I saw him on many occasions while waiting to take the bus to school. He always chose to sit on the nearest bench to the bus station where most people would congregate to catch their transportation. The elderly man with bright white hair matching his long white beard would hunch over with an old book in his hands. One day I noticed him taking the street that led to my home. I followed him from far away. He disappeared into an old house with broken windows that appeared abandoned. We were all poor, but his outward appearance caused me to think that he had less than us. He lived a very simple life…alone.
As a child I wasn’t sure why no one ever wanted to talk to him. Each time he would try to approach people at the bus station, they would spit on him, kick him or completely ignore him by crossing to the other side of the street. Finally the day came when I was told that this man was dangerous because he believed in God! Under communism, anyone who believed in God and worshiped Him, rather than our dictators, was either taken to a concentration camp and killed or was placed in a mental institution.
One day, I decided to go and stand nearby so I could hear what he was saying to people. He wasn’t intruding. With soft whispers, he would tell each passing stranger, “Jesus loves you…He cares for you! There is a God
…He really knows you!” No one seemed to hear him as He would hold out his old book and try to read something out loud. Because of what I was told about him, I was afraid to go near him.
One day after school, I got enough courage to cross the street and talk with him. To my surprise he wasn’t at the bench. He didn’t come. I found out that he was taken to a mental institution because someone complained about him.
Several years passed. Communism fell in Bulgaria in November 1989.Soon after, those in concentration camps and mental institutions who were still alive were released to go home. It was a time of great awakening for our nation. We who had lived in darkness began to see glimpses of light. Jesus and His Gospel began to be preached around the country through missionaries from Germany and America! For the first time in 45 years people began to understand that darkness was never our friend, yet we were made to love it more than the light. Once a society has befriended the darkness, the light will always be their enemy.
I was the first one in my family and in my class to accept Christ. In an instant my eyes were opened to see, while everyone around me was still trying to find their way in the darkness of their unbelief, fears and hardships. All of a sudden I felt like the elderly man – alone, rejected and ridiculed. Now, I understood. My light brought disturbance to the darkness, and the darkness hated me too. But I was no longer afraid of the darkness, because I wasn’t avoidant of the light.
One afternoon while walking home, I saw him! The elderly man was back! I quickly ran over to him and told him, “I know Jesus now! I am not afraid of you!” He took my hand, put it on the Bible, looked me in the eyes with tears coming down his face, and said, “A soul knowing Jesus is worth the pain of persecution. Never be ashamed to tell people about God. You have THE LIGHT – SHINE BRIGHT!” I knew that day that I had crossed over and there was no turning back. Darkness has to surrender to those who carry God’s light! I chose what is beautiful to our Lord! Will you join me? “Once your life was full of sin’s darkness, but now you have the very light of our Lord shining through you because of your union with him. Your mission is to live as children flooded with his revelation-light! And the supernatural fruits of his light will be seen in you—goodness, righteousness, and truth. Then you will learn to choose what is beautiful to our Lord.” –