Feature

A Good Translation

The Truth Shines Through in any Language

By Anonymous

Missionaries are always praying for God to raise up leaders, people who “get it“—the kind of people who soak up God’s Word, who are ready to follow Him and who desire to be involved in the ministries of the church. Everyone involved in full-time ministry will tell you that they constantly pray for this yet rarely find that kind of person.

But every once in a while God sends someone like this our way. My wife and I first became acquainted with Natasha Simonova in spring 2004, when Natasha began attending my wife’s scrapbooking seminars. But we really didn’t get to know her until about a year and a half ago, when she began attending the Alpha course in our apartment. But instead of telling you her story myself, I will let her tell you:

I was born in 1983. My father was a lieutenant colonel in the FSB (formerly KGB), and my mother is a teacher. In my family, we never talked about God or any religious topics. I don’t think it was because of fear (in the late 1980s the Church in Russia was no longer persecuted), but just that for 70 years people were taught that there was no God; therefore, there was nothing to be discussed.

But in 1990, when a series of laws were passed on the freedom of religion, Russia was flooded with all kinds of cults and sects. It was easy to be confused by this myriad of religious movements (especially if you have no idea what the truth is), since we were well taught not to believe or trust anybody or anything.

That’s why my mother was concerned when in 2004 I was offered a job as an interpreter for a group of American short-term missionaries from California. But knowing that I was pretty firm in my persuasions and would not let anybody muddle my brains, she allowed me to work for them.

A Different Bible

That week was the first time I heard the message of the Bible, and I was very surprised to find out that it was “a little bit” different from what I expected. By the end of the week I thought I knew everything about salvation and even started to talk to people about this, for it seemed to me that I understood the mind of Russian people better than the Americans. But at the same time, I never thought I needed salvation, for in my point of view God “was created only for the poor and sick.” But the American missionaries didn’t seem to be poor and sick, so it was hard for me to understand why these successful and beautiful people would leave their homes and suffer the trials of Russian village life just to share the message they believed to be so vital.

After returning to Moscow, I asked myself questions that never seemed to bother me before: Does God exist? And if so, what does it mean for me personally? That year, God allowed me to experience many changes and difficulties that made me understand I was nothing on my own and that my human logic could not explain His unconditional love and forgiveness.

At that time I was going to the English Café, hosted by Alliance workers. Although I knew they were part of the church, I didn’t go there to find the answers to my questions. But I did feel the atmosphere of God’s love and comfort. On the outside I was self-confident and even cynical, but inside I realized it was only by God’s mercy that I was still alive. And I thought that if I ever came to the Lord, the first people I would like to tell about it were these Alliance workers.

A Different Life

The next summer, when I translated for American missionaries again, I was a completely different person. During the first trip I was translating for other Russians, but this time I felt like every single word said by the team leader was especially for me. At the end of the trip the leader asked me, “Natasha, I see that you are ready to accept the Lord. Why don’t you do it?” I thought for a minute. “OK, I’ll do it,” I answered. He said, “If you would like, I can pray with you.” I smiled. “No, you don’t need to. I’ve pronounced this prayer so many times while translating, that I’ve memorized it. I just never said it in my own heart.”

At that point, everything was new for me—new life, new relationships, new opportunities and discoveries. But I didn’t fully realize that this was just the beginning of what God wants to accomplish in my life. The Alpha course, led by Alliance international workers, incited me to start attending church regularly and to be involved in ministry. These workers also encouraged me a lot when I first felt a call from God to become a missionary. With their help and prayers I went to Greece for a short-term missions trip. I realized how hard it was to “put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” (Eph. 6:13).

Now I delight in sharing the good news of salvation and forgiveness of sins. There is nothing more exciting and encouraging for me than to see people’s lives changed by the power of the love of Christ. Looking back on their lives and on my own way to Jesus, I’m amazed to see how God has worked in my life through His people.

I’m often reminded of the passage from Romans 11:33, 36: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! . . . For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”

Natasha has led the past two Alpha course discussion groups, helps in leading a Spanish Club, leads our weekly church services about once a month and is involved in a host of other ministries as well. As a recent university graduate she fits right into our church’s target audience.

Please pray for Natasha as she feels the Lord’s calling to be a missionary in a Spanish-speaking country. And please pray that the Lord will send us more people like Natasha—people who are ready to commit their lives for the sake of Christ.

RUSSIA — In Brief

The Russian Federation is the largest country on earth, spanning more than 17 million square kilometers and 11 time zones. Its vast expanses stretch from the Arctic Ocean to Central Asia and from Eastern Europe to the Pacific Ocean. Bordering countries are Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, North Korea, Norway, Poland and Ukraine. The Ural mountain range forms a natural border between Europe and Asia.

The Russian royal family was executed in Yekaterinburg in 1918, and in 1922 the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was formed. The following countries in Europe were members of the former USSR along with Russia: Belarus, Estonia (from World War II), Latvia (World War II), Lithuania (World War II), Moldova (World War II) and Ukraine; member countries from Asia were Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

At the end of 1991 the USSR was dissolved. Boris Yeltsin, formerly the mayor of Yekaterinburg, became the president of the Russian Federation. Yeltsin was succeeded by Vladimir Putin in 1999.

—from www.worldinfozone.com

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