Hans Kern
Hans Kern

My girlfriend died in my arms, I still feel loved by God

I grew up as a child on a small farm in the south of Austria, but early on I experienced my home as confining and wanted to leave, I wanted to get to know the world. As a young man, I then set out, with no money and no knowledge of foreign languages. I wanted to earn my living with odd jobs on the road and then move on again. In this way, I was on the road for a total of 7 years. My way led through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan to India. I lived with the ordinary people, worked with them to earn shelter and food and got to know their culture and faith. Looking back, I realise that this long journey was ultimately also a search, a search for meaning in my life. This was hard for my parents to bear. They hardly knew where I was and how I was doing. My mother prayed daily that I would be protected by God. I was indeed often in very great danger, especially in Afghanistan. Whilest several people beside me died violently, nothing happened to me.  Looking back, I can only say that God protected me again and again.

In India, I got involved with the Children of God sect, which I belonged to for over 4 years and soon held a higher position. I had never intended to leave this sect. However, I had an aunt who was a Catholic nun. We liked each other very much. When she found out where I had ended up, she had prayed intensely for me every day so that God would help me to break away from that sect. When I was about to start a new branch for this sect in Moscow, I was led out of the sect by a chain of heavenly providence.

I found God again through a year-long search and now had a deep relationship with Jesus. Back home, I had now taken over my parents' farm. I joined a Bible study group where I could deepen my faith and make beautiful friends.

With this group of friends we wanted to go on an excursion together at the beginning of November 1988. The days were still unusually warm for that time and so we decided to go on a day hike to a mountain range, the Hochschwab. Seven of us set off early in the morning. The morning was still very warm. When we were at an altitude of over 2,000 m above sea level, far above the timberline, the weather changed very quickly, we got into thick fog and it suddenly started to snow. We had no visibility at all in this rocky terrain and lost all orientation. When it got dark, we realised that without proper equipment - we were only going to do a day hike - we would have to spend the night at this altitude in a snowstorm. In this situation, a friend slipped on an icy spot and fell about 20 metres, where he remained with an open fracture of the thigh. As it turned out later, this saved his life because he came to rest in an area that was completely sheltered from the wind and still warmed up from the last sunny days. We, on the other hand, were exposed to the icy storm. However, we survived that night together.

The next morning we had to make a difficult decision: part of the group had to try to descend into the valley and get help, and someone had to stay with the injured man, we didn't want to leave him alone. I decided to stay with him, the others were to return to the valley. My friend Rosi didn't want to go, she stayed with me. The other four set off. But as the weather had not yet improved, there was still thick fog and a snowstorm, they soon got lost on a steep and icy rock face where they all fell. No one survived.

For us, a terribly long and icy cold day began. Rosi and I tried to warm each other a little, but it was no use. We could only keep trying to pray, we prepared ourselves for death together. Then at 3 o'clock in the afternoon Rosi died in my arms. Before that she was already in agony, I had to hold her constantly. Suddenly she straightened up with big, shining eyes, an unbelievable radiance was in her face and she called out: "Jesus!    Jesus!!!   Jesus!!!"  Then she fell back into my arms and died.

I laid her down, with a peace in my heart that I cannot explain, it was a peace that only God can give. I would have died myself with a great inner peace. I didn't know how long I myself would survive in that icy environment, another hour, or two? But then I realised that my friend was lying badly injured in a sinkhole below me. If helicopters were looking for us, they would never find him alone in this deep hole, there were no traces of us, it was all freshly covered in snow. I had the impression that I had to stay alive.

The following night was incredibly difficult. I hadn't slept for over 48 hours and had to endure more than one and a half days in this icy storm. I had already had near-death experiences, saw my life as if in a movie. When the morning finally came, the weather had improved, the clouds had disappeared, but it was freezing cold, the temperature had dropped to around - 15° C.

We had been reported missing on the first day, but only now could a total of 150 mountain rescuers and 5 helicopters set out to look for us. I was able, more staggering than walking, to climb a small hill with the greatest effort, where a helicopter crew was actually able to spot me. My friend and I survived. All my frozen toes had to be amputated.

As dramatic as these experiences were, I can only describe that I felt the touch of God during this time. I am no longer afraid of death, I look forward to meeting God one day. I know it is difficult to put this into words in a believable way. I can only endeavour to testify to it throughout my whole life, also with all that I was allowed to experience with God in the meantime.