HOLY VIRGIN MARY, MOTHER OF GOD
Western Kasai, Congo:
Nina & her mother – From Protestantism to Orthodoxy –
A miracle of Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God
Nina, a 10-year-old girl, was the third child of a family which lived in Western Kasai (Congo). Her two previous siblings, two boys, died early, making Nina an only child.
Nina was born from a mother with strong religious interests, to such an extent that she had embraced a Protestant heresy and become a “Pastoress” (woman priest).
Nina followed her mother to Protestant gathering. However, the good reputation of the Orthodox Missionary School brought the little girl to the Orthodox school. From then on she underwent a series of internal and external changes.
As time passed, Nina began to become reluctant and unwilling to follow her mother to the Protestant gatherings. She perfectly followed—even though she wasn’t baptized—the Orthodox church gatherings. Not much time passed before the girl sought to be baptized [Orthodox]!
Her parents, and much more so her grandmother, didn’t want to hear of this. This increased Nina’s desire to receive Holy Baptism.
Her father ultimately accepted his daughter’s request, and came to the following decision: “my first two children died, one at age two and the other at age one. My little girl has turned ten. Let her be baptized, as she wants so much, because maybe she might die too!” The rest of the family complied and received his decision with sadness.
Nina thanked her heavenly and earthly father with all her heart. She went through catechism for a short time, and was found ready for baptism. She of course continues to go to her religious studies constantly, and she never missed the Divine Liturgy and Holy Communion on Sundays and Feasts.
Nina’s soul felt a deep and mystical connection with the All-Holy Person of the Most-Holy Theotokos Mary, and she went around her house and placed Her holy icon on the highest cabinet of the dining room, causing several negative reactions by the rest of the family. She withstood, however, and managed to have the holy icon of the Theotokos stay where she placed it.
On Sundays, the “Pastoress” mother of Nina received many Protestants in her house. As soon as the Protestants saw the icon of the Theotokos, they protested, and sought the dethronement of the Theotokos from the place where Nina put it. Nina’s desire again proved superior to the protestants’ wishes. Her parents said that it was their daughter’s demand, and they didn’t want to upset her, though to them the paper icon was not something meaningful. The protestants left upset and troubled and asked to change the meeting house from that of the “pastoress”.
The next Sunday, a Pastor above the others, wanted to see this fact with his own eyes, and led by others, knocked on the door to Nina’s house. The “Pastoress” opened and greeted him. Then the great Pastor told her:
“I won’t go inside, because there above is a WEAPON!”
The Pastoress was troubled and replied:
“What are you saying? There is no weapon in our house!”
The Pastor continued:
“There up high, is a WEAPON!” and pointed to the cabinet with the holy icon, waiting outside the door.
The housewife told him that there is a small paper icon that her daughter got from Sunday school, but he was insistent that there was a WEAPON!
In the end their group left bitter and disparaged, taking care to hide their fear…
This confession of the Pastor and his fear before the holy icon of the Most-Holy Theotokos was a message from God to the soul of the “Pastoress”. A holy unease took root in her heart:
“How is it possible that such a small paper icon could be a ‘weapon’? Why were the pastors afraid?” Her questions which received an immediate answer.
She therefore managed to pass by the door of the Orthodox Mission that time, with a different attitude and with open eyes and ears. She had “ears to hear”, to the unspeakable joy of Nina.
In the Mission she asked many questions, received answers, experienced the environment of the holy church, was moved standing before the holy icon of the Theotokos, and sought forgiveness for the false beliefs that she had, which she many times tried to force on her Nina. She however had this complaint: “How many times you saw me come to the school with my daughter, why didn’t you say anything to me? Why are you keeping such a treasure a secret?”
The answer was simple: “You were a pastoress in a heretical group and believed that you were teaching the truth. With difficulty you accepted that your daughter would be baptized. How could we tempt you? What we couldn’t do ourselves, the Holy Spirit did, through the cooperation of the innocent and pure soul of your child! Let us glorify our Lord and Savior, and the His All-Holy Mother and our Mother for the great gift that she gave you.”
After all of this, she went to the Protestants and confessed that she no longer believed their teachings, and threw down before their feet her priest’s robe—a black dress—and ran to be enrolled with the catechumens of the Orthodox Church. One of the priests of the church mentioned in a Byzantine manner: “Strange and marvelous things are accomplished today…”
Fr. John Kostof
The Traces of God – From Protestantism to Orthodoxy
St. John Damascene