Some of you may know of my mission work in Russia. I traveled to Ekaterinburg, Russia on two separate occasions in 2010 and 2012. Both were life changing in their own unique way. The latter has had a far reaching impact in my life that continues to this day.
In the months leading up to our departure in 2012, I'd come out of an emotional and heart wrenching year of my dad's illness and death. My children were leaving the nest permanently and my world was changing.
Fear began to send me in a downward spiral into a pit of depression and emotional upheaval. In the midst of all this turmoil, I was leaving my home and family to venture to a foreign land without any close friends, whom I'd traveled with before. Most everyone tried to talk me out of going, but I knew I was supposed to go.
On the other side of the ocean was a young woman I was destined to meet. There was a plan for us and nothing would stand in the way.
Her name is Ksyu. Her American name is Sue. Thirty years separate us in age...if that matters. I think not.
Our group was there to facilitate an English camp. Sue and I met the first night at dinner. I sat across the table from her. She seemed as lonely as I was. I asked her what she liked to do. She said she liked to draw pictures of people.
|Sue's drawing of me|
Not only did she capture my face and features, she captured the angst of my heart.
She and I made a connection of the mind and heart that allowed me to share some of my story. In our small group the next day I shared of my broken childhood and family. It also gave me and others a door to share the good news of Jesus.
Our stories. Our lives. Shared.
Soon after we returned from Russia, Sue made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ.
Two years later...
Sue and I still talk regularly. One of the interns who was working in Russia while we were there visited our church recently. She reported that Sue is a vital part of the Christian community and has led many to Christ.
Her smile is contagious and there is a sweetness about her that is genuine. She is a light of hope in a dark country where war and rumors of war are crouching at the door.
Yet, she continually asks how she can pray for me and my family. She asks how my children are doing and wants to know how my writing is coming along.
"Let each of you look not only to his own interests,
but also to the interests of others."
Philippians 2:4 ESV
We hope to see each other again one day and I know we will. Our world is getting smaller and I believe somehow we will meet face to face on American soil.
|Sue with her niece|
As my pastor preached on Sunday, how many people are we afraid of because they're different? We must take every opportunity to share our lives with the "Sue's" we meet; whether they be in Russia, our schools, churches, playgrounds, grocery stores, ball fields, or wherever you find yourself looking into the face of another.
I learned so much during the summer of 2012. It was the launching pad for my journey of truly learning to trust Him in all things. I'm so hard-headed He had to take me all the way to Russia to get my attention, through a girl named Sue...
She has no idea how much our experience together gave me strength to face the next year of my life.
Simple faith. Shared lives.
Whose life can you make a difference in today? There is a world waiting for you, one life at a time.