A Complete Bible
The Christmas festivities nearly at an end, we had two more stops. On Sunday the 12th we attended service at Steven’s church in Balashikha where Gerhard preached and we shared communion with the congregation. Afterward, we joined Pastor Walter and others for lunch.
Pastor Walter told us the story behind the building we were in while we ate. At one point, Ilya asked him to please pause so Beate could take a break from translation and eat with the rest of us. To which Pastor Walter replied, “Then I will speak in English. You will not close my mouth” And he continued to tell us how during and directly after the Soviet era, he and several others worked to acquire permission from the Government to build a registered church. The Government finally complied and granted them the use of a plot of land in Balashikha–a trash dump. They set to work despite the location and opposition from the local community. They cleaned the dump, laid a foundation and built the church, but even after years of ministry, they still bore opposition. At one point the building was set on fire and the roof destroyed, but they rebuilt and continued to serve their community.
That day we saw the fruit of the life and work of those who risked everything to establish the Church in Russia during the Soviet Union, and who when once they had succeeded, continue to build upon the foundation and minister to people in need today.
After lunch, we drove down the road to the senior care center for a special program for the elderly living there.
Several members from the church in Balashikha sang hymns and two ladies recited poetry. Then Ilya presented the story of the first Christmas and the Gospel. We sang one more song together and prayed, before giving each person a Bible.
To us, living in the United States, a Bible can seem like just another book, one we probably have multiple copies of sitting around the house. Easy to find, and unfortunately for many, easy to forget and leave sitting on a shelf.
But when we gave these Russian Bible’s to the elderly, they received them with open hearts. One gentleman couldn’t believe the gift. “A complete Bible?” He asked, “a complete Bible with both the Old and New Testaments?” He couldn’t believe that finally, after years, he would be able to read the entirety of God’s word.