From War to Inner Peace
Devla's testimony to honor the Lord
Devla's Testimony - While in Kamenari, Montenegro, last summer, Devla (standing in front of the church group, with her Bible in hand) was talking with me about her testimony of becoming a Christian that was written in Croatian. I offered to translate it to English, with the help of Google translate. I recently remembered that I had not finished that project and finished it this week. I was so touched, I wanted you to read it, with her permission. Though it is quite long, it is worth the time. Bring your tissues! God is powerful!
I am Devla Kadic. I was born in Bosnia, in a Muslim family, and there were three children: my sister, my brother and I, with my parents. I had a wonderful childhood and really wonderful parents and a beautiful environment, everything was very good. I was a good student and I really grew up in the love of my father and mother and my grandmother who loved me as the first grandchildren.
And all this was the case until the year when I decided to go to school for midwives. It was really my call, and I really wanted it and my wish came true. After that, I very quickly got a job, I met my husband Hussein, who is also from Sarajevo, and our relationship was somehow started from that first glance, as if we had known our whole life - that's what it looked like. We quickly got married and, indeed, there was love and understanding, respect, both of his family and mine, everything went smoothly. After several years of marriage...very soon in marriage I had my daughter Jasmina, who was really wanted and loved. She grew up in the environment and joy of my parents and Hussein’s parents, and together we went to Libya, but not because it wasn’t good for us in Bosnia. Not because we did not have good jobs and good salaries, but simply: we were looking for...
In all that, I was saying that it was good, I always felt an emptiness in my soul, in my heart, and I was searching for something more. Something... because simply, with all I ever had, I was never satisfied enough.
And so by mutual agreement, the two of us went to Libya, where a lot of our Yugoslav people went and worked. And I was accepted there and I had a very good job there, the very one I liked. There I encountered healthcare that was so clean (not as it was in Bosnia)- without bribes, without corruption, and I was happy. The climate was wonderful, the sea was there, we had all the conditions...but then I was empty. And then there was nothing in me that I could say: "Wow!" There was always something missing and I was always searching for more, but there was nothing. After ten years of living in Libya, my 10-year-old daughter died... It was a huge sorrow, pain, breakup, tearing, and the loss of the child. It was a big loss for me, and at that time I was pregnant with my son who is now forty years old. That time was really hard for me. I often thought about suicide, that I had no reason to live, no matter what I was saying how good things were...but the absence was not good for us, and especially when I lost my daughter... And it was ninety percent chance to lose this (other) pregnancy of six months, but it simply was something stronger that it persevered. The movements that my son made in my womb gave me some strength not to give up, but to go further. When I gave birth to him, it was also a heavy blow to me because the child was in a very difficult situation, since when my daughter died I got pain and then there was bleeding... so this baby grew up in the uterine blood. In general, it was impossible medically, for this to happened, that he would remained alive but he was born with four and a half kilograms (9.92 lbs.). It gave me the strength to go on, but I was sad, I was empty and I was just crying...
After that, we quickly lost both the house and the garden and everything we bought in Sarajevo, that we had earned in Libya. The Communist Party was in power (in Bosnia) and they took all of that for some other purpose. So that loss was terrible for me. We got an apartment, where we paid rent, on the third floor where we did not have an elevator...
In the meantime, I soon gave birth to another child, a girl, my dear Janeta, today the mother of three children, and with those two babies I climbed three times to that third floor, to take them to the park, to spend time with them. It was hard and I never accepted this apartment. It was like I went into a cage because I grew up in openness, where we also had a house and a garden and a yard and an orchard and a lot of animals. I grew up in all this and really when we moved to this apartment I was not at all happy and my life went like that. I lived to live and raise the children I really wanted and loved, my husband who was with me always comforted me and who always gave me strength, but I was still empty. And the future for me was still nothing good...
