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Subject: My story...

When I was born (August the 5th 1959) , my parents already didn't live healthy marriage. I had 5
years older sister. My father was often drunk (you know there are always different stories why it
happens), so something happened and from some reason, I was anemic, so when I was 3
months old, I got my very first transfusion of blood. Later I guess they supposed that it will be
over came, but it didn't happen, and in age of 8 my health was so seriously damaged, that they
sent me to the best children's clinic in capital - Belgrade. After 2 years of examinations and trying
many of thing, the doctors decided to surge my spleen (take it out, I don't know better way to
explain), and they did it. At that time, they told my mother that my maximally age will be maybe
15, or less. Sure, then I didn't know anything about what they said. Number of my erythrocytes
was (and is now also) around 2,5-2,9 (mill.) instead of 4,2 - 5 what is normal. The very important
thing is that in that time I lived right across the road from the Catholic church we went to. And I
went to it, almost every day while I was in elementary school. Many of my character attributes
were formed on the Gospel, but I guess you know the way - little bit of this, and little bit of that,
just peace's of picture. Later on, when I started high school, I went from God. I started to "do it
my way". In the meantime, I regularly attended that hospital in Belgrade, and got 4 times in year
transfusions of blood. When I was 17 I refused to go to Belgrade. My mother got crazy, she told
me: "What shall I do if you faint away?" - nothing, I said, either I'll live like normal people, either
to perish, but it was enough of medical experiments on me. I felt like it is maybe better to die if I
have to live life like that - going to the hospital all the time.

I'll go back for a while. When I was 18 months old, my folks got divorced, when I was 12 my
father died. I remember my father, he was very smart, but he let Satan to drew him in alcohol. My
mother had a very hard time to raise us up, she was working like cleaning worker in the hospital,
she had very small salary, and father didn't support us, as he spent all his money on drink.(mostly
he didn't work at all). She was bitter about him, and if we weren't behaving good, it was like
punishment: "you're gonna go to your father". I remember quite well a few episodes with him, but
it was always some kind of war between them, through us, kids. My mother was working a lot,
she always had some extra part time job too, to earn money for us. She was that type of person,
who can't live alone, so she had some relationships... When I was around 14 years, she started
to live with a man, in his place, with his son. Most of the time of my high school, I was by myself
in our apartment. She supported me a little bit, and some social institution arranged that I can
have lunch in some day care for kids. I'm grateful to my mother for what she did for me while I
was kid, I can remember, that she sold some things she bought on credit, to be able to visit me in
the hospital in Belgrade, and she was really sacrificing and dedicated for me in that time, but
later, maybe in the most important time, I didn't have her love. I'm not bitter on her now, earlier
deep down in my soul I was, but latter, I started to understand her...

Why I'm writing this to you? Trying to explain, that I was desperately looking for love, care,
gentleness... and that will have affect on things which happened later...

If God's will for me was to die in that time, I should really perish for sure. I was totally far away
from God, I didn't know yet that Jesus died for MY sin, I taught it was for ALL WORLD'S sinn, but
not mine, because I'm Miss Perfect!!! And Holly Spirit - I didn't know where to put Him, I made a
cross (like Catholics do), "in the name of... Him", but I didn't know what was His role in my life. In
that time, I had a boyfriend, with 16 I started to smoke, when I left my boyfriend, dating with
others... what kind of the life I lived?!!! The only thing I considered important was to finish school,
get job, and be independent, first of all financially. I am really grateful to God, that even then
when I didn't know Him, He led me in that, very important thing...
When I was 18 years old, I married to a fellow, whom I knew for a short time. We lived together
for 13 years, and in a while, I found that he wasn't right person for me. I can see now, that I didn't
even try to do something about it, to keep that marriage. In that time, I didn't know God's plan for
man and woman, I didn't know anything about the wonderful God's idea for marriage, and I left
him. That happened in 1990. Well, until this point, the story is usually - so many people leave
each other, and unfortunately, people consider (I did it myself too) it like normal thing. But what is
unusual - we haven't divorced till 2004. We were in marriage 13 years, no kids, and
then separated for 13 years. In the meantime, he lived with a lady who gave a birth to their
daughter, and they still live together, unmerridly. While I was in the world, it didn't bother me, and
later, when I got saved, I didn't know what to do about it. Sometimes I thought that we suppose to
do the divorce, sometimes that I am not that person who would start that, and in all that time until
now, my housebound didn't do anything to divorce me. Actually, he didn't want to marry that lady,
and undevorced status was pretty good reason for that. A few times we talked about it, and
agreed that it should be done, but we didn't do it at all. God knows why is that good, somehow, I
sow it myself... We are in normal relationship, when we meet - we talk to each other, I told my
testimony to him, but he was been involved in many of dark things, eastern philosophy, Sai Baba,
Zen-Buddhism, even Crowley. So, he don't want or maybe better expression - he can not open
his heart for Jesus.

