It wasn't all car trouble. In between we even managed to meet people :-) Here are a few special individuals we connected with.
Luda was a dynamic personality. She was lame in both legs and was confined to a wheelchair, but that didn't stop her. In spite of her handicap she was a go-getter and a power house. Thinking back on it, one could wonder if she was bound to that wheel chair to keep her from flying away.
She was determined to help young people, and she managed to establish a rehab for drug addicts in a place out in the countryside away from temptations.
It was a bit of a run down place, but since it was away from the city it was an ideal place for troubled youth to get away from drugs and work on re-building their lives as well as the property. I was duly impressed with what this resolute lady was able to accomplish with those young folks, who now were turned on and happy to learn from Luda about starting a new life of faith and camaraderie.
I remember one time she told me that she had written to a famous abundant life faith healer, asking him to pray for her legs to be healed. She received a letter back asking her to support "The ministry." That particular faith healer (so-called) is said to be a multi millionaire and here was Luda on barely an invalid pension sacrificing her all to help former drug addicts – what a sad joke!
Every time we came for a visit there was some new person or neighbour who had passed by for a word of prayer or counsel. Through our contact with Luda we met many other precious people, including Georgy.
We called Georgy “the beard man”. Georgy was almost stone deaf. Eventually we were able to provide him with a hearing aid from the Videx company in Norway, who kindly donated their old models for us to give to needy hearing impaired people in Ukraine.
Georgy was a pensioner. He was a retired tram driver, and was now living on his next to nothing pension. During communism pensions were secure, but when the Soviet Union collapsed inflation wiped out the value of the Ruble, so what used to be a secure retirement was now a pittance.
Georgy was on fire for Jesus. He was telling people about Jesus everywhere he went, and he was usually asking for literature to pass out. He was concerned for his grand-daughter, who was living in a smaller town near to Kiev, and he wanted her to get in contact with us, so we managed to meet her during one of our trips to Kiev.
Georgy was a also a strong personality. He was passionate in his convictions and expressed them emphatically - hearing impaired people often speak with a loud voice - I should know, being hard of hearing myself :-)
I remember I gave him a pair of my comfortable, but well worn, Ecco shoes, since his old shoes were in pretty bad condition. He looked at the second hand pair with a bit of a frown, but accepted them politely. I felt kind of bad that I had given him an old pair of shoes. Fortunately the next time we met he was raving about how those shoes were the most comfortable pair he had ever worn, and that he never wanted to take them off!
I heard Georgy had an accident and was run over by a car. I trust he is now in a better place and able to enjoy hearing heavenly music.
One time we also brought Georgy along to visit Alex in a small village close to Donetsk.
And then there was Saint Alex - that’s what I called him anyway. A sweet humble man always brimming over with a smile and kindness. He had written in response to some literature he had obtained and had asked if he could have more to pass out.
It always took a lot of seeking and asking around to find peoples' addresses. For some reason you were supposed to know that so-and-so lived in the small house beyond the bend a little down the hill just after the green gate, (or some description like that). Street signs and house numbers were rare, even when we did have an address. We finally found him and his wife in a typical Ukrainian house with a vegetable garden.
It was in a small village called Avdiivka just north of Donetsk. That's the area where fighting between pro-Russian rebels and the Ukrainian army have been going on recently.
The love of Jesus simply radiated from Alex’s face. He was just bubbling over with the joy of the Lord. He told us that during the time of communism he was considered one of the most dangerous persons in the Oblast.
Alex was a very special person. I felt he could see through you and read your thoughts. He emanated such love and compassion that put you completely at ease. I don't know how else to describe it.
I’ve had that feeling once before with a little Catholic nun we ran into in India. We met her in a hospital where she would go and talk to the patients. I had a spooky feeling she could see right through me. She told me she would never go out unless she felt Jesus was with her.
Meeting someone like that is almost like walking on holy ground, where you feel perhaps you should take off your shoes or something. I suspect that kind of character is formed in a person that is completely in love with Jesus.
Alex told us at one time the village persuaded him to become their pastor, and he tried it for a while, but pretty soon he got tired of the same-old same-old and told them, “find yourself another pastor, I’m out of here! I would rather go and tell other folks about Jesus.”
Since he was on pension he could travel for free on the electric trains from east to west in Ukraine. So he would take as many tracts, Bibles, New Testaments, and as much other literature with him as he could carry. He would go through a train from one end and give everybody something to read, coming back down the train he would stop by anyone reading and talk to them about the Lord. Then he would get off and take a train in another direction until he had run out of reading material to give away.
First time we came we had brought him a few thousand tracts. He looked at the stacks and said, “So little?” He would write every Christian organization he could think of and ask for literature. Every time we came, we doubled the amount to give him – it was never enough.
Alex's wife looked like your typical “Babuska.” I had the impression she would sometimes shake her head at her husbands silly Christian nonsense. She was more concerned about tending the garden and stocking up food for the winter. I guess you can't really blame her! But I also felt that she knew her husband was a sweet and loving man, so she put up with his "Jesus antics" :-)
I think the people we met were able to relate to us because they could see we were not much different than them. Christian evangelists sometimes came from the West and hired a sports arena to put on a fancy Gospel show. They would give the altar call and get people to pray the sinners prayer, but afterwards they'd just go back home. That was all good and well, and I do hope people found the Lord.
Our friends saw the way we lived - side by side with them. We were enduring the same kind of struggles, and yet were able to keep smiling and trusting the Lord.
Next chapter is less wordy - just a few pictures I found.