Marija and Ivan introduced themselves to us at our marriage conference last year—our mutual friends, Petra and Hrvoje, had told us to be on the lookout for this newly-married couple who had been involved in the Campus Crusade student movement in Rijeka. As we talked with Marija and Ivan, we were really impressed by his clear testimony of coming to faith in Christ during college after having grown up in an atheistic family. Near the end of our time together, the conversation turned to their jobs and he shared how unfulfilled he was working at a car dealership. When we brought up the idea of joining the staff of CCC his eyes lit up, “That’s something I could see myself doing . . . down the road.”
When we saw that they had registered for the conference this year we were so glad that we’d be able to interact with them again. But as we sat down to talk, we noticed that Marija seemed very reserved. Jayne immediately asked her, “What’s going on? It seems like your heart is heavy.” Sure enough, Marija shared that it had been a very hard year for her, and she often doubted that God loved her or cared about her life. Marija’s story, while tragic, is not uncommon for people her age. She was very young when the war started in Croatia and early on her father was killed, leaving her mom to raise Marija by herself. Full of anger and hopelessness herself, her mother had drilled into Marija that you can’t trust anyone. That mistrust is pervasive in all of Marija’s relationships–even her relationship with God. As we sat together this past March, we talked about tragedy, trauma, and the basis for truth in the midst of difficult circumstances. Through the long conversation we urged Marija to allow God out of the box she had made for Him to keep Him at a safe distance; together we prayed the God would speak clearly to Marija and make Himself known to her.
This past Monday Jayne got an email from Marija which read,
“I owe you this message since the marriage conference in Crikvenica. God used you greatly in my life! Since our conversation I realized that I’m a precious child of God and that everything else was just Satan’s deceit. I learned to trust God and let him out of that “box” into my life. That’s why I’m getting baptized on Sunday the 20th of June in Rijeka and I would be very happy if you could come!”
We were so excited to be able to go to Marija’s baptism to support her decision to “let God out of the box” and follow Him! Please pray for Marija, and for Ivan, that they would follow Jesus wherever He leads them—even if it’s to join us on staff “down the road.