Diana Abruzzi is the founder and International Chairman of the International Women’s Federation of Commerce and Industry. She joined Neil Johnson on 20Twenty to share important lessons about trusting God and walking in faith.
God Will Make a Way
When Diana was 19, she and her mother visited Hong Kong, which was a British colony at the time. On that trip, she witnessed Chinese nationals being shot as they tried to swim across the Sham Chun River to escape Communist China. This had a deep impact on her, and in 1984, more than twenty years later, God prompted her to take action. A lady sat beside her in church and gave her a book called God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew. She told Diana that she needed to read the book and then she was gone and Diana never saw her again.
‘I read it all night. I couldn’t put it down, said Diana. ‘The book brought back those memories of when I was 19 and the promise I made to God. I said, okay, Lord, I will go, but I don’t know how I’m going to get there. I haven’t got a clue what I’m going to be doing. How do I go about this sort of thing?’
Although Diana had no money for an overseas trip, or any idea of how she would pull off a mission to smuggle Bibles into China, she stepped out in faith. She called Qantas as they had just scheduled a flight to China. She was on hold for 20 minutes trying to get through to an operator. The whole time, a voice in the back of her head kept telling her to go to the travel agent in town. When she finally got through on the phone, she was told she had no chance of getting on that flight and the best they could do was put her on a waiting list. She went straight to the travel agent in town, and as she was walking in, she noticed a couple walking out. Diana asked the travel agent for tickets to China and was told that the couple who had just walked out had cancelled four tickets. Amazed, Diana snapped them up, thinking if God had got her this far, He would work out the rest. It was a Friday afternoon and the travel agent told Diana she could only hold the seats until Monday when she would need full payment.
‘God gave me the strength to step out into the unknown because it’s in the unknown where we really grow. It’s when we are not in our own strength; we are waiting on God to give us what we need. You’ve just got to build a faith in God no matter what is thrown at you,’ said Diana.
By Sunday night Diana had recruited her eldest son, her niece and a young man from church, all in their early twenties. However, she didn’t have the money for her own ticket. She went to bed, trusting God would work it out. At six o’clock in the morning, she received a phone call from her mother. She asked Diana what she was up to because God had been bugging her all night to give her a certain amount of money. To Diana’s amazement, it was the exact amount of money she needed to pay for her flight. Diana said she danced around the house praising God. The next step was to get Bibles to take with them. She got in touch with Brother Andrew’s organisation, Open Doors, and they provided pocket-size Bibles.
Walking in Faith
By sheer faith, Diana and her young companions boarded a plane to China without a clue what was waiting for them once they landed, who to contact, where to go, or how they would manage the language barrier. They had booked a hotel in Beijing for a week, and felt the culture shock from the moment they landed. The airport was like a giant warehouse with poor lighting, and customs was a trestle table. They had tucked the Bibles into every pocket of their clothing, and into their boots. They looked quite padded in their jackets, but since nothing was found in their bags, they were cleared through customs.
Once they were in their hotel, they had no idea what to do next, so they played tourist and waited for God to reveal the next step. The next morning, after Diana’s niece had spoken to the maid about God, they were about to head out when guards came into their room and began searching through their things. Diana recalls sensing the strength of God rise in her and rather than cower, she spoke up with confidence, demanding to know what they were doing. God protected them with perfect timing, as they had already hidden all the Bibles in their clothing, ready to leave, so the guards found nothing and left them alone. From then on, they felt like they were being followed.
While visiting tourist locations, they were shocked at how the Chinese people were treated. One lady, who looked so poor and hungry, tried to sell them something and was arrested. Another one jumped over the wall to escape and the police chased them through the forest.
‘It upset me so much. We don’t understand what it is like to live under tyranny. It’s a depressing oppression on people,’ said Diana.
Chinese State Churches
They were two days away from having to fly home and still had no idea what to do with the Bibles. Diana prayed for God’s guidance. It was Sunday, so they decided to find a church. Visitors could only use hotel taxis, and the taxi driver had to wait to take visitors back. It was a means of spying on people. Although underground churches were thriving in China, at the time, they didn’t know anyone who could take them, so they went to a state church. There were guards at the door. They found out later that every member of a state church had to be registered with the government.
To Diana’s surprise and delight, the Chinese church sang familiar English worship songs. During the service, a European lady in her sixties sitting behind them dressed in Chinese clothes said, ‘I believe you’ve got something for me.’ Diana cautiously asked her what she might be looking for. ‘God asked me to come here today. I don’t come to this church. He asked me to come with a big bag.’ Immediately, they unloaded their thirty Bibles. Then, an elderly lady came towards them with two young ladies who had just given their hearts to the Lord and they gave them Bibles as well.
‘You should have seen the light in their eyes. They were so alive and alight with the light of God in them,’ said Diana, who had noticed most of the people they had come across in China had dead eyes, void of any joy.
By then, the guards became suspicious and were approaching them. The elderly lady told them to disperse immediately, and they left the church filled with joy at God’s amazing intervention and faithfulness.
God had everything organised, but it took steps of faith for them to accomplish their mission. Diana later realised God’s wisdom to have kept the Bible exchange until the end, when it appeared their spies no longer thought they were a threat.
‘That trip strengthened my trust in God because God has a way of not acting straight away. We pray, but God’s timing in the answer to those prayers is not our timing. It’s God’s timing,’ said Diana.
Miracles and Wonders
Over time, Diana travelled to other countries and experienced many miracles. Some were big, such as a woman stating she had been raised from the dead; to small ones, such as asking God for an interpreter and the next minute someone turned up asking if they needed an interpreter. God always provided everything they needed to accomplish their missions.
With strengthened confidence, Diana and her companions felt bold enough to pray for miracles. One time they came across a distraught woman sitting in a gutter holding a baby whose face was blue. The four of them lay hands on the baby and prayed. To their amazement, the colour came back to the baby’s face, and it opened its eyes. Their joy was abundant.
‘Do not deny yourself the miracles of God,’ said Diana. ‘God is preparing us for the work that He has in store for us. The preparation is to build your resilience and the strength of your faith to combat the things we will come against.’
This article was inspired by Diana’s interview with Neil Johnson and an interview with Annemarie Cross, host of the Ambitious Entrepreneur Show. If you enjoyed this article, please share it to participate in spreading the good news of the Gospel of Jesus.
To view Diana’s full interview with Neil Johnson, click on the link below: