One Miracle After Another: The Pavel Goia Story, by Greg Budd
In reading this book, which is about a Seventh-Day Adventist pastor I have heard online before, I was reminded, as I often am, of other books that I have read. In particular, this book strongly reminded me of the book A Thousand Shall Fall, which is about the experiences of a Seventh-Day Adventist member in Nazi Germany who was able to survive, through divine providence, the horrors of the Eastern front despite being sent as an unarmed pioneer into what may with considerable understatement be described as a difficult situation. This book is full of the discussion of miracles that happened in the life of the book’s subject over the course of the first part of his life, and the title is an apt description of the contents that are to be found in this book. If you are fond of reading about miracle stories, this book is full of them. These miracles, it should be noted, not only happen to the book’s subject but also to the people who happen to be around him, and thus allowed the author to worship God as he understood the Bible despite the difficulties of doing so in late Communist Romania.
This book is a quick read of about 150 pages in length and its materials are divided into thirteen chapters. The book begins with a chapter that discusses the workings of God in the life of the subject’s family and Goia’s wonderings about the plans of God for his life from early childhood (1), which delivered him from serious trouble. After that, there is a discussion of the divine promise to take care of believers, something that is seen over and over again (2). This is followed by a discussion of a glass business that Goia had as a teenager (3). After that there is a discussion of the Bible smuggling efforts that Goia experienced and how he was delivered from what could have been a stiff prison sentence (4). After that there is a discussion of the drama that Goia experienced trying to get into university as a building engineer (5) and his experiences in losing freedom in military service (6), and how his hard work led him to prosper despite his refusal to work on the Sabbath (7), and how despite hostility he was able to win friends in high places from those who respected his work ethic (8). At this point there is a family photo album, and then there is a look at the difficulties the subject faced in his education (9), as well as his marriage to his childhood crush (10). There is a discussion of his success in working with textiles because of the personal connections he was able to make and divine providence (11), as well as a look at a miracle involving a handicapped young man (12). The book ends with a discussion of the divine providence of Goia’s seminary education and move from Romania to the United States (13), a well as a conclusion and an appeal from Goia to the reader to have faith in God’s care.
In reading a book like this one, I am struck with the thought that this book reminded me in many ways of a past that has been elusive in texts in my own religious tradition. In reading a book like this, I think of the stories that other people have shared with me about the workings of God in their own life and in the lives of their friends and family members. I am reminded of the faith that many people once had in the workings of God to make sure that people had enough to eat, had blessings for their hard work and their refusal to compromise faith, had cars to drive and access to higher education. Yet in my own religious tradition most of this material is recounted in oral accounts told by one member to a (hopefully) sympathetic audience. There is not, as is the case here, a tradition where ordinary members write full-sized books about the workings of divine providence in their lives. The subject of this book happens to be a religious leader, and if such books are to exist in the religious tradition I come from, they are likely to be from those who are in charge of churches or at least are part of the ministry. Some aspects, it must be noted, bear a strong resemblance as well to the account of the first volume of the Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, and this book may be said to be similar to what that book would have sounded like had it been written by a sympathetic biographer rather than by the subject himself.