Jonas Ris was 17 years old when his life was radically changed through an encounter with the gospel in a very unexpected location
I grew up in a Christian family in Germany, and went to a private Christian school, but I never had an experience of God for myself. I couldn’t see the difference between people who claimed to be walking with the Lord and those who didn’t.
When I was twelve years old, I left my Christian school and went to a public one. I met new friends – and they were partying and taking drugs. I joined in and my lifestyle became more like theirs. I was looking for new drugs and new highs, but I wasn’t satisfied. This went on for five years, and the longer it went on, the more I realised I couldn’t find any purpose in life.
Two years ago, I went to Mallorca. While I was there, I saw people talking about Jesus and holding a church service on the beach. They were part of a mission called Reach Mallorca. God somehow crashed into my world again. I realised that following God was probably the right way for me to go in life, but I wasn’t ready to give up the drugs and partying. So I tried not to think about it.
That autumn, I went on another holiday and I met people who were really in love with the Lord. They had something in their lives that I’d never seen before. When I compared their life to mine, I saw a huge difference. I had this growing desire to follow God, but I worried that as soon as I went home, I’d fall back in with my old friends and not be able to live for God.
I decided to talk to God. I said: “My life has no purpose. If you’re able to change something, change it now. But otherwise, I don’t want to live any more.”
The next morning, I woke up and I knew everything was different. I’d had an encounter with the Holy Spirit. I used to not be able to get out of bed without smoking a joint, but I’d woken up free. The addiction was broken instantly.
From that moment on, everyone could see there was a huge change in my life. Friends said: “What happened to you?” That led to me sharing my story. After that, one of my classmates, who I used to smoke weed with, also became a Christian.
I used to not be able to get out of bed without smoking a joint, but I’d woken up free
I worked at a gym, and my colleagues and customers also started noticing something was different. I began sharing how Jesus had turned my life around. Even my family was transformed. They stopped arguing and there was an overwhelming peace that followed me everywhere.
I started experiencing miracles. My knee had been hurting for three weeks. I didn’t believe God could fix it, but my friend who had recently become a Christian told me to pray, so I said: “In Jesus’ name, fix my knee.” In the morning, I woke up and was healed. When my car broke down, I laid hands on it and prayed, and it started working again!
I’ve stayed connected to some of my old friends, which means I’m often confronted with their lifestyles. There are still temptations; it is a daily decision to follow God and not give in to sin.
One time, I went back to drugs, but I immediately knew afterwards that God did not condemn me. There’s grace, mercy and forgiveness in his blood. It’s not about religion, it’s about having a relationship with God.
Going on mission
A year after I became a Christian, I joined the Reach Mallorca mission trip. About 160 of us went to the biggest club, and held a beach service outside. We shared our stories and the gospel. God was really at work.
Some people came the first day and weren’t interested. But they came back the second day – no one knows why – and they were getting emotional. And because we were there eight days in a row, they came again and again. The scene was incredible – there were people getting drunk, selling drugs and swimming half-naked in the sea. And then also people encountering God, getting baptised and confessing Jesus as Lord. It was an example of how Jesus is really with the sinners. I saw them being confronted with the truth and their lives being changed, just like mine was.
Reach Mallorca happens every year. When I go, I like to ask the people we meet: “Do you really think this is making you happy in the long-term?” And if they’re honest, they say: “No, but it’s the best I can get. It’s the best the world can give me.” I know exactly how that feels. I know what it feels like to be looking for more. I tell them it’s not about following a religion or a set of rules, it’s about getting that connection, finding peace and being forgiven of all your sins. Meaning and purpose can only be found in relationship with Jesus.
A lot of people know that what I’m saying is true, but they’re afraid of taking that step. They’re afraid they can’t stop the drugs or alcohol and they can’t win that battle. But the battle belongs to the Lord. It’s not their battle. God is calling them and, if he’s calling them, he will fight for them. They don’t need to be afraid.
Jonas Ris was speaking to Sam Hailes. His words were translated from German to English by Lars Geiser
Reach Mallorca’s vision is to communicate the gospel to the 15 million tourists visiting the island each year and the almost 1 million Spanish-speaking islanders. The team will be ministering in Ballermann (German speakers) and Magaluf (English speakers) from 26 July to 6 August 2023. They also have an international discipleship and evangelism school on the island. For more information on how you can join their mission, visit reachmallorca.com