God's grace, mercy and love made possible to freely talk about it now. Believe me, B.C. (before
Christ), it wouldn't be possible to talk about that like this ...

After leaving my housebound (in 1990), I thought that I will find that kind of love I needed. Sure, I
didn't know how to define that, but I desperately needed it. At that time, I didn't know who owns
that kind of love, I thought some person would provide it for me. But as years passed, I found that
every relationship would be pleasant and nice in it's beginning, but later on, it would be
transformed in something what led to bitterness and disappointment. Sometimes I failed other,
sometimes others would fail me, anyhow, I didn't find happiness I expected when I left my
housebound. (I don't know is it necessary to say "my", I mean it sounds me better on English that
way, even though on my native language, it is enough to say just "housebound" or "wife".

In next few years, I heard about person that my mother knows - Maria - that she "got crazy". I
wondered how, and I was told that she quitted smoking and cursing, she was reading the Bible….
After a while, I met her, and except the fact that she really didn't smoke and curse, I didn't noticed
anything crazy on her. For a while, I forgot the whole thing. Interesting thing is, that my mother
was in that time so attracted to her, she bought a house in a part of town, where later my mother
wanted to buy one. And (accidentally? - definitely - NO) my mother found one, close to Maria's
house. Then I started to visit her more than earlier, it was in 1995... We talked about everyday
things, but she didn't mention anything of religious things. 0Like I said earlier, I was from Catholic
background, religious, sure that God would be so happy to have me in Heaven if I die, because I
was full of self-righteous. If in any conversation would be mentioned Jesus' name, I'd think: "well,
I know everything about that, what's the point, what's new".
But, the point was: I SAW IN HER LIFE SOMETHING I MISSED!!! I couldn't tell in that time
what's that, but I sow her love, peace, all the things I can now name like fruit of the Spirit. On the
other side, I had in my life acts of my sinful nature, but still I had "explanations" for that, always
somebody was guilty, not me! A few times, she told me directly something about my sin, I was
embarrassed, and first I started to have hard feelings, but later, I had to admit that she was right.
Somewhere in winter 1995, after a death of my mother's spouse, I was who started some
discussion about sin, faith, Heaven... I asked some stupid question, but that opened the door for
the Gospel. On that night, for the very first time, I heard the Gospel. The real Good News, not
religious one. As she started to talk about Jesus, it was so powerful, although in the beginning I
thought that "I know everything". I believe because I asked the conversation, God prepared my
heart for that day. (Later, I found out that Maria was praying for us already, long time ago). In that
time, I had a relationship, and three of us were there: my mother, that man and me. Maria offered
to us to pray for us, and we didn't reject. While she was praying, (it was for the first time that I
heard real prayer, not that learned ones), she prayed for our needs in that time, and she
mentioned also my sinful life. I was so tuched, I couldn't help it, I just cried while she was praying,
and in one moment, I felt something strange. It was like hot boll was hit in to my stomach, or
maybe higher. I felt some warmness all over my body, I felt shamed for my sin, I wanted to be
cleaned... I think, actually I'm sure, that was the touching of the Holly Spirit. I don't want to make
from this some mystic story, but, just to describe what was going on. I can say now, that after
that day I wasn't anymore the same person... Although, it took a few years more until I got saved,
I think this is the very moment when I was touched with the power of Holly Spirit.. When I look
back at that time, I just see the miraculous God's plan for my salvation. Problem was, that I was
too smart, hardly admitted that I'm sinner, and still believed that "I know all about Jesus". In my
point of view, I lived just like anybody else, so what's wrong with that? Oh, I was even better than
many of people I knew!!! Besides, if I was thinking about Maria's life in Jesus - then I knew
exactly what was that light in her, I was sure that I couldn't quit smoking, dating, fun, going out,
everything what I liked to do so much. I was sure that it was hard for her, in spite of that she told
me that it was so easy, not to her, but to God. And it was clear to me that my life and Christian life
can not exist together in one person... So, many of truths, but also misunderstandings, but I can
see how God is the one who finishes those things He start...

