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November - December 2014

Valentina and Vladimir

In January 2014, 78 year old Valentina visited us for the first time. Her husband had recently died. She started coming almost every Sunday. Valentina is not simple minded, but she had a hard time understanding the truth of the Gospel. Her grandfather had been an Orthodox priest, and even in the Soviet days, her mother secretly told her things about God. Valentina listens carefully when I preach, but she didn’t seem to really get the point of the plan of salvation. I kept giving her different Bible verses, especially the ones that prove that works and religion cannot save you. She likes to read, so I gave her different tracts and books about salvation. She said, "I know that the sisters here have something that I don't have yet. I am trying to understand, because I know that I need it." I gave her the plan of salvation many times, and encouraged her to ask the Lord to help her to understand. It was obvious from her answers that her thinking was still muddled by false religion.

One Sunday in November, I preached about Samson. I talked about the Holy Spirit, and how He came upon believers temporarily in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament age, He dwells permanently in saved people. Right after the service, Valentina came up to me and said, "I have a question about the Holy Spirit living inside. How does that happen?" I told her that He lives in saved people, but not in unsaved people. I went through the plan of salvation again, and told her, "I don't think you have taken that step of faith yet." She thought about it for a bit, and said, "You know, about two months ago, I was at home reading through those booklets that you gave me, and I was thinking about all that you have told us. I understood that I could only get saved by going directly to Jesus. I got down on my knees by my bed, and I prayed a prayer like the one in the tract, but I made sure to use my own words from my own heart, because you told us that those are the only prayers that really count." I asked her if Jesus heard that prayer, and she said yes. I asked her if, according to the Bible, was she one of the saved people or one of the unsaved people. I could see the light bulb go on. She said, "I'm one of the saved!" I took a while to explain about the many things that are included in salvation, like forgiveness of sins, eternal life in heaven, eternal security, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I showed her that she was a child of God and a sister in Christ.

(You can read Valentina's story in more detail here)

Vladimir and Dennis are both in their late 20s. Lately they have been coming more regularly, and they show more spiritual interest. Vladimir came to church one Sunday morning with bruises on his face. He skipped church the previous Sunday, because he wanted to go to a nightclub to drink and to dance with the girls. A fight broke out, and he was beaten. He went straight home and promised God that he would go to church next time. After the service, he stayed for an extra two hours talking with me about salvation. He wants to be saved, but he is having trouble getting past the ideas of false religion. His friend Dennis stayed and participated in the conversation as well. I am hopeful that both of these men will make that all-important step of faith very soon.

In the service of the King,
Don Ossewaarde