Early on in my trip, I had the privilege of having breakfast with two young moms. They opened up to me about faith and their various struggles. It was still warm at the time, yet the morning had a pleasant crispness to it and the sky was clear and blue. Mila Rausch came over with her friend Karina to have breakfast with me. They were both eager to talk about God and the church and what their current church lacks.
Karina especially talked about her disappointment with her church. She sounded a lot like Mila when I talked with her two years ago. She lamented the “traditionalism” of her Lutheran brothers and sisters. There is much emphasis on form and doctrine with little life. She related to me how in these past two years God has been opening her eyes and refashioning her heart. Two preachers have been instrumental in this: Alexander Shevchenko and Alexey Kolomiytsev. Shevchenko is the one who introduced her to a new living way of looking at Christianity and Kolomiystev has deepened and furthered her understanding of God. She spoke much of knowing God personally and how important that is. She considers herself not where God wants her to be, but on the way. “There’s no way I can go back. I just can’t see myself “there” anymore,” she said, “there” meaning the Sunday to Sunday Christianity that’s void of a day to day walk with God.
I noticed when we first began our conversation Karina looked me in the eyes little, but as I opened up a little about myself and told her about my church, or as I commented on what she had related to me, she would make eye contact more often. It’s interesting how a person can say much about themselves, yet still be afraid to look at the other in the eyes. Words are one thing, but the eyes can betray far more than words can tell. She is also more Russian in her culture, and Russians often consider it rude to make eye-contact with strangers; nevertheless, I saw in her eyes a struggle. There’s life, but it isn’t coming easy.
However, what gives me joy is that Mila has a friend who is now of the same mind. Two years ago she told me how some people chided her for being so expressive and open about her walk with God. It deflated her and made it hard for her to keep filling herself up with the fresh air of the gospel. Yet this morning she had joy in her eyes and next to her was a friend who also shares that same joy, that same seeking, that same thirst for God who is the living God, providing ever present mercy and grace to help in times of need. This seems like the seeds of a revival. Even though the church to which they belong is opposed to change, these women can have an influence on other individuals; and those individuals can also become the sparks that will create a holy fire in the church as a whole.
Mila told me about her prayer walks, in which she prays aloud and learns to see everything as that which is from God. With such joy she told me about recent back pains she’s been having. “He has slowed me down,” she said, and this slowing down helps her see her need in Him. “Isn’t that the point?” Mila further related to me how in Germany (much like in the U.S.) people are so fixated on money and buying houses, and cars, and things, that all they do for God is only done on one day—Sunday—and at one time—the Sunday service. Her back pains however made her have to stop working; but despite this loss of income, she said God has been providing for her family. Now she spends more time seeking God (all the while raising three young boys) and still her family is able to have all they need.
As I listened to her relating this trying experience, Matthew 6:33 came to mind: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” God indeed provides to his children. But first comes the poverty of spirit, the mourning, the thirsting, the meekness; then we see, then we are satisfied.
*The names of the two women have been changed to keep their identities confidential.