“May Day …May Day…” The international distress signal recognized by military and civilian organizations all around this world. It has come from captains of ships, pilots in planes, soldiers in battle, skiers in trouble and Christians at prayer! Whoops! What? From Christians at prayer? What in the world does that mean?
Oh, haven’t you ever been in a place where you called out in a distress scream to heaven, shouting ”Dear God: May Day! May Day! We have a major crisis here! Help now?” I do not recall using those exact words, but perhaps the cry of ”HELP” was sufficient to gain the attention that I needed from heaven. But believe me, those were the words that would have fit the situation that early morning in Krasnodar. H e l p, O God! MAY DAY!
It was Tuesday morning and Mayday was on my mind. For the Russian student, the date had no real meaning, but it was December 7th, and I was trying to remember what a seven year old boy could remember about a Sunday morning event which occurred a world away at a place called Pearl Harbor. Today, all Americans would be remembering that date, and those events.
The meeting that morning was to inform them that they had just eaten their last meal. All of the food was gone. There was enough bread for the Chai break, but nothing for lunch that day.
However, the students in Krasnodar were not burdened that morning by the historical Japanese invasion of Hawaii but would soon be made aware of another pressing issue. Gennady and Sasha, the directors of the Lampados Bible College, summoned them to a meeting held in the dining room. This large home in Adygea territory of Krasnodar was donated to the Bible College by the owner, to train a new generation of preachers and teachers. These students were were going into the churches springing up across Russia to preach and teach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. This building housed some seventeen live-in students, the administrative offices, the classroom, the library (small) and the eating facility (crowded, but adequate).
The building more than met the needs and with the doors closed, it stayed warm. The bathrooms were outside and there was no running water in the building. The cooks drew their water from a very good well located in the back yard. The responsibility for carrying water into the home was divided among the students, while the cooking of the meals was accomplished on an open fire in the courtyard. The students always appreciated the servings of hot food and delicious soups.
The meeting that morning was to inform them that they had just eaten their last meal. All of the food was gone. There was enough bread for the Chai break, but nothing for lunch that day. Gennady was informing the students that the next meal would come to them by the provision of God. As Anna translated these words to me, I could hear “MAY DAY, GOD, MAY DAY” rising in my heart. However as I looked into the faces of these young students, all, except the director and his associate, saved less than two years, I saw absolutely no fear, or concern, or panic. There was no “knee-jerk” reaction. I watched them fold their hands, bow their heads, heard them pray and thank God for their next meal.
When the prayer time ended, so did the crisis. They had heard the problem and committed it to the only One who could help. Now they simply moved toward the classroom for their studies and wait for God to work. Andre picked up his books and his guitar, and moved into the classroom followed by each of the students. I watched them pass, Andre, Veronica, Nick, Anna, Sasha, Alec, and the remainder of them. A joyful expectancy in their faces, and a song on their lips as Andre began to play and they sang their praise songs to their Savior.
I am standing there thinking ”May Day” but they have gone on about their business. Hey, I am the teacher! I had better get in there! Thus began our lesson that day in the Old Testament Survey class.
“How can I turn this into a lesson of faith when I am the one crying out “May Day”?
It would not take long for the lesson to come to me, but it did not flow out of my lecture or jump at me from the page of Scripture.In fact, it never came from this American teacher. No Sir. It came from the hand of the Lord God Almighty Himself!
As I taught the lesson, my eyes fell on Nikolai, the newest student in the college. He enrolled on Monday, released from prison in the previous month. I had no idea concerning his imprisonment, nor did I ask. He was eager to learn and it seemed like this might be his first big lesson on faith. Would God provide the next meal that day, or would the lesson come more slowly to this young man? What was he thinking on this, his second day, about the prayers of these students? What was he observing in their lifestyles that would grow him?
Our college phones had already been turned off by the “former KGB” and we had already been forced to move the college four times this year.
What was he seeing in me? Was my “May-day” crisis rolling over onto him?
As I taught the class, we were approaching the end of the first hour and a-half, and were getting ready for our morning break. We would gather for chai (tea), bread and certainly more praying. With Anna, my translator standing near me, we watched a large, green military truck, back slowly into the side yard of the college. That was never an exciting thing to observe at that time in Our college phones had already been turned off by the “former KGB” and we had already been forced to move the college four times this year. What was this “military exercise” about to mean to the students and staff? Well, me too!
Gennady, the director, stepped into the room and came up to where I was teaching, and asked me if he could tell the students another bit of information. He spoke beautiful English and at times served as my translator both in the college and in the churches. He announced to the students that not only had God heard their prayers, but also He had answered them long before they had prayed.
The parents of our newest student, Nikolai, were thrilled with his glorious salvation and his release from prison. Upon his enrollment in the college, they had decided that they would bring a load of food to the school. After Nikolai had left by train, they loaded their new farm truck, recently purchased from the military, with hundreds of pounds of potatoes, onions, carrots and cabbage.
They had driven their truck west to Krasnodar, arriving late Monday evening, but were unable to communicate with the college since the phones were shut off. The students, administration and staff would soon know the parents “faith trip” when they arrived with their supply of food.
While the students were praying for their next meal, the truck, with their answered prayers, was winding its way through the streets of Krasnodar, across the Kuban River Bridge, into Adygea territory, so that its cargo would arrive in time for lunch.
May Day? Crisis?
God’s answer was on the way before the students knew that there was a catastrophe looming.The parents had left with their gift without knowing that there was a food crisis in the college!
How unique are the ways and works of God!
The Psalmist wrote:
O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions….These all wait for You…that You may give them their food in due season (Psalm 104: 24, 27).
Potatoes, prayer, a crisis and the provision of God.
It really is a matter of divine perspective. A prayer prayed, faith deepened, a meal delivered! And the lesson I was going to teach these students…was a lesson God and these students was teaching me!
May Day…May Day!
It’s all right to pray!
God has met your need,
The Potatoes are on the way!