Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Peace That Surpasses Understanding

In Russia I have come to expect that there are but two paths that people travel before they become Christians: atheism, a total rejection of God's existence, or Orthodoxy, the "national religion." Alexander veered onto the narrow way that leads to life (Matt. 7:13) by way of the latter path; his wife, Irena, had a more complicated journey, moving first from atheism to Orthodoxy and then to Christianity.

Irena was curious about God much of her life, no doubt because "since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen" (Rom. 1:20). "I had a kind of notion or feeling that there is something," she said. But her parents, both atheists, and others aggressively discouraged her from pursuing the knowledge of God.

At about age 25, however, as she saw injustice all around her in the world, Irena began searching diligently for peace. "People are very full of evil, and they treat each other badly," she said. She saw everyone as an enemy and did not like that view of the world.

In trying to escape that way of thinking, she turned to the Orthodox church and was sprinkled at about age 30. She never liked the rituals of Orthodoxy. "It was a kind of inner feeling that there was something wrong with it," she said. And less than a year after her foray into Orthodoxy, Irena began meeting with the Christians in Nizhny.

While she was ready to serve God, she did not fully understand the teaching about baptism. She had the kind of zeal without knowledge apparent in Gentiles before they came to know Christ (Rom. 10:1-3). "But of course I have changed," she said. "You have to grow. You have to develop." Irena was immersed last summer, and she is no longer so distraught by evil in the world because she has found goodness in Christ.

"The only thing I can say for sure is that now I can say I have found peace for my soul," said Irena, whose name means peace. "And this knowledge is so important that I will not exchange it for anything else."


Blogger Kimberly said...


As I'm reading your comments about these faithful Christians in Russia I am filled with longing to meet them, but realize that that will probably never happen. It then occurred to me that these will be the people that I get to spend eternity with--what a blessing for me!

On a personal note: It was wonderful speaking to you on the phone last night! I slept like a baby being able to hear your voice before falling asleep. I love you.

6:55 PM  

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