I want to continu with Mark 2:17, that made sense for my life in that time... I was really sick and
needed a "doctor"...

The relationship I mentioned, wasn't proper for me, but for some reasons, I couldn't quit. I
remember now, once (I think it was even before that prayer), when I had some problems with that
man, I tried to call someone, and - what a surprise - Maria was on the other side, I recognized
her voice.
The fact is, that number I dialed was TOTALLY DIFFERENT than Maria's number!!! It was a
miracle, but when I recognized her voice, it was an opportunity to pour out my pain, bitterness,
hurtness. She didn't say much, only something like "man can't do anything about it, only God". I
felt that talking to her helped me.
After that touching of the Holly Spirit, I noticed, that there were some changes in my life, I started
to be more aware about my sin, but still, I couldn't resist it. I didn't want yet to change anything. I
got my first New Testament, but I didn't read it immediately.

Later on, after a month and half, one night he made me night mare... Now I know, that God was
who protected me, but also let happened that, to draw me closer. After I get rid of that man the
same night, I was afraid, scared, shaking, and asking God "how could he do this to me, o God, I
didn't deserve that..." I didn't know what to do in 3 AM, and I remembered that I have New
Testament... I started to read it from Mathew... When I reached chapter 7, started to think about
verses 1-5 completely different way then ever before.
I started to admit to God, that my life is full of sin! So, why am I surprised with things done by
some other? Am I judging, and I deserve judgement also? It was little bit painful, but I had to say
that neither me was perfect... I red New Testament for a while, and I noticed, that I'm not cursing
any more at all! It was miracle, it amazed me!!! God continued His work in my heart... even
when I quitted that relationship, I didn't want to have any other right away, but you know, when
God works, enemy is working even harder - in 3 shifts. Few months later, when I was
encouraged, and thought that I don't need any more of New Testament, "circumstance" was (I
think more than that, it was disobedience to God's word, I started to read, and then quit) that I
had to met him again, he sweared that it won't happen again, and we continued relationship for
another few months... In the meantime, it was totally awful for me, but as my mother owed him
money, I didn't want to quit before we could pay him debt. Then again, God and His mighty
hand!!! He took me out of so many troubles, I can't live long enough
to be grateful for that.

One day, a neighbor stooped me on the market, "hey, where can I find you, there is a man who
wants to buy your cottage" ... So, I sold the cottage, (I was hardly trying to do that earlier, without
success) paid him out, and got rid of him. Finally, but still, I had some fear, because he was
involved in some dark things like witch-crafts, and he "promised" me that I'll be on my knees and
beg him to come back. I was really afraid of that... (In that time, sure, I didn't know 1 John
4:18, like I do now... )

... afraid, but yet not enough to finally surrender my life to Jesus! I sow my "last" mistake, when I
was alone for too long time (few months), so I hardly tried to get in some other relationship. As I
didn't have better idea, even though I red the New Testament sometimes, I wrote advertisement
in some newspaper, without name but some kind of cod, and I waited for letters of those who
need friend, or something more... When I look back, I see that I was so lucky; although you get
letter, and the person who sent it, doesn't know to whom is the letter, it happens sometimes that
kind of letters are horrible... I took a risk, and I found a man (or he found me?), I thought for
ever... Again, for some time, it was O.K., but later on, things started to go wrong... this time, I
wanted to keep this relationship, and I can say that in that time, I started to love that man on the
way of 1 Corinthians 13! I could forgave him things I couldn't before, I got more patient, more
tolerant! And I started to think about things I read in Bible! We were about brake, but still we
stayed together for a while, in my mothers house.

