“Try to help those who argue against you. Be merciful to those who doubt” (Jude 1:22; TLB)
I come from a former Communist country. In school we were thought that God does not exist. The teachers told us that religion is a man’s invention to keep the poor people in bondage. They told us that there is no life after death. The best we can do is to work hard in this life and give some inheritance to our children. I believed that after death man disappears in a cosmic silence and nothingness. I did not believe in God or in the devil.
From time to time I dared to think that life is more than work, salary, marriage and children. I was a dreamer, a romantic at heart. I loved to read, anything like poetry, the biographies of famous men and true stories. I read many books. I loved country music. I played classical pieces on the piano. In school I was a perfectionist. I thought it was my duty to take first place in any exam or test that comes my way. I had no pity for losers. I felt very bad each time I failed any test. My parents were both teachers and of course, they were very proud of me.
The first time I had ‘an encounter’ with the word ‘God’ was in the first year of university. We were a group of friends and one day, we discussed what qualities each one desires in a life partner. Each one said something. I think I said that my future husband has to be intelligent and kind. Then Richmond Leigh, our Nigerian colleague said something so stupid that we all laughed with tears and made fun of him. He said: “I cannot marry a girl who does not believe in God…” God? What is God? I found myself looking at this young handsome man…he sounded so foolish…I pitied him and his parents in Africa. I made up my mind to help him be more ‘civilized’.
Richmond Leigh never repeated that sentence again. Few moths later he proposed to me. After many trials and temptations, against all odds, we got married. I did not want to remind him of his past foolishness. I was a little surprised that he proposed to a girl who clearly did not believe in God. I tried to forget his words about God. They made no sense anyway…But I could not uproot them from my heart. Like seeds coming from a strange tropical aromatic plant, they stayed in my heart for many years. I could not explain them. They just stayed there…
We were happy as two nice unbelievers can be. We finished Medical School and came to Nigeria as a young couple with two little children in 1980. In 1986 I had a crisis conversion and became born again. Not long after that I became filled with the Holy Spirit. My life changed so much that my parents did not recognize me when I visited them. I was a new creation in Christ Jesus. I lost my all fears and my doubts. I did not look like a Romanian or like a Nigerian…I look like a peculiar person whose citizenship is in heaven. I became ‘foolish’ too, trusting God and praying to Him always! But this so called ‘foolishness’ became my protection and my strength.
Richmond and I, we are married now for more than 45 years. We are both pastors in full time ministry in Warri, Nigeria. God had mercy on me for I acted in ignorance! Once the light shone, no one could stop it! I laughed at the words of God but I could not defeat them. Yes, God finally answered my husband’s wish to marry a woman who believes in God! This is my testimony…God’s ways are mysterious and they pass the human understanding!
“I never knew You will favor me this way…Thank You Jesus, Thank You my Lord” (Nigerian chorus)
Give your life to Christ! Become born again! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!
In Christ I declare:
I give all the glory to God for the salvation of my soul!
In Jesus’ name
(In the picture, my husband, Richmond Leigh and I, dressed in beautiful Nigerian attire)