[We are providing the full text of Ruben's testimony to give the complete context for those who have read the Important Announcement]
Ruben Olschewsky’s Testimony
June 3, 2017. Talking Rock, GA, USA
I’d like you to draw your attention, in the book of Zechariah chapter 3. Just to begin a bit of a story about my journey. And I am just looking at verse 3 and 4 where it says “Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those who stood before him, saying Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with a change of raiment.”
And what this speaks to me in understanding, particularly in the presentation of my journey and my testimony is that in order to receive of that change of raiment, the filthy garment had to be removed, which means that Joshua had to stand in his nakedness and his shame; and so as I share my testimony this morning, I do stand in my shame and in my past. But having known that, I am branded as being plucked from the fire, I stand before you as a son of God. I am reconciled to my Father through the Lord Jesus Christ.
My name is Ruben Oslchewsky. By birth I am German. I was born in a place called Göttingen. I have one brother and one sister. My brother is one year and 18 days older than me. My sister is 14 years older than me. I was born into a secular Adventist home. My parents became Seventh-day Adventists. When they were young they were brought up in the Catholic faith. By the time I was about 8 ½ going on 9, which was 1982, we came to Australia and we actually landed in Australia on the birthday of my mother on September 18. But I just want to stay in Germany for a moment and, speaking about my childhood, growing up in a secular home (many of you will be very familiar with), it’s not always easy. Even though that we have a name of Seventh-day Adventist, the secular nature of our relationship causes a lot of disruptions in the home. And God gave my mother a great deal of wisdom in teaching my brother and myself. And so our Sabbath experience generally was quite tumultuous on a Friday night. As Satan seeks to begin the work of destroying the presence of Christ in the home; and in her wisdom, she would take us, make preparation for Sabbath, and we would go to church, and after church we would not return home, not till the sun set. And so I spent all of my time with my mother and my brother after church walking through nature. That was my experience as a child in Germany, and I’m thankful for that. I have a very deep love for the mountains, for the forests and I owe that to the experience that has a child.
When we came to Australia, obviously we never knew a single word of English. We had to learn the language. So we’re a little bit outcast for a little while. My parents purchased a property out outside of town in a place called Tamborine. That’s where I grew up. Not that far away from where Adrian actually lives now, about 15 minutes’ drive or something like that. And so that’s where I grew up. And I attended a Seventh-day Adventist school and received all the education that we do in those particular places. And I had a lot of questions as I was growing up because I’ll come forward to my teenage years.
I’ve always remembered that I’ve had a very strong conscience and I owe that to the work I believe that my mother did in my formative years. But unfortunately, I didn’t listen to that voice very often.
And in the course of my life growing up, I looked at my home, I looked at the school that I attended, and I had a knowledge of God. I believe God to be present. I believe that there was a God. But I didn’t believe that he was intimately interested in the movement of mankind on Earth because it just wasn’t anything that was fair. Whether you were at school or in the playground, no matter which way you looked at life, it just didn’t seem to be fair. And to me, as a young mind, I’m asking the question If there is a God, where is the fairness? Where is the justice?
And I can’t remember the exact circumstance, but on one occasion I was about 15 or 16 years of age. I was quite upset and I don’t know what for, but I posed this question to my mum that if there is a God, it was something like If there is a God, why isn’t he, why isn’t He interested in us? Why? Why isn’t He here? Why can’t I see Him moving? And my mother said to me at the time, Look, son, if God’s going to answer that question for you, I would recommend that you pray. You go to your room and you pray. And then when you’re finished praying, if you take your Bible and open your Bible, that He will reveal something to you.
And to be honest with you, I don’t know why I listened to her. I was 16, 15, 16, quite rebellious. So why I took that counsel, I don’t know. But I’m thankful and I prayed. And then I open my Bible and I open my Bible to the book of Joshua. And it was chapter 1. And as I began to read, I could see writing on a piece of paper that made absolutely no sense to my circumstance, because it starts with “Now after the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord, it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua, the Son of Nun.” And as I kept reading, I thought, this is not even talking to me. I have no idea what Mum’s talking about, but I’m on the wrong channel.
And so I closed the Bible and I threw it on my bed and I thought, this has obviously made my point. And I went to proceed out of the house. And knowing that my mother is in the kitchen, it’s very hard in that house to walk out of the house without walking past the kitchen. And I desperately wanted to pass the kitchen without being seen so I could get outside and ride my horse. I just wanted to escape the circumstance. And as I very quietly snuck down the hallway and tried to proceed around the corner before being seen, my mother noticed my back about to go out the door and she sort of called me. And again, I listened and I turned around and she said to me, So how did it go? And I said, How did what go? She said, You know, you’re praying, and did the Lord send anything to you? I said, No He didn’t. He didn’t, I read it and it made no sense. And my mother, in her wisdom, instead of trying to clarify anything she said, May I please see where you looked? And so she did.
