I cannot preach anymore.” The young minister whispered hoarsely to his two interpreters, closing his worn Bible. His hands trembled as he rested them on the precious book and he closed his weary, red-rimmed eyes for a moment. Robert Evans had been preaching for six and a half hours, hemmed in on all sides by people hungry for the word of God. The building that late night was packed so full that the throng was pressed against him to the extent that he had not been able to move. The exhausted Russian and Polish interpreters began pushing through the crowds towards the door as he followed behind. It was well past midnight.
Outside, thousands more waited to hear the message Robert had come to offer. Repeatedly throughout the evening, the building had been emptied out and re-filled, but always, there were more; more hungry souls, looking for hope in a hopeless place. Robert’s heart was heavy as he made his way through the crowds who had not yet heard of the saving grace of God. How he longed to speak the truth into the lives of these people! But he must rest.
He felt a tug on his sleeve. He turned to see an old man, his face wrinkled with age. He had lived a hard life and endured much suffering. This was evident to Robert. The man was talking persistently in Russian, and the worn missionary paused beside him. “What is he saying?” He asked his interpreter. “He has a piece of paper.” The interpreter replied. “He wants to know if it is from the Bible.” Slowly, the old man, bent and wrinkled with age, reached into his coat pocket with gnarled fingers and drew out a folded cloth with great care. Unfolding it, he reverently handed Robert a faded yellow page. It’s edges were worn with age and ragged from much handling.
“Why, it’s a page from the book of Exodus!” The Russian interpreter exclaimed. “I have read this page carefully, over and over again, for many years.” The old man said with a trembling voice. “I thought it was from the Bible, but I was never sure. I knew it was something holy, but I always wondered, What does the rest of the book say? What comes on the next page?” Tears ran down the wrinkled cheeks as he spoke. Wordlessly, Robert handed him his own Bible. The old Russian took it with reverence and flipped through it’s pages. Sadly, he peered down at the English words so neatly printed on the page. “I cannot read this. It is not in my language.” He said sadly. “But oh, this is the first time in all my eighty years that I have seen a Bible.”
As Robert Evans trudged through the snow that night back to his lodging, he thought of all the Bibles in his own country – the countless homes that held, in fact, more than one Bible. There were Bibles in bookstores and churches, and even in homes where no one bothered to read them! “It isn’t fair!” He thought. “We have so many Bibles, and he has only one page!
I felt tears welling up in my own eyes as I read this story. All around the world, there are people whose hearts burn to hear the Gospel, and some who have only one page, one verse, one passage…we, who have so much, are so selfish, so lazy, so non-committal to the Word of God. We walk on the line and try to make Christianity exciting. We rebuild God in our own image. We build our churches to resemble malls and amusement parks. We throw away anything that requires sacrifice on our part. Oh dear believer, take these words in your heart: there are many who spend their life longing to know “What is on the next page?”
At least for a season and perhaps permanently, we will not be updating this blog anymore after today. A large part of this is due to the work that God is beginning in Russia through Tiffany Martens who founded this blogging ministry. We would plead your prayers for revival in Russia, for God to do the impossible in lives that have seen much suffering, but that are not beyond the grasping hand of God, or the love of Jesus Christ. As Paul wrote, “We do not cease to pray,” so may that be our cry! We invite you and ask you to please join us in prayer for this impossible work and exhort you to step out in faith and begin your own in the power of God! We are all empty in and of ourselves, and it is only when we see that emptiness that God can fill us with all abundance. Realize your emptiness. Become a channel to those around you.
We would encourage our readers to subscribe to Tiffany’s bi-monthly/monthly email updates in order to pray more effectively for her work in Russia. In order to do this, please follow this link where you can sign up and keep in touch with God’s working there. May your life “bring the next page” to the hungry, lifeless souls that surround you!
In Christ Alone,
Hannah, for the team.