For years, Dimitri had faithfully served the homeless at a ministry center supported by Send Relief. He sets up chairs, serves dinner and passes out Bibles.
Occasionally, he shares the story of another Bible he gave.
Dimitri grew up in Romania—which used to be one of the most oppressive communist governments in the world. Dimitri was repeatedly tortured for being a believer. He was beaten again and again so severely he rebroke many bones. He was thrown into prison for refusing to divulge information about other believers. Eventually, he fled the country with no hope of return to his homeland.
But the Communist government fell in the 1990s, and Dmitri was finally able to return to Romania after many years in exile.
While sitting on a bench in his native land, a man with a cane came and sat next to him.
“Aren’t you, Ian…Ian…something?” the man asked?
Dmitri answered him in surprise, “Yes, I am Dmitri Ianculovic.”
Looking into his eyes, Dmitri’s shock grew as he realized who the other man was.
He was Colonel Gheorghe, Chief of the Department of Religion of the Secret Police.
He had formerly interrogated and tortured Dimitri many times.
“Sir, you have won because you believed in something,” the colonel said to Dimitri. “We believed in nothing—only money and a good education for our children.”
“No, we did not believe in something. We believed in Someone—the person of Jesus Christ,” Dimitri replied.
Dmitri told him more about his faith and how to receive Jesus into his heart. When he rose to leave, his hand brushed over a Bible in his overcoat pocket—a book that had once been illegal. Dmitri turned and gave the Bible to the colonel.
The colonel took the Bible and asked Dmitri with sad eyes, “Sir, do you think that I have enough time to read this book?”
Dmitri encouraged him start with the New Testament. Then Dmitri left this formerly revered man, now more than 80 years old and defeated.
Dmitri walked away, praying earnestly for his former persecutor.
This is what it means to live openly as a Christian in many countries today. Times have changed, but many governments have not. Pray for courageous believers who are being tortured and interrogated daily in countries around the world for their undying belief in Jesus, and for the work of people like Dmitri who continue to share help and hope with people through ministry centers that have been supported by Send Relief.
Published February 9, 2022