In the ruins of Yugoslavia, during World War II, an evangelist by the name of Jakob Kovac went to nearby villages to tell people about God’s love. He had walked ten kilometers to see an old man named Cimerman and his family.
Cimerman said to him, “Permit me to ask you if you are aware of what is being done in the name of your God of love.”
“Do you not know that every week in the woods on the hilltop where the church stands, another man or woman is shot, or hanged or knifed in the name of the wounds of Christ?”
This is how it was (for Jakob). Wherever he went he was reminded of the atrocities committed in the name of the Lord.
Cimerman continued, “These men of the cloth tortured and killed my own nephew before my eyes! I saw them torture him—I saw him die in his own blood, and then I watched the killers calmly genuflect before the main alter of the church, cross themselves with the holy water and a few moments later their forks scraped their plates as they ate their supper in the parish house.”
The old man was trembling, his face red and wet. “And you speak to us of a God of love!”
“My heart suffers with your heart,” Jakob said.
Then he said, “Tell me, Cimerman, if I put your coat on my back and I put my feet into your boots and I go out onto the streets and tell people that I am you, will I be Cimerman or will I be Jakob?”
The old man nodded his head. “Of course, you will be Jakob.”
“But suppose I steal something from somebody and the people see only Cimerman’s coat and Cimerman’s boots? And then the officials come to your door and they say, ‘Cimerman, you were seen stealing. You must pay the penalty.'”
“But you tell them, No, no! It was not I! I have not left my chair. It was not I.”
“Ah, but you were seen, Cimerman. You were seen and identified. You are guilty.”
There was silence.
“I do not believe in the name of your God,” the old man said in the quietness.
He stood to his feet and Jakob stood also. He shook his hand, clasping it tightly. “Are you agreed I pray for you?” And so it was.
Every week for a year Jakob walked ten kilometers to Cimerman’s little cottage to see him and visit him and talk with him about the Lord Jesus Christ.
And then on a clear winter morning Cimerman wagged his head back and forth, his white hair shining in the morning light, and he said, “Jakob, you have convinced me. Your God is real. Your God is God. You wear the coat well.”
— Marie Chapian, from Of Whom the World was not Worthy, chapter 26; a true story about the church in Yugoslavia