by: Rev. Doug Douma
SOLA-Appalachian Christian Retreat in Unionville, NY
the Missions Banner, January/February 2023: Print Edition
A few weeks ago, I was closely following the events of the war in Ukraine. And while I so greatly desire there to be peace in that place, I found myself far too joyful to see recent Ukrainian victories and consequent losses on the other side. The Lord quickly humbled me. I had a knock on the door. My visitor, a hiker, was Russian. Comrade (his trail name) and his 6-yr old son, Scribbles, were still hiking northbound in December in New York! Brrr. Well, they are Siberian after all. But even Siberians get cold outside. We hosted them for one night which turned into four nights as they waited out the cold rains and determined their next plan – to curtail their hike for the year and seek a warmer climate.
On the second day of their stay, I remembered that through Gideon connections I have various foreign language testaments including some in Russian! I reached up to the top shelf of our library and found some Bibles. Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Polish, … Russian! Well, I wasn’t entirely sure it was Russian. So I asked Igor (Comrade). And, surprise surprise, he pulled out two of his own Russian Bibles! I could see that the text was a match and I could see that he was a Christian. We were blessed then with their attendance at our church both Friday night for an event where we made gift baskets for nursing home patients and on Sunday morning for our Bible Study and Worship service.
As our church service began I saw Igor in a pew but not his son. Out of habit or out of respect his son remained in the fellowship hall as the service went on. So I learned later that in his home church the children usually do not attend the worship service until age 11 or 12. Igor thought this was “too late in some instances.” I agreed.
Our Bible Study looked at the first stage of the visit of Job’s friends; the first seven days when they said nothing. And among my conclusions on the subject, I recalled the old song “Silence is Golden.” Job’s friends did better in showing up than in talking! There is much we can all learn there. Igor didn’t talk during the Bible Study but he listened. Later at a meal, relevant to both our study and to life as a Russian in this century and the previous, Igor concluded, with a slight change to the English wording, “Silence is Gold.”
(pictured above: a note from our Russian guests)