by Clyde Robichaud
I am submitting this story for the inspiration and enjoyment of the reading audience. These are not events that transpired in my own life but in the life of a man who became a very close and personal friend of mine. I can testify to the authenticity of these events because I have known him and his family for many years. The man, Andres went on to become a minister of the gospel after spending three years in a seminary and his mother is still a very devout Christian.
The story all began in the nation of Iran in 1981-82. The dictator, Ayatollah Khomeini, was still in power and was forcing young men ? children, really – to enlist in the army. I believe that Iran was still at war with Iraq during this period. A relatively young woman named Valentina was very upset with Khomeini’s new enlistment draft. She had two sons, Andres and Peter, ages fifteen and fourteen at that time and she was determined to keep them away from the war and alive. Her husband had left her leaving her to raise her sons alone. They were all that she had. She resolved to leave the country.
Poverty was a major factor in their lives so her options of escape were very limited. However, one day the appropriate time presented itself. She hastily began her exit on foot with her boys. Their long trek took them through Syria and eventually over the mountains into Turkey. From there, a small series of miracles permitted them temporary refuge status in the nation of Greece. The one thing that made Valentina very unique among her Iranian peers was the fact that she was a Christian. With politics the way that they were at that time in Iran, it was not something that one shouted from the rooftops so she was very quiet about it. Her heart was filled with a living faith however, simple and uncomplicated, but powerful and effective. It was this kind of faith in God that gave her the resolve and strength to make this long and arduous journey to freedom.
While in Greece she found a little mission and began attending services regularly. Neither one of her two sons were moved by her religious fervor. Her older son, Andres found a job at a small restaurant. This job was very important to his family, as it was their only means of income.
Valentina confided to me that one night, while in prayer, she was visited by an angel of God. The angel never spoke to her but approached her and placed something that resembled a brazing stick on her forehead. There was a searing sound but without any pain and there on her forehead were the words emblazed, “Born Again”. God’s intervening work in the lives of this family definitely all began with Valentina.
After living in Greece for a number of months, an opportunity presented itself for them to immigrate to Canada. The pastor of the church that I attended at that time was to become their sponsor. Valentina settled into her new Christian life with a great deal of enthusiasm but as I mentioned before, neither of her two sons were particularly interested. Nevertheless, out of a spirit of genuine gratitude towards the Pastor and his wife for the help they had provided his family, Andres agreed to attend the Sunday morning service. Pastors can be very persuasive at times.
During the worship at the beginning of the service, Andres thought that some of the members were ?off the wall?. Pentecostals can sometimes be very demonstrative during worship. During the sermon, however, Andres listened attentively to the pastor and posed a question in his mind. ?I wonder if there really is a God,” he mused. Immediately he felt a hand on his head. When he turned around to see who it was, to his astonishment, there was no one there. He could still feel a hand on his head and it certainly went a long way to arousing further curiosity in him.
Because of what happened to him during the morning service, he decided to attend the evening service also. When he entered the church, he sat down at the back corner closest to the exit door. While he was interested to here more about what the Pastor had to say about the existence of God, he confided that the dancing, shouting members made him feel very uncomfortable. Sure enough, during worship, many of the congregation’s members began getting very demonstrative and Andres decided to make a quick exit. The moment that Andres tried to get up off the chair, however, he could not budge. The force or pressure that he described to me did not release him until the pastor uttered the last word of his sermon.
Andres was moved, not only because of his experience, but also because of the message that the pastor gave. When he returned home that night, he took his mother’s Bible and went off to his bedroom to be alone. When he got there, he sat on his bed, looked up to heaven and said, ?God, if you really are there; show me how much you love me in your word.” He opened the Bible at random and began to read about the sufferings of Jesus just prior to his crucifixion. While he was reading this, an audible voice – and he stated quite emphatically that it was audible – said, ?All Of These Things Have I Done Andres, Because I Love You.”
That did it. He immediately got on his knees and asked Jesus to come into his life. After his conversion to the Christian faith, he went on to study Theology for three years and became a minister of the gospel.
In conclusion I would like to say this: God does not resort to the miraculous to draw men and women to him as a general rule. He certainly does not resort to sending his angels on missions to entertain skeptics or to inflate human egos. God does not feel obligated to prove his existence to anyone. God’s general rule is the virtue of FAITH! Throughout Jesus’ entire earthly ministry, he searched for faith in the masses that he ministered to wherever he traveled. When Faith was present, miracles frequently took place. Someone might argue – where was this man’s faith that brought about such a spectacular intervention from God? It is true that Andres did not have faith at that time but it was present somewhere else; it was found in his mother’s heart. That testifies greatly to the power of concerned, loving, caring, faith filled prayers coming from the hearts of God’s people.