For an introvert, train travel can be a bit intimidating, especially if you travel alone and in third class (open cabin). The advantage is a fast-paced view of the countryside and third class is the cheapest fare. The important thing to remember is to request a lower bunk, at least that is my preference. My tree-climbing days are over!
You never know who your bunk mate will be cross or above you, but you are guaranteed to meet some interesting people. Last month I sat across from a beautiful young lady who spoke some English. She was wearing a gold cross. When I asked her if she knew Jesus, she said, “Yes, but I am not a fanatic.” In 2016 she had won a national beauty contest and was launched into a singing career, traveling to different parts of Russia. She said she loved her career and her producer was her boyfriend. If I had told her physical beauty doesn’t last forever, it is doubtful she would have listened in her exuberant state.
And then there was the time a few years ago when an older gentleman proposed to me. I was traveling with Lidia, my orphan friend. Now graduated from the orphanage, this was her first trip out of her region. She had begged me for several years to let her come to Moscow, but until she was 18 years old (legal age), my hands were tied. The day finally arrived so I invited her for a week’s visit.
Imagine this setting. Lidia spoke no English but she understood just a little. Our seat mate, I’ll call him Victor, spoke no English. My Russian was (and still is) minimal at best. When Victor started asking us questions, I asked him if he knew Jesus. He made the sign of the cross. Lidia shared with me that Victor’s wife had died about a year ago and he was lonely. He asked if I was married. When I told Lidia and Victor I had come to Russia alone, Victor asked if I would marry him. I said his offer was very kind, but I couldn’t accept. How that got translated, I am not sure.
Here was a young lady in the peak performance of her life and an old gentleman grieving. In between are millions of other people who have their own stories – the people you meet in the grocery store or the doctor’s office, your neighbors next door. How their stories will end depends on how they connect with God’s story and His Son Jesus Christ. The amazing thing is that they can find themselves in His story, but someone needs to “GO” and tell them. Will you go?
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (Isaiah 52:7)