Virginia Prodan will never forget the day she saw the powerful word of God at work in the man who was supposed to kill her but ended up surrendering his life to Christ.
Prodan grew up in Romania during the time of communist dictator Nicolai Ceausescu. During those years, authorities considered Christians as enemies of the state, and many believers were imprisoned and beaten for their faith.
Prodan, however, was not a religious person. A lawyer by profession, the most involvement Prodan had with religion was the practice of going to church during Easter and Christmas. Yet, in her heart, she longed for more and secretly hungered for the truth.
One day, she talked to a client who unmistakably had genuine, unfathomable joy, something that was not too commonly seen in those days of uncertainty and oppression.
Intrigued by the man's disposition, Prodan thought there was "something wrong" with her client. However, he also appeared to possess what she had long been longing for.
"He had everything I was looking for," Prodan told CBN News. "There was something wrong with him. In this land of hopelessness he was just too full of hope."
Religious persecution was intense in communist Romania. Although authorities tolerated the churches' activities, church leaders were routinely harassed and tortured. Some were arrested and imprisoned without cause. Authorities also tore down church buildings constructed without permission.
That's why Prodan's client made her curious about why he seemed content and happy.
"He always smiled, and he had a sense of contentment unlike anything I had ever seen," Prodan wrote in an article for Christianity Today. "It was as though he were somehow oblivious to all of the misery that surrounded him. He radiated joy and peace, and for some reason, it troubled me."
She couldn't help but tell him she wished she had what he had - a "sense of peace and happiness."
The man invited her to attend church that weekened. In light of the Ceausescu government being "anti-Christian," Prodan was reluctant to go, but she decided to take a risk.
At church, the verses she heard during the preaching seemed as if they were written just for her and spoke directly at her. There was no denying what she felt and found that day.
"I had spent years searching for the truth, but I had been looking in the wrong places-law school, the government, the justice system," Prodan said. "I suddenly realized that truth was something that came not from law books, but from God himself: the Creator of the universe-my Creator, the source of all life, peace, and happiness."
As she embraced her newfound faith, she used her profession to defend Christians who were in danger of being imprisoned for their involvement in ministry. From that time on, she began to experience harassment in different forms. She was placed under house arrest, kidnapped and beaten, threatened and bullied.
One day, a "big man" came to her office seemingly to discuss a case. However, as he stood in front of her table, he reached inside his coat for a gun. He told her because she refused to heed the "warnings" from the authorities, he was sent to her to finish the job.
"I'm here to kill you," the man said.
Fear creeping into her senses, Prodan prayed a quick prayer and felt God calm her senses. Then God told her what she didn't expect: "Share the gospel."
So she obeyed. She calmly asked her assassin if he had ever asked himself why he existed and what the meaning of life was. The questions caught the man off-guard. He put the gun back in its holster.
Prodan continued to talk to him, telling him gently that God loved him and challenged him to choose which one he would obey-God or Ceausescu. She could see that he "started to melt." She then proceeded to tell him the gospel message.
"The truth is that we have all been corrupted and gone away from God," she said. "We all are sinners, and our sin has determined our future. Hebrews 9:27 says, 'People are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.' "
She could see agreement in his eyes. By this time, he was listening intently and his posture was relaxed.
"But the good news is that God has prepared a way out for every one of us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross: 'For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.'"
His response surprised her.
"You are right. The people who sent me here are crazy. I do need Christ," he said. "I will come to your church as a secret brother in Christ. I will worship your powerful God."
Eventually, Prodan's would be assassin went on to enrol in the seminary and served God with his life.
"I should be dead. Buried in an unmarked grave in Romania. Obviously, I am not. God had other plans," she said.