My name is Torgeir Lindquist Mathiesen and I am married to Cayetana. I have four children and nine grandchildren from a previous marriage, and a stepson who is the son of my wife.
I grew up in a home where neither my father, nor my mother, nor my sister believed in God. As we all know, we are shaped by the environment we live in, and I became like my parents, who naturally also were my role models from when I was a young child. But I took one more step than them. I became a staunch atheist.
The longest journey; from atheist to Seventh-day Adventist.
When I was a teenager I read about Native American cultures in America, about Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and the Indians on the prairie in North America, the Aztecs in Mexico, the Mayans in the Yucatan Peninsula, but what fascinated me most were the Incas in South America and since I was 15 years old I had the dream of visiting Peru and seeing the famous Inca ruins of Machu Picchu …… but for many years it was only a dream.
When I got married the first time, it was to a woman who thought it was a long way to go to the nearest shoppingsenter 800 meters from our home, and then it goes without saying that my dream of traveling to Peru and seeing Machu Picchu continued being this – only a dream. Years passed, and despite having four children together, finally it was just the mailbox we had in common. She had her life and I had my life. Finally, I began to live an increasingly extravagant life. I could go to work on Friday morning to get home on Sunday night. Suddenly, I was at a point I did not wanted to realize I was. I had a problem with alcohol. If there was no alcohol in the house, then I had to buy something on my way home. I did not had to drink, just had to have alcohol in the house. I had become an alcoholic. Over the years, I drank with both hands and smoked like a chimney, that is, I burned the candle at both ends and in the middle at the same time.
On December 23, 1997, I made a decision that had more far-reaching consequences than I ever could have foreseen. When I was going home from work, I realized that I had to do something with my life. I could not go on living like this, and the only way I could imagine changing my life was by getting divorced. I did not tell anyone this until I managed to get a place to live. When I found an apartment, I told my ex-wife about the decision I had made and on April 1, 1998, I separated from my family.
God’s word clearly says we shall not divorce, but that didn´t matter to me at that time. But even though I got divorced and violated God’s law, I believe that God started working with me as early as the spring of 1998.
At the end of September this year, I was going to see my youngest son playing a soccer game. I went to where the game was going to be played, and when I got out of the car I was going to take a cigarette. I suddenly wondered why I was doing this. This led me to throw away the tobacco and the lighter, symbolically brush my hands, and I ended up with the tobacco. During the same period I also stopped drinking, and both parts went completely smoothly, and afterwards I have not been wanting smoking or drinking, not once.
In the fall of 2001, I took an additional job as a support contact for a boy who was having a hard time adjusting to most things in a new country. As I got to know the boy and his family, it became clear that he wanted to visit his grandparents, whom he had not seen since he left his homeland around 1990. This boy was from Peru. Now I understood that I could have the opportunity to fulfil my dream and visit the country that I had dreamed of for almost four decades, but there was only one problem, his family at that time depended on social assistance, so I visited my contact at the office of social services, told them about his wishes and was asked to write an application. As said, so done, I submitted a request for financial support for this boy and after a couple of weeks I got the answer. The request was granted. I was finally able to go to Peru!
We travelled to Peru just after classes ended in June 2002. Once in Peru, I fell in love with the country, the culture, the people, the food, yes everything, and even before going back to Norway, I decided to go back to Peru again.
When I first travelled to Peru I thought that English would be enough in a country with so many tourists. Well, inside the Lima airport it went well, but once in the streets of Lima it was difficult to make myself understood with English. So when I got home I took a couple of Spanish courses to be able to make myself understood a little better. In February 2003 I travelled to Peru again. I was still an atheist and had no intention of changing that.
One day while walking around in the city of Arequipa, I went into a small restaurant to satisfy my hunger. This restaurant was called Restaurante Pan-Americana and was run by Cayetana, who is now my wife. She was an Adventist and had been a widow for 12 years, and every day in her prayers she prayed to meet a man who could share her life and not least her faith. But, out of heaven, an atheist literally fell! We still got along, and soon we wrote a visa application for her to come to Norway to marry me. I was still an atheist and I was happy with it. That she was a Christian and an Adventist did not bother me, I just shrugged my shoulders.
When her visa was granted and the ticket to Norway was bought, I had to know where her church was, and my plan, which I was very happy about, was to follow her there until she knew the way so that she could go alone to her church while I was at home.
