We are led to the great metropolis of Rome, whose proud palaces and temples with their marble pillars glitter like transparent alabaster in the glow of the setting sun. Rome, the worldly metropolis, where in primitive times the heathen emperors had their thrones and manifested their great glory, but also gave their commands to destroy all those who turned away from the service of the gods and bowed before the hated Nazarene, Christ Jesus. Rome, the city built upon the seven hills, whence is the throne of Satan, the seat of the Antichrist, who has let the blood of the martyrs flow as water. Rome, the luxurious city, the pool of wickedness and unrighteousness, where God nevertheless has at time glorified the wonders of His grace in the gathering in of His chosen ones, whom He has loved with an everlasting love. How wonderfully must an enemy of God sometimes be used for the conversion of a sinner! The following short narrative is an evidence of this.

Amongst the military troops at Rome there once labored a plain but yet a faithful evangelist. Although he had to struggle with many difficulties, and in spite of the hatred of the Roman Catholics who tried to prevent his labors, our evangelist did not become fainthearted. His hope was upon God, that He would continually lead him, and that He would bless his weak labors to the shame of his opposers.

On a certain day a corporal was walking on the square by the military hospital, where the sick soldiers were cared for. Being a zealous Roman Catholic, he was entirely ignorant of the truth and did not know about the mission work that was being carried on quietly and carefully among the soldiers. As he walked on, he suddenly felt something hard fall on his shoulder, which then bounced off and fell upon the ground. It was a little book, and the corporal immediately picked it up, not realizing that it was a New Testament. Where did this little book come from? Well, inside the hospital one of the Roman Catholic nurses had quietly taken it away from under the pillow of a sleeping soldier. On several occasions the nurse had noticed that this soldier, who was confined to the hospital for a few days because of illness, was reading in a ‘forbidden book’ whenever he thought he could do so without the danger of being seen. The nurse had spied on him, and now, when she got the chance, she carefully took the little book away from the sleeping soldier and threw it out of the window. She did this without suspecting that, while she had thought to do evil, God had meant it unto good, yea, unto the salvation of a poor, ignorant sinner. O Truly,


God moves in a mysterious way,

His wonders to perform.

O God, most holy are Thy ways,

And who like Thee deserves my praise?


The corporal picked up the book, took it along and began to read it diligently. And in reading it, his heart was deeply affected. On the inside of the cover there was a notation stating the place and the time that the evangelist would speak for the soldiers to instruct them how the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross is the only sufficient ground unto salvation. Our corporal was drawn to go there.

In a small room some soldiers were seated who were listening very intently to the instruction that was being given by the evangelist. The corporal was one of those present, and it pleased the Lord to open his blind eyes. He had the same experience as Lydia, so that he attended unto the things which were spoken at that place in the name of the Lord. By the grace of God he learned to know the power of the truth in his heart, so that he said farewell to the Roman Catholic church with all its soul-destroying heresies, and having learned to know the God of all truth, he joined the little group of Christians. He received much liberty to tell what the Lord had done to his soul. He spoke about those things which outweigh all others for eternity; how the blood of Christ Jesus alone cleanses of all sin; that neither pope nor priest could forgive sin, and no letter of indulgence could profit a soul; the Roman Catholic mass was nothing more than deceit.

He also testified of the truth among his companions and succeeded in convincing some of them to go with him to the little gathering of Christians under the leadership of the evangelist. It pleased the Lord to open the eyes of some of them for the false Roman Catholic doctrines. The plain instruction of the evangelist became a great blessing for them.

Our corporal also took his pen in hand, and with great prudence, but yet in faithfulness and in an endearing way, he wrote about these things to his father. He sent to his father and some other relatives various parts of the Bible and other trustworthy writings which he could obtain. The Lord blessed these efforts also and used them to bring some of the members of his family to the true knowledge of the only Name given under heaven by which we must be saved.

To all this the Roman Catholic nurse had given occasion. In enmity she had robbed a soldier of his precious jewel and had thrown the forbidden book out of the window. It struck the corporal first upon his shoulder and then in his heart and did bear the fruit for many unto life eternal. The Lord has spoken and fulfilled also in this narrative: ‘My word shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please’. No enmity can prevent this. The Lord taketh the opposers in their own craftiness, so that against their intentions they must yet cooperate in spreading the blessed truth of the Bible. The Lord is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working.


From: Van Zweden, J. The Wonderful Providence of Almighty God Seen in the Lives of Young and Old: Series No 10. Stickney, South Dakota: Netherlands Reformed Congregations in America, 1978. pages 71-73