning things by myself, or following the instruction and desires of other people without asking God. I have forgotten Him too often! But the Lord is true and merciful! He helped me to find my way even after making so many mistakes.

Now I’m older and don’t wish to waste my time any more. I’m looking for God's face every day to be sure about what I have to do. I don’t want to do more wrong because He loves me so much. He takes care of me and gives me new power for everything I have to do. I’m so happy to understand His message, that “... you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God”.16

13 I Timothy 6:6-10
14 Deuteronomy 18:22
15 John 15:4-6
16 Colossians . 3: 1-3; see also Colossians 1: 13, John 17:15-16, Ephesians 2: 4-6, Galatians 2: 20

 

 

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We can have full freedom from this world, freedom to serve God and people, to follow God’s plan in our lives17, to have here already an eternal life in love, peace and wisdom!18

I would like to close my testimony with the same passage from the prophet Jeremiah that I had mentioned before as expressing my confusion (verse 18) but here I am including God’s answer:

16 When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty.
17 I never sat in the company of revelers, never made merry with them;
I sat alone because your hand was on me and you had filled me with indignation.

18 Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable? You are to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails.
19 Therefore this is what the LORD says: “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman. Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them.

20 I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you,” declares the LORD.
21 “I will save you from the hands of the wicked and deliver you from the grasp of the cruel.” (NIV)

I thank God that after such difficult times He has given me the opportunity to live so long in freedom, to play for people in many countries, to teach many nice young people music and to share with them my life- experience with God. I hope to do my best always for God and people in the future, because the Lord has been so merciful to me.

 

Vladan Koci
Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, México - October, 2014

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17 Ephesians 2: 10

 

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