Born to alcoholic Gypsy parents in France, Albert and his youngest brother, Joseph, bounced from an orphanage to foster care to more orphanages throughout their childhood. At the Catholic orphanage, Albert was baptized at the age of 14, but he knew nothing of the Bible or salvation, so the baptism was meaningless to him.
As teenagers, Albert and Joseph started engaging in rebellious behavior. By adulthood, they moved on to burglary, car theft, and check fraud, which landed Albert in prison several times. Albert had married and had four children, but when Joseph took off for the Basque region of southwest France, Albert fled his Gypsy family to join him.
Joseph had been living with a woman named Evelyne, and they had a daughter, Angélique. One day, Evelyne told Joseph she had met Jesus and that her life was changed. But Joseph was not at all interested. He left her to travel the roads of France, living in his car and getting financial help from Albert. God was pursuing the brothers, though neither wanted to be pursued. In 2014, Albert’s friend Yvette gave him a Bible and told him to read it. But because nothing from his childhood religious background had touched his heart, the book had no appeal to him and he gave it away.
In July 2016, Albert’s world crashed around him. Joseph suddenly felt very sick, and doctors found that he had a very aggressive cancer. Before Albert knew it, his brother was gone. On September 12 of that year, Joseph was buried in the Basque region. At the funeral service, Albert wept uncontrollably.
“Joseph is not here …”
A pastor he’d never before met (BMM missionary Bob Bixby) preached to the handful of people who gathered. Albert turned to Joseph’s former partner, Evelyne, to ask who he was. She replied that he was Angélique’s pastor from Bordeaux. Bob looked right at Albert and said, “Joseph is not here in this coffin. It’s only his remains that are here. In the last weeks of his life, Joseph understood that he was a sinner and lost. He repented and received Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. Joseph has gone to heaven to be with God.” (Angélique and her husband, Ulisés, had shared the gospel with Joseph in the hospital, and he received Christ a week later.)
At the moment Albert heard the pastor’s words, he also believed in Jesus, and he felt something overwhelm him inside. Angélique and Ulisés introduced Albert to JJ Cheloutdchenko, a BMM missionary near where Albert lived. JJ opened up the world of the Bible to Albert, answering all his questions: “Who is God the Father? Jesus? The Holy Spirit? What is the Trinity? How did the Word come to Europe by the Apostle Paul?”
At the age of 57, Albert was transformed. God instantly delivered him from alcoholism, and he is getting victory from smoking. Looking back, Albert saw how God protected him in the past so that he might have a future with God: to no longer be ignorant and lost but to introduce God’s Word to others so they might repent and get right with God. Albert wrote in his testimony, “That’s what I want to declare to those that God puts on my path and to my children, because soon it will be too late.”
Photo: Albert's baptism