Friday, 12 June 2020

Why Eastern Europe, Lord?

 - Was it because I read the novel: “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” when I was 14?
 - Was it because I two years later always ended up in discussions with radical people when I was evangelizing in the streets, and therefore had to learn more about Marx and Lenin to be able to meet their arguments? 

 - Was it because I was so fascinated when I read the book about “God’s smuggler” who in the 70s smuggled so many Bibles ‘under’ the iron curtain? 

 - Was it because this ‘smuggler’ – brother Andrew, was the main preacher in the last meeting I attended before I left Tromsø and went into training to become an officer at the age of 18? 

 - Was it because one of his associates, ‘John’, a Salvationist from UK, came to speak about the importance of spreading the Bible in Eastern Europe? Or was it John’s testimony that made such an impact? “I am prepared to go to jail, and if so happens, they will take my Bible”, John said. “However, to be prepared I am constantly learning important passages from the Scripture by heart.” Then he read the first two chapters from Ephesians by heart. 

 - Was it because of Gorbachev and glasnost that really made me hopeful that there would be a new opening for the gospel and the Army? 

Well, from that moment, Lord, you know that I started to get involved, because you were with us when I in 1989 took a group of young people to Leningrad. We had Bibles for children with us, which we distributed outside one of the Cathedrals, after some time we gave the rest of the Bibles to the church which was one of the very few that were open at the time. 
Two years later, I drove a minivan from Norway with another group of students. We brought minimum of luggage to be able transport as much food as possible to the newly opened Salvation Army. We drove into Leningrad and a couple of days later out of St. Petersburg. It was an inspiring weekend. You know Lord, that I would have loved to be part of it, but you also know why we couldn’t.

However, when the first call came from IHQ in March 2004, we were ready. You had prepared us, and we had three hectic and eventful years with many challenges – first in MUR-division, and when Ukraine became a division, in MR-division, and the last year in Moldova division. We thank you, Lord, for the challenges and give you honour for many people saved and baptised in The holy spirit.

You also know, Lord, that I had always wanted to take Magna to the place where we distributed the Bibles in 1989, however, I could not remember where it was, nor the name of the church. When EET in 2006 celebrated 15 years ministry in St. Pete, the Army made a contract with a conference centre for the event. As the time of the congress drew closer, the conference centre wanted more information. When they understood that it was a religious event, they cancelled the contract. The Army tried two more centres without success. Just a week or so before the event, they finally manged to get a nice centre for the purpose. When Magna and I arrived at congress-venue, I stood in awe and felt tears coming to my eyes. The venue was across the street of the cathedral where we had given out the Bibles. I was reminded about the verse: 
“Cast your bread upon the waters, For you will find it after many days.” Ecclesiastes 11:1 
Since we returned to Eastern Europe in the summer of 2015, we have seen this verse fulfilled again and again. So Lord, we know that you are always faithful to your word. Of course, the challenges have been many: Unstable political situations, even situations with war in Ukraine and war-like situations in Georgia; travels involving risks like the suicide-bombing we experienced in Istanbul in 2016; projects that did not work out in accordance with the desired plans, and this year the corona-situation that has influenced the whole world. But there are so many good things happening as well, so we know you are with your people Lord.

People are still getting saved, renewed and filled with the Spirit and follow the call to fulfil God’s mission in The Salvation Army. We see new initiatives, opening of outposts and corps, and now after five years of prayers and planning you are opening the way for The Salvation Army in Bulgaria. Nothing can stop your life in us, Lord, because it is a life that never dies!

I know that as long as our people in Easter Europe and Russia will continue to seek you, Lord, and not put their faith in the human structure we build to support the mission, you will continue to work in and through your people. 

Then we will see the unseen come true and your Kingdom come with healing to our nations and lands. You will hear more prayers for Eastern Europe and Russia coming from Magna and me, Lord, because the people will always be in our hearts!
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Published in Vestnic Spasenya #3 2020
The Article in Russian

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