<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d5742108\x26blogName\x3dDiscount+Bananas\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLUE\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://soonercary.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://soonercary.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d-4225892882570869465', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

Walking with Lena

Walking with Lena

For fourty-five minutes every Tuesday and Thursday, the afternoon sun streamed through the 16th story communist-era apartment window and onto the time-worn solid wood table that sat between me and a young, fresh faced, blue-eyed Ukrainian girl named Lena. She usually had just sat her small purse down and had apologized for her tardiness as she swept her neck-length sandy-blonde hair behind her ear and quickly opened the English workbook to the previous week's lesson.

It usually took her a minute to get settled and catch her breath, because she and her friend Polina had always just spent the last two hours catching passenger trains from their small country village into the heart of Ukrainian capital of Kiev, then rushing to the red metro line stop that connected with the underground train that brought them to the edge of the Harkivsky district. From there it was onto a crowded bus that dropped them near the intersection where our aging building loomed over the dirty street.

She knew my drill well - talk about the day, the week, new developments with her father, how she felt, etc. But she always had a special eagerness to get back into the stories we were discussing - stories straight from the book of Luke that tracked the development of Jesus Christ and his life. I always started the lessons by having my readers recount what they remembered from last week and the significance of the story. With Lena, this almost always included a reference to something she had experienced in the meantime. She would tell in wide-eyed wonderment of something she had seen that demonstrated the principle of the story we had talked about before.

Lena was best Friends with Polina, the sixteen year old daughter of Natasha, the volunteer interpreter for the Harkivsky church. Natasha and Polina had been bringing Lena to church for several months, much to the disapproval of Lena's family, specifically her father. Her excitement about Christ had been growing astronomically and was hungrily devouring everything she could get her hands on that would teach her more about the Christian faith. But she stopped short of making an outward commitment because of the intense fear of a family backlash. In their eyes, what we were doing was indoctrinating her into a cult. Often this would reduce her to tears in our sessions together, an epic struggle raging in her mind between becoming a Christian and the fear of ostrcization from the family she loved so much. Eventually a good portion of our sessions together would be devoted to nothing but passionate prayer together about her situation. She wanted it so badly, but desperately wanted the blessings of her family in the process. To God we went, over and over.

The weeks rolled by, and our sessions became deeper, the prayer time more desperate, and her passion over the stories of Christ more immense. Her language became rich with Russian-accented superlatives: "That is wonderful." "That is amazing." "I am so happy about that." She would slowly sit back in the wobbly plastic lawn chair, eyes moist with the excitement she just experienced in the discovery of a new idea. Then we would pray, and pray some more. She would then gather her things from the floor around her and carefully read on the other side of the room while Polina and I worked on the books of Acts for an hour. Finally, the two hour commute back to the country side, where she told of constantly watching out the train window, speaking with God about what to do with the new hope she was finding in the power of God's promise.

One warm Thursday afternoon Lena stepped into the apartment, took her seat across the table, laid her belongings in the usual spot on the floor, looked me in the eyes, and with a giant smile that she no longer could suppress and with wide, rosy, eastern European cheeks flushed with excitement, boldly stated "I am to be baptized." Prepared for another emotional session of asking God to throw open this door, I sat forward, somewhat stunned at the delivery of an answer for which we both had been searching. Of course, my only word at the time was "Awesome."

She wanted Rick, the missionary, to help her do this and also wanted Natasha and Polina to be present, which made the following Saturday the only practical time. That morning rolled around and the three of us from OU, plus Rick, his family, Natasha, and Polina gathered with Lena in our apartment to embark on the trek to the local park which had a large pond. Lena was shaking with excitement.

Lena walked by my side for much of the journey. I strode with my hands in my pockets, occaisionally glancing over at her face. Her eyes were mostly fixed on the distance.

"I am going to be baptized."
"Today I am to become a new person."
"This is the greatest day of my life."
"I am so happy. I am so happy."

Suddenly it wasn't her that was welling up with tears. It was me. I kept looking forward, with my hands in my pocket, gazing through the fog of moisture that was coming over my eyes. I had worked so hard to help her come to this point, but for some reason I found myself realizing that I didn't truly know the significance of what was happening to her. But wasn't this what was supposed to have happened to me? Isn't it because of this that I am across the world trying to get other people to discover the grace of God? Why am I not waking up daily realizing the fact that I am a totally new person because of what God is doing right now? Why did I sit up out of the baptistry and think about getting my dry clothes back on? There is a Holy Spirit from God swirling about this girl right now that is touching her with images of a life totally changed. Suddenly I was the one in desperate need of it. Suddenly I was the one being taught what it was like to actually know the power of God. And I realized that was the lesson that Lena was actually teaching me from the moment she first sat across that old table.

God put his spirit in the form of Lena that day. God's spirit, with rosy cheeks and Sandy blonde hair, showed me the power of total change that had never really affected me -- a spirit that wraps around me and wants to radically transform me at every moment. Why had I never found this spirit as a Christian?

As I stood on the muddy shore of the dark pond that sunny Saturday morning, I watched a soul emerge from the water having undergone a total heart transplant before my eyes. I could only look down and wonder how much of my own I had allowed to be replaced.


« Home | Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »

» Post a Comment