We arrived in Tbilisi at around 4:30am this morning. We were met by our host and we were blessed to get a little rest and refreshing before having our first meeting of this trip. We traveled into old town Tbilisi to a quaint little coffee shop called “Culture & Coffee”. It was a very nice shop, the service was excellent, and so was the coffee. Check it out online here: https://g.page/coffee-and-culture?share.
We were there to meet with Jose (named changed for privacy here). Jose is Iranian. He moved to Georgia in 2011 to pursue a new career in hospitality services. He eventually rented some space and started his very own Hostel. Jose shared with us that within 6 months of opening he was ranked 3rd by Trip Advisor in Tbilisi and was overwhelmed with guests daily. He told us that his Hostel was so busy that at night after all of his rooms were filled, he laid mattresses on the floor of the lobby and rented them from 11pm-7am, every night those mattresses filled up as well. He said that he was daily sending his overflow clients to other area Hostels, which doesn’t happen normally here in Georgia.
Jose shared that while his business was booming, his personal life was in shambles. He was Muslim, but struggled with relationships. He said during this time he had 3 girlfriends and that eventually they found out about the others. He remembered that it was like world war 3 outside of his workplace. During this time he opened a 2nd Hostel that also began to do very well, Jose related that money was flowing in so quickly, that he could barely keep up. As so often happens when ventures succeed, everyone wants some of the benefits.
The landlords he was renting from began to increase their prices, even though they were under contract. This was very difficult for Jose, eventually a lawsuit sided with Jose, but not before he realized that renting was not going be a long term solution.
In the midst of all of this crisis; crisis in his personal life, crisis in his business, Jose began to listen to some friends and family who encouraged him to seek Jesus. He related his first prayer to be something like this, “Jesus I don’t believe in you. You are as alive to me as this wall that I am looking at. I can see this wall, so I will talk to it, as if I am talking to you. I do not believe your are real, but if you are, show yourself to me.” It was some months later, when Jesus made himself known to Jose. Jose shared that it was at 3am on a New Year’s Day at a party when a friend helped him to surrender his life to Jesus. Jose experienced a miraculous deliverance from some areas of intense addiction and sin immediately. He shared that since that day Jesus has overwhelmed him with grace and love and provision, that the greatest miracle he has experienced was the immediate end to his addiction.
Over the last 5 years Jose has grown as a Christian and led many of his friends and family to faith in Christ. He can no longer return to Iran because his life is threatened there because of his faith in Christ. He has begun construction of his own hotel in Tbilisi. He has done the hard work of laying the foundation and the first floor. He has watched God provide for him over and over through this project. Though the first phase has been a sheer act of of perseverance and will power, he is ready to see phase two begun.
Jose is trusting God to provide investment capital to finish his hotel project. He prays daily that his hotel will be a light in the darkness. He has designed the building to have multi floor skylights so that the interior of the building will be filled with sunlight. He prays that the light of Christ will be rest for the weary who come there to rest, to escape, and to recover from this world. It is a beautiful thing to see a life that was once filled with darkness and despair find the light of Christ, and then to discover his gifts to take that light to the world.
Pray for Jose! Pray that God will provide what is needed to finish this incredible vision. Pray that Jesus will be exalted in this Hotel, and that the many future clients from all around the globe will truly find rest in this lighthouse for the nations.