“Papa, why do you always stop reading in the middle of the verse?”
“Now Evelina we have been through this before. There are eight families in our village that are Christians and we don’t even have a complete Bible, so each family gets four pages and our last page ends in the middle of a verse.”
“When will God give us a Bible of our own?”
“I don’t know Sweetheart, but someday He will.”
“When do we get to go to church again?”
“Oh so many questions from such a little girl. We will be going to church this Sunday.”
“This Sunday! Is it true Papa, this Sunday? Oh I love to go to church!” The seven-year-old, put her hands on her father’s cheeks with eyes full of joy.
“Yes, it’s true, my little Evelina, church is this Sunday. Now, let’s say your prayers and go to bed.”
Little Evelina plopped her body down on a homemade feather mattress that covered a corner of the one room house. Once it was certain that she was asleep, Momma spoke, “Ivan, do you realize that Evelina was not a Daddy’s girl until you told her of Jesus?”
“I know, I know, I just hope her love for Him don’t get her killed someday.”
“Now Ivan, listen to yourself. You shouldn’t let that bother you. Don’t ya remember, it was His love for her that got Him killed?”
Seeing the sunrise Sunday morning gave Evelina even greater anticipation than usual. “Papa, Papa, when will it be time? When is it our turn to go to church?”
“We are one of the last families to go. We are due to leave at 8:40.”
“Oh Papa, can’t we leave earlier, no one will see us.”
“We can’t take that chance Sweetheart. Our time will be here soon enough.”
As the pendulum in the clock went back and forth, back and forth until 8:40, Evelina paced the floor, Momma packed a wicker basket and Papa read and reread the four pages of scripture, he cherished them as much as Evelina did.
At 8:40am Ivan stood at the door. He held one finger over his puckered lips, and it was now time to be silent. The family walked out the door, Ivan in the middle, Momma to his right, Evelina to his left. Momma carried a wicker basket, Evelina held Papa’s hand and Ivan had four pages of Scripture tucked in his left shoe. The family walked west by two homes, into a cow pasture, past a pond, then into the woods.
They reached the clearing twenty minutes after leaving the house. About thirty people, men, women, and children were already there. Everyone hugged Evelina and her parents but no one said a word, no one made a sound. They waited, and another family arrived about twenty minutes later and another twenty-five minutes after that. The church was assembled.
Mrs. Boronski’s husband, an unbeliever, did not come; this made several people nervous. He had turned his back on the meetings so far, but some were afraid he would one day turn them into the Soviet authorities.
Evelina’s eyes were aglow as the congregation hummed some hymns. “To sing would put us at too much risk of being caught.” Papa always said. After humming for an hour, each head of household would take his four pages of Scripture and whisper about what God had showed them in the six weeks they had their particular part. It was a three-hour conversation where no one spoke above a whisper.
Once the “Scripture whispering” was done, they would pray silently, hum one more song, trade Scripture pages and share from the baskets, a communion meal. Families would sporadically at set times head home, so authorities would not be alerted with a large group coming out of the woods at the same time.
Safe at home and a little after dark, Evelina climbed into Ivan’s lap, and he read to her their new four pages of Scripture.
“Papa, when will God give us a Bible of our own?”
“Someday He will, Sweetheart, someday He will.”
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