Cezi’s Story: Pursued by God’s Grace
As a child in Albania, Pastor Cezarina "Cezi" Glendenning would write letters to God, penning her questions and placing the folded papers on her balcony, believing God would take them.
“Once we had a storm,” Glendenning remembers, laughing. “The storm took a ladder off our balcony, and I thought God took it!”
The heartfelt correspondence revealed what she craved—a relationship with God.
“If he was real,” Glendenning remembers wondering, “how can I reach him?”
Glendenning learned early on at home to seek truth, ask questions, and think for herself. When Communism fell, she had a chance to explore her questions about God. Her mother and father came from different faith backgrounds, and she followed her father to his house of worship.
“It was a chance to get to know God,” Glendenning recalled. “I was learning all of the prayers, reading books…I just fell in love with God.”
She converted to her father’s religion and began the process of studying at a religious school when suddenly, unexpectedly, he died. Glendenning was utterly devastated. Her father’s death threw her into a tailspin.
“His death was an identity crisis for me,” Glendenning said. She went to her faith leaders, seeking answers amid her family’s tragedy, but she was chastised.
“They said, ‘Don’t question God. It was written in his destiny,’” Glendenning remembered.
Frustrated and silenced, a then 13-year-old Glendenning could not understand a faith that robbed people of free will and the ability to ask God questions, so she walked away.
After her father’s passing, she faced further loss when her family moved across the country, and they, like many Albanians at that time, faced economic and government instability. Glendenning’s behavior took an adverse turn. She began fighting at school, and her mother regularly received calls about her conduct. At home, she says she was hard to be around. But God had a plan.
Around that same time, two classmates befriended Glendenning at school. They were kind and patient with the hurting teenager. They also followed Jesus.
“I would debate them,” Glendenning said. “But their kindness and patience toward me just really impacted me.”
Eventually, her new friends invited her to their church. She saw the opportunity as a challenge.
“I’m going to go to their church and show them they are wrong,” Glendenning recalled thinking.
But when she went, she loved it.
That winter, a Canadian English teacher arrived at Cezi’s school. He, too, loved Jesus. He asked Cezi if she would help hand out brochures for his church plant, and Cezi said yes but explained that she did not believe in Christianity.
“Here I am, helping to plant a church before I am a Christian,” Glendenning laughed.
She handed out hundreds of papers around her neighborhood in the cold, keeping one for herself. When Cezi returned home, her mother lit candles around their darkened home. Albania’s government was collapsing, acts of violence were rampant, and Glendenning‘s family had access to electricity for about an hour each day. In this moment of uncertainty, Cezi’s trauma caught up with her.
“I was sitting in the living room, and it just hit me,” Glendenning remembered. “A wave of emotions—a panic attack. I could not breathe. I just started sobbing.”
She grabbed the single brochure she had brought home and read about inviting God into your heart and life. Cezi knelt. She remembers praying, “God, I don’t know if Christianity is the right path, but I’d like to start over.”
She confessed her sins to God and prayed for salvation.
This excerpt is from a story that originally appeared on the Eurasia Region Website. To read Cezi’s story in full, click here.