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March - April 2013

The “Smuggler”

When I was a teenager, I read the famous book about Brother Andrew, "God's Smuggler". He smuggled Bibles into Russia back in the 1950s and 1960s in his little old Volkswagen. Sometimes at the border, when the guards searched his car, he prayed, "Lord, you made blind eyes see, now make seeing eyes blind". Bibles are no longer illegal in Russia, but there is still a problem with transporting literature across the border. When I ordered some Christian books from a publisher in Ukraine, the mail was stopped by customs inspectors at the Russian border. This is not an issue of religious persecution. The Russian government does not prohibit this material, but they consider it to be “merchandise” that will be sold for profit. They don’t believe that we will give away the books for free, so they treat them like smuggled goods.

We distribute thousands of Gospel tracts every month here in Oryol. Usually, my wife and I print, fold, and cut them ourselves. The publisher in Ukraine makes some very attractive “Chick comic book” tracts. I decided that these tracts would help our people to get more involved in evangelism this summer, so I ordered 1000 of them. To avoid the shipping problem, I decided that we could send them to a missionary in Ukraine, in a town close to the Russian border, and I would just go down there on a train and get them. Customs guards always check the trains, but they seldom go through your luggage, so I thought it would work to put the tracts in a suitcase.

I spent the day in Ukraine and had good fellowship with my missionary friend. On the way home, I noticed that the train was almost empty, so I was afraid the customs officers would have more time to snoop around. Sure enough, they asked me to open my suitcase and they found 1000 tracts. Immediately they said that I could not take these printed materials into Russia. I argued that these were not for sale; they are my personal belongings - my "business cards". My name and address are printed on the back of each one. Three guards came over and examined the tracts page by page. I told them that this was a new type of business card in the form of a small comic book. They all shook their heads no, and went away. I suppose they were consulting with a supervisor, and I fully expected to lose the tracts. I waited about 40 minutes, praying, "Lord, these are Your tracts, if You want them in Russia, You will have to get them in." The guards never returned. When the train began to move again, I rejoiced! The tracts are now being distributed in Oryol.

I honestly think that the Lord wanted to show me that He is always in control. If I had crossed the border with no problems, I could easily have given credit to my own cleverness and years of experience in crossing the border on trains. There is no way to explain how this worked out, other than to give all the honor and glory to God.

Thank you so much for all your prayers and support.

In the service of the King,
Don Ossewaarde