Very soon after that the war came, Sarajevo was closed for four years ... We could not go anywhere, nowhere to go... bombing, sniping, all possible types of weapons were pointed… water, electricity, everything was closed... gas, roads... We lived like that for four years and during that time it was hard. I was seriously ill. I had such pains that no analgesic could relieve me of this pain. Doctors had not found a diagnosis. After the doctors found out that I had a tumor...one by one - three operations, all during the war...I received someone else’s blood without a thorough evaluation, and then I was very, very ill and the doctors gave me three months to live. When I heard it, I never experienced a brokenness like that ever. I told my husband about what happened and he could not accept it and said: "That doctor, and those doctors who told you that, are not the smartest ones. There are others, we will search for them.” He simply did not believe it. Then I was forty-one years old.
I was sent to the hospital and I lay there and waited to die. However, something happened that totally changed my life! One day one nurse approached me, hugged me and said to me, "Devla, you will not die, you will live. God is Love, there is only one God, there are not many gods as these religions say. God is one, God is Love, God loves you and He does not want you to die and leave your children an unfinished life. He wants you to have life in full and in abundance. The simple word "God Is One ","God is Love" left a great impression upon me when I found myself alone in the room. I've been thinking: That might be true. For in the war, I watched all these gangs and what happened around me and they all went "in the name of God" to fight and kill each other. And then I wondered, "Well, really, how many gods are there? And how do the heavens and the earth function in general if there are so many gods. What is that?”
My father was in communism and I did not know anything about the Muslim religion. I was never in the church and I did not know anything about it. But this nurse told me that in Sarajevo there is a "House of Prayer for All Nations" and that every Sunday at ten there is a meeting. And I simply got some kind of will for life, I did not have any books or anything to read, but the words: "God is one, God is Love." This was ringing in my ears and gave me the strength to get out of this difficult situation. And I started getting better and better. The doctors were amazed that my results were so good that they released me from the hospital.
When I left the hospital, I was so good, that it was supernatural, really, but now I know how. God opened one door and I got a job with SFOR Italian, with those peacemakers - young people who came to make peace and reconciliation, to open the borders and to start real life. The war was over, it was 1996. I started working in SFOR and little by little, I often thought "The House of Prayer." Something told me that I needed to go but it did not happen, I do not know how many months passed.
One morning, when I had a coffee with my husband, we had to go together to visit my mother and mother-in-law (who were widows before the war, and I lost my brother and sister in the war.) We should go to them. I went to the bathroom to prepare myself and I heard a wonderful, quiet voice that said to me: "Today you will not go anywhere. You are going to the House of Prayer today." That was one echo in my ears, in my whole womb and I flew out and looked at the clock. It was 9:30, Sunday. I told Husein: "We go to the House of Prayer, we will not go to your mother." And he was truly obedient, without any questions. We quickly got dressed and left.
We found this house that was in Baščaršija, along some streets - it was not easy to find the first time we came there and we may have been five minutes late. When we opened the door and entered that hall, the hall was filled with people and there was quiet, beautiful music. I thought through my life, after losing my daughter and everything else that happened, war and brother, sisters, my illness, I thought I would never sing. I would never be able to listen to music. But this quiet, beautiful music, that sound of the guitar and the voices of those young people who sang ... I did not hear a single word, I only felt a warmth in my womb, my heart, and I was just crying. And one person came, I cried and I could not see anything and she wiped my tears. When I looked at her, she looked like my sister, so my cries were not so quiet, I was crying out loud. Nothing could stop me. She hugged me and she continued to wipe my tears the whole time.
When the music stopped, a young man came out to speak, I believe he was talking about God, but I do not remember a word, I just know I cried. When everything was over, this young woman asked me where we were living, whether we had a car and connected us. And we went together to have a cup of coffee at our place. Before the war, we had a grill, after that it was a restaurant and we returned there. My husband made coffee and we got to know each other. She lived for many years in Switzerland, where she met a granny who gave her the Bible at the railway station, which she began to read and found in the Bible the truth, the God who freed her from religion and everything that ruled falsely in this world. She decided to come to Bosnia and came to Sarajevo as a missionary. We were the first people with whom she came into such close contact. We had coffee, we talked and she eventually asked if we would like her to sing a song, to take our hands and pray for us. That song was, "God, put us together with Your love." So, after that song she prayed and it was one of the most beautiful moments, it seemed to me, I ever had, because it had such depth. It had something very, very strong and it was a great impression on me. She gave me the phone number and all I wanted when she left was to socialize with her, so that I could talk to her, which was what I needed.