Then I got greeting card for Christmas, from USA where Maria, (my already netioned friend) went
2 months ago. She suppose to come back after new year. That card made such an effect on me,
she wrote something like this: she wishes to us among other things, peace, which is brought by
Jesus' birth and coming on the Earth. In the meantime, before she left to USA, we hadn't been
too often together, so this card was really lighting some fire in me. When she came home, I
hardly waited to talk to her, and she told me that God put on her heart to start some home
fellowship. She knows many of people, everyone likes to be with her, and she don't have
enough time for everyone. Let's go together than, in her house once a week, and we'll study Bible
and have a fellowship... It sounded O.K. for me, so I went for the first time. It was February 8th
1998. We started to study John's Gospel. It was completely new for me, that someone can
explain Gospel so simply, describing God's truth, love and mercy. I liked it, and I decided to go
next week. That man whom I lived with, was also there, but he was too big Catholic to listen some
lady who preaches Gospel! It wasn't priest, so he wasn't interested too much.

As I knew that Maria doesn't smoke anymore, I brought my cigarettes with me for the first time,
but I didn't want to be the only person who smokes... so when I was going back to home, I took
my cigarette. Next time, I had cigarettes with me, but I didn't take neither one, and third time, I
didn't bring them with me at all! I just felt they don't fit there! Once when I was talking to Maria, I
wondered how is that cigarettes are sin? She told me something I won't forget as long as I live:
If God had plan for man to smoke, He would make us a chimney somewhere - on a head,
shoulder, wherever, because nose and mouth are for some other purpose!? I had to agree with
her, but I couldn't imagine life without my beloved sins.

Here is the illustration: When from 1991 to 1993 we had inflation of hundreds percent in a week,
my pay check wasn't enough for cigarettes. I went to Hungary, selling different things to make
money for life, mostly to pay rent for apartment, and for cigarettes and going out. In that time I
tried to quit smoking, and as I couldn't, I used to cut 1 cigarette on 3 peace, to have "more"
peace. It possessed me, I wasn't master of my will. For some other things, maybe, but for
smoking - NO WAY!!!

As fellowship continued, we reached chapter 4 - Samaritan woman! O, Lord, I recognized myself


in that woman! I was thirsty, and thirsty again, and Jesus knew her life, and He knows mine too!!!
For the first time, I started to think - hey man, I'm not so perfect, like I used to think, or like some
other people think of me! While I was going on that fellowship, I began to read the Bible, I wanted
to have complete Bible, to read the Old Testament too, because I didn't ever before. I new the
Bible stories from childhood, but I never read it. I was so hungry and thirsty of God's word, I read
it whenever I found time. Every week, I felt more guilty, and in need to be saved, but I thought I
can not resist to sin, and quit with it. And it was truth!!! I really couldn't. But still, I didn't know, that
Someone could...
... until we reached chapter 8, where Jesus said in verse 32 that we will
KNOW THE TRUTH AND THE TRUTH WILL SET US FREE! , and in verse 34, that EVERY
ONE WHO SINS IS A SLAVE TO SIN, and finally in verse 36, that IF THE SON
SETS US FREE, WE WILL BE FREE INDEED!!!

In that 2 months God was working in me trough His word, trough Maria, even trough my family
(sure, they didn't recognized the things, neither did I). I was sure that Jesus died for my sin, and
in that sense, maybe I already got saved, but I felt that without repentance and surrender my will
and life to God, it isn't enough, it is not to be born again. It was clear for me, that MY life and life
in JESUS can not go along. But still, I didn't see way out of my life style. I had to see, that GOD
CAN DO something in MY LIFE, not only in life of other people.