She began to read. She read, “There shall no man be able to stand before you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I shall be with you. I will never leave thee or forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land which I swear unto their fathers to give them.”
Like right now. I actually wept. I never read that. That was the first time, not that I had not read the Bible, but that the Bible became something intimate. And I would love to say that the journey went up and up from there, but it did not. I continued my schooling and in my senior year of high school, I met my wife and having grown up in a secular society and being subject myself to intemperance, I became a father at the ripe year of 20. And so we got married. And then shortly afterwards we had our second beautiful son, Jordan. My first son’s name is Ethan.
And continuing that story, knowing that I had children and a wife to look after. I had started my career in university. I desired very much to become a veterinary surgeon. And so I broke off my university degree in order to find a job to support my family. And so this is how the journey into my adulthood began.
I came into a church called Edens Landing. And there was an elder there who has passed now. His name was Elmore Honor and he was a lovely man. And he began to study the Bible with me and with my wife. And I began to learn and I began to grow. And as I began to grow, there was this little flame that began to kindle in my heart. The more I began to learn about the truth of Scripture, it made me interested to learn more. And I wanted to be involved in church. And I had the opportunity to become a deacon. And my life in the church at that particular church continued on for a number of years. And I know at some point, I don’t know exactly the time period of that, but at some point down there, I was ordained as an elder in the church. Now, around that time, we received a new pastor, and he was a little bit different from our other pastors. One thing that for me really stood out is that in the entire time that he was the pastor at our church, we never had one evangelistic series. And naturally, you would think, what a flop. The guy’s either not committed. But he had a really unusual message. Unusual not because it was not Scriptural. Unusual in that it was talking about God’s kingdom in a whole different context. The central key verse that I recall that his message seemed to focus around was in Jeremiah 9:23 and 24 and as a kingdom based on relationship not performance. Sound familiar?
Well, I had the privilege of taking Bible studies with this pastor. And there were 11 other brothers of mine who joined in that group, and we became part of the elder group. During the time in which he served at that church, we never had one evangelistic meeting. And by the baptismal rates that the church values the performance of the church. Because for some reason I’m not sure why, but we allocate the performance of a church by how many people are baptized. The baptismal rate in that church was the highest it had ever received in the history. And that was because of a message that was presented during which time a book was written and you probably have it on your shelves or at least have looked at it. It’s called Identity Wars. This formed the framework for much of our ministry work? As we went out and study and the evangelistic program in that church was based not on reaching out as a corporate unit, spending heaps of money and putting on a big show. The idea was to work within the church unit to bring life back into the church family and that the elders would work within the church to build up cell groups. It would then impact on their home environment to bring a family and children to life, who would impact on their people around about them and invite them along to meetings. And that’s how our church grew. And it was blessed.
And it’s interesting just sharing that, in light of my journey, that everyone was sharing a message at that time, giving their testimonies. And I actually didn’t want to share mine because I didn’t feel that I had a testimony to share. Nothing ever really exciting happened in my life in comparison with what my brethren were all sharing. And I sort of thought, I don’t really want to share my testimony because I’ve got nothing to share. And at the same time that all this Identity Wars material was starting to be taught, and as we were learning and growing in the Word, it seemed that the more this light was shining, the more of my character was being revealed and it wasn’t really nice. The message which received was highlighting to me just how deeply I was entrenched in this performance kingdom, because inside (I don’t know how much you know of the history of the message as such, as it came out of this church), but as Identity Wars was written, we as a group of elders who were taking Bible studies with Brother Adrian, we were trying to understand some of the framework. And so Adrian put a reading list together and the reading list was supposed to give us some understanding of the background as to bring us to an understanding of our church, of our history, of understanding the fundamental doctrines that we were working in. And unbeknownst to Adrian, we were all busy, or at least I was, deeply entrenched in a performance system, because the test was who could get through that reading list the quickest. And so it was highlighting everything that the identity message was exposing, that wasn’t very nice, but it was part of the work.
