NEEDED: Someone who will care for two cats for an American missionary who will be back in the U.S. for a few months. This ad doesn’t sound like an auspicious beginning for a friendship, but that’s how I met Magda*.
I was the American missionary who suddenly needed a substitute cat-care giver, and Magda got the ad from a mutual friend. She was a cat lover and doctor at a large geriatric center in Vienna who had a heart for people and animals. Magda wrote me and said she was available to cat-sit but wondered if I would be willing to let my cats be “therapy” cats at her hospital in exchange for her loving care, to which I agreed. She cared for my cats Romeo and Juliet for five months, but we didn’t meet face to face until I returned to Austria. Magda signed up for one of my classes when she found out that I was an English teacher. We were drawn to each other immediately, and it didn’t take long for us to become friends.
She came to an Intensive English Weekend seminar that I organized in different hotels outside of Vienna each summer. Had you asked her, Magda would firmly have said that she was a Christian. After all, she was an Austrian. Of course, she was a Christian! All Austrians were Christians. As our friendship grew, however, she admitted that she wasn’t really sure if there was a God or not.
The years went on. I prayed often for Magda’s salvation. She continued to come to my regular English classes when she had time and was able to join the summer weekend seminars. She faithfully attended the semi-annual women’s breakfast held in the town where I lived. Leaders at the woman’s breakfast always shared the Gospel message, and I freely proclaimed the Word in all of my classes.
As the years passed, I noticed a change in Magda. She became more open to spiritual things. She admitted that there must be a God because she had seen Him answer my prayers.
Then came the morning at one of those breakfasts when the speaker, an Austrian, said that she always thought she was a Christian until she met an American friend and started talking with her. She learned that God was real and wanted to be a part of her life – not just something confined to a church, learned as a child and then forgotten about. The speaker continued, “From this foreign friend, I learned that God loved me!” Magda looked at me and whispered, “That’s just like me!” As I look back on my years of friendship with Magda, I feel blessed to have been a part of her spiritual journey, and I’m grateful that God can and does use anything and everything to draw people to Himself – even two cats and a missionary!
-Written by Pat Foster, TEAM missionary in Czech Republic
*not her real name