For four years it was Anita’s custom to frequent the pub on Tuesday evenings. She usually saw the same regulars there; friends she’d made over a common
interest: the English language. Boston Pub, an American ale house in Spain, was where Anita would go to speak with locals who wanted to refine
their newly-learned language. Because she sat at the advanced table, new-comers were rare. One evening, though, a young man named Daniel joined their
table at the Boston Pub. She welcomed him mentioning she was taking a survey; “Do you believe in God?”
Though Anita wasn't taking a publishable survey, studies have confirmed her own understanding: about 75% of young people in Spain answer “no” to this question. Most would declare themselves “Catholics” but state they don’t believe in God.
Daniel did. That is to say, he believed in many gods. Daniel claimed he was a pagan who worshipped the ancient Greek gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus. He had statues of Apollo, Athena, Artemis, and others in his home where he would pray to them for wisdom and truth. For about a year, Daniel had been on a journey to find what was true. When his childhood of cultural Catholicism left him with nothing but disenchantment and when years as an atheist left him empty, in desperation and confusion, he turned to stories he knew. During the Roman occupation of Spain around 200 BC to 400 AD, it was common for people in Spain to worship these gods. And with their physical history littered all over Europe in the form of monuments and statues, it was easy to see them as strong, lasting, secure figures.
In his ambling search for truth, Daniel had many spiritual questions, but found no certainty in the pagan gods. He was perplexed by the spiritual world, so when she asked, Daniel told Anita that he would be interested in studying the Bible with her. He committed to reading the Bible for a month and during this time, Anita would begin each Discovery Bible Study by praying that Jesus lead the study and guide Daniel into Truth. God began working in Daniel as he studied and went to church, even as he continued to go into nature and worship pagan gods.
On an evening they were studying together, Daniel asked a question that has grasped the hearts of humans for centuries, “How do I get to heaven?” Recognizing the call his heart was making, Anita remembered Nicodemus’ confused plea for rescue to Jesus in the book of John, “How can a man be born when he is old?” and shared about salvation through Jesus. She asked Daniel if he’d consider worshiping only “Jehovah God” and forsaking all the rest. His answer, “What do I have to lose?” Daniel cried to the God of the Christians, “I don’t know You, but I am willing to listen to You, to receive You,” making the decision to follow Jesus the rest of his life. When he prayed, God took the confusion away. The weight of insecurity and the unknown was lifted from his shoulders.
Anita took care to explain repentance, that it is not only saying yes to Jesus, but saying no to the things of the past. They prayed, renouncing each god Daniel had followed by name. Driving home, tremendous peace that he had been searching for, but never came while worshiping the other gods, washed over him and when he returned home, Daniel destroyed the idols, obliterating even the depictions of them.
That night Daniel dreamed he had a tattoo of a cross in red and blue, and he knew this change in his life was meant to be permanent. When he welcomed the “Only God,” he had finally found peace in his heart and security that he was safe.
“Growing little by little,” is what Daniel said when asked what his life as a Christ follower is like. Anita tells people he is sensitive to the Spirit, studying and going to church with eagerness, and has decided to be baptized. “We love him like a son,” she says of herself and her husband, Chris. She understood Daniel was searching when he showed up at the English table in the Boston Pub. “I thought she would reject me for being pagan. If she had, I don’t know what would have happened.” Meeting Anita that night was one of the best things that’s happened in Daniel’s life. It was the night Jesus showed up as human to walk alongside him.
“The one thing I know is I am protected. My King is taking care of me. Things will happen to me, of course, but I have Someone who is protecting me.”
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