Let Me Lead You

The events happening this summer remind me of a time when God saved my brother and later my family and me.

Ana Ranjelovi likes to write poetry and paint. But most of all, she enjoys using her spare time to spend with her daughters: Ruth and Sarah. Being together and going with their dog, Toole, to the forests of the nearby hills is what they enjoy most.

Translated by Marija Trajkovska.

We lived in Ni, a town in the south of Serbia. One day we traveled the 20-hour trip to Rijeka, my birthplace, a nice Croatian port on the Northern Adriatic Coast. We arrived a little before the war broke out. My two brothers had been mobilized. Every evening we had a prayer meeting and earnestly prayed for their safety. Our only peace was in God.

A month later, my older brother called that he would come to see us. We felt full of joy that he could spend some time with us, The next afternoon he arrived at our house—we were surprised he could come so quickly as he lives in Zadar, some 500 kilo­meters away. He said he had a three-day pass, but barely three hours passed before his wife arrived. She carried a military order that he must return to his military base that evening. They immediately left but arrived a little too late. The bus had already left that would take him to the battlefield. His com­manding officers were furious. As punishment, he would be on duty the whole night. Later that evening, word came through that the bus ran into an ambush and a minefield.

This news saddened us—all of his buddies died. We praised God that he was not among them. Now we understood why he had felt a sudden urge to visit his family, even though he was exhausted from night duty, the explosions, and shootings.

My brother's constant prayer had been that he would not be forced to shoot at the enemies, and that they would not shoot him. God answered his prayers.

Now I will share how God saved us four years ago:

We lived in the small Croatian town of Gospi, about 300 kilo­meters from Rijeka. We enjoyed the clear rivers, huge forests, and fresh air. The district was a large one, 300 kilometers in circum­ference. Since there were only a few Gospel servants there, we considered it our mission field.

One elderly couple in our neighborhood treated us with hostility. But God opened the way. Their curiosity arose and they asked me about God's word. I suggested that we have Bible studies and our friendship grew.

During that pre-war year, it was impossible to do any public work. We had to change our strategy We gave Bible studies in people's homes during the day. Night time brought dangers and it wasn't even wise to go out of the city. It was a hard time for us.

The Lord blessed our earnest efforts and soon I had ten women taking Bible studies. Getting to their homes proved a challenge. Every 20 kilometers barricades blocked the way. The military guards or paramilitary formations demanded documents, the des­tination the traveler was going, and then there was a search of the person. Also, the guards checked the car for weapons. My husband and children would go with me on these trips. Our oldest was five at the time, and the youngest was about three years of age. God always helped us go through the barricades and gave us courage and peace of mind. As soon as we received clearance, we hurried on to share the good news with those souls eager to receive it.

At the end of that summer, we agreed to take a group of young people mountain climbing to the Triglay Mountain in the Republic. of Slave: a .Taking our mountain climbing equipment, we left for Rijeka, planning to leave our children with my parents. The next morning we had to meet the group of young people at the foot of mountain. However, that night we received a call from the church office in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, that we must postpone the trip as they were calling an urgent meeting for the pastors, and my husband must attend. The signs around us showed that war would break out soon.

The children and I stayed in Rijeka, while my husband went to Zagreb. Three days later he returned. We planned to go back to Gospi on Thursday morning, but something was wrong with our car. When it was fixed, it was late afternoon and twilight would soon be upon us. We did not dare leave—night traveling would be too dangerous. We spent the night with my parents.

In the morning webegan packing the car. My dad came out, bleary eyed and abruptly asked, "Where do you think you arc going? Didn't you hear? Gospi was shelled last night!"

We stood there speechless. Then he told us that he had spent a sleepless night listening to the radio and he recounted the news to us. We tried to call the church members but without success. The lines had been cut. A few days later, we learned the church members were able to escape; some suffered slight injuries. The town had been destroyed. When we all were able to meet again, we felt like Jesus' disciples when they met Him in the Upper Room.

The war conflict grew more intense. We had to move. How­ever, all the roads from Rijeka were blocked. A special license would allow us out, and thanks to my husband's nationality, he was able to obtain it. The next hurdle would be getting through the check points. The afternoon we left, all the streets were empty. We passed through all the bar­ricades. At the last one, two policemen stood with their backs toward us. We sped up and when they finally noticed us, it was too late to stop us. This is the miraculous way God allowed us to escape Croatia and enter Slovenia.

In Ljubjana, the Slovenian capital, we found some of our church members from Gospi. Only then did we realize how great had been our deliverance. They told us that Gospi had been bombed with more than 700 shells a day. The paramilitary formations searched the town, entering shelters and hiding places looking for Serbs. They took Serbian men and women away under the pretense that they had some jobs and needed workers. No one fever heard from those people again. In the small town of Gospi, everybody knew that the Seventh-day Adventist pastor was a Serb from Belgrade. Oh, how happy I am that God helped us escape that terrible ordeal.

We lost all our earthly treasures, except what we had with us: our mountain climbing equipment, some clothes for the children, and our car. During the first cold days of autumn, we had only light­weight summer clothing. We were poor, but our hearts were full. We sang songs of happiness. And God didn't let us down. A won­derful Christian couple took us to their home and gave us food and clothing. Now we have a secure earthly shelter.

How many times we try to go our way striving to achieve something with our own efforts, regardless of possible danger. Finally God says, "Stop, and see how I will deliver you." Could we then, stay indifferent to air the revelations of His love and grace? Aren't they reasons enough to sing glory to Him and praise Hin for His wise, faithful guidance?

This crucial experience became a turning point in my life. I decided to let Jesus lead me and use me the way I am. As a pastor's wife, I was burdened down trying to live up to everyone's expec­tations of what a pastor's wife should be like. Each person had a different picture and demanded something of me. However, I realized that Jesus did not have expectations of me, rather He simply accepted me the way I was. He wanted me to let Him lead. It makes me so happy that I want to sing every day because His way is so nice and easy. 

Ana Ranjelovi likes to write poetry and paint. But most of all, she enjoys using her spare time to spend with her daughters: Ruth and Sarah. Being together and going with their dog, Toole, to the forests of the nearby hills is what they enjoy most.

Translated by Marija Trajkovska.