He could have died at the hands of his father but God had a different plan.
It is astonishing that Rimantas Marušauskas made it to adulthood. With alcoholic parents, violence was a way of life. Scars show how he protected his mother from his violent father and suffered the consequences. As a child, he also, at different times, saved both parents from suicide. Yet God had a plan for his life, and today, as a loving husband and father, he is helping troubled families in his home country of Lithuania.
As I talk with Marušauskas, he pulls out childhood photos. At age two, he is a happy, bubbly child. By age five, when the violence had started, he was sullen. As a child and teenager, he used to lie in bed at night waiting for his drunken parents to come home and wondering whether he would have to stop a fight. He had to be tough to protect not just his mother, but his younger brother and sister.
Yet something major was missing from his life. Picking up a discarded leaflet, he saw an invitation to some meetings by evangelical evangelist Billy Graham. He went. At age 16, for the very first time, he heard about Jesus, a man who never beat people or used ugly words, but was very kind. Three nights of meetings changed him for good.
Marušauskas was invited to join a Christian church but lost the address. At home, he read the Gospel of Luke and fell in love with Jesus. A year later, Adventists arrived in his town. He attended a full month of evangelistic meetings and was baptized, much to the shock and anger of his relatives.
Over the next two years, however, those relatives saw the difference that Jesus made in his life. “You were from Satan but have become an angel,” they told him.
Changing the life of his parents took longer. He prayed for his parents and siblings for many years, even after he was invited to get training as a minister. “It took 13 years,” he says, “but in 2007 my brother was baptized. My parents are still on a journey.”
Marušauskas’ parents stopped drinking and smoking five years ago, he said. “Now we pray together, hugging each other in a circle in their home.” His parents have attended church several times, and he hopes that one day they will decide to study the Bible together and prepare for baptism.
“I would like people to know that God heals hurting hearts like mine and my parents’. I love them very much,” he says. “They are wonderful people now.”
Healing hurting people has become part of Marušauskas’ life mission. He has always been active in helping the dispossessed, but two years ago, he was unexpectedly invited to help with a women’s refuge, sharing with them spiritual principles for child rearing, family life, and God’s assurance of value in their lives.
His help is also very practical. Together with fellow church members, they will decorate run-down accommodations, supply fridges and furniture to women who need to start a new life separate from their abusive partners and be there as a positive support.
“I want them to know,” he says, “that not all men are pigs.”