After all was said and done—with delayed flights and an unscheduled overnight stay in Tokyo—it did not take that much less time flying over the Pacific Ocean than it would have over the Atlantic. Praise the Lord, I still made it to Kamchatka on time—two hours before I was scheduled to speak at the Conference opening ceremony. I am glad they let me change my clothes right in the City Hall Director’s office, as all other speakers kindly looked the other way. I am also glad my laptop battery lasted through my whole presentation and died seconds after I finished (there were no electric outlets anywhere near the lectern to plug it in). After spending the whole night changing planes in the Vladivostok airport and then in flight to Petropavlovsk (loosing two time zones in the process), I was too tired and very disoriented to realize how low the battery charge was. Praise the Lord for taking care of these little things for me when I am not able to!
I am also grateful to Him for my hosts here! I have a very comfortable private “cell” to stay in their church-house, with three meals provided and somebody always willing to give me a ride to my next venue—whether the State University, the Teacher’s Continuing Training Center, the Medical College, Army base, or Penitentiary Department, etc., etc.
Speaking of which, I just cannot believe how interested and engaged my audience was—prison guards, security officers, and other penitentiary staff—when I presented FaithSearch Discovery at their training conference! My hosts were extremely worried and warned me many times about this “tough crowd”: that they might be difficult and even offensive to the message of God’s love and mercy.
I was reminded that what they see everyday does not necessarily represent the best of humanity but that most of them are well trained professionals and officers who value professionalism in others very highly. That turned out to be the key. My appeal to their rationality and logical thinking got them on the track of making discoveries—step by step, one after another. “Tough crowd,” eh? If God is for us, who can be against us?
My last two days in Kamchatka were divided among an Evangelical church, a Medical college, a military base and an Orthodox group—totally different audiences within fifty miles around Petropavlovsk. There was, however, also something the same in the audience each time: a sense of surprise and joy of discovering a new and important aspect of life: life with God. The title of one of C.S. Lewis’ books which contained these two words kept coming back to me as I looked in the eyes of the people in the audience: cadets and officers; students and teachers; lay leaders and clergy.
Praise God, who is able still to surprise us—and those who hear His Gospel—with His joy and with faith in His truth!