We'd like to share with you two stories from a hard-to-reach, largely atheistic European city—two stories that declare the gospel to be "the power of God unto salvation."
We listen too often to the taunting voices of the Goliaths of this world, defying that our God exists or is powerful. We stand, like the Israelites, trembling and fearful on the cliffs of Elah, hoping and waiting for a champion. These two stories are stones thrown by our Champion. Helmet or none, His gospel will prevail.
We thought of Andrea* as someone seemingly unreachable by the gospel. She defied our human strategic plan: She's over 50 and as stereotypical of our city's residents as you get—blue collar, straightforward, caring, and staunchly atheistic. But the Spirit began wooing her heart through death—not her own, but Anna's.
Anna, the daughter of our team's national partners, was born in a near vegetative state. For 15 years she required constant care. Her parents loved her because she was made in God's image. Their love and stubborn commitment to the value God places on life led to the conversion of just about every nurse who aided her. Anna died in October of last year. Her parents knew her death was coming, but it was nonetheless painful.
Sarah, one of our teammates, meets with Andrea regularly. At a meeting in early December, Sarah noticed Andrea was particularly disturbed because she knew Anna and the family. In fact, Andrea's own son of 26 years is bedridden. She said, "I have no categories for how someone can go through that much trauma and still have hope. I have no hope. I want to live with hope." Sarah shared with Andrea the hope found in Jesus and Jesus alone.
Andrea never should have come to Christ. She's older, guileless, and atheist. But in December she did. God's grace is always surprising. It defies our expectations. Nothing, or better yet, no one is beyond the reach of God's grace.
At our church's New Year's service, Monika shared how she recently came to faith. Her story is dramatic and powerful. Her father was a head of a cabbalistic order and believed she, Monika, was the reincarnation of Joan of Arc. Her grandmother was a witch, her brother a shaman.
Monika was dedicated to witchcraft as a baby. She was abused, went into prostitution, became a Wiccan, was plagued with demons, and tried to commit suicide. In her desperation, she turned to her pimp for help. He was a shaman who told her that she needed to sacrifice her baby (by drowning him in the bathtub) in order to get rid of the evil spirits that plagued her. Thankfully, she refused to do that. God refused to let evil prevail.
Through many miraculous things and a Christian friend who invited her to church for refuge, God rescued Monika out of this horrible life. Since then, her life has completely turned around. She is now assisting in one of the most prominent ministries to those caught in human trafficking. She continues to receive death threats today. Literally, today she spent the morning with me praying about a recent threat on her life. Just the other day she found animal parts in front of her doorstep. This young lady is now in our church.
Pray for Monika, that God would continue to heal her, give her a new purpose, and protect her life from physical harm, which is a real possibility. Spiritual syncretism is real, dangerous, and absolutely destructive to the human soul. It promises power and influence but leaves its victims shackled in darkness and self-destruction because that is what the human soul does to itself under the influence of our adversary.
Pray for Andrea, that she would grow deep roots of faith and be a witness to those like her—unlikely subjects—of the reality of the grace of God. Pray also that the power of the gospel would continue to break people's chains in our city and throughout Europe. Pray for more stones to be flung by our Champion.
This post was written by an MTW missionary serving in Europe, who asked that her name be withheld because of the sensitive nature of their ministry.
*Names have been changed. Photo is a stock image.