When Ellie met Anthony, their friendship developed very slowly. Her patience and delight in the Lord helped to win the Italian prince.
Kristen Victory: I didn't have to wait long before I met the mystery man. My brother was back in town when Anthony first came to our church and he sat with our family for the morning service. I couldn't wait for the preacher to finish his message so my brother could introduce me to the guy with the warning watch out. As soon as the service ended, I stood up and turned towards my brother with expectation but he quickly turned away and escorted his friend out of the view without an introduction. I was so disappointed.
A few minutes later, I walked into the lobby and there was Anthony, leaning up against the wall. He was well‑dressed and my first thought was that he looked like a super handsome Italian prince. He didn't look my way and soon he was gone.
About 10 minutes later, I heard the church's back door bell ring. I walked down the steps to enter the door and I saw Anthony standing outside. I opened the door and he began to walk past me without even saying thank you. So I stuck out my hand and I said, "Hi. My name is Ellie."
He gave me a quick handshake and then without even glancing at me, walked on by. We slowly became friends over the next two years. He was very discreet with girls so it was hard to get to know him well, but his passion for ministry and the things of God were evident.
I wanted to know him better so I began to set up soccer, ping pong matches, and volleyball games. It took many months before he started coming over a couple of times a week to events that I was putting together.
Of course, I cooked fantastic meals and treats and made sure that I looked cute for the get‑togethers. I was able to observe him in many circumstances. One time, we were playing a game and someone got very angry at him. I was impressed with the way he patiently calmed the angry man down. I also noticed that instead of hanging out with the cool kids, he was often seen with inner city children, immigrants, and street people.
I remember seeing him many times sitting in the park talking with strangers about Jesus. Once in a while, I attended one of the weekly Bible studies he was leading with various people he had met. Over a couple of years, our friendship grew stronger. Then he gave me an essay he had written for college and asked me if I would edit it.
I read the essay over and over again. It was life‑changing. In the essay, he explained that a person could not be saved by the act of praying the prayer, stopping their sin or making Jesus the Lord of their life. A person could only be made righteous by faith in Christ alone. I began pointing others to Jesus instead of the things they had to do in order to get Jesus.
Instead of leading me further away from God and toward himself, Anthony was leading me closer to God. He treated in such a way that if I ever married someone else, my future husband could have thanked him.
I respected him more than any man I have ever met outside of my immediate family, yet I still had not allowed myself to dream romantically about him. This is probably because I never sensed that he was thinking romantically about me. The king says, "Worthwhile guides are always thinking about her honor and avoiding the mere appearance of evil in their relationship with girls."
I haven't always done that but I'm learning like all the rest of the guys. Now, over two and a half years have passed since I first laid eyes on my Italian prince and still we were just friends, I had real yearnings but I was committed to keeping my eye on serving God as a single woman until God made my romance happen.
About that time, I decided to go on a four‑month mission trip. The whole four months, I never wrote or phoned him and he didn't contact me. I stayed focused. Toward the end of my trip, I was on a train thinking about going home and seeing Anthony again. As I watched the beautiful Asian countryside pass by, I realized that I did not want to spend the rest of my life without the Godly man that I had come to greatly honor.
I had delighted myself in the Lord. I knew he would give me the desires of my heart He so promised in Psalms 37:4. I remained full of peace and delight. Within six weeks of my return, my dream finally came true. He came to visit and asked me to take a walk with on the beach. We walked to the waterside and stood there for a few minutes.
I asked him, "Well, what do you want to do?" He said, "I think we should pray." Then he dropped to his knee, "But before we pray, I want to give you something." He pulled out a ring and pressed it into my hand and then asked me to marry him.
For the first time, I looked deeply into his eyes. He had never told me he loved me but he had loved me. He had never tried to kiss or even hold my hand but he treated me like a treasure.
I said, "Yes." He took my hands and we prayed together, dedicating our lives to God. Then he said, "I have a gift for you," and started digging in the sand right where we were kneeling. He dug up a box and opened it, revealing two dozen red roses. As he handed me the roses, he finally told me the three glorious words every girl longs to hear, "I love you."
It wasn't until after we were engaged that my older brother told me that Anthony was the one good guy he thought would be good for me. My handsome Italian prince and I have now been married for almost seven years. For better or worse, for richer or poorer, through it all, we have rejoiced in one accord.
I have traveled around the world with him and watched him preach the good news to thousands. We just returned from living in Africa for the summer with our three kids and another baby on the way. Just today, we talked with a friend whose eyes filled with tears as he thanked my husband for preaching the gospel to him last year. My love story gets better everyday.
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