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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Home Group (11/29/07)

TITLE: In His Presence
By Beckie Stewart


We had endured almost two weeks of the frigid weather conditions of Kazakhstan. We were halfway around the world during the Christmas and New Year holidays adopting a nine-month old little girl. Unfortunately, we had to leave our older children in the United States, and phone calls were nearly impossible to make.

To top off our emotional struggles in this foreign land, all of our attempts at locating a Baptist church in the area had failed due to communication issues with our translator and those at the church. Despair was threatening to overcome us as we were homesick for our four children as well as our church family.

"I have a friend who has a friend in your region of Kazakhstan," the email read one morning. I immediately wrote back and asked for a name and way to contact her. My friend sent me a name and phone number. I instantly made attempts to contact Sharon*.

Sharon was a single mom. We had not yet crossed paths at the baby house while bonding with our little girl, but we discovered our daughter-to-be was in the same baby group as her little girl. After talking on the phone, we met at a local restaurant and exchanged stories about the way the Lord had led in our lives to the precious little girls we were adopting.

"It has been so hard being here these last two weeks, " I told Sharon while we visited that evening. "I miss my children so much, and we have not been able to find a church to attend."

"Oh, I wish we had met sooner," Sharon exclaimed. "I have been attending a wonderful home church that was started by a missionary a few years ago. The present pastor is leaving soon to attend seminary in America, but you should join us this Sunday."

In the days that followed, we received information from Sharon and were able to get the information we needed so our driver could bring us to the service. We were one of the first couples to arrive that Sunday. We walked into a small apartment on the second floor and were immediately greeted by the smile of a middle-sized Russian woman who spoke a broken version of our language.

By the time the service was ready to begin, we found ourselves surrounded by over a dozen other believers. We spoke little Russian, but there were several among this group that had been attending language classes. All of them spoke better English then we spoke Russian. Despite the challenges in communication, we found ourselves quickly at home with these believers.

We will never forget the three Sundays we spent worshipping our Savior together with these brother and sisters. How do you adequately describe in words singing praises to Jesus for His grace and mercy in English while the person next to you sang the same song in Russian? We sensed that we were experiencing what happened several thousand years earlier on the day of Pentecost when the Spirit descended upon them for the first time. We knew we were in the presence of the Lord, and we were standing on holy ground indeed. We are sure we got a taste of heaven those Sundays halfway around the world away from our children and church family that cold bleak winter of 2005.

*Name changed.
*Personal testimony

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This article has been read 725 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 12/07/07
What a marvelous experience!
Paula Titus 12/10/07
I can see your writing improving every week.
Perhaps you could try a bit more 'showing' instead of 'telling.'
For example, in many of your paragraphs you 'tell' the reader what Sharon and yourself talked about. Try putting those conversations into dialogue form to let the reader see the chats and how they evolve.
Thanks for sharing this wonderful experience :)
Patty Wysong12/10/07
*grin* Hearing the same song sung in different languages, at the same time, moves me every time. The bond of Christ reaches across cultural and language barriers--beautiful testimony!
Temple Miller12/11/07
Lovely story. We are so blessed that God meets our needs no matter where we are in the world.
Verna Cole Mitchell 12/12/07
You did a good job of showing how God puts within our hearts a desire to worship with other believers. I felt your gratitude at finding a "home group" away from home.
Sharlyn Guthrie12/12/07
What a lovely experience. I enjoyed your telling of it, too. A picky item: the comparison word is "than" instead of "then."
Tim Pickl12/12/07
Because this world is not our 'home', the sense of 'home' emanates from our friends in Christ--no matter where we are in the world! I can envision your testimony being developed longer with details....perhaps even into a screenplay?! God knows! Thanks for sharing, and God bless you.
LaNaye Perkins12/12/07
What a wonderful testimony you have. This is just beautiful! Keep writing.
Joanne Sher 12/14/07
Great job on placing sixth in your level, Beckie!