By Mark Ellis
She grew up in communist Romania at a time when no one was allowed to go to church, have Bibles in their possession, or openly talk about God.
“When I was seven and my brother was 10, we found a Bible hidden in the floor of our house. We didn’t know what it was,” says Izabella, in a report by Samaritan’s Purse.
This unusual book captivated their interest. “We started reading it like they taught us in school—start at the beginning, go to the end. We’d never heard these stories before.”
In fifth grade, Izabella was invited to a small underground church by one of her classmates. “I asked my Dad if I could go. I begged him and begged him.”
Finally her father relented, “If your brother goes with you, you can go,” he said.
The two youngsters walked to the meeting place of the church after dark, careful to avoid being seen. When Izabella sat down, she was surprised as the pastor read from a large book.
I’ve heard this story somewhere before, she thought. “I put together that the book he was reading was the same book we had at home. I got really excited!
When Izabella was 13, the month of September that year was unusually cold. “We didn’t have electricity most nights so when it got dark it was bedtime for us kids. The only way Mom and Dad would allow us to go out and play was if it snowed. Then it was not as pitch dark and there was something to do outside,” she recounts.
Izabella knew about prayer, but had never actually heard someone pray. Even at the underground church meeting, the pastor could not actually pray or share the Gospel openly.
“Under communism, he never knew who was a spy. He had to be very careful,” she recalls.
One evening, Izabella approached the pastor and said, “I want to learn how to pray so I can start praying for snow.”
He smiled at her and said, “Izabella, just talk to God as though He is your best friend. You tell Him what’s on your heart, what’s on your mind, and He will answer.”
Izabella was amazed by his response. “I thought, I just have to ask Him and He will answer me? Why haven’t I been asking for more stuff? I’m definitely going to ask for snow.”
That night she prayed before she went to bed. When she awakened the next morning, she went to the window with great expectancy, but there was no snow.
What’s wrong? she wondered. What happened?
When December came there was still no snow and Izabella was very disappointed.
She approached the pastor and said, “Did you know that this prayer thing doesn’t work?”
“Izabella, God always answers prayers,” he replied. “He promises that in His Word. Sometimes those things don’t look the same way we picture it. You are expecting beautiful white snow to fall from the sky but maybe God has something different in mind.”
She pondered his response in her heart. Christmas came and went and there was still no snow. “I was so disappointed that I lost my zeal of taking the Bible out every day and reading it,” she recalls.
A few days later, the sight of people running in the streets startled Izabella. In Romania that usually meant one thing—that there was something at the grocery store. She thought it might be oranges or bananas because it was Christmas.
Izabella and her brother hurriedly put on their shoes and ran as quickly as they could to get in line. But as they ran, they passed the grocery store.
What’s going on? she wondered.
Big trucks had pulled in, the backs of the trucks opened, and Samaritan’s Purse began to distribute colorful boxes filled with gifts as part of their Operation Christmas Child program.
A lady came up to Izabella and said, “This is yours.”
“What do I have to do?” she asked.
“Nothing,” she replied. “It’s just yours—totally yours…Is there anything I can pray with you for?”
Izabella thought for a moment. “Would you pray with me for snow?”
The woman prayed with Izabella and then gave her a hug.
Izabella carefully opened her brightly colored shoebox and looked inside. As she fished around, she gravitated to a globe-shaped object, pulled it out and held it in the palm of her hand, wondering what it was.
“A little boy passed me and grabbed my hand and started to shake it really hard.”
It was a child’s snow globe! When the boy shook it, beautiful snow flurries lit up the wintry scene inside.
Suddenly Izabella remembered what her pastor said. “God will answer your prayers. Keep your eyes open because it might not look the way you want it, but He will answer.”
“This is it!” she suddenly realized. God answered her prayer in a way that made her feel His warm smile. “It felt like it was snowing all around me,” she says.
When she got home, she prayed to Him once more. “God, I thank you for my snow and just apologize for shoving the Book back. I’m going to keep reading it.”
While Samaritan’s Purse can’t put snow globes in shoeboxes anymore because they are liquid and might break, Izabella will never forget that moment.
“It was a moment of knowing this God that had been pursuing me through His Word since I was seven. I finally got it. He was a God who was real and He was looking out for me and He does answer prayers.”
How you can help:
Support Operation Christmas Child here
Pray for the people of Romania: Pray that the disastrous legacy of communism might be replaced by one of peace and righteousness. Pray that there may be full freedom for the proclamation of the gospel and that there may be respect and trust in all directions between the major Christian bodies. Pray that effective unity, cooperative evangelism and bold vision be promoted among Evangelicals. Pray that church planting movements might flourish. Pray for adequate theological training for existing and future leaders. Pray that Bible schools and seminaries might be able to train increasing numbers of students. Pray that the quality of teachers, course work and environment may be such to facilitate the formation of godly, visionary, educated Christian workers and leaders. Pray that expatriates called to serve may show sensitivity, humility and an ability to learn from, and work alongside, Romanian Christians. Pray that young people, including orphans and street children, may encounter in very real ways the love of Christ, that they might be integrated into the church and used mightily of God to reach their own generation. Pray for the removal of every barrier to the full flowering of an indigenous missions movement. Pray for effective outreach to the Roma (Gypsy) population and to the Muslims. (Source: Operation World)