I FOUND TRUE FREEDOM
By: Kathy Baarman
Can a person live in a free country like America and not have true freedom? Yes, as was the case of Kathy Baarman, who after living under 12 years of Communist oppression came to live in free America only to discover that true freedom is not where you live, but who is living inside of you. Let's read how that came about:
I was born in Hungary. My father was a lieutenant in the Hungarian Army. My parents had a beautiful home and we had a happy family to fill it. Then something happened to change all that. World War II broke out. After the war was over the Russians came in and took over Hungary, and 12 years of hardship came for our family. My parents lost their house, and the state took away all of our material possessions.
In 1948 my father was convicted of anti-Communist activities. False charges were drawn up against him, and he was sentenced to prison. Now my mother was left with raising three daughters with no means to do so. My grandparents took us in and often went without food themselves so we children could eat. The day arrived when my father was released from prison, and I remember I could hardly wait to see him. When he arrived home, I didn't recognize him. He had suffered so much during his three years in prison.
By 1955 the Hungarian people were really getting restless. Life was growing unbearable. While the Communist wives could go to the Communist run stores and get whatever they wanted, the rest of the people like us stood in lines for hours for a bottle of milk or loaf of bread.
Then one day an unexpected announcement came across the radio waves. It was the voice of a revolutionary. "We're going to put down Communism, and we're going to demand more freedom and opportunity for the Hungarian people!" It was a great time of excitement and hope. But it was short-lived. The Russians called in border guards and tanks, and put down the revolution. However, it was at this time that the border was somewhat opened up, and people were flooding out of Hungary, leaving everything behind for freedom.
Eventually my father made the decision for us to leave too, and we paid a man to show us the best way out of the country. We were about two city blocks from the border when we were suddenly fired upon. Bullets started hitting all around us. Fortunately we reached Austria without any injuries. In Austria the Red Cross helped us. At the refugee center we were asked what country we'd like to go to. My father requested the land of his dreams, the United States. Incredibly, two weeks later we had our wish granted! On December 25, 1956, we landed in New Jersey. From there we were bussed to Grand Rapids, Michigan. A local church adopted us and helped us get started.
At age 27, I woke to the stark realization that I hated life
The years passed. At age 27, I woke up to the stark realization that I hated life. By this time I was the mother of three boys. I had made a vow to myself that my children would have everything that I never had as a child materially. So to meet that goal, I started working as a waitress in a nightclub. My husband worked days and I worked nights. After working for two years, this was more than what I could handle. I didn't have time for my children, and this brought on feelings of failure. I was in constant depression, fear and anxiety, and my love for my husband was growing cold. By this time I was also drinking quite heavily.
Yes, at age 27, I came to realize that even though I enjoyed all the wonderful things a free country can produce, I wasn't satisfied. I was miserable inside. One night I came home from the nightclub where I was working extremely depressed, and took a bottle of pain pills. I thought everybody would be better off without me. I laid down on the sofa and thought that would be it. My husband woke up in the middle of the night, saw something was wrong, gathered up the children, and ushered me to the hospital just in time to save my life. Once released from the hospital, I felt awful about what I had tried to do. I had three little boys that needed me. But I hated life.
I had a sister living in California that I had been very close to, and I called her and poured out my soul to her. She and her five children came out to visit me a couple of months later. During our hours of sharing, she showed me in the Bible where the promise of God's love for people like me was guaranteed, if I would only believe it. She also shared that she once was in the same state of misery that I was now in, but some friends of hers had counseled with her that it wasn't enough just to know about God, but that she needed to take the step of accepting Jesus Christ into her life, and that would make the difference.
A person needs to know God personally. And she said that she invited Him to come live inside her and from that time on, her life totally changed for the better. I thought...well, that's okay for her, but I didn't think that would work for me. She has never been as severely depressed as I have been. My life is too much of a mess. I'm convinced. But she didn't push herself on me. She just kept showing me a love I had never seen experienced before. As I watched her interact with her children, I observed so much love and patience with them that I had always wanted myself, but never could seem to find.
Then she invited me to a Christian gathering held in Holland, Michigan. People there talked about God and Jesus Christ as a personal God, almost as though this Jesus was their best friend. I had never heard such talk.
You see, I had attended church most of my younger years, but I thought God was far removed from people and events down here. He was way up somewhere running this world, but He didn't care about just little old me. But these people didn't see God that way at all. They interacted with Him as though He was right in their midst; on a daily basis. They believed He cared about their heartaches and needs. They shared how they would go to God when they had problems, and God would either send them an answer, or He would give them the peace they needed to place their trust in Him to work things out.
I went home from that meeting and I could hardly wait to kneel and pray. I told the Lord I was sick of hangovers and wild parties. I said, "God, if it's really true what those people said, come into my life and change me and make me your child. I want to get to know you personally."
I felt so clean
The next morning when I woke up, I felt so clean inside, and I decided to read my Bible, because all the ladies at the meeting had said it was God's Word. They said it was God's words to mankind to learn about Him, to grow in Him, and to walk in victory in Him. Yet always before the Bible had been boring and dry, and it never made sense. But as I read that morning, I noticed a drastic change. Now it held my interest! As the days passed, I couldn't read enough of God's Word. It was like the choicest food for my soul. Something had happened inside of me from inviting Jesus to take control of my life. I had become ALIVE to God. I also found true freedom on the inside - freedom from the slavery of sin.
God eventually delivered me from smoking and my dependence upon diet pills and alcohol. He also started giving me a new love for my husband. Instead of looking at him through my eyes as I had done in the past, now I was looking at him through God's eyes - - through the eyes of the Spirit of Jesus Christ in me.
To one and all reading this, if you want to be pleasing to God-if you are burdened down with the struggles of life-if you feel like you're a prisoner inside . . . there is hope for you. This hope is to be found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Invite Him to come in and take over your life, and let Him set you free! For as He declares in Matthew 11:28-30:
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. My yoke is easy, and My load is light."
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"And this gospel of the
died for sinners] shall be preached in all the world for a witness
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(Quote from Jesus Himself: Matthew 24:14).
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