During the escape from God, Liv Arnhild suddenly saw the light


Northern Europe

Stein Gudvangen, Kristelig Pressekontor (KPK)

Liv Arnhild tried to escape from God, but did not succeed. Photo KPK, Stein Gudvangen

In her youth, Liv Arnhild Trydal (67) wanted to leave behind everything that had to do with the Christian faith. But God met her in the city she escaped to through a glowing billboard.

Christians believe that Jesus is the only way to God, but the ways of Jesus are manifold. Liv Arnhild Trydal's life story confirms this. Her story strangely illuminates a bit of the controversy over luminous Jesus advertising that is currently going on in the Norwegian place Skien.

On the run

In Skien, the Skauen church has received complaints because a cross with light stands on the building. Now they must apply to the municipality for a dispensation to keep the light in their cross.

The Christian Press Office recently wrote that Christian advertising does not meet such restrictions everywhere. In Stavanger, the old neon sign with "Jesus: the light of the world" is protected. Some are very happy about it. Liv Arnhild Trydal is among them.

She grew up in a Christian home in Lunde in the village of Telemark (nowadays within the municipality of Skien) but turned her back on the faith in her teens. "I should decide for myself about my life and not be under any influence of God. I wanted to go out and dance and party and stuff", the 67-year-old says 50 years later.

From 1972 to 1976, she was office secretary in various places in Oslo. "All the time there, I lived away from God", she tells KPK.

A hard nut

While Liv Arnhild is in the capital, her mother becomes ill with cancer. She became so sick that Liv Arnhild decided to move home and take care of her. "At the hospital, my mother thought that the disease might lead me to regain my faith, but it did not. She asked me if I did not want to become a Christian, and I could not do that. I knew myself and thought I was not kind enough or good enough to become a Christian. I thought Christianity was about earning something, says Liv Arnhild, who told her mother that she did not believe she could.

"I did not want any interference. My mother said: You are a hard nut to crack, you."

For Liv Arnhild, it was difficult that her mother spoke about this. "God's word works in such a way that it reminds one of what is not right. But I swallowed it away and did not talk to anyone about it."

Going to Stavanger

In February 1977, the mother died. The daughter is then 22 years old, and she stays at home for six months to help her father with the two youngest siblings. Then she wants to get away.

Now the plan is to put Christian faith behind her for good. She travels far away to a place where no one knows her. The choice of residence is perhaps not the most strategic for one who wants out from God. She goes to Stavanger, in the middle of the Bible belt, where the houses of worship are close together and can hardly be avoided.

"I had heard that Stavanger was a good place but did not know what kind of city it was", admits Liv Arnhild, who continued to live without thinking about God – until a special event in 1980.

Light of the world

One February evening, she walks along the west side of Breiavannet, close to the cathedral. To the east, she sees a large neon advertisement on the roof of a house. "Jesus: the light of the world", it says.

Jesus, the world's light. Photo janrisan.blogspot.com

There and then, life turns completely for Liv Arnhild from Lunde. "When I saw the star at the top and the words that shone on me, I thought: Well, God. So, you're here too. There is no point in running away from you!"

She asked herself why it had to be about Jesus, and the answer was clear.

"Then everything that was stored up in me from my upbringing came to mind, and I thought of Acts 4:12: Salvation in no name but the name of Jesus. At the same time, it was like a movie from my life that began to roll before my eyes. I saw how I had lived, and when I thought about the Ten Commandments, I saw that I had lived in sin. I understood that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and I was suddenly willing to make a sacrifice for everything I had not done. I said to myself: Now I'm a Christian. And only God and I know that."

Soon more people would find out, and she started attending meetings of the Missionary Association.


Liv Arnhild worked at the Missionary Association's district office in Skien a few years later. She meets the lay preacher Olav Gjone who asks how she became a Christian. As she shares her conversion story, he makes big eyes. On one of his preaching trips in the '70s, he was in Stavanger. One day as he was walking around the city, he saw the Jesus world light commercial.

Then he prayed to God that someone would meet Jesus because of this luminous message. He thought it was extraordinary with my story and asked if he could use it when he went out and preach, says Liv Arnhild.

Since 1987, she has been married to Per Trydal. Together they have four children who have all preserved the faith. Before they got married, she bore the family name Fahre. She and her six siblings grew up in the Evangelical Lutheran denomination that owns Skauen Church, the house of worship with the cross that has now been disputed. Her relative, Fred Arve Fahre, is a priest in the congregation.

What do you think about the fact that it was a billboard that made you wake up?

"Think how inventive God is! That sign is a landmark in Stavanger, but I had not noticed it before. When I went there that winter evening, the sign shone brightly against a dark background. And that was just what I saw, just this message."

Great life

What kind of life have you had since the experience with the billboard?

"It has been great. I think about the life I lived consciously away from God and how he put in that shock. It's amazing how the Holy Spirit managed to make it so clear when I saw this commercial. It was not something that was planned on my part. But it changed everything", says Liv Arnhild, and tells a little about her thoughts before the experience at Breiavannet.

Liv Arnhild with a text on the door. Photo KPK, Stein Gudvangen

"I had not intended to get married, but if I were to do it once, I would at least have dancing and alcohol at the wedding. But when we got married, we had none of the parts. That did not happen. It did not mean anything to me anymore. I got completely different interests and no need for it", Arnhild says.

For her, the most crucial thing was receiving forgiveness and restoring the relationship with God. "It was great then to be a child of God, and it is great today as well."

Translated from the Norwegian original



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