…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14

Speaking the universal Agape language … the Word of God

Brother Andrew, founder of Open Doors, was one of the first Western Christians to minister to believers behind the Iron Curtain.
In Romania in the 1950s on one of his trips bringing Bibles behind the Iron Curtain,

Brother Andrew:

… It was Sunday morning, I woke very early to a bright and cheery day, anxious to join my fellow Christians in this lovely garden of a land.  The clerk in the hotel eyed me a little dubiously when I asked for a church.
“We don’t have many of those, you know,” he said, “Besides you couldn’t understand the language.”

“Didn’t you know?”  I said, “Christians speak a kind of universal language.”

“Oh. What’s that?”
“Its called ‘agape‘.”
Agape?  I never heard of it.”
“Too bad.  Its the most beautiful language in the world.  But anyhow, how do I get to church?”


I was worried about the president of this denomination — Gheorghe — the moment he stepped into the room.  This frail little man was so winded from the effort of walking that it was several minutes before he could catch his breath.

When he did, we discovered the problem, neither he nor Ion, secretary of the group, spoke a word of my languages, nor I of theirs.  We sat facing each other across the barren, multinumbered room, quite unable to communicate.

Then I saw something.  On Gheorghe’s desk was a well-worn Bible, the edges of the pages eaten back an eighth of an inch from consistent turning.  What would happen, I wondered, if we were to converse with each other via the Scriptures?  I took my own Dutch Bible from my coat pocket and turned to 1 Cor 16:20.

All the brethren greet you.  Greet ye one another with an holy kiss.

I held the Bible out and pointed to the name of the book, recognizable in any language, and to the chapter and verse number

Instantly their faces lit up.

They swiftly found the place in their own Bible, read it, and beamed at me.  Then Gheorghe was thumbing the pages, looking for a reference which he held out for me.

Proverbs 25:25:  “As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.

Now we were all three laughing.  I turned to the epistle of Paul to Philemon.

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord. …

It was Ion’s turn, and he didn’t have to look very far.  His eyes traveled over the next lines and he pushed the Bible to me pointing with his finger.

For I have derived much joy and comfort for your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.”

Oh we had a wonderful half hour, conversing with each other through the Bible.  We laughed until the tears were in our eyes.   And when at the end of the conversation I brought out my Rumanian Bibles and shoved them across the desk and insisted with gestures and remonstrances that, yes, they were supposed to keep them and that, no (to the hand in the pocket and the raised eyebrow), there was no charge, both men embraced me again and again.

Later that day, when we finally had an interpreter and our conversation became more mundane, I made arrangements with Ion to take all the Bible I had brought with me.  He would know better than I where to place them in this hard country, and he assured me that it was better to have just one contact than several.

That night, back in my hotel, the clerk called to me.
“Say,” he said, “I looked up that agape in the dictionary.  There’s no language by that name.  That’s just a Greek word for love.”

“That’s it,” I said, “I was speaking in it all afternoon.”

Source:  Brother Andrew, The Narrow Road, YWAM Publishing, 1967, 2001, 2011, pg 227, 233-235

Further reading:


Serving Quietly | Cross-Culture

by 林弟兄, bro Lim
October 11, 2016

Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
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This entry was posted on October 11, 2016 by in cross-culture, Daily Rice, Missions, Serving Quietly.

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