So, after a while it supposed to be Easter... I tried to be like Peter who wanted to walk on the
water. I asked God to do some miracle, to show me that He can do miraculous things even in my
life! I KNEW that He can, but I HAD TO SEE IT! I tough it will help me to make a decision. So, in
a prayer ( in that time, I practiced to pray with my own words), I asked God to show me His
glory, and to MAKE ME NON SMOKER on Holly Friday (I think it is the name for Friday before
Easter) ...
I believe that the Lord hardly waited for that my prayer! Till that time, I had been thinking about
smoking as a big problem in a matter of repentance and starting a newborn life. I was ready for
that, but not sure about how is going to be with my sinful habits, which I new, couldn't exist
together.
So I went on Friday on my job... I didn't bring my cigarettes with me, I drank coffee, people
smoked in my office, wanted to give me one, but simply: I DIDN'T NEED THEM AT ALL! I didn't
feel any need, wish or longing for a smoke like I did before! It was completely new experience,
and such a FREEDOM! I understood the verse John 8:36! I could be a witness that it is truth.
When I came home from job, I just didn't need the cigarette! Now, I wanted to continue MYSELF
with that, but tomorrow morning, when I got some unpleasant conversation with my nephew and
his wife, when I run out of my nerves, I got a cigarette, and smoked one, and another... but I felt
badly, like I betrayed God! I thought that I CAN resist, and became a nonsmoker, but it didn't
work like I thought. On Sunday - it was Easter, I thought about the Friday and God's miracle. It
was quite clear to me, that what happened was a God's miracle, that it is beyond my
understanding, I felt that I need to surround, give my whole life to Jesus, to obey him, and my
thinking was that I need to decide about my life. I didn't talk to anybody on that issue, I just turned
that thoughts in my mind... I felt myself so close, but something was lacking. This Easter was
somehow different than any other before. In fact, not the Easter, but ME! I started to measure
how much I love my sinful life, and how much I love God, and what Jesus did for me... And John
14:6 – “I AM THE WAY, AND THE THRUTH AND THE LIFE. NO ONE COMES TO THE
FATHER, EXCEPT TFROUGH ME.” O, that verse convicted me that I desperately need Jesus
to be saved. My "goodness" is not enough, my "righteousness" is not good enough, I'll burn in
hell... I hated my sin, and wanted to end with it - throw it away. Many of questions circled through
my mind, you know who was taking away my encouragement, tried to offend me that I can't quit
with my old life - and I knew, that if I give my life to Jesus, I suppose to start new one! And I
needed and wanted it so badly! On Monday, I was on that home fellowship in Maria's place. I
don't remember which chapter was, in my mind, it was a horrible battle.. do it or not? I
new that it should be the final decision, I new the verses about those who give up, that they
became even in harder condition after they left Jesus. And I definitely didn't want that to happen
to me! When I came home (I lived in mother's house, with her and that fellow), they watched TV I
couldn't, I went to my room... There was a moment like in Shakespeare "to be - or not to be"...
And than - it happened "I have decided to follow Jesus... " – that is also a verse from a nice
christian song... In one moment I decided, and in the other one, I was on my knees, praying,
giving and surrending my life to Jesus, asking Him to forgive every my sin I could remember in
that moment, asking Him to clean my life from everything what should be cleaned, and make a
new life in me, which will be for His praise and glory. I asked Him to keep me in His hands, on His
ways and in His will... I cried, it was the hole river of tears, and I felt like that tears
cleaned me... When I finished the prayer I can't explain that feeling, it was like every my burden
had been taken away from my heart, body and mind, I thought I could fly. For the very first time in
my life, I felt that I have a FATHER!!! And not kind of mortal, but immortal, almighty, loving,
caring Father, who will NEVER let me down... I can't explain my feelings other way, than like I
felt really Jesus in my heart.

