Louis Smith and Douglas Yade
The following is an excerpt from the book "To Siberia with Bibles" which is available from booksellers at conferences or the authors. L. Smith, (517) 569-2733 or D. Yade, (705) 567-5951. US $6.50, Can. $10.00.
The sun splashed its warm light over the sleepy Siberian village of Rusinski, sitting in the tundra many miles north of Tobolsk. It was a cool summer morning but this was normal since the village was only three degrees latitude south of the arctic circle. Galya looked out the dirty window across the yard. It was a quiet Sunday morning but her mind was anything but quiet.
"Is there a God? Can He make Himself known?" She reflected on her twelve years of work as the administrator of a school for kindergarten classes. "Is this all there is? What is the purpose of life?"
As a child, her teachers had drilled into her mind, "There is no God." But some believed otherwise. Many of the villagers were natives, similar to the Inuit of North America. They sacrificed every year to their gods as they cut off the head of a bear and killed a few reindeer as a sacrifice for their sins. Galya wondered about these things.
For more than ten years, various prayers broke from her heart such as, "0 God, if You exist, please make Yourself known to me." Very recently she had also prayed, "O God, if You are there, I want You to come to me and never leave me." Her tangled thoughts limped back over the weary roads of years past. Her husband had left her two years ago. Galya had to raise her only daughter, a daughter she really didnt want, and they fought all the time.
Her trembling heart spoke heavenward again. "If there is any such thing as a God, then this is the day I want to know you." She grappled with the decision that had struggled to form itself in her mind. "If there is no proof of God by the end of today, I will end my life."
A sincere prayer went heavenward. The iron curtains of oppression and communist philosophy couldnt block it. All the darkness of a nation that had dismissed God for seventy years couldnt quench it.
Strangers on the Streets
Outside, the natives in their brightly colored coats walked past on their way to check some reindeer. Little children began to move in the streets. Down the road a couple of strangers walked. Americans. Never before had such foreigners set foot here. They had brought treasure to give away. To one home and then to another they gave the little gift. People looked at the cover and hesitated for just a moment. "Not long ago, it was a crime to hold just a page of this book," they remembered.
The villagers opened it up and read the first page. "The New Testament of the Holy Bible." Turning the page, they read, "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ." On some people a little smile broke out as they looked up at the stranger and said, "Thank-you."
The strangers moved on quickly as they didnt expect to be here much longer. The helicopter would arrive at any time to take them further north to remote areas with this great treasure of Gods Word. But God had already turned the helicopter away. They would have more time here than what they had planned.
Of course, Jesse Fitch didnt know the plans had changed. It had been a very busy time since coming and he was tired. He walked out to the edge of town to the helicopter landing pad. He rested, then prayed, then read, then slept some more. Suddenly his rest was punctured by a thought. "What am I doing here? Where is Louis Smith?"
Back through the tired streets he went. He passed a woman in the yard outside the old beaten up apartment building. She was taking some dried clothes off a line. He thought, "Im sure she already received a New Testament. Weve covered the whole town." He walked on past. "But what if we missed her? I must be sure."
The Voice of God
Jesse went back to speak to her. The routine job of hanging clothes would never be the same again. She was about to hear the voice of God in the pages of a book. Galya had her back to him when he touched her shoulder. She turned suddenly, a little startled, and looked up at his warm smile. "Where is he from? I have never seen him here before." He spoke in simple Russian, "Here is a gift for you." Her mind began to spin. "A gift? In Russia? From a stranger, who can actually smile in this bleak land?" She carefully took the book. The words, "The Holy Bible" launched off the page at her mind and warm tears washed her eyes as her lips trembled. She was utterly astounded. Galya looked at the tall man, then at the book, then up again. She tried to speak. "He doesnt seem to understand anyway," she thought, gesturing with weak hands. "Come to my house."
Jesse was touched, realizing God had been plowing this soil. He indicated that he would be right back as he turned to look for his fellow worker and the interpreter. Together they spread out the Two Roads and Two Destinies chart, the simplified illustration of the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life and few there be that find it."
They poured into her thirsty heart the story of the One who said, "I am the Door." "Jesus died on the cross for our sins," they told her. "Now He tells us to come to Him and believe He died for us personally." She could hardly believe such news and she realized God had been watching her. He had heard her prayer to the "unknown God." "My burden is gone," she said as she trusted the Savior. "This is the first time I have heard that sins could be forgiven."
As they left, not knowing if they would meet again, she was pointed to the verse, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5). She gasped at these words in the Holy Book as she remembered the words of her prayer. "Never leave me? Could it really be? God has heard my cry."
They mentioned to Galya that there was a baptism planned in Tobolsk. "I would also like to be baptized," she said. "Why should I travel to Tobolsk, ten hours away by train? What is wrong with this river?" Jesse looked at Louis. "What can we say? We must do it here." They went to the river where about 120 children plus the staff of a summer camp listened to the gospel and witnessed Galya being baptized.
The Lord had plowed the heart, sent the messengers with His Word and sovereignly overruled the circumstances in life so the prayers of one woman were answered in His time. This was a common experience in Siberia.
Reader, you may have heard that Jesus died on the cross for sinners. Are you sure that your sins are forgiven? Do you know for sure that you will be in heaven? You can be sure, if you realize your need, and apart from works, trust the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior. "For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works so that no man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
A few months later, two Russian believers from Surgut took Louis Smith and Douglas Yade to visit Ruskinski again. Galya was happy to see them and quickly went out into the minus 24 F (-31 C) cold night to gather in seven ladies for a gospel meeting. They conversed for three hours and answered many questions. In the morning they visited a native doctor with the gospel and then went to the village school. There were about 30 students and a couple of teachers who listened in the cold classroom. Driving back to Surgut over the icy roads, a rainbow was seen in the sky formed by ice crystals at the minus 23 F (-30" C) temperature.
Galya later moved to another area of the remote north. In August 2000 she wrote to Louis, "I remember you and pray for you every day. I am in good health and live in my one-room apartment and take care of my very sick mother. She cant see, walk or eat by herself. I dont have any Christian friends because of my sick mother and my work. I dont have free time. I pray and read my Bible alone. I invite you to visit me. You are welcome. Say hello to all my friends."