After a while since we did not find the address where she lived, it was far enough - in Ilidza, and we were in the center. So, wherever, after my job, if my husband asked me where to go, I would just say, "I want to go to Elvira’s." We went there and every time it was beautiful in its own way. And there was always joy. She had so much joy! Her eyes shone and I always wondered and always had a question: "What, how..." so she told me about her life, She said that she found the Lord and how she surrendered her heart and how her life changed. And I wanted that ...
After I don’t know how many months, I was looking for prayer to get what she had. And after that, my life was really bigger and fuller, with the knowledge that I am no longer alone and that life simply has meaning, that I am not born to suffer and to lose, but to be born to live, to have life on this earth, and even most importantly, life after death, in eternity. I received from her a gift of a Bible, which I read regularly and was like a sponge, dumped in some water, which just looked for and absorbed. And I wanted to talk to other people about what I found.
My big problem was that I was full of bitterness, full of pain, Elvira simply said, "Devla, you have to let go of all this and you have to forgive everyone, no matter what the injury or the pain." That was something that was for me was unimaginable and impossible! How can I forgive one who killed my sister? How can I forgive him for whom I lost my brother? How can I forgive the one who shut the water for four years without water droplets in the taps on the third floor? How can I forgive anyone who turned off our electricity? Closed roads, that we could not see a sister in Ilidza? Go to the house in Pale? And it's all there: ten-twelve-fifteen miles ... Oh! It was very difficult, but she spoke to me and explained what it meant to forgive, not to forgive people the things they did to us, but to release our hearts from bitterness and pain, and all of us will answer to God for their own sins. And that was what gave me strength and one great word was, that if I did not forgive people who hurt me, God would not forgive me either. And I am also a sinner because we are all sinners. We are all born of sinners, we have all sinned and the only one without sin is Jesus Christ who came to this world without one sin to take the sins of the whole world.
And when I already accepted Jesus into my heart, then the next step was to forgive everyone. And I said, "Elvira, I cannot. I need help. We prayed: "I cannot, but You can help me, Jesus." It was painful, I cried, but one by one I forgave individually everything and after the forgiveness I got one wide, deep place in my heart where Jesus found the total place, where he could indeed occupy the place that was for him, and everything else was added.
Simply my heart was filled with love, I started to love all people the way God loves all people. With God, there is no difference. Religions have been created by humans, not by God, for there is only one faith in one God and one mediator of Jesus Christ.
Next I asked, "God, what is my task now, what do you need?" And I just started to speak first to my family, to my loved ones, then to my friends and to the job where I worked, with the Italians who were coming and looking for advice, because at that time I was forty years old. I could have been their mother. These were the young men who thought they went into the adventure for good money, however, the army was still one big discipline and it was not easy for them, but I always had a Bible on my table from which I could give the verse, encouragement and incentive to respect the elders, primarily respect God in whom they believe and respect their elders, respect the authorities. The basis is that all citizens respect the authorities because we elected the government so that we can live in peace and have joy in full. So, in a short time, the boys began to address it and indeed it was a beautiful time. One clergyman, he was of the Roman Catholic religion, often wanted to talk to me because he saw that there was something else in me, something more, and then I often read verses with him, that he asked of me often.
One day something unusual happened when I was at work and sat in my room. I was alone and I heard soldiers welcoming the elders and knocking on my door. The commander entered, he wanted to talk to me. I was somehow scared that I might have overdone it with the gospel that maybe I would get a critique or dismissal, and my husband had no job and we were not yet retiring. The only means we could live was my salary because all we had in the bank we lost, so I really wondered what now? However, he came with a different intent and dismissed the soldiers who were with him and wanted to talk with me, in confidence, to ask me to seek prayer with God because he heard that the prayers we pray were reaching God. And his prayer was: disarming the people up in the Republic of Srpska, in Pale. He had this one fear: he did not want any soldier to die on his side or the other side, but that was the time when he was collecting weapons. As the war ceased, citizens and soldiers needed to hand over the weapons to the peacekeepers.
