M y name is Silvia Lia Leigh. I was born in Romania almost sixty years ago. I grew up in a loving family of four. My parents were teachers in the school which I attended with my younger sister; Adica. We did not go to church at all. The only contact I had with religion was at Christmas when the priest of the church in town will come to visit people and wish them happy holidays. He will come dressed in a long black dress, ringing a little bell in his hand and accompanied by his younger assistant. My father warned us to run inside when we saw them because as teachers, they were not allowed to invite religious people inside the home. I remember how afraid I was of his black dress, bell, and mysterious chant. Sometimes, my father will ‘feel sorry’ for the priest, as he was ringing the bell outside the door, standing in the heavy snow. He would quickly make a gift of homemade bread, salami, cake, and wine, and then go outside after switching off the front light to give it to him. Only the stars were witness of their meeting. All we heard behind the door were many words of gratitude and blessings ‘in the name of Isus’ (Jesus). Adica and I thought it was funny. I thought that my father was very bold to go outside and embrace the strange looking man. Stranger still was the feeling left behind that Isus sent him to greet us at Christmas. We would never remember the visit or the words until the next year again at Christmas.
Many years passed before my father told me that he was once in the seminary with the desire to be a priest. But the communist take-over after the war closed down almost all bible schools and changed them into colleges of education. My father was forced to choose, and this is how he had to let go of his dream to serve God, and instead became a history teacher. The priest that came every Christmas to our door was one of his colleagues in the seminary. He was one of the very few who chose to continue with his calling in ministry and eventually became a priest. Life separated them, and the cold winter Christmas Eve, was the only time when they could give a quick hug with many painful apologies from one, and a flood of blessings from another.
That is all I knew about God and His servants until I came to Nigeria. While in medical school in Romania I met my husband Richmond, a Nigerian. After graduation, we moved to Nigeria to start a practice in 1980. We became successful as medical practitioners. We had money, fame, and everything man could desire. What else could one possibly want? Nothing! Or so I thought. In 1986 I had a crisis conversion and I met Jesus Christ. I had never seen a Bible before then. In January of the same year, I became very depressed. I saw nothing good in my achievements. I lost my desire to live. In the midst of my despair, for the very first time in my life, I prayed: “Dear God, if You exist, then come down from heaven and change my heart. I am tired to doubting You. I can’t wait forever for the answer to this prayer. I give You one month’s notice to come down from heaven and change my heart. If you come, I promise to be your friend forever. In Jesus name I pray, amen!” I did not know the meaning of the name of Jesus but I heard people pray like that so I guessed it was the appropriate end to a prayer. Immediately I knew that something ‘good’ had happened to me. Not certain of what, but the sense of destiny came down and enveloped my soul. I felt life entering my veins. In exactly 28 days the Holy Spirit came down on me and filled my soul. I became a child of God, never to be the same again.
He that came to me was the same Isus that sent the strange looking priest every Christmas Eve. A few months before my beloved father died, he made peace with God. God’s ways are strange to the unbeliever but perfect and lovely for His own. All glory goes to God.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Heb 13:8)