How many times have angels saved our lives in Albania? Occasionally we get a glimpse, sometimes many years later.
Recently we were at a function at a residential center for developmentally disabled persons. Our church’s community services ministry has been serving them for several years, and we had been invited to attend a celebration and recognition ceremony attended by several organizations and city officials.
A man named Alban approached Sean and greeted him warmly with kisses on both cheeks. Sean hadn’t seen Alban in many years. Alban had been a journalist for Voice of America when Sean had met him a couple of months after we had arrived in Albania. Alban doesn’t know much English, but Sean’s Albanian had greatly improved over the years. At last they could have a good conversation.
As they stood together in the crowd, someone asked Alban how he knew Sean. Even Sean was surprised by his answer. “I will forever be grateful to Sean because, many years ago, he saved my life.” Sean had no idea what Alban was talking about, so he listened intently to the story Alban told of an incident in an Internet café more than nine years ago.
Alban recalled, “I had written an article exposing corruption. As a result, one of the men involved sent another man to take my life. You know how Albania was during that time. They wanted to make an example of me to intimidate other journalists. They wanted everyone to know that they could get away with anything. Sean and I were in the Internet café where we had met about a month earlier. Sean was sitting near the door when a man came in and started shouting at me. He had a gun in his waistband, and he said he was going to kill me. Then Sean stepped between us and wouldn’t let the man near me. He spoke mostly English to the man, so I don’t know what he said, but the man began to back away as he continued to shout angry threats. Sean backed him out the door just as the police arrived and arrested him. They almost arrested Sean, too, but the woman who had called the police told them Sean had been protecting me, so they let him go. The police didn’t know English, so Sean couldn’t communicate much with them. The rest of us gave our statements, and they took the man away. That’s why I’m forever grateful to Sean.”
Sean recalled the incident much differently. He never saw the gun, and he hadn’t understood the threats, so he was unaware of the deadly danger. All he knew was that the angry man was acting aggressively toward his friend, so he blocked him and helped him toward the door. Sean must have taken the man off guard by speaking to him in English. He doesn’t remember what he said. None of us knows why the man didn’t pull his gun on Sean. I believe God’s angels were protecting Sean that day. Someday we may learn about many other times we have unknowingly been saved from serious harm. Perhaps God gives us these occasional glimpses to build our trust in Him, and in Alban’s case, to draw others to Him.
Later that evening at the event, the church’s community services ministry leader, Dani, received the thanks of the community leaders for our group’s service to the residents of the center. Dani gave a short speech about how God often cares for people through others, and what a privilege and joy it is to be conduits of His blessing.
Before we left the center, a community leader approached Dani wanting to know more about our group and asking if He could join our gathering sometime. We hope our new community center will attract many service-minded people. God has already been working in their hearts if they desire to serve those in need.
Please join us in praying for the men who heard Alban’s story and those who were touched by Alban’s words. May they be drawn closer to God and may they seek Him with all of their hearts. May we be of service to them and guide them rightly to Him.