And as I continue to grow, we had a youth camp at a place called Samford Valley [January 2007]. And on a Sabbath, we’d finished some meetings and we were going for a walk. And it turned out that Pastor Adrian and myself happened to be walking on this path together on a mountain that I will never forget. It was called Mount Glorious, and he shared with me The Begotten Son. And I’ll tell you what, it was Mount Glorious. As Adrian started to share his thoughts quite cautiously, all that was happening in my mind is that the puzzle for the Great Controversy was beginning to make sense. I could never understand what happened to Satan in the beginning. It made no sense to me at all. I just accepted it because that’s what they say. But the answers weren't there. And as I began to hear that this Son of God was literally begotten, I got a glimpse of an understanding of why this created being felt his desire to want to usurp a position he could never hold.
I was thankful for this truth. And we began, as I shared before, as elders in the church, to study. And we had students that we studied with. We got invitations to preach all over the place, and with a German background and my own faults of character so very much present, the invitations to preach, the opportunities to study soon went to my head and the desire for exaltation that I’d learned about Lucifer was present in my own life. And so we had opportunities to study everywhere and the Lord allowed me to go through this experience.
One particular student that I was studying with, [2009, we] spent more and more and more time together. And as we spent more time together, I began to have feelings for her. And my conscience was definitely screaming at me. And I stopped listening. And what began as a Bible study turned into an affair which led to adultery. And I ultimately left my family and left my wife and my children to seek a relationship with someone that I knew was not right.
The hardest thing about doing something that you know is wrong is that when you continue in it that you can read this book [the Bible] and you will find nothing. Because only do we ever read and learn and receive light when the Spirit of Christ is present. It’s not a textbook that we can understand by intelligence, and the Scriptures tell us that there is no peace for the wicked. And that was my life. And leaving my family and seeking this other relationship in which I thought I would find happiness. I read the Scriptures to find loopholes and opportunity for me to continue in my relationship and find some place where I could operate in a ministry and still somehow serve God.
And so, I understand in my experience the parable of the prodigal son, because you recall it when he gets to the pig pen ultimately, he says that his mind returned unto him. And I don’t believe that that was any different from me. I tried everything I could to put to rest my spirit of the lack of peace. I worked harder. I work longer hours. I hardly ever slept. I somehow couldn’t get any rest and try as I might. This didn’t go on for a couple of weeks. The divorce went through, which I instigated. I wanted to be free from the previous life. I wanted to seek happiness. And I’m ashamed to share it. But it’s the truth.
As I continued this way, I do distinctly recall that there was never a night when I was not reminded of my terrible acts. And yet, amongst all this, I could hear One calling me. As I look back on that time, I have a vision in my head, because when I think about Christ creating Adam, He created Adam from the dust of the ground – He got his hands dirty. But when he brought me to life, he had to get his hands bloody. And in light of the message of the Cross, that is becoming more and more evident. It’s a hard memory to bear. To know that my actions so hurt the Son of God; tore out the heart of my Heavenly Father; because every day that I continued in this sin, my Lord Jesus Christ was crucified afresh. Needless to say, the pain and suffering that I caused to my wife is unexplainable. And there may be some of you here present who have gone through a similar experience, who will know what it’s like, that there’s little greater pain that one can cause to a woman than what I did.
Additional to that. The disruption and the pain and suffering that I caused to my church family, I cannot describe, but I know it was huge. Because I was invited around to a lot of places. I was very active in the church, so my fall affected many within the church, many of our young people. Many of the families. Some who left the church. These are things I bear on my shoulders when I come to the Lord in prayer.
I was [offered to resign from membership or be] disfellowshipped from the church during that time, and if I can remember the verse correctly, I think it’s found in Hebrews chapter 6. It was a verse that came to me on a daily basis as everything was falling apart around about me. It was a voice of someone saying, “You have gone this far, there is no way back.” And it’s found, in my understanding of it at that time, was found in Hebrews chapter 6 verse 6. Well, it starts before that in verse 4, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing that they crucify unto themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to open shame.”
In my mind, I had committed the unpardonable sin. There was no point returning because I could never be accepted. That’s a fairly difficult condemnation to bear. During that time, I did the only natural thing that every other coward does, and that is to hide. And so I went and found a place to stay in a fishing village on the coast up near Bribie Island, just an hour or so north of the area where I normally lived. And I found an old church that I could attend. And therein began the process whereby going to church, hiding in the back, just trying to come somewhere to find the presence of Christ; as I was just wanting peace. And there was this particular church was made up of retirees. They were all elderly folk. And the senior elder in the church, within a few weeks (we’d had some discussions) and he said, I like the way that you view the Bible. He said, I’d like you to take the lesson. He said, Oh man, I couldn’t do that. Sorry. I’m not in a position to be able to take a lesson or to do anything. And I said, and I think if you understood who I am, then you would agree. And he said, I’d like to have a chat with you some time, if you don’t mind. And I said, Yeah, sure.
