“Dr. Emert, can you meet with us for Prayer?” Not an unusual request from the leadership of the small Bible College in Maykop, Russia, but for some reason, that morning, there seemed to be a call of urgency interweaving and flowing though the words.
Sergei and Elia and their wives spent the weekend in fasting and prayer.
It was 7:30 A. M. classes were to start at nine and the students were expecting this to be a normal Monday of classes; breakfast, Chai break, lunch, dinner and study. The dining was always in two shifts to accommodate the size of the room. Sixteen could eat at one sitting and the first group had already entered the dining room. When they were through, unlike the normal meals in Russia, the students would quickly vacate the dining room to make ready for the next shift of eaters. The mealtime was spent eating. Talking took place afterwards. But when you only have one small room for the feeding of thirty students, you had to readjust, and these Russians knew how to readjust!
While the students were eating, Elia, Sergei, and I stepped into the small room serving as an office. Sergei, the school’s director and Elia, the associate, quietly explained to me that we needed to pray because the school was out of money. Lorretta and I had given $100.00 USD just the week before to the school so that they could purchase some very needy supplies. However, the food was not part of the “needy supplies”. The money paid the rent for the building and bought some petrol for the car of the director, and helped to bring in some paper and supplies for the office. Sergei and Elia and their wives had spent the weekend in fasting and prayer for the needs of this new work. Meanwhile, the students were enjoying their breakfast and getting prepared for classes. Our prayer time that morning was both specific and intense. “Lord, we need money and food! It had not been many days before this that the students had gone into the hills to collect mushrooms and berries for their evening meal. It sounds as if that will be our “Morning Information Item” for them at class time. I checked my wallet and realized that we were awaiting the courier to arrive from America with our cash for the month. We were receiving $500.00 per month for the both of us while we were serving in Russia. It was not a lot of money, but we were doing just fine. If we had been receiving more, we could not have spent it because there was nothing to buy!
So the short-fall of cash in my wallet and no cash in theirs made our prayer time, as I said, “specific and intense”. Once we had prayed to the only One who could turn this situation around, the issue was over. The circumstances had not changed, the food was still needed, the funding was still short, but the issue was now out of our hands. We would watch God work again here in this city of 100,000, in the far east of Russia.
As we left the office that early Monday morning, Tanya (Elia’s wife and my translator) asked if we could all go to the main market in Maykop that day because Friday was the big market day. Elia had to tell her that we were waiting for God to bring in the money so that we could go. There was no disappointment in her expression, simply the acknowledgment that that was O. K. She smiled her sweet, broad smile, stepped into the classroom and took her place at the front of the room to wait for her translating responsibilities for our class that day. I stood and looked.
How can I stand before them without the necessary tools to study and learn and communicate? The thoughts captivated my mind. I am to stand before young people who have suffered for their faith. They have paid a price to be Christians! They have faced intense persecution. They have family members in prison because they openly proclaimed Jesus as their savior. These students have been expelled from or been prevented from attending the university in their city because of their faith. And I have no books!
Now, I come to the crux of the matter! This was our fifth week in Russia. I had been teaching in this new school for two weeks. None of my teaching supplies (books, notes, papers) had arrived from Moscow. I had my Ryrie Study Bible and my Scoffield Reference Bible. I said, I had my Ryrie Study Bible and my Scoffield Reference Bible. That was it! As I stood in the classroom the week before and taught, I prayed for the next thoughts to come back to my mind. The Lord in His grace brought back so many words from the text that I was sorry that I was not recording them because I think that they were better than the ones in my notes. What a way to grow!
I cannot remember today how I was able to think slowly enough for Tanya to translate, and while she was translating, I was preparing the next section. But, now, the books, the parchments, the writings are not here! What am I to do about the lessons that these students need to hear on trusting God? Where are my lecture notes on faith? Where are the commentaries that will help me teach these new believers that God heard their prayers? How can I stand before them without the necessary tools to study and learn and communicate? The thoughts captivated my mind. I am to stand before young people who have suffered for their faith. They have paid a price to be Christians! They have faced intense persecution. They have family members in prison because they openly proclaimed Jesus as their savior. These students have been expelled from or been prevented from attending the university in their city because of their faith. And I have no books!
That is when the realization hits that I should be in the seats and these students should be teaching. They have learned the lessons! They have asked in faith and the answer comes. They have moved the mountain. They have crossed the river on dry ground, and it’s me, Oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer!
God had arranged for them to arrive at the point of the crisis.
As I am standing at the door of the office, the thoughts of my pity-party were suddenly interrupted. Two men from Canada, one a Pastor, were passing through the Maykop region on their way to Ukraine. They were standing at the front gate. They had heard on their journey from a Canadian missionary that a small Bible college had started in Maykop that year. When they arrived in the city that morning, they stopped a militia man on the street and asked if he knew of the college and he told them that it was meeting in the home of his neighbor. He directed them to our location. A student brought them to the office as we were walking out.
Our introductions took place and they stated that they were on their way to Ukraine to visit one of their Missionaries. We had a wonderful but brief time of fellowship. It was approaching nine and I was about to excuse myself to step into the classroom when the men stated that they had been commissioned by their church in Canada to dispense some monies to the new Bible colleges in Maykop and Krasnodar. Since I was the first full time American teacher, they wanted me to be present.
The Pastor reached into his briefcase and took out a small envelope and handed it to me. It was not my college and I passed the envelope to Sergei and Elia. They opened it very slowly only to discover 15 $100.00 bills in United States currency. Neither Sergei nor Elia had ever held $1,500.00 in their hands. At that point in the exchange rate, one American dollar would buy 1155 Rubles. That would mean 1,730.000 Rubles were available to the school for ministry. The Canadians related that they reached Russia in the previous week and were trying to get to Maykop since Friday but had faced multiple difficulties in getting to Maykop. But God had arranged for them to arrive at the point of the crisis.
Tanya and Elia would be going shopping for food and supplies, and they invited us for our first trip to the mall in Maykop, Russia.
He would be discussing faith with himself!
Not his, but the faith of these young believers
who were learning to trust God
through every circumstance in life
under the direction of their Almighty God
And their American Teacher?
Who should be the teacher here? (not me!)
And who should be the learner here? (not them!)