“For an hour, everyone’s been talking words, words, words, but you showed me a gesture," began Angelino. With deepest sincerity, he continued, "That tells me God MUST be real and that you MUST have a personal relationship with Him.”
Angelino was blown away and filled with such joy, by a gesture so simple as giving him a Bible in Pietro’s kitchen at 1:15 in the morning.
See, Pietro (a friend from church, name changed) had been hosting a prayer meeting that evening. As we were finishing up around 12am, he noticed his friend Angelino walking outside. Calling out to him from over the balcony to wait where he was, two guys went outside and brought him upstairs to Pietro's apartment.
After the introductions, Angelino quickly questioned what on earth we were doing and we told him we had just spent the evening together praying. While it was a very unusual response, he remarked that he had never in his life seen so many positive people all in one place and marveled at us.
Pietro began to engage Angelino on questions of faith and a few of those present got into some heavier conversations. Although Angelino's apparent openness to the things of God was beautiful, I personally did not feel it was a conversation in which I was able to really engage. (For one, I'm not very good at debating philosophical questions and secondly, it's a whole lot harder to do in Italian!). So, I just listened, praying silently.
Angelino tried to quote Jesus and give reasons as to why he didn't believe but someone asked how he could do that if he had never even opened a Bible. Angelino didn't have an answer.
As the conversation unfolded and Angelino continued asking questions, there was one thought that just wouldn't leave my mind.
I had just just switched purses that morning and intentionally put an Italian Bible inside, knowing I would give it away. I had been carrying it with me all day and had been asking the Lord to show me who it was for.
The longer I listened to this conversation, the more sure I became that it was for Angelino.
Pietro dipped out of the kitchen for a second and I scurried out after him, explaining the situation and what I was feeling. I asked if he thought I could present the Bible to his friend. Pietro was suddenly energized and practically pulled me back into the kitchen, running, exclaiming, "Everyone, stop! Esther has a story to tell. Everyone, listen up."
I looked directly at Angelino and told him that I had been carrying this Bible all day, asking the Lord who it was for, and that, as I listened to him converse with Pietro and the others, felt a tug inside me that it was for him. I stretched out my arm to hand it to him and his face lit up. The kitchen erupted as everyone cheered.
"I was actually thinking about getting myself a Bible after this conversation," Angelino began as a huge smile crept across his face. "For an hour, everyone has been talking words, words, words, but you just showed me a gesture. That tells me God MUST be real and that you MUST have a personal relationship with Him because otherwise you wouldn't have done this."
He continued, still dumbfounded, "Please, tell me one thing. Do you talk to God and hear from Him?"
I replied, "Yes, and you can too."
The next day at church, Pietro came up to me and said that Angelino is still ecstatic about his new Bible and can't believe that God had arranged a way for him to receive it.
Please pray for Angelino's heart and that Jesus encounters him powerfully as he interacts with this new gift.
Let me leave you with one verse that this scenario points me to: "Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth." - 1 John 3:18