Monday, May 24, 2004

Spreading The Seed By Bus

I was enthralled on the bus trip to Pavlovo yesterday as I watched Jeff and Alexander, who was translating for Jeff, talk to a young woman about the Bible. It's the first chance I've had to see Jeff work on a personal level, and he is very effective at connecting with people in a way that they are receptive to hearing about God. The three only talked for about 20 minutes and I doubt she will accept the invitation to worship with the brethren in Nizhny (she works in Pavlovo but lives in Nizhny), but our work is to plant the seed and let God give the increase. The seed has now been planted in at least one more Russian woman's mind.

The conversation consisted of Jeff asking a series of questions and the woman answering. Each answer led to another question until Jeff eventually launched into a mini-sermon about the one gospel for all men. Here is a paraphrased recap of the question-and-answer conversation:

Q: Do you read the Bible?
A: Yes
Q: Do you understand what you read?
A: Some of it, yes, but other parts are confusing and mysterious
Q: Do you believe Jesus was raised from the dead?
A: Yes
Q: Do you believe we can be raised?
A: Yes, that is the teaching of the Russian Orthodox church, of which I am a member
Q: Do you believe it only because the Russian Orthodox church says it?
A: No, that is my personal belief.
Q: Have you read in the Bible how the apostle Paul says to worship?

As is the case with many Russians, the young lady suggested that religion is a cultural decision, that each culture has its own ways of serving God and that all are acceptable. That is when Jeff began to explain to her the emergence of the one true gospel in the first century.

He noted first that Jesus came and taught to the Jews, that Jesus' apostles then taught to the Jews and that the apostles finally went to the Gentiles. All of them taught the same truth about worship, regardless of the cultural differences between Jews and Gentiles. Paul taught in Asia, Greece and Italy, and he always taught the same thing. And today, while Christians in the United States and Russia have different customs in the worship service, all of us teach the same doctrine -- one body, one faith, one hope, one baptism.

That woman now knows the truth, and all of us should pray that she is curious enough to investigate further.

Once we arrived in Pavlovo, Tom stopped by a grocery store for food (the women in Pavlovo cook dinner each week for the brethren who travel down for worship), and he talked to a woman there about the church. They have had many conversations in the past, but she has resisted his entreaties to worship. She declined on that day in particular because she said she would be intimidated by the presence of two Americans. Pray that Tom, Alexander and others someday might influence her as well.


Blogger Libby said...

Hi Jeff, Holly has talked to Jonathan and think computer is straight again, but the photos you are trying to send are bogging the mail down. It tries repeatedly to send them, then starts over. It apparently is not retrieving new mail, because it is obsessing over the photos.

8:29 AM  

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