Albania, but not just in Albania
I think sometimes we don’t see something because we are not looking for it. It could be right under our noses, but if we are not aware that we should be looking for it, we’ll miss it. If we don’t perceive that it is important to us, we could stumble, and trip, and fall all over it before it has our attention. To others it could be the most important thing in the world, but if we do not regard it with the same enthusiasm it will go right passed us.
I have frequently seen this happen when I have been on my missions particularly in regard to what someone believes, or doesn’t believe about God. In the early days of my missions to Albania as part of Jesus Film teams (see previous posts) it was not uncommon to strike up a conversation with a villager, and soon have the discussion turn to the topic of God. For some it was not a subject that they had ever really thought about. They would often recite the history of their governments atheism, explaining that because of what their government had impressed upon them they themselves were atheists, but usually they said this with no more conviction than if they had said they were farmers—meaning that they simply accepted what the government had told them, and then never gave it another thought. Sometimes, however, I have come across someone who really had given a lot of thought about God, but didn’t know where to look for answers. Still others would accept that there may or may not be a God, but for the sake of argument would humor me in a debate. Their motivation being usually that farming or shepherding was boring and here was a chance to do something entertaining—the belief that there is a God was totally inconsequential to them.
The wonderful truth is, there is a God, and He loved us so much He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to earth to live, die, and rise again for us. God has reached out to mankind from the beginning, but mostly we have slapped His hand away, and ignored all attempts He has made to bring us into His loving arms. He sent His Word, His law, His prophets—all ignored by the majority. So He sent His Son who was killed by the majority. The good news is Jesus only stayed dead for three days. He rose with power, and the promise that He will come again. The same power that raised Him from the dead is the power that forgives us of our sins and gives us eternal life when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. God made it easy for us. All we have to do is believe, accept, and proclaim Jesus as our Lord. Even today God is reaching out to mankind in amazing ways, but too often we are not looking for it, or ignoring it, or just plain rejecting it. But, in this story, I want to share something that I have had the opportunity to see first hand in how God is making Himself known to a struggling world.
I was on a Jesus Film team in a village in Albania, the same village that the story God Answers Prayer to Glorify Himself took place in, when one of my team members, Arnida, told me about a dream her hostess had had the night before. The guys had stayed in one home and the girls had stayed in another. The home that the girls spent the night in was opened for hospitality by a woman and her two teenaged daughters and young son. The woman’s husband was working in Greece to support his family, and hadn’t been home in months. Arnida told me the next morning as our team was walking to our next village with our equipment on the back of two horses we had hired, that the woman had told her of a terrifying dream she had the night before. Arnida said the woman was terrified because the dream seemed so real at the time. The woman dreamed that a man dressed in white stood at her door and knocked, wanting to come in. The woman told the man to go away, because her husband was in Greece. The man dressed in white persisted, continuing to knock, and asking if he could come in. After several pleadings by the man, finally the terrified woman screamed at him to go away and leave her alone. The woman said that the man never tried to force his way into her house, but looked sad as he walked away.
I was immediately excited when I heard Arnida’s story. I had read several accounts of Muslims having visions of a man wearing white telling them to read the Bible. In every case the Muslims who had these dreams were sure that it was Jesus speaking to them. Thousands of Muslims who have had this dream have put their faith in Jesus Christ. I was certain that this woman, who was a cultural Muslim—meaning she claimed to be Muslim simply because she was from a traditionally Muslim village, a carry over of the Ottoman Empire—had a vision of Jesus calling to her. I told Arnida that we needed to go back to the woman and let her tell me her dream. Several days later we were able to get back to that village, and we visited the woman, who seemed genuinely glad to see us.
We sat comfortably on her front porch, and her daughters, as is the custom, brought us candy and something to drink. After several minutes of greeting and polite small talk, I told her that Arnida had shared with me that she had had a dream of a man wearing white, and I asked her to tell me the dream. She said it was so real that it terrified her. She said she was startled awake when she heard someone knocking on her front door. I said, “This door?” as I pointed to the door we were sitting next to. “Yes! This door!” she exclaimed. She said, “I went to the window and looked out. A man dressed all in white was standing at my door knocking. I shouted through the door, ‘What do you want?’ He said he wanted to come in and eat with me. I told him to go away, but he continued to knock, asking to come in. I told him that my husband was woking in Greece, and that he could not come in, but he continued to ask until I screamed at him to leave. He finally left, but I could tell he was sad that I did not let him in.” “Did he try to force his way in?” I asked. “No. He just stood there and knocked.”
I told the woman that people all over the world were having this same “vision” of a man wearing white. I told her that the man was Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I noticed that one of her daughters was holding a New Testament written in Albanian that our team had given her a few days earlier. I asked her to open her New Testament to the book of Revelation. Arnida helped her find it. I had the daughter read out loud Revelation 3:20, where it says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” The woman’s mouth dropped open, and astonished she said, “That is exactly what he was doing and what he said! Who is that man?” We spent the rest of the afternoon explaining to her and her three daughters who Jesus is, and what He has done for them. I told her that God loved her so much that He allowed her to have that dream so that she would not ignore Him. She and her daughters put their faith in Jesus that day, and were introduced to some Christians in the area that would help them learn more.
Sometimes we are skeptical of amazing stories like this, but the truth is, it has happened tens of thousands of times all around the world. Why? Because God loves us, and has a wonderful plan for our lives. God Bless You until next time!