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February - April 2002

Waiting… and witnessing

In our last letter, I reported that our new apartment in Russia was supposed to be finished soon so that we could move there from Ukraine and settle in to the next phase of our ministry.  The builders had promised us that everything would be ready by January 1st. Now it is the end of April, and they still have not finished the work they promised to do. Progress is being made, but you can imagine our frustration at the delay. It looks like we might be able to move in June. Please pray!

I am still traveling back and forth almost every week between Russia and Ukraine. It’s an overnight train trip of about 12 hours each way. When I am in Oryol, I inspect the construction work for progress and put the pressure on the builders to keep it moving. We have been passing out thousands of gospel tracts in the village of Narishkino, where we would like to start a church, as well as in the bigger city of Oryol, where we will be living. We are witnessing door-to-door, on public transport trains and buses, and on the streets.

It is interesting (and sad) that most of the people we talk to, who were supposed to have been brought up as atheists in the Soviet days, are actually very religious people. Almost everyone will tell you that they believe in Jesus and expect that they will probably go to Heaven. Their Russian Orthodox religion, however, is an empty one. Although they claim to believe that all men are sinners, few would agree that their sin is bad enough to send them to Hell. They trust in their good works to win them favor with God. They feel it is enough to light candles in the cathedral and pray before their “holy icons” (pictures of the saints). We are praying that the Spirit of God will open their spiritually blind eyes and do a work of conviction in their hearts.

Nadia, our next-door neighbor lady in Kiev, has always resisted coming to church with us. She always said that her health keeps her from going anywhere. This is the same lady whose husband died in their apartment about 2 years ago. Whenever we witnessed to her, she was always polite but not interested. Easter Sunday we were leaving for church, and saw her sitting on a bench outside in front of our building. She was all dressed up and said she wanted to go to church with us. She sat and listened to the sermon and during the invitation she raised her hand and then headed to the front and trusted Christ. Amen! She has been coming every Sunday since then, and we have really seen a change in her life.

A few weeks ago I gave a tract to a man on the street here in Kiev. The man gave the tract back and said it was too early for him to think about Heaven. I said he ought to get prepared. The man said, "Do you think you are prepared?" I said I knew I was, and showed him 1 John 5:13 on the front of the tract. The man put his hand on his back pocket and said, "Let's get prepared right now!" I thought he was talking about money and told him you can't buy salvation with money.

The man said, "I'm not talking about money, I have a pistol in my back pocket! Are you still sure you are prepared?" I said sure, I was ready to go to Heaven at any time. The man said, "It's not funny, I mean it! You really think you are prepared to go to Heaven?" I said sure, I was, because Jesus saved me from my sins. The man was amazed! He said, "You really aren't afraid! I can see it in your eyes." Then he said that he really didn't have a pistol, but how could you be sure you were going to Heaven? I witnessed to him, but he said that he was religious, and he thought that was enough. He came to church with us the next day and listened with interest. Please pray for "Volodya" to realize his need for salvation.

We are asking for special prayer for Ruth’s dad. He is 85 and his health has been failing for a few years. Now he’s in the hospital, and we don’t know how much longer he has to live. We are comforted to know that he is a faithful Christian who made sure of his destination many years ago.

In the service of the King,
Don Ossewaarde