And so at some point I don’t remember exactly when, but he gave me a ring and he had a chat and he goes, Would you like to talk? And I said, Sure. And we spoke and I shared with him my journey. And the phone went quiet on the other end. So I was just waiting for the hang up tone. And he said to me, Ruben, I actually know your story. I knew it when you first came. He said, Yours is a very familiar face. He goes, But I believe that the Lord is calling you and He’s calling you to repent. And, you know, I’m thankful for that man, because it gave me hope. But I knew I had to get out of this relationship. I knew I had to leave this life behind. And the carnal nature does not want to die. And this took a massive battle and a long time for me to be able to get free of this relationship.
During that time, I once found myself at a small country church. And it just so happened that Sabbath that Adrian was there and he was preaching. And this is before I met that Elder. (So I’m sorry. I’m going backwards a bit.) After the presentation, Adrian had a bit of a chat with me. Because there’s something that I haven’t shared with you. Of course, when Adrian… (and I’ll just fill this in, because I think it’s important.) When Adrian shared with me on Mt Glorious about the begotten Son, this was the beginning of his end in the church, because not too long after that he was taken out of the ministry. And so he came to this particular church to present. He was invited to present, and he came and spoke to me because he had contacted the board at Edens Landing Church where I was visiting sorry, where I was attending previous to my fall. And he had appealed to the board to discipline me. Now it might sound a really strange thing to do, but Adrian argued that if you love this man, you will discipline him. And the board was not in agreeance. And so the whole fiasco went on a lot longer in the church, and it caused a lot more damage. Not that I’m passing blame or responsibility to anyone else for my actions.
When Adrian preached at this small country town church and I was there, there was a part of me that literally wanted to escape the moment the sermon was finished, because I knew that he would speak with me and my heart was still in rebellion. And I remember his appeal at the time. I don’t know exactly his words, but I know we walked outside the church, and behind the church was a field, like a large park. And we went for a walk around that field a little bit. And he spoke to me and his words were words that were beckoning me to come back, to take my position back up in my family and ask for repentance – ask for forgiveness, sorry, and to repent. And I remember at the time I hurt him a great deal because I had to steal my heart. I had to harden my heart to be able to walk out of that conversation. And I did. And I know he had a very heavy cross to bear that day, but I’m thankful that he’s still there. He continued to pray for me, as did countless others. I know that.
Very hard for me to give this testimony amongst my own brethren back home, because most of them were there when all this took place. So the first time I gave my testimony, I can’t remember when it was, I think it was Passover. I was looking in the eyes of my brethren who I hurt, which was not easy.
As my journey continues, the Lord helped me. He gave me opportunity and grace to allow me contact with my children. And both of my sons wanted to speak to me. And as the Lord was already speaking with me, I knew that I would have to hear many things from my children that were not easy to hear. And as my older son shared with me that “You left me.” That was hard to bear. Because in my mind I never did. But I knew that it hurt them both a great deal more than I can enumerate. And I asked them both for forgiveness and by the grace of God, they did.
There was something that stayed with me at that time, though, I was going through a process in my head of repentance. I wanted to make right the wrongs, and I knew that there were some things that I just couldn’t make right. And the Lord spoke to me in regards to my sons. He spoke to me in regards to my wife. And I had written her a letter of apology, trying to put into words my feelings and my understanding of how I’d hurt her. And again, I was forgiven. And yet the weight on my shoulders was still there. The journey wasn’t complete and I was a bit uncomfortable with what was coming. And one evening, the Lord placed on my heart that “You have hurt your family and you have asked for forgiveness. And I have blessed you with forgiveness. But that’s not all you hurt. You hurt the church, and I need to go for you to go back to church, and I need you to apologize.”
You know, there’s one thing that I’ve learned about the kingdom of Satan. It produces no heroes, just cowards. And the last thing I wanted to do is to stand up in front of church with all the seats packed, to ask for forgiveness. I didn’t know how I was going to do that. And so I did the very thing that every coward does. And I wrote a letter, and I thought I would go to the board and send the letter to the board. And they could read it and they could approve it and give me forgiveness. And the Lord allowed me to do this. I wrote the letter out and I contacted the head elder and he said that would be quite fine. And so he said, Well, why don’t you come to church on this particular Sabbath? And then what we will do is we’ll go through the Sabbath sermon and so forth, and then when the Sabbath church is finished, then we will convene a board meeting, and then you can present the letter to the board members and we can go through that. And I said, okay, and I agree to that.
