Filmmaker dismissed Christianity, then found a ‘stick of dynamite’ in God’s Word

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By Mark Ellis —

Cristóbal Krusen

Cristóbal Krusen was born and raised in Tampa, Florida, the third of four children. As a youngster he was drawn to the classics and decided he would become a writer.

At Harvard he studied English literature, wanting eventually to make his mark as a poet and novelist. But a deepening interest in photography and filmmaking caused him to transfer to NYU to study film.

In his mid twenties, living in New York, he began to feel a sense of emptiness and instigated “a conscious spiritual search.”

“I wondered if another dimension could exist beyond the physical, observable world,” Krusen recounts. “If so, what would it look like, what would it feel like? Did it even exist?”

He launched an exhaustive exploration of nearly every religion under the sun except one – Christianity. “The reason I dismissed Christianity is that I considered Christians hypocrites. I didn’t feel drawn to their churches,” he admits.

Krusen read the Quran, studied the Bahai faith, Christian Science, Edgar Cayce, the Bhagavad Gita, and Buddhism. He finally embraced Daoism because he felt it offered completeness, serenity, and invited him to “live in harmony with the world.”

In 1980 he went to Australia to do research for a screenplay adapted from a non-fiction short story. He was surprised to discover the main character in his film project, a Ukrainian migrant to Australia, had been a Christian.

Krusen had imagined his fascinating protagonist as a “holy man” – perhaps a Buddhist — but was dumbfounded to discover the man was a Christian.

To aid his research, Krusen found a King James Bible on display in the front window of a Christian Science reading room, purchased it, and went back to his motel room in Alice Springs to peruse it.

At first, he read the Psalms because he knew his character sang from the Psalms. “I was looking for lyrics for my script. I was even borrowing one verse from one psalm and one verse from another, taking liberties with the Bible.”

But the words in this book were not like the other religious books he studied. There was life and power in the Word that began to grab his heart.

Suddenly he felt like he had a stick of dynamite in his hands. “I came upon the Sermon on the Mount. That transfixed me. It melted my heart.”

Oh my goodness, this is Jesus! Krusen realized. “When I read the actual words of Jesus I was transported.”

 While he had stumbled upon the truth, Krusen was slow to completely surrender. It took him another year to read the entire Bible. At the same time, he began to attend a church.

On a trip to Sweden in 1981 he felt adrift. “I didn’t know which end was up or what I should do with my life. All my waking hours were taken up with reading the Bible and thinking about Christ.”

Krusen recognized he had a stumbling block to faith. “I wanted to believe. I wanted to give my life to Christ. I went to a church where they explained what it meant.”

Still, he didn’t want to take the step to make Jesus his Savior and Lord if he had any remaining reservations in his heart or mind.

How could Jesus be the Son of Man and the Son of God at the same time? he wondered.

Why did Jesus say, ‘Before Abraham was, I am.’

Why did he say, ‘If you have seen me, you have seen the Father?’

“I got to the point where I was coming apart,” he recounts. His head swirling with ideas and conflicting emotions, he took a walk by himself along the Motala River in Norrköping, Sweden, and sat down on the riverbank, watching the waters rush by.

“I don’t know what else to do,” he cried out to God.

Filming “Sabina K” in Bosnia

Then this verse unexpectedly entered his mind: “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

Oh…I’m supposed to be like a child and just trust…

Suddenly he realized that God didn’t expect him to have all the answers, as if he was studying for a final exam. “I couldn’t answer all the questions. But I knew enough to know this was the answer, and it was the truth I had been searching for.

“All God was asking me to do is to take his hand like a child takes the hand of a grown-up and leave the rest to him.”

Krusen surrendered his life to Jesus as his Lord and Savior at that moment and was born

On location in Sarajevo

again.

As Krusen began to grow in his faith, he was cautious about pursuing his filmmaking dream, and carefully re-examined his motives. But he eventually reentered the world of filmmaking.

Krusen has worked as a writer/director of film and television for 30 years, filming productions in more than 20 countries. He is best known for the films Final Solution, More Than Dreams, Undaunted and most recently, Sabina K.

He founded Messenger Films in 1988. He and his wife, Cheryl, live in St. Paul, Minnesota.

 

If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here

The following is a poem written by Krusen about coming to faith: 

1981

In Norrköping, Sweden a river runs through town

Wide in places and calm

With elder trees and beech along the banks

Where a quiet spot I find one morning

To sit awhile

To ease my troubled mind

To reflect on what is weighing me down

Behind me rises a stately concert hall

Where Liz auditions, dancing ballet

It’s mid-October, unseasonably warm

No breeze blowing as fishermen across the way

Call to one another in soft, garbled tongue

Speaking a language I cannot understand

 

For many months, almost a year, I’ve been reading God’s Book

And one thought more than any other keeps coming to mind –

Who was Jesus? Was he just a man?

