Published on 07th August 2017
Daniel’s hands were sweaty and shaking. Beneath his kitchen table he held a stick of dynamite in one hand, a lighter in the other, ready to take his life and that of his wife, Suzana, and their two children, Ivana and Luka.
While Daniel’s loving family knew he was feeling down, distressed by a plethora of problems, they had no idea of his intentions. He’d always been a survivor, fighting to overcome every challenge.
But this day was different.
Daniel reflected on his unhappy childhood. He was abandoned by his parents when he was 12 years old and placed in an orphanage. But things only got worse as he was molested in the institution.
Daniel finally escaped the orphanage and in desperation joined the newly formed Croatian army where he served as an underage soldier. It was wartime, but he wasn’t permitted to carry a weapon due to his age. Conditions were brutal, and he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Yet again he survived.
After he married, Daniel encountered a new set of problems—poverty, illness and depression. First he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, barely surviving a major surgery to remove a 17-pound tumour. Now he faced a massive debt, mainly inherited from his father, and he had no money to pay for his wife’s impending surgery for ovarian cancer.
At wit’s end, Daniel was about to ignite the explosive when he decided to first message an old friend living on the other side of the world in Guatemala.
“I felt the need to let him know my family was going to disappear from this earth,” Daniel related. “My message basically was to say goodbye to him. Well, he realised what I was up to, and I immediately received his response, ‘Please don’t do anything stupid!’”
Daniel agreed to put away the explosive and followed his friend’s advice to contact a local minister. “I told the pastor, ‘Come here. Save my family … save my children and my wife. But I’m not important.’”
The pastor and his wife visited Daniel in his home where they provided encouragement and counsel. They invited him to attend their church, and Daniel agreed, but in his first visit, he left after about 10 minutes, feeling unworthy to worship with the congregation. However, the pastor explained how Daniel was valuable in Christ’s eyes, and he began attending entire services, eventually giving his life to the Lord.
Daniel’s heart-wrenching testimony aired on four major Croatian TV stations as a pilot project in 2016. Response to the 30-minute talk-show programme, called Osobno (Personal), was overwhelming as many viewers phoned the ministry’s call-in centre in Cakovec.
As Daniel put it, “Now I don’t have to go out to talk to people about Christ; they come to me and request a conversation with me.”
At least three individuals have committed their lives to Christ as a result of the TV airing of Daniel’s video testimony, produced by Croatian media partner Mario Casni who serves as a Reach Beyond missionary together with his wife, Suzana. Among the new believers was Daniel’s cousin who hadn’t talked to him in years, but after watching the programme decided to break his silence and restart the relationship.
His cousin was also impressed with Daniel’s positive attitude after he survived a horrific traffic accident. While riding a motorcycle pulling a trailer full of scrap metal, he lost control and crashed, shards of medal crushing his hip and legs. Thanks to what Daniel described as a “miracle of God,” doctors decided against amputating a leg and performed hip reconstruction surgery.
According to Mario, Daniel said his cousin kept asking him, “How can you sing when you are in so much pain?” to which Daniel replied, “I have God now.” Realising the magnitude of Jesus’ love and his own sinfulness, the cousin gave his life to Christ and began attending a local church.
Another couple from Daniel’s hometown of Karlovac also came to the Lord after hearing his testimony on the TV programme.
An additional report came from a young drug addict in Zagreb. Mario said the man showed an interest in Christianity after watching just the last 10 minutes of the show together with his grandfather. The man pleaded, “Please take me to Daniel. He knows what I am going through. All others have failed, but Daniel has what I need. He is the only one that can help me.” The addict later met with the youth pastor of another church congregation, “but to our knowledge he is not saved yet,” Mario said.
“These are just a few examples of the wide audience that we influence through the media projects we produce,” he added. Four more episodes of personal testimonies, set to broadcast this year, can be viewed by a potential audience of 4 million across Croatia. In addition, they reach beyond the country’s borders, carried via cable to Bosnia and Serbia.
“The selected individuals whom we interview have dynamic stories of their encounters with Jesus and their salvation experiences followed by evidence of fruitful lives and spiritual multiplication,” Mario said. “We feel very privileged being teamed with Reach Beyond in reaching Croatians for Christ.”