Chapter 17 ~ Joint Efforts in Novoasovsk

As suddenly as the doors had opened for the Gospel in Russia they closed again. The Russian Orthodox church with the help of the political establishment started a concerted campaign to demonize all Christian groups and missionaries outside of the official Russian Orthodox church. And suddenly the climate changed from that of openness and curiosity to suspicion and fear. The window of opportunity was closing and the work in Russia started to scale down.

Those of us working in Ukraine had more freedom to continue our endeavours. The Russian Orthodox and the Ukrainian Orthodox church created something of a power balance, and the political climate in Kiev was more tolerant towards other denominations.

There were a lot of pamphlets and literature left over in Russia and a shipment was sent to Rostov-on Don near the south east border to Ukraine. Several of us met up close to the Russian border at Novoazovs'k to pick up the shipment in Rostov-on-Don. A Russian and a Ukrainian brother drove a van across, while we were waiting in the relatively small beach town at the Asovs’k Sea.

Crossing borders was always dicey, you never quite knew what to expect. With the budding new government in Kiev the laws seemed to be constantly changing, and you couldn't help but have the impression that border officials always decided to implement whatever law would work in their favour. So we prayed fervently for the team making the trip.

While waiting I was driving around looking at the beach town together with a fellow volunteer. Arriving at one of the town squares all of a sudden I found myself waving the gear stick in the air. The constant vibrations from the bumpy Ukrainian roads had cracked the aluminium casing on top of the gear box, and the piece where the gear stick was mounted had broken off. Oh brother, another car problem!!!

Using our limited Russian vocabulary we looked around for a mechanic and were directed to a place filled with farming equipment. Enormous tractors and harvesting combines filled the factory. Again in our broken Russian we explained the situation to the workers, who curiously gathered around, and when showing the broken aluminium casing they pointed to a small man among them.

Right then the foreman arrived barking orders, so everyone scurried back to their posts. Again we tried to explain our predicament to the foreman, who looked suspiciously at us. Then without a word he turned on his heals and walked off, and we stood there not knowing what to think. Soon he came back though, carrying two special welding electrodes in his hand, which he gave to the small man that had been pointed out to us previously.

Before we knew it, the chap was down there between the front seats welding away. It was not a particularly pretty job, but it looked sturdy enough to hold and when asking the gruff foreman what we owed him he just shrugged his shoulders and sent us on our way. Problem solved!

Next day to our relief the two guys arrived safe and sound with all the boxes of literature, having managed to talk their way past both the Russian and Ukrainian border guards. We divided the loot between the vehicles and headed back to our respective outposts, Kiev, Crimea and Dnipro. Another "mission accomplished!"

Chapter 18 ~ The Longest Trip   ( TOC )