"Oh, Lord," I sighed and had relief. He said that it was confidential, that nobody knows. He told me even the time in which they went there, to pray, that it would happen without a victim. Because before that they had been other places and it was very difficult, and they were victims. I promised him that I would pray with my husband and Elvira, that I would not tell them what, but that God knows what to do and that we will pray.
The next day, when he came about ten o'clock with a bouquet of flowers, he was joyful and said that when they came to disarm the soldiers, they just left the barracks and there was no loss but simply helped to put the weapons in the trucks and took them.
After that, this Catholic cleric wanted to help and meet people in Sarajevo, as Sarajevo was multiethnic, there was always a mixed population. He prepared food and clothes packages, so we went every day: today with Catholics, tomorrow at Orthodox, the day after to the Muslims, we went because I had many friends, so we brought gifts, but at the same time I brought the gospel.
So, through this gathering with Don George, I only realized how much Catholics do not touch the Bible, but rather the books that were written by men, and adapted to this world rather than the Bible, so that was how I began to understand the difference between faith and religion. When Don George went to Italy, he called for my husband and I to visit him to testify to him, his brother, sister, friends and visit the barracks where these soldiers came from. That's what we did.
In the meantime, during all this time that I'm talking about now, the children of Srebrenica came with their mothers to Ilidza, where Elvira lived. Then the children by themselves asked for us, they wanted to socialize. To me it was: "What kind of socializing?" I was not aware of what I was doing. They brought flowers because we met those kids, we hugged them and always gave them some candy. And the children felt love and came to socialize with us and we began to spread the gospel to them. We started with them to pray and we experienced a lot of healing in children, and the children were incredibly traumatized. They hallucinated at night and had walked in their sleep, they wet the bed. It was a very difficult situation. They had problems with their teeth, there was very little food for years. These children had the least milk and what was needed for growth.
And I remember one moment when I came to the barracks in the morning and I would usually pray for the day that is in front of me, for the people who will come, that God touches them, that I can tell them a comforting word, that I can lead them to faith and that God will give me strength to finish the job that I had. What I did was a miracle of God, because I just never liked or even knew how to sew, but God gave me this gift supernaturally because it was necessary for them. I accepted it and I really sewed, and I always prayed to God to give me strength for every day to finish everything, and I have time to talk to these young men.
So there was the time when in the morning I was asking, "Lord, have mercy ..." I know how much food in the barracks is thrown out because everything that is not eaten and everything that is opened is all thrown away. Even if he does not have the right to give it, or take it out of the gate to feed people, it all goes to the dump. I prayed and did not finish the prayer. I did not say "Amen" ... What happened? Soldiers were knocking, entering, carrying two milk packages and two biscuit packages. And that was the Saturday when I was approved by the barracks that every Saturday I could go to Ilidza where we had work with children. Me too, when I saw this, I started crying. The soldiers asked me what this is about, and I told them, and that was a miracle for them. And from that day they started to bring Don George with his escort to Ilidža, and fruit and vegetables and milk, and we could give them to the children and feed them in a good way.
Then we had a prayer: "God, you see the problems of these children and you see their teeth and see how much pain they have and they cannot handle it all." There were private dentists who had very high prices, which we did not have, there were a lot of kids, we could have paid someone to take the tooth or fix it, but there were more and more children and we prayed, "God, There is nothing impossible for you ... "and we prayed that God would send a dentist who believes in God who will come and who will provide these children with what is needed. And there was another great miracle that a sister (a fellow believer) from Yugoslavia came from America ... She came to a sister in Vienna, did she know that there are a group of children in the country where women work with them, that these children need a dentist? And that was the answer to our prayer and that was really something that, as far as we believed, that was too much for us. (amazing)
One day, there were five of them with large suitcases, with all the appliances and all that was needed, and we opened the living room in Ilidža, where we received the children and their parents, presented the movie "Jesus" and served them with what we had. And the doctors, those guys, they repaired their teeth and they also spread the love they had in their heart and it lasted for days and days.
We all stayed, prayed, I stayed in that improvised waiting room where I could talk, where I could interpret the movie "Jesus," where I could comfort, where people really came to tears, cry, confess their pain, their wounds - what survived in Srebrenica, Sarajevo ...
