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6. The “Skåne boy”

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Sven was born on 30th April 1943. He spent his early years in Matteröd, a small village in northern Skåne, where his parents Erik and Evy Göransson had a small farm. His parents were highly respected in the district and his father was entrusted in many political engagements.

Sven's father was saved during his youth in the Mission Association Church of Sweden (Svenska Missionsförbundet) but later on he came to build up the “Sion Church” (Sionförsamlingen) in Matteröd (which is now the Pentecostal Church of Hässleholm). Erik was the president of the church for many years.

Sven tells us that he had a very strict upbringing. When one did not behave, one had to endure the rug whip and it happened quite often, Sven says and laughs. (Laughter is never far away during Sven’s stories.) We were eight children in the family – six of the children were boys, which meant we got into a lot of mischief. When I was two years old I started Sunday school. In those days Sunday school started before the morning service. Therefore, I first attended the Sunday school and then the morning service during my childhood years. There was a church service on Sunday evenings as well and in addition, a prayer meeting on Saturday nights. From the time you were 5-6 years old you attended all of these Church services.


 Sven, second from left in front row, with parents and siblings in 1948

Sven’s father read the word of God and all of the kids could pray if we wanted to. For me, the childhood was a pleasant time of my life and I appreciate my father and my mother very much. I have later on in life realized that some of my siblings had or still have a different opinion but I have still great respect for my parents’ lifework .

My father was a farmer and owned, as I earlier mentioned, a small farm in the northern parts of Skåne. This was not profitable during the 1930s, and my parents endured a very difficult time. They had to apply for several loans and continually hoped that their living situation would improve. The first thing I remember when speaking of this part of my life is that food was scarce. It was a real treat when you got a cup of chocolate and an egg to put on one sandwich and a slice of cheese on the other once a week on Sunday mornings – this never occurred on weekdays. In other words, we were quite poor, at least by today's standards, but we always had enough food.


                                Parents´ farm in Matteröd

When we were 5-6 years, we started to help taking care of the animals. When we got older and started to attend school, we never really had a summer vacation since we always had to help with agricultural duties. The work mainly consisted of clearing the sugar beet and potato fields from weed. These fields were not small garden patches but rather massive courses of crops. I remember one summer when I asked to take a break for at least one day just to go out in the woods and enjoy being free. One must remember that helping out, as a child in the fields, was not something unique to our family. The same duties applied to many famer kids of my generation. I had, as I previously stated, a good upbringing. Although, sometimes I got the feeling that I did not really belong in this context, but was on my way to another destination.

I felt the need to ask for forgiveness for my sins for the first time as a 6-year old. I told my mother and together we knelt and prayed. One day, when I was seven years old, I was walking home from school. I can still picture in my mind the bend of the road where I heard a voice inside of me that said, "Sven, you are going to become a preacher one day." Do not ask me to explain how a 7-year- old understands this, but I just knew that God spoke to me and in my heart I said: "God, if that is what you want, so be it."

When I was nine years old I wanted to get baptized. This happened in the Sion Church (Sionförsamlingen) in Matteröd. But, at the age of 11-13, I did not want to go to church any more. I even started smoking. It was all connected to when we started talking about evolution studies in school. They said that there was no God and that Jesus was dead and so on. The Bible was just a book made of fables. Things got so bad that I started to believe that everything of this was true and that there was no God.


                                           Sven in 1952

But then one day, 14 years old, it strikes me, very suddenly, how futile life is if there is no God, if there is no eternal life. If Jesus is not alive and the Bible is not the Word of God, then what is the point of living at all? This idea was planted in me.

During this period, I attended a school in Hässleholm. The communications from Matteröd were rather difficult, so I lived with my grandmother in Tyringe and went to the school by train every morning. One night I cried myself to sleep because of life’s utter meaninglessness and vanity. Why should you work and toil all of your life if there was nothing after this? It would be better to just die immediately. The next day, I believed that these thoughts would go away, but they did not. I was very depressed the next evening and I cried in my solitude because life seemed so meaningless. I fell asleep with the hope that it would be better the next day. The third day continued in the same manner. In the evening when I got home from school, I thought that if God really exists, he could reveal himself to me so I would get convinced. I decided to do what I had learnt to do, namely to ask God for forgiveness for my sins. I knelt by the bedside and prayed, "Jesus, forgive me for my sins." When I uttered the prayer, a bright light lit the whole room up and I felt the presence of God in such an overwhelming way that I just knew that God was there. I had a strong conviction that Jesus was alive and that the Bible, which I had not read at that time, was the word of God. This faith came to me as a gift and nothing was going to feed the doubts of God's word being true. I prayed to God: "In the morning, when I return to school, you have to help me tell my schoolmates about what I have experienced." I prayed for an occasion that would make it natural to share what I had experienced. I had faced a divine power and I think it was at that moment I was baptized in the Spirit, although I could not really comprehend what it was.

When I came to school the following morning, my classmates sat and talked about the theory of evolution. I took the opportunity and boldly said that I no longer believed in the evolution – I said that I believed in the Bible and that God created heaven and earth. They looked at me, amazed. This was not the Sven they knew from the past. This was a new person. They started to argue with me. I particularly remember when one of them said, "The Bible states that the hare ruminates and that is not correct." I thought a lot about this, and prayed that God would show me how all of this was connected. A little bit later, I heard a scientist talking on the radio about previously not understanding that the hare is in fact a ruminant. The way the hare ruminates differs from a cow, since the food goes through the hare’s body twice. The food comes out as “slime balls”, which the hare re-eats. When I came to school the next day I talked about what I had heard on the radio. There were others who had heard the program as well. We told our biology teacher about what we had heard on the radio. In this way, he learned that I was a Christian and that I did not believe in the evolution theory anymore. After the lesson, the teacher asked if my parents were religious.

"Yes, you could say that," Sven replied.

"There is no God. The Bible is just a book of fables and Jesus is dead. When you get a little older and learn a little more about the theory of evolution, you will understand that this is the way our world works," the teacher continued.

After that, this teacher started each lesson by giving me some hints since I was so stupid to believe in God. It went so far that some other students told him to stop harassing me.

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