Well, that was real joy, for the first time, my heart was full with joy and love - fruits of the Holy
Spirit, which was completely new, amazing feeling for me... That happened on April 13th 1998
(13th is not unlucky at all!!!). I fell in sleep with warmness around my heart, thoughts about my
newborn life, I think I really felt like a baby!
Tomorrow morning I woke up again with thoughts about God's love, grace and mercy in my mind.
For days, no months, I was just like in dream - I could kiss every tree, bird, animal, forgive
everything to anyone, and I began to have a burden for the people I had hurt, to ask them to
forgive me, or to reestablish failed connections with some people. I experienced really the first
love I think Jesus is talking about in Revelation.

At first, I didn't tell anyone, because I wanted to be sure about it, I didn't know is that how it
suppose to be. So, after a few days, I went to Maria, and "by the way" told her what I did... She
prayed for me, for my walk with Jesus... than I found out that she prayed for all of us for years,
and that she after starting that home fellowship gave up from me like "she won't accept Jesus
never..." . At the very beginning of my Christian life, I sow that nothing is impossible to Lord. She
called me her "spiritual daughter" (since than I call her "mom"), encouraged me to read the Bible,
to go to find a good fellowship (I refused, I was still confused, and consider any other than
Chatholic church like Cult, but I told her, that if I will feel that I want to, I won't hesitate to ask her
for that). God was so merciful to me, He gave me pretty spiritual mother, she loves Jesus, she
depends on Him every day of her life, she reads the Bible pretty much and she lives LIKE she
believes.
Like I sow Jesus, the Light and the Salt in her life, later some other people did, so she already
has lots of kids like me... She took care about me, corrected me when needed, but always in
love, and praise to the Lord, I could accept that from her.

I believe it is unnecessary to mention that then I quitted smoking, for some time that fellow was
with me. He noticed that I don't smoke anymore, but when he (after 2 weeks) asked my mother
did she noticed - she answered only "I see, and I hardly can believe". That was all from her for
a while. She was shocked I believe, but considering my faith like cult. I prayed for him, but Lord's
will was to get us apart. Lord had been so glorified in that, He comforted me the way it never
happened before. I sow that our Lord is above any comforter I knew till then! Home fellowship in
Maria's place continued, I could sow how I grow in Lord, and after a little bit less that 2 months,
just a home fellowship wasn't enough for me. I wanted to go to the Church. Already, I knew that
there is nothing for me in Catholic Church, so exactly on Pentecost (5o days after the Easter)
she came ("accidentally" - NO), and my mother wasn't at home. We talked for a long time, we
prayed and that I got in my heart wish to go to Church. I went that day, and since that, I attend
the same Church. My mother got crazy when found out that I went to the Church... she was like
possessed, she was shaking, and that was one of proofs that I'm on right
way.

As I grew, I couldn't be quiet, I needed more and more to tell people what's going on with me, at
the beginning, I could evangelize even the trees, I was doing some mistakes, thinking that
everyone should feel the same like me, but, as time went by, I realized that if it is not led by Holy
Spirit, it can make even damage...

In this 7 years, even in one moment I didn't feel sorry for my new life, Still, I know the verse 1
Corinthians 10:12, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be carefull that you don’t fall.”.

I am aware of possibility, and I just can pray that Lord would protect me...
Hope you didn't get from this story that I don't sin anymore, contrary, as time goes by, I can see
better my evil heart, because the Bible says that human heart is evil... My "old Zlata" wakes
sometimes up, and then I wish to crucify her again, and again... But I know that in spite of that,
Lord loves me like nobody else, I know that I'm His precious child, and I just pray to live like He
wants me to...

Like every God's child, I experienced many of Lord's blessings, and one of them is this possibility
to share this with you...

* * *The end* * *

My prayer is: May God use this (hi)story on His mighty way, in whosoever life, only to glorify Him,
because everything good in this, is not me, but Him!

Well, I can't tell you now why this had to be written, but like many of things, one day, we will find
out... So, please, do not hesitate to share this story with someone, or if you need to use it, if you
have Lord's peace about it...

May God lead you and keep you in His peace, giving you right understanding of His ways and His
will for your life

Your friend in His beloved Name,

Zlata