Tuesday, March 16, 2010

An Isolated Sheep Is Found

This story is amazing when you consider that after WWII, Communist authorities abolished all religion and declared Albania as the world's first Atheist country. How this sister managed to maintain her integrity all that time by herself is incredible and shows God's ability to sustain his people in times of harsh oppression.

(experience of Areti Pina, on pgs 175, 178, & 179 of the 2010 Yearbook)

"Are there any Witnesses in Vlorë?" the brothers asked when discussing the advancement of the preaching work in Albania. Some knew only of an old woman who was reportedly senile. Then a woman came to the office saying that she and her family were ungjillorë [evangelizers] and that someone named Areti had taught them the truth in Vlorë. So brothers from Tiranë made a trip to Vlorë to find Areti.
Areti Pina, a short elderly lady, invited the visitors into her home, but she seemed somewhat reserved. When they explained that they were her spiritual brothers, it produced absolutely no reaction.
"Can I ask you some questions?" Areti suddenly said after a few minutes. Then she started firing questions at them: "Do you believe in the Trinity? What is God's name? Do you believe in hellfire? What happens when we die? What about the earth? How many will go to heaven?"
The brothers answered each of the questions.
"Do you preach?" Areti then asked.
"Yes," said one brother, "we preach."
"But," she responded, "how do you preach?"
"We preach from house to house," replied the brother.
Areti burst into tears, leaped to her feet, and embraced the brother.
"Now I know that you are my brothers!" she exclaimed. "Only Jehovah's people preach from house to house!"

Protestant groups in Vlorë had heard that Areti was a religious person and had asked her to join them. "But I did not want anything to do with Babylon the Great!" she explained to the brothers. "So I needed to make sure that you were my real spiritual family!"
Areti was baptized back in 1928 at the age of 18. She traveled up and down mountains on foot, preaching with Bible in hand. Although Areti had lost contact with the brothers for years, she kept preaching faithfully on her own.
"Jehovah is wonderful," said Areti through her tears. "He never forgot me!"
People thought Areti was crazy for keeping faith in God under Albania's ironclad totalitarian rule. Yet, Areti was anything but senile. Her mind was as clear as ever!

What makes this story so amazing (just like all the other experiences of brothers and sisters who've been isolated or imprisoned, and have had no contact with other members of the congregation for years) is how Jehovah spiritually sustains them,...because they are still 'on the same page' as the rest of their brothers and sisters around the world when it comes to the most important matters about the Bible.
And that fact, in-and-of-itself, just completely destroys the argument that ex-JW/apostates like to make about Jehovah's Witnesses being a 'cult' that controls their members. Because these types of experiences show how ridiculous and impossible such a claim is. These are people who initially had only limited contact with JW's, and were left entirely on their own when the countries they lived in came under the control of harsh and restrictive political regimes. These isolated Witnesses had only their Bibles and a small amount of out-of-date Watchtower Bible literature, (and in many instances, not even that much), yet they still didn't deviate in their beliefs or compromise their faith ... because what they had originally learned was the truth about the Bible, and Jehovah kept them sustained during all those long years they were by themselves.

They obviously weren't under any kind of mind control or coersion by other JW's (because they were isolated from other JW's), but rather, they were under constant pressure to conform to atheism or orthodox religious beliefs of the state (depending on which type of government was in power at the time), yet they still maintained their integrity to Jehovah and to the truth all that time.

And if you know anything about Stockholm syndrome (where people are brainwashed to believe the ideology of their kidnappers or cult members, by forming an emotional bond to them) you'll learn that it eventually wears off after they've been taken away from their captors and reintegrated into society. Which did not happen in the case of this elderly sister, or in any of the other cases where brothers and sisters endured similar experiences and isolation. In fact, just the opposite occured. So there goes another apostate *theory* up in smoke. =)