So the plans went forward. And I came to church that Sabbath and I sat in the church. I really wanted to crawl under the carpet and hide because I felt ashamed sitting there amongst all my brethren who I’d hurt and many new members who didn’t even know me. So it added to the circumstance. And so the church service began. What I didn’t realize, well I did actually, he came with me was my youngest son, Jordan. He came to church with me, that Sabbath, and he came to give me some moral support.
And as we came into the main service, the pastor was going and starting his preliminaries, and then he got stuck into his sermon. And partway through his sermon he just stopped. And he looked at me and my stomach just clenched and he said, Ruben, I think we need to do this right now. And my brain just drained. I had not a word in my head. I didn’t know what to do. The blood just drained from my face. And he said, Ruben, I invite you to come up the front, and I just prayed a prayer at that moment. I said, Lord, give me the words, because I don’t know what I’m going to say. And in all honesty, I don’t know what I said. I know I stood up there and I faced my brethren and I explained what I had done. I wanted them to know that I was not trying to sugar coat anything. And I asked for forgiveness.
And all the elders in the church stood up, and they came down the front and they embraced me. And then all the men in the congregation were led out by my son. And as he came out in the front, he said to me, Dad, you have all my respect back. I walked out of there and that burden was gone. I don’t recall feeling like I was touching the ground that day. I have been the prodigal son. And the Lord rescued me from that mire. But in the process, like I said before, he didn’t just get his hands dirty they became bloody.
As my journey continues on. Shortly after that I came up to the Northern Territory. Still wanting in some ways to hide from the life that I lived in Brisbane and took a job out on cattle stations and in much of that story I see my likeness to Moses for it was out there in the desert that I had time to read and to study, not be affected by the secular life of the city and the distractions that come with it. My youngest son began his apprenticeship with me, and I’d been up there for a while by that time. At the end of this year he finishes his apprenticeship with me – four years.
And I remember at the time that he spoke to me and wanted to begin the apprenticeship. I was counselled that would not be a wise move. Because of the issues that existed between us in the past would cause a lot of stress. And it has, but it has served to present to me again the things within my character that still need work. And it has brought me to humility, as I acknowledge for myself my own failings and ask for forgiveness. And as I was out in the desert – Adrian – I think at first he was down in Victoria and I came and visited him and Adrian shared some more material with me and I started to study again. And so out there in the desert has begun my new journey of coming back into the light. And I know that Father called me for a particular purpose. I know that I’ve wasted much time. I feel privileged to be called to preach the gospel at this late hour. I’m disappointed that I did not bear the heat of the day with my brethren. But unto me is accounted the same reward. That just doesn’t seem fair. But now I view that unfairness from a different angle because I’m thankful.
The feasts was an interesting curve for me as Adrian began to share the feasts. I think it was last year, Passover, I had given the church an opportunity to rebaptize me and through the pastors that were pastoring the various churches that I would attend, the issue that always presented itself was that I was not prepared to be simply baptized for the sake of it. I wanted to be able to, first of all, give my testimony, but also make clear that some of our fundamental beliefs as a people were not in accordance with Scripture, and I could not in good conscience assent to those in order to be baptized. And I made appeal that I may be baptized under the beliefs that our church had when it was still pure. That opportunity was never granted me. And during the Passover of last year , I had the opportunity to be rebaptized at Widgee and you know, it stands out to me because as I stood there this year at Passover, at the same place, watching other people get baptized, I realized that I’m just a baby Christian again. It’s been one year. And I’m thankful for the journey that He’s brought me on. And as light continues to come to us, I am thankful that every single appointed time without fail in my life, there has been this exponential growth of understanding because there’s only so much that I can glean from the Bible myself. The Lord has never revealed all truth to one man. But as we come together at the appointed times, all our experiences become united and magnified, operating in that divine pattern.
And so, I close out my testimony with a text from Philippians. And I believe it’s found in Philippians chapter one, verse six. I am “confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in” me, in Ruben and in every one of you, “will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Let us close in prayer. Gracious, heavenly Father, I thank You for Your grace and Your mercy. But You, are ever merciful and long suffering. And I thank You for our varied experiences. I thank You that in our own circumstances we each and every one of us are brands plucked from the fire. I thank You for Your grace. And I thank You that, despite my rebellious heart, You sent Your Son to bear that cross for me; and for each and every one of us, that as we are coming into a greater understanding of Your cross Father, that our hearts are truly broken in repentance, that Your character may be revealed in each and every one of us, and that we may go home. I thank You for these things. In the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.