Or was he divine?

I’ve been poring over his testament

Rolling the pages in reverence

Eternity seeking

Mind running, stopping at the brink

 

Do you know? Tell me if you do

Did he rise from the dead?

Did he even live?

And if he lived, what difference does it make?

The miracles, the sainted words…

Were they invented or true?

 

Jesus was the best of all, I have come to conclude

The closest to the truth my investigation showed

 

Turn the other cheek

Give to the poor

Blessed are the peacemakers

Blessed are the meek

 Love your enemies

The sinner forgive

No thought for tomorrow

In righteousness live

 

I could go on, of course,

But so could you

And what does any of this have to do

With where I sat that day in Norrköping

Under the elder trees and beech?

 

My intellect had brought me thus far

But like a man who tries to swim from California to Hawaii

I’d come up short

Disappearing some fifteen miles offshore

Pitiful

 

And now I ask in all sincerity

Is there a point in wondering who God is

Or if a man can reach him somehow

Or even a part of him understand?

Is it madness to think there’s a way?

 

O, let me hang my harp on the limbs of these trees

Let me die in this foreign land far from home

There’s no way back

No way for me

 

If I had lived in the Lord’s time and country

If I had touched his cloak as he walked by

If I had been a blind beggar healed by his touch

Or his word

Maybe then

But here I am

Trapped centuries on

With nothing much to go on but a paperback New Testament

Printed in the USA

Passages I’ve now read over and over again

Here I sit under the table with foreigners and dogs

Jostling for space

Hoping for crumbs to fall my way

Or his dusty feet to come near enough

For me to seize and kiss

 

But no food falls

No wine spills through the cracks

No dust softens the air

No shouting is heard to mark his passing

All I can do is sit and cry

Then something seems to come to mind

That verse where he said

 

Truly I say to you, unless you change and become like little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven

 

I say it aloud and sing after that

A Sunday School song from many years back

 Jesus loves the little children

All the children of the world

Red and yellow, black and white

They are precious in his sight

Jesus loves the little children of the world

 

Weeping hard, I ask

The closest to God – so these verses say –

What is their exalted way?

I know the answer, of course

I’ve known it for awhile

Released I am by the children’s song

I’m yours, Lord,

Yours for life

 

Spoken as a child might

 

Time passes, I don’t know how much

I get up and go to the concert hall in search of Liz

I find her pacing in the main lobby

Nervous and seeking reassurance

Which I gladly give

Even if I don’t know what to say

 

They turned me down she confides

I look away

I take her hand and gently say

It’s time to go to Ulricehamn

Pastor Olle and Karin to meet

 

We had been traveling through Europe for a month by then

Staying in most places a few days at a time

Meeting new people and making friends

“Serving peace” as the exchange program said

 

Our journey had started in London

From there to Scotland, Wales, France

A week in Denmark

Then Sweden

Now down to Ulricehamn

Where Olle and Karin lived

 

I fall sick on the train

Vomiting some strange bile

My stomach in knots

The devil’s at play

Pastor Olle meets us at the station

Eyes wide-set and gray,

Solemn and serene

He takes us home

 

His wife, Karin, greets us at the door

She calls Liz her daughter

And kisses her on both cheeks

You are so black and beautiful! she exclaims

Then she gives me medicine and puts me to bed

Speaking in Swedish as I lie quiet and still

Rain dripping along the pane

Night coming, bringing sleep

 

O, these foreigners of soft tongue and blue eyes

Opening their home to me and my wife

May my right hand forget its cunning should I forget their mercy

O God, hear me when I say

May my right hand forget its cunning should I forget their mercy

 

When I get better and can handle more

Olle gathers us in his book-lined study to read from the Bible

After that he prays and a silence fills the room

Something is cut loose in me

And I pray, too

 

Not many days later,

Liz and I resume our trip

Olle and Karin taking us to the station

Waiting with us for the train to appear

 

And I can’t help thinking –

Everything looks so fresh

Alive in a way I’ve not seen before

Geese rise from a pond nearby

Honking encouragement as they fly

White clouds a mystery

Lit by a sun I cannot see

A breeze blowing, light and cool

Yellow grass tall like grain

 

And I say to myself –

I’ve been born again

 

In the distance comes the train

I close my eyes as Olle prays

His words falling like early rain

Doubts and questions swept away

In Ulricehamn under pastor’s wing

Down the track from Norrköping

 

Copyright © 2017 Cristóbal Krusen

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