Cayetana landed at Oslo airport at 9 PM Wednesday June 16, 2004. When Saturday June 19 arrived, I followed her to the Betel Adventist Church in Oslo. What I did not know at the time was that this Saturday morning I had embarked on what was going to be the longest journey of my life, in a figurative sense. A trip that would be longer, much longer than the trip from Norway to Peru, even longer than to the most distant star in the universe. I did not know that it had started at one extreme to soon end up at the other extreme.
As mentioned, since she became a widow, my wife has prayed to meet a man who could share her faith, and believing that God keeps his promises, she left, for her, to a completely unknown world to marry someone who was an atheist, which is the exact opposite of an Adventist. This atheist continued to follow Cayetana to her church even after she learned the way, why I did not know. I had made a plan, a perfect plan in my eyes, but I just couldn’t follow it. Today I see that God had also made a plan for my life, and that God is infinitely stronger than me, and now God began to work with me, according to His plan. In fact, six years earlier, God had quietly started working with the atheist, but the atheist did not understand what was happening.
You can go and watch a flower bud to see what happens when it opens and the flower is fully blooming, and for several days you are going and watching this flower bud but it does not seems that antthing is happening, but one day the bud is no longer a bud because suddenly it has sprouted and has become a beautiful flower. As imperceptible and sudden as a flower bud that fully opens, and blooms was my conversion. It is not to understand that I am a beautiful flower, but my conversion happened like this, imperceptible and silent. I discovered this one day when I knelt down during prayer, to the great surprise of those around me and no less great surprise to me. Like I said, I didn’t want to become an Adventist, so I jokingly say I’m an Adventist against my will! but how grateful I am that God’s will with my life has won.
God had answered Cayetanas prayers and gave her a man who shares her faith. What a faith she has.
So I kept going to Bethel with my wife, and then one day, one of the pastors at the time, a Peruvian named Tito Correa, approached me and asked if I would study the Bible with him. I was ready to be harvested, and I answered yes. By the way, Tito was the first person I spoke to among Adventists in Oslo, because he was the one who answered when I called the Adventist Church for the first time to ask where the nearest Adventist Church was in relation to where I lived.
After studying for a while with Tito and my wife, I almost began to wait for the next question: «Do you want to be baptized?» The question came, and I was ready again, and I was baptized by Pastor Tito Correa on April 1, 2006. This was one of the most memorable days of my life, maybe the most memorable. And I thank and praise God for being patient with me until I was an adult, because I was over 50 when I was baptized. When Pastor Tito raised me up from the water, I was completely sure that God had forgiven me all my countless sins and given me a new life, and I felt as pure as a new-born child. My wife’s church was no longer just her church, now it had also become MY church.
Although I received Jesus once in 2004, it was only after baptism that my life really changed, and it was only after baptism that I understood what God had done to me, and not least what He had done on my behalf. I used to live a life in mute darkness, but God led me into His radiant light. I was dead, yes, I was dead, spiritually dead, but God gave me life, and not just any life, but a life in abundance. What I considered freedom when I lived in darkness, I now see in the wonderful light of God that was compulsion. In the past, I could not stop smoking and drinking and I lived a busy life, thinking that it was my freedom that made me choose to live the way I did. So wrong I was. Today, however, I have total freedom, freedom to choose how to live my life. I am free to say no to things that are not compatible with a life in Christ, and I gladly say no to what I could not resist before.
When I was an atheist, I did not have a Bible and I had no interest in having a Bible or reading the Bible. Now I have almost started collecting the Bible, and I cannot go a day without reading, studying, and immersing myself in this wonderful book.
Shortly after I was baptized, I joined the Sabbath School lessones regularly, and in the third quarter of 2006, the title of the Bible study was «The Gospel, 1844 and the Judgment.» At around the same time, another pastor was conducting a church seminar on Revelation. As a result, I became increasingly interested in the prophecies of the Bible, and especially in the book of Daniel and Revelation. This interest has led me to sit with my nose buried in prophecies for thousands of hours, and this is my theological «education.» It is true that I have benefited from the church’s Bible studies and received good help from some pastors, but otherwise, it is the burning zeal that God gave me as his baptismal gift that constitutes my theological education.