“Are you tourists?”
The city was called Solikamsk. I was walking with my Russian translator, lagging a bit behind the group because everything around me called to have it’s picture taken, when a woman handing out flyers approached us.
Apparently she overheard us speaking in English because she asked:
“Are you tourists?”
I was surprised. Typically in Russia, you don’t talk to strangers, much less smile at them. Yet this woman had done both! My translator began speaking with her, because she spoke very limited English. She offered to show us the two monasteries in the city and to be our tour guide. When we told her we were going to church in a couple hours, she immediately agreed to go with us.
She had an easy smile and an obvious love for people. Victoria was her name.
As she walked alongside us, I began asking her questions about her interests, family and anything else that came to mind. The conversation quickly turned to her spiritual beliefs. She said she wasn’t a Christian, yet went on to claim the same beliefs in Jesus as I had. Needless to say, I was a bit confused.
As the conversation progressed, I discovered that she desired to give her life to the Lord, but wanted to ensure she is fully committed first. Victoria wanted to be completely sincere in giving her life to the Lord. Her family, which she loves dearly, was also a hindrance for they often discouraged and almost opposed her search to know more about God.
Another member of my team, Hannah, began sharing her testimony. Hannah relates with having family members not understanding and agreeing with her pursuit of Jesus.
The sincerity on her face when she spoke of Jesus touched my heart. As we worshiped during the service, I couldn’t help but glance over at Victoria from time to time. She truly loved him.
I shared with her how she is not alone. Jesus welcomes her with open arms. She may feel like she doesn’t belong anywhere else, but she can belong with him. But not only is the Lord with her, he also gives us other believers to encourage us and remind us of the truth when we are struggling.
Before going to Russia, I thought it was an atheist country. Yet this isn’t true. Russian orthodoxy is at the core of the Russian culture and the heart of most of its people.
In the Orthodox Church, Jesus is to be revered on Sundays, but the priest is the one to be obeyed. Actions, instead of faith are the path to salvation in Russian orthodoxy. Sharing about our personal, loving Savior to a woman surrounded by these teachings was an incredible honor.
I am so grateful that we were able to bring Victoria to a place where she can not only learn more about the Lord and hopefully surrender her life to him, but where she can meet believers who can walk alongside her on this journey. A place where Jesus is the center of it all. My prayer is for her to return to that church and continue seeking the Lord.
“Jesus sent you guys to me.” Several times Victoria said this and I couldn’t agree more. Who knew that one simple question could lead to several lives being impacted for eternity?! Our God truly does love His people and long to draw them to Himself.