Dear AWR Friend,
It was the last week of summer, and I was 16 years old, driving my 1956 black Ford Fairlane faster than I should have on the curvy Hogback Road, headed to my job as a paint contractor in Oklahoma City.
I knew my mom prayed for me every day, but as a young man, I didn’t fully realize the power of her prayers. That morning would change everything.
As I drove, suddenly, and without apparent reason, the horn on my car honked, and then my Ford stopped, the motor dead.
I got out of the car and raised the hood, but could find nothing amiss that would indicate why the horn had sounded or why the car had died. There I was, stranded on a country road, unable to get to work.
Not one to be discouraged, I grabbed my lunch pail and stood near my car, waiting for someone to come by. Almost immediately, a car heading in my direction stopped and the driver offered me a lift into town.
We had driven less than half a mile—only minutes later—when we came upon an accident that had just happened. A large oilfield semi-truck loaded with steel pipes—one of the most dangerous vehicles on the highway—had run a stop sign and plowed into the side of a car coming from the other direction. The lady driving the car had been killed instantly.
I was shaken by the accident. The timing was such that had my car not stopped when it did, it would have been right in the path of this truck. I knew in that instant that I was alive because of my mother’s prayers. My guardian angel had honked that horn and stopped my car!
I never forgot that experience, and I felt my mother’s prayers many times in my life. But mothers aren’t the only ones who pray. Fathers pray as well. Let me share a very special story that you know in part, but this week we received a moving update.
PASTOR BORJAN AND “THE OX” — THE FINAL CHAPTER
A little over a year ago (November 2019), I shared with you the story of Pastor Borjan’s encounter with “The Ox,” a commander in a well-organized antigovernment drug cartel from an undisclosed country. If you will recall, Pastor Borjan had received a call from this well-known figure—a man who’d created chaos and terror in his country for many years. He’d said, “I’ve been listening to the audio messages and I have many questions. Would you be willing to meet with me? I’ll personally guarantee your safety.”
Pastor Borjan was astonished, but he agreed, and after a difficult border crossing into that country, he met with the man who everyone called “The Ox” due to his enormous size. His face was deeply lined by a life of hate and crime. It was the only life he’d known, having joined this massive “organization” at just 17 years old, and now being at retirement age. After a few questions to verify that he was indeed Pastor Borjan, the commander began to speak with a quiet voice of authority:
“I have never been a religious person and have lived an active life of crime. For most of my adult life, I have been unable to sleep much at night. All I do is replay in my mind the things I’ve done. I am not a good man.”
For the next two hours, this powerful man confessed crime after crime. He continued:
“Despite all this, when I began to receive the audio messages, I knew for the first time in my life that God is real, because as I listened to the messages, I had a strange sense of peace and of God’s presence. I now sleep much better at night, but I would like you to pray for me. I simply can’t believe that God can forgive me.”
Pastor Borjan said, “Yes, you have done some terrible things, but God’s grace is greater than all our sins combined. He is able and willing to forgive you if you ask Him. He died for you even before you were born—before you committed your first crime.”
They spoke into the early hours of the morning as the general asked questions and received answers from God’s Word.
A few weeks passed, and Pastor Borjan received another strange call. He didn’t know the caller, and the man asked him, “Do you remember the man you spoke with the last night you were here?”
Pastor Borjan was evasive, not knowing who was calling, but the man continued, “I’m talking about the man who said he didn’t know if God could forgive him. Well, he now believes God has forgiven him and wants to be baptized!”
We were overjoyed at this news, and approximately a year ago, Pastor Borjan had the privilege of baptizing the Ox along with three other generals and 15 soldiers. We say they exchanged their guns for a new life in Jesus, but what they actually did was bury their guns, not wanting anyone else to ever use them again!
THE CONCLUSION OF THE STORY
We hadn’t heard from the Ox since then. A year had gone by, and all Pastor Borjan and the AWR team could do was pray for him. Then just a few days ago, Pastor Borjan received a phone call from a soft-spoken woman whose voice he didn’t recognize. She said, “Pastor, I’m the daughter of the man you know as the Ox—the important man you baptized along with his friends. Do you remember him?”
Did he ever! Immediately, Pastor Borjan replied that he did, and this woman continued, “I’m calling to thank you for changing my father’s life. Knowing Jesus made all the difference in his life. He found so much peace during this past year. Unfortunately, my dad just died of a heart attack, but before he passed away, he shared with me his AWR solar radio with all the presentations. He said he was praying for me—that I would find what he had found. I am now listening to the messages that changed his heart, and I called you because I want to say thank you for giving Jesus to my Daddy, because he passed this wonderful truth to me. He wanted me to experience what he had found.”
It was a few moments before Pastor Borjan could speak again. There was a knot in his throat—not just for sadness at the death of this extraordinary man, but a quiet rejoicing that salvation had reached him just in the nick of time. This once-hardened criminal had not only found Jesus, but a desire had grown in his heart for the salvation of his own daughter, and that desire—that prayer of his heart—had been answered.
I mentioned that this was the conclusion of the story—the Ox’s final chapter—but that’s not correct, because for God’s children, the best chapters are still ahead! Their works follow them, the ripple effects extending far and wide and for years to come . . . and into eternity.
EXPANDING OUR REACH
At Adventist World Radio, we are always working to expand our reach so that God’s last-day message can penetrate even the most unreachable places of the world. Our Unlocking Bible Prophecies series with Cami Oetman has been so well-received the world over that this past year, we’ve been working on translating and subtitling it into as many languages as possible. Here are a few of the latest updates:
RUSSIA: At the end of 2020, we aired the series in Russian and received more than 1.2 million views on YouTube alone. We will broadcast it again starting March 13. This is a first in Russia!
CHINA: On Friday, February 10, we began airing the series in Mandarin and Cantonese. I write this letter as it’s about to air, and will soon share with you the results!
THE MIDDLE EAST: We are currently translating the subtitles of the series for Israel, and from there, we’ll send it to MENA, our church headquarters in the Middle East, where the Arabic voice-overs will be added and used throughout the Middle East.
PAKISTAN AND INDIA: We are currently translating the series into Urdu to be aired in these two countries.
ROMANIA: The internet department of AWR in Romania developed a platform with approximately 400 official Facebook pages for the local churches, plus tens of YouTube channels. We connected all of these accounts and are now able to multicast live.
WORLDWIDE: Starting March 13, Unlocking Bible Prophecies International will debut on awr.org/bible in dozens of languages. Be sure to visit this website to watch and share these incredible messages that have already received millions of views!
Amid the chaotic situation in the world, we are called to let our light shine as a beacon of hope—announcing to the world that Jesus is coming soon! That is our privilege and our responsibility. We are learning that the more difficult the challenge, the more God’s Spirit is at work, leading those searching for truth to connect with us in the most surprising and providential ways. God is constantly reminding us that the work is not ours, but His, and He will see it to completion!
Thank you for being willing to be used by God to help reach people like the Ox and his daughter, and for bringing salvation to millions in countries that until now have never heard the story of Jesus. What a privilege, and what a challenge! It is as we work together for the salvation of others that miracles happen!
What an amazing story! God’s mercy toward this hardened criminal and his daughter is an inspiration to all who believe they’re beyond God’s forgiveness—because God continues to call the “Oxes” of the world—and He’s calling you and me! Thank you for being a part of this story—for your prayers and financial support that are making a difference.