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Home for Christmas
On August 14, I was convicted of “illegal missionary activity”. Our first appeal of this conviction was denied on September 30, and our second appeal was denied on November 15. My attorneys filed an appeal with the Russian Supreme Court on November 25. The court has accepted the case for consideration and should give a decision within two months. We are also preparing an appeal to the Constitutional Court, which has the power to declare the law to be unconstitutional.
Some missionaries who are working with me on a transition plan visited Oryol. They wanted to meet with our people to determine whether or not there is enough interest to continue the ministry here. I felt a little bit vulnerable, because the fruits of 14 years of ministry were going to be examined. I wondered if the people would say, "Without Donald, we just are not interested." I hoped that they would love the Lord enough to serve Him, even if I leave.
After many hours of discussions, the missionaries were satisfied that our people have a desire to go forward. The people had an opportunity to see that the missionaries believed the same things that I have taught them. It was so sweet to hear them tell how God changed their lives and gave them the joy of salvation. It was a very emotional experience for me to see them back in our church house for the first time in over two months. I wept freely as we prayed together. I felt very deeply that our years of service here have not been a waste of time.
I was invited to an early Thanksgiving celebration with some missionary friends, so I flew to Siberia, where it was 37 degrees below zero! Then, I was invited to spend Thanksgiving day with other missionaries, so I flew to sunny Crimea, where it was much warmer. When I was introduced to one of the Russian teenagers in the church there, he said, “Are you THE Donald Ossewaarde, who is fighting for freedom? I have been praying for you!” I have also been recognized on the train and in the mall by strangers who saw me on local TV.
Back in Oryol, police came to my door a few times and demanded to enter my apartment. Perhaps they wanted to question me about my travels. In accordance with my legal rights, I did not let them in. One time, they put clay seals on the edge of my door and over the keyhole, and poured glue on the doorknob to make it hard for me to open. My lawyer says that these are common intimidation tactics.
A few days before Christmas, I realized that there was no urgent business to keep me in Russia. I decided to go home to celebrate Christmas and the new year with my family. A quick flight on Swiss Air brought me home just before Christmas eve. I plan to return to Russia on January 20.
You can find the story in much more detail on my website, www.donossewaarde.com. Look for the link to the update page. Thank you so much for praying.
In the service of the King,