As a single mom living in Ukraine, Samantha* faced a struggle that parents across the globe fear. Her daughter was terminally ill. For two years, she cared for the toddler, watching in helpless agony as her daughter suffered extreme pain daily.
It took its toll, and Samantha became consumed by depression, anger and the lonely feeling that no one could help her. Hope was something that she could not muster. It seemed unfair that such a small child should have to deal with so much. Samantha also felt cheated as she contemplated the reality that she might lose her daughter forever.
One day, Samantha sat on the bus crying uncontrollably. A fellow passenger asked if she needed help, but Samantha replied that no one could help her. She relayed her situation to the friendly man to prove that there was no hope, no solution, and no relief from pain. The man was on his way to a Bible study and invited Samantha to join him.
After that first Bible study, Samantha began attending the meetings regularly. She studied the Word and talked with the pastors and other Bible study members frequently. Her daughter was lifted up in prayer constantly, and, most importantly, Samantha started a relationship with Jesus Christ. As she turned toward God, she began to feel peace and discover hope.
For two more years, Samantha took care of her sick daughter, and she learned to rely on God every moment of every day. The thought that both she and her daughter were destined for eternity with their Lord and Savior calmed the storm that was her life.
When God eventually called her daughter home to heaven, Samantha rested in the abundant peace of knowing that they would be reunited one day in the presence of the Savior. In fact, she consoled others by reminding them that there is no suffering or pain in heaven.
Samantha credits her strength to her glorious God who promises eternal life free from the struggles of this world. She recognizes that her trials are light and momentary compared to an eternity with Jesus. Her inner peace and joy show people that God changes hearts and gives solace, even in sorrow.
“And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, who shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.” Jeremiah 3:15
Anastasia was raised in a Bulgarian home with traditional beliefs. When she heard about the new Evangelical church fellowship group that had started in her village, she viewed it as a destructive cult.
During afternoon coffee with a friend, she expressed her indignation over the presence of the new church group. Much to Anastasia’s dismay, her friend shared that she had attended two of the church services and had sincerely enjoyed them.
Not long after the coffee outing, Anastasia scraped her leg on a rusty nail. The scrape turned into a swollen and painful infection. Unable to walk, Anastasia called her friend for help.
The friend immediately brought the pastor to Anastasia’s home. The pastor skillfully administered a tetanus shot and cleaned and bandaged the wound. That was the start of healing for both Anastasia’s leg and her heart.
Anastasia was moved by the genuine response and attitude of the pastor who had rushed to her aid without even knowing her personally. She was impressed by the pastor’s kindness and his ability to talk openly with her. His faith had been acted out in such a selfless and loving manner.
The experience encouraged Anastasia to visit a small group meeting, and soon afterward she accepted the Lord as her Savior. Since then, life has become much more fulfilling for Anastasia. The more she grows in her walk with Jesus, the more she discovers the depth of God’s peace. Her heart is full of joy.
Anastasia remarks, “May God bless all the workers in His field, and equip them with strength, inspiration and all they need to be even more fruitful.”
Ilija accepted Christ through a home church group in Serbia started by Veran, but his faith has been tested. Ilija is 60 years old and has battled health issues, including diabetes, for the past 12 years.
He took pills and injections, but last year Ilija’s condition got considerably worse. His blood sugar rose really high, he lost weight and suffered systemic fatigue. Ilija didn’t know what to do, and he began losing hope that things could get better.
Veran often spoke with Ilija about God’s sacrifice and the character and capacity of Christ to heal our diseases and cleanse us from our sins. Ilija didn’t understand some of what she told him, but faith was the only option he had left, so he grabbed hold of the lifeline offered to him.
It’s so common for us as humans to turn to the Lord of the Universe as our last resort, but nonetheless, His grace and endless love are there waiting for us the moment we do. Ilija has experienced much healing both physically and spiritually.
While it has not been an easy spiritual journey for him, Ilija gives thanks to Jesus for all that He has done in his life. Ilija testifies that Christ gives him rest and peace and holds him together. “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self” Ephesians 4:22 (NIV)
Silviya is a 20-year-old woman from Bulgaria. As a Muslim, she faithfully adhered to all of her religion’s fasts and traditions. She attended mosque and wore a burka.
Then, one day, she accompanied her mother to a church service led by a church planter who was trained by Reach A Village ministry partners. Still dressed in her burka, Silviya came back a second time, this time with her husband.
Silviya and her husband were deeply touched by God’s Word. They said that in Islam they saw a lot of ritual without a sense of a free life and communion. On the other hand, in the church, they found lively fellowship and friendship.
Both Silviya and her husband repented from their sins and accepted Christ as their Savior. After a prayer with the entire congregation, Silviya threw away her burka!
Please pray for this couple as they begin their journey in the Christian faith. It will not be an easy road, especially for Silviya. Please ask for God’s protection as they face the negative responses of Muslim relatives and neighbors.