At a seminar I attended recently, an old pastor proposed that we have a prayer meeting for those pastors' sons and daughters who had left the church. That proposal touched all of us, and a very exciting prayer meeting took place. We cried and prayed for those precious children who had grown and lived in the church, been fed at God's table, and had suddenly found the world so attractive they left the church.
Upon our return to our homes, we decided to seek and pray for these lost children in the places where we lived. We wanted to win them back to God.
In a small village near the town where we worked, there lived Nadya, the daughter of the former president of the Seventh-day Church in Bulgaria. While she was a student in high school, she ran away from home with a schoolmate and married him. Then she went to live in the same village where her husband's parents lived. Her husband and all his family were atheists. Nadya became a heavy smoker, and though her husband begged her to stop, she refused.
Heavy and sorrowful days came for the pastor's family, his colleagues, and the church itself, as well as for his daughter. Nadya had four children: the first died in his early days; the second had speech difficulties; and the third had retarded development and was later sent to a special institution.
Before we located Nadya, she and her husband were jobless. She was looking for a job in the town where my husband was a pastor. There she found a temporary job—selling something at a street stand. Her master proved to be a very cruel and dishonest woman who badly exploited her and gave her a very small salary. One day Nadya couldn't bear it anymore and cried bitterly. The woman from the neighboring stand noticed and tried to comfort her. "Stop crying, dear, and come to church with me!"
Startled, Nadya asked "What church?"
"The Orthodox Church, of course. Each time I have some difficulty, I go to the church, light a candle, make the sign of the cross, and God helps me."
Nadya remained silent and thoughtful all that evening. Nobody could make her speak.
Later she told me that all that time she asked herself, "Where have you come, Nadya—to be asked to light a candle to God? Where is the God of your father and mother? Why did yon leave Him?" She decided, "I will arise and go to my heavenly Father, and then I'll go to my white-haired earthly father."
The most exciting thing was that the first Sabbath when Nadya came to church was the first Sabbath after the prayer meeting of the seminar! God had forestalled us! We had planned to visit her two weeks later; however, God had worked faster!
We did not know her right away. Ten years had passed. She looked quite different, she had become an "old" young woman with completely white hair.
Her shame was so great that it was necessary to work with her with much love, tact, and wisdom. We did not tell the church that she was the foriner president's daughter; however, the older members of the church knew her.
Her baptismal service was very exciting. Nadya brought the woman who had invited her to the Orthodox Church. This woman came to me. "Please," she said, "let me first meet Nadya when she comes out of the pool and let me take her hand, kiss her, and congratulate her on her new birthday?'
I agreed, though as a pastor's daughter, I also wanted to be the first to greet her. But this privilege belonged to Nadya's colleague, and even her mother had to give in.
At the last seminar in Sofia, carried out by Brother Cress (from the United States), we shared with the brothers and sisters how God had almost immediately answered our prayers from the previous seminar.
We again thanked God for His wonderful work.