So we had two house groups very quickly. One was in Kosevo Hill in our apartment, and the other was in Ilidza, in the house where Elvira lived. After that, we registered in the center of Sarajevo, Evangelical Church number one - "Victory Celebration" Center, where we have been working for more than five years in our restaurant which was free because before the war he worked, but in the war we did nothing. We had gas, so we opened that restaurant to bring people to bake bread and cook something because there was no electricity, there was no fire, so that gas was a real source not only for us that we had, but of course, from the railway station to Bare is at least 4-5 kilometers, all people came here from the morning and we gathered here, we could buy and market food. So after that the restaurant turned into a home of prayers for all nations and the church was called the "Victory Celebration" center. And we had a connection with the Africans who were also in peacekeepers and they really acted in ways that helped people. They had a high faith and could truly present the gospel in the light of what it is.
So that's where we went to Italy with this Don George, where we witnessed to him and brother and children and women and friends. We found the Evangelical Church there, which he found for us, where we could go. There I got several books in Italian, "Far from the Pope, and closer to Christ," and I donated it to Don Giorgio, who accepted it and made a promise to read it. We first prayed and my husband was like, "How are you going to give it to him? You know he has a great bond with the Pope. And here we are his guests ... What? ... So I said, “It’s nothing. And if he throws us out, we have our own house. But I am preoccupied with his salvation because he is so good and wonderful, why should he not know the truth?" And indeed, it was great, we gave that book, he accepted it, promised to read it. We stayed there for three days and then he accompanied us and hugged us at the fence, he said to me: "Sister." Husi said, "Brother." So we split up (went our separate ways).
At the beginning of the faith, I wondered: "God, if you are really like they tell me and how it stands in writing, I want to surrender my life to you and I want you to pray for me (to be healed and) save me from this wicked disease (because the tumor remains here). I want to give you my life and I want to serve you for the rest of my life.” And I gave that promise, I was not even aware of what I had given, God heard it and here I am today in the Kamenari in Montenegro, after Sarajevo, we are here for eighteen years.
God opened the way to Italy, where we received a doctor who told himself that "this woman needs help", because all doctors in Croatia and Bosnia said that only three months were left for my life. After my conversion, I no longer thought about months, months passed, I did not even think about tumor, I just wanted more and more to meet and meet God, His grace, His love and giving it to others. My mother converted, my brother before he died, my mother-in-law, who was truly a deeply Muslim, who worshiped regularly and in the war. When there was not a drop of water, she hid the water from my children that she had for the ritual required. I understood it, and somehow, in the war, God worried (cared) that we had both water and bread. I wonder how, but that’s how it went (happened).
And God gave me great love for the Orthodox people. Through us the most Orthodox peoples have turned.
When I got surgery and treatment all in Italy, when everything went through and I was waiting for a job in Sarajevo, in SFOR, and that was a miracle, because it was just a month of sick leave - I stayed in Italy for about four and a half months, they waited for me, but I got a quiet voice that told me: "No. When you return to Sarajevo you will be fired and you go to Montenegro. "
We had a house in Montenegro, which was totally devastated in the war, leaked, and everything that remained in it was rotted. The house was in a very bad condition. And when we left for the first time ... I obeyed in obedience. We did not have any means of living. I have not received a retirement yet, but I had the faith that if God were speaking, He would provide ... I knew that I would not miss anything. Because the treatment that was in Italy, that we were supposed to pay it, as it should, I had sold everything I had, and that money that we had at a bank that disappeared - we could not pay that treatment. So God took care of that doctor, who touched the heart: "I must help this woman."
I believed and today I believe that people are sin greatly because they rely on their strength and what they can. But God can do much more. We came to Montenegro to visit and see, my husband opened the door of this house, we entered and before we entered two steps, we came out, because so much stink all that was so terrible. And so we came three times but we did not go into that house again ...
