Sunday, April 28, 2013

From Cave to Christ...

Esmerelda's Testimony...
...from living in a
cave to LIFE in Christ!

Tue, Oct 23, 2012
This is a POWERFUL testimony that strongly moves me when I read it because:
a.  It glorifies God
b.  It speaks of how God continues to move from, and beyond, Athens
c.  It speaks of how God used Gregor and Gregor's parents to share God's life-changing love
with Esmerelda
d.  I personally know Esmerelda, and she is a bright, beautiful, joyful, loving and humble
servant of God.  We are supporting her, and we hope you will pray about supporting her if
you can.  She is a WORTHY investment!  You can give a tax-deductible investment online at: (then click "give a gift")

"I was born in Shkoder, Albania, a country devastated in many levels under the harshest
Communist regime of Eastern Europe. I belonged to a race that even among a poor and
devastated people was marginalized, despised and made fun of.

They call us Gypsies.

And among my own people I was an unlucky case.  As a kid I new nothing of my mother.
She left us when I was two to go to Italy, thinking of finding a better life. I learned later her
intentions were to come back and take us when she would have made some money, but this
never happened.  We were three children but I remember only my father with whom I stayed 
when mother left.

I was little but was told latter because the house was so old and crumbling, my father and
me moved to a cave in a hill nearby.  No doors, no windows, when it rained, water would
drip in over our “bed”.  We had a dog and a cat. Once the cat got a snake in our bedding
and killed it saving my life. Another time the dog saved me from criminals who pepper-
sprayed my father and tried to kidnap me.

That is the first “house” I remember.

We begged for daily bread from shop to shop, from coffee bar to coffee bar.  I did not know
what family meant. I coveted other children when I saw them hugging their mothers, thinking
in silence, I want to have a family.  The only person that loved me and I loved him was father. 
I loved him so much that I never wanted to be separated from him.  I did not want to know 
about God. I thought He does not care for me.

At around age seven, my grandmother took us in and we shared a room with her in my
uncle's apartment.  I never got to go to school. Daily survival was the theme of our lives.
One day while playing in front of the apartment building, my cousin, the uncle's daughter,
invited me to a place they called “fellowship place”.  Almost all kids from the neighborhood
would go there. I went.

It was a dark red metallic door in front of which stood what seemed then to me to be an
older lady. She welcomed children with hugs. They all called her mother Roza. That sounded
strange.  Being a timid child I did not go to her, but as I waited my turn to go in through the
door, she, with a big smile and a love I did not know how to describe, opened her arms 
towards me and said, “Come and give a hug to mother.” It was the embrace I had longed for
all my life. I did not want to be separated from it. I felt love, perfect love, unconditional love.
Inside I was asking, “Where is this love coming from?".  With time I was to discover that the
love mother Roza had, was the love of Jesus Christ.

Soon that woman would become my mother for real.

My father passed away suddenly when I was eight years old. I did not know but mother Roza
had promised my father to send me to school. She had a long hard battle with my grandmother
who was in charge. Sheherself being uneducated, did not see a need for me to go to school. 
Then mother Rosa and her husband (my new father) Zef and my brother Gregor (who came to
Christ in Athens and was the pastor of the church) took me in for good. This was another hard
battle with my grandmother.  Everything changed. I had a family. My own room, a warm bed,
food, clean clothes, and I went to school like the other kids. Father Zef would take me to 
the school and waited to pick me up when I finished.

But only at eleven years old I deeply understood my need to be born again by making the Lord
Jesus Christ my Savior and my Lord. I did this with all my heart, on my knees, with tears in my
eyes. It was something Gregor had said when he came to share once at the Children's Church:
“God told Noah to make one door to the Ark through which he his family and the animals had
to go to be saved. And in the same way Jesus is the Door to Salvation. He is the only way to
the Father. No one goes to the Father except through Him."

From that moment on I am holding His hand and never want to let go. I got a new life both
ways, in this world and in eternity.  I still faced many difficulties and challenges. Father Zef
passed away one year after I was adopted. So I lost my father again.  As Gregor got married
to Kela and they moved to Kosovo to serve the Lord there in the city of Gjilan me and mother
Roza moved also there. Mother Roza’s heath was deteriorating and in a few years she also
went to be with the Lord.

I got to go to high school and university in Kosovo. God’s faithful hand has been with me
always and according to the promise He made that He will never leave me, He will never
forsake me.  For many years growing up in the new family and the church I had a dream,
one desire to serve the Lord all my life. I did this in the churches I have been helping in kids
and youth ministries in Shkoder, Albania and in Gjilan and Prishtina (in Kosovo).  Doing as much as
I could, counting it a privilege.  During the university years I got also very active with Campus
Crusade for Christ.  And in the last year of my studies God put it in my heart to join them
full-time. I applied, and was accepted.

Now I am ministering on campus and seeing God bring others to Himself and using me and
others to help them find Him and to grow in Him.   Praise the Lord!  In June of 2013 I plan to
marry my fiance and we will minister together for Jesus!

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