Gabi and his family strolled along a path in a park near their home in central Greece. The chilly autumn breeze rustled the dying leaves and sent some flying. As the path neared the street, the family saw two young boys begging. The boys walked awkwardly from car to car. Gabi heard their plea for coins and realized that they were Romanian, as Gabi’s family was.
“Why are they begging?” Gabi’s son, Samuel, asked, pulling his father’s sleeve. Gabi didn’t have an answer. He had no money to give the boys, so he guided his family toward home. But questions swirled in his mind. Why are these boys begging on the street in Greece? Where are their parents? But he had no answers.
Gabi and his family had left their homeland of Romania and come to Greece in search of work. But hard times had hit Greece as well, and they found no regular work. The family stretched the little money they made to pay their rent and buy meager food. But the memory of the Romanian boys begging on the street haunted Gabi. The next day Gabi searched for the boys, but they weren’t at the traffic light.
Gabi met Peter, a man who knew the boys. “They’re brothers,” Peter said. “They’ve been hired to herd sheep for someone.” Gabi sensed that the boys were in danger, but Peter didn’t know any more. Gabi felt heavy hearted. He prayed for the boys’ safety and searched for them. But he couldn’t find them.
Seven months later Gabi answered a knock on his door to find Peter with one of the brothers. “This is Costel,” Peter said. Fear filled the boy’s eyes.
“Come in, Costel,” Gabi said. You’re safe here.” Sensing that the boy didn’t believe him, Gabi continued, “This is your home now. You are part of our family, just as my children are.”
Costel hesitated and then stepped into the room. Gabi showed him where he could put his few things. “You can share this room with my son,” Gabi said. The boy looked around before placing his small bag and a few coins on the dresser. The next morning when Costel awoke, he counted his coins. They were all there. Perhaps this place is safe after all, he thought.
The boy stayed a few days, and then he told Gabi that he was leaving. Gabi begged him not to go. But Costel shouldered his small bag and walked to the door. “Please,” Gabi said. “Come back anytime. I’ll be here for you.” Then the boy was gone, leaving emptiness in the home and a weight of sadness on Gabi’s heart.
A month later Costel returned looking thinner and more terrified. Gabi welcomed the boy back and learned that the new “friend” had taken the boy’s money and left him to fend for himself. “You have a place here as long as you wish,” Gabi reminded the boy.
Gabi asked Costel about his brother. “Cristi’s sick,” Costel said tearfully. “He’s forced to work.” Gabi promised to find Cristi and bring him home. But Gabi couldn’t find Cristi. The family prayed that God would protect Costel’s brother. Months passed without word of the boy. Then Cristi appeared at Gabi’s door.
Costel welcomed his brother and showed him where he’d sleep and where to put his things. “You’re home now,” Costel told his brother, echoing Gabi’s words to him. “You don’t need to be afraid.”
Cristi listened during family worship and showed interest in reading the Bible, so Gabi began sharing Bible truths with him. Costel, on the other hand, resisted God; He couldn’t accept that Jesus had died for him. But in time Costel began listening to the discussions Gabi and Cristi shared about God.
Gabi answered the boys’ questions and prayed for them. In time Costel opened up to God as Cristi had. Gabi invited the local Adventist pastor to come and study with the boys. During one study they came to the verse “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 3:15, NIV). Cristi offered his heart to God, and soon Costel did too.
Gabi and his wife celebrated the boys’ baptism by rededicating their own lives to Christ. The brothers spend hours reading the Bible and learning to worship God. Gabi and his family still struggle financially, but they thank God for sending these boys into their lives to teach the entire family what it means to share God’s love with others.
Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help provide an evangelistic center where people will learn to share God’s love with others in Greece. Thank you for helping make this dream a reality.