However, each visit to Montenegro, God confirmed how much He needed us, because where we came to friends, there was a summer, the children were gathering like bees on the flowers. And Huso had one small ... it's called prim - like a mandolin and he played it so, the kids got together and so we sang, played the children's songs. The children were gathering and we shared small children's Bibles or some tracts. Then we had children's packages that Bosnia received, at that time Montenegro did not have them ... And that was the most interesting thing when we took a lot of packages at one time and at the customs they wanted to deny us with those packages, thinking that this is a business. I told the police about what was happening, but they were constantly going to the office and coming back and holding us for a long time. It was cold, it was winter, my husband was a little angry at me, because he knew that it would not be so easy to pass, and then (probably their boss) came out, the elderly man. I now wanted to get him closer to what it was, that they were packages - gifts to the children, and he told me: "Madam, I believe you all. And these packages are not in question. He gave me a small note where the director of a children's orphanage ... Let's go there and first give all those packages, and if something remains – bring them here for other children.
It was the path of God's intention where we got an open door for working with children in the children's home (orphanage), which exists but no longer at such intensity as it was. But everything changes, and that's all. Most of all, these years, we could offer these children love, primarily God's love. And much of what has been forgiven, but most of that love, because being rejected by a parent, from a mother, being rejected by society, I think this is the greatest defect in the heart of every man, for we all want to be accepted, loved. Through God's love we brought to them and we loved them of course, so in the years and years, almost 15 to 16 years, we had intense work with these children.
Soon after, we also had a home group here, where we met, where many people were converting, we had water baptism and everything. And we were connected with the church in Podgorica and we are also here today, so we have a legal stay here and the house serves as a "House of Prayer for all peoples", all nations, so we have reunion, socializing, celebration and that's what gives us strength , that's what gives me the energy to go further. God took every tear from my face. Sadness has vanished, joy has moved into my heart. I am now happy, filled.
I want to fulfill that promise that I have given to the Lord: that I want to serve Him as long as I am on this earth and while I can. God always sends me help and now, we have two wonderful people from Serbia who come from time to time, Bato and Lydia who are there and who really have a lot of gifts from God. And for celebration and when Bato lifts his voice, I have the feeling that Pavaroti is there and that he sings the celebration, the glorification of God in his voice ... And Lydia, with her quiet, mild voice and the sound of the guitar, is also something that is perfect and beautiful, they have a real fortune to give the word from the Bible. So, these days we are gathered here, in joy, we will have two young people who need water baptism on Sunday, and three weeks ago we also had one young man, Ivan, who was baptized in water. We are looking forward to knowing that what we do is not a work that only enables me, me and my husband, and we are good, but we know what it brings to all the people around us who really have sincere hearts and are seeking to meet with God.
So I wanted to share this testimony, but if I were to talk about all my experiences, what I experienced in the way of knowing God, it would cost many books. But with this, I would just want to give a seal of how good God is, how great God is, how loving God is, how much he loves and loves the whole world, gave his only-begotten Son, Jesus, to die with the death he died. To be humiliated, to be rejected, and to take away all our diseases, all our weaknesses, that we might be healed by His wounds and washed with His blood. To be forgiven of our sins. And this is the only way we can receive forgiveness and where we can become the children of God.
My prayer is that not only my closest ones and my acquaintances, but all people of this world, know what the truth is. Only the truth can free us. And only the truth can give us the power to forgive and to love one another. And we never have enemies again. Because he is not an enemy man. The Word of God says: It is not a fight against blood and flesh, but against the evil rulers of this world, because this world is not ruled by God but by the devil. The devil is on earth, the devil is in the world, and God has descended from heaven in the form of man, to approach man, to meet man, to die for man, to have life here on earth and life when we die - eternal life. So again, I repeat: I want all people to know the truth that there is only one God, that God is love and that God does make a difference. Neither between blacks, nor yellow, nor white, but here among us in the Balkans, where we are all one people. And we all know what the Balkans is like, how much blood and misery have spilled in this war between brothers of all ages. Not only this last war. Because hatred is sown, and hatred is born of death. Love Comes Through Jesus Christ and Love Brings Life! That's my message.
Whoever listens to or reads this testimony let him ask himself, and seek and obtains Love that is eternal. Amen.
Devla had so many amazing miracles happen! And she has touched many people in her life, including us. God has been and continues to be glorified in her life!