This is our friend Luba. She is truly one of a kind and, in our hearts, unequivocally a “world changer”. The fact that she’s probably cringing out of humility while reading my glowing assessment only makes me love her more! (I’m sorry Luba, We just love you so much!)
We met Luba at the very beginning of our journey with Russia back in 2001, and have worked together on multiple occasions since then, despite her being a days travel away from St. Petersburg. Luba ministers to at-risk young women serving time in a detention center in Ryazan. (There’s a photo below of her and some of her girls). She puts so much effort into their salvation and their future life out of prison, and I am ever amazed at the connections she has made over the years with dozens of women who now have full lives in Christ.
And does she love the Lord! She has been such a witness to Miki and I over the years. One of my fondest memories of Luba is one of the times she worked with us in St. Petersburg. Our team was staying at a guest flat owned by a ministry partner here in town- but the unique thing was that it had a large bookshelf full of Christian books: anything from novels to C.S. Lewis to deep theology. Luba was in heaven! She explained that access to this kind of literature in her town was next to nothing. But because these books were only for the flat, she knew her opportunities were limited to dive in. So what did she do? At night, after all of our work was done, Luba would COPY these books by hand so that she’d have an opportunity to read them later. Ever since witnessing that, this has been one of the clearest examples to me of what desiring God looks like. (And by the way, If you’re a Christian author concerned that a Russian school teacher has just copied your book to make a profit- be at ease. You have my word that she just wants to know as much as she can about Jesus!)
Well I’ve rambled enough. The reason for this post was to let Luba give her testimony- So without further adieu:
It was in 1996 when I first heard about Jesus Christ and His gift of forgiveness and salvation. I was a schoolteacher of history that time and a strong atheist. I taught my students that the religion had been a deception and exploiters had devised it in order to wield power over poor people. I thought only about my family welfare and my work at school. I was sure that my lifestyle was good and virtuous and didn’t understand that I was a great sinner.
Life was not easy and was unpredictable. My mom died from cancer at the age of 49. My brother was killed in Afghanistan at the age of 31. Even having my own family (a husband and two daughters) I often felt myself lonely and unhappy and started to think that there had to be more to life. When Soviet regime ruined and many people rushed to Orthodox churches (we were not allowed to go to a church earlier), my younger daughter and I went there too. Later I had a desire to know about the real faith and wished to have the Bible.
Soon two American ladies, the believers, came to our school and had a meeting with the staff. They showed us the Jesus film, told us about the love of God and suggested to have a Bible study with us. I and four more teachers started to visit the Bible study and at last could hold the Bible in our hands and read it. I was really interested in reading the Bible and later my knowledge of the Lord reached my heart and for the first time I felt the reverence for Him. I repented and received Jesus into my heart. In 1998 at the age of 49 I was baptized. The former atheist has become a Christian! I am now a child of God inseparable from Him. Praise be to God!
And I am always very grateful to my American brothers and sisters in Christ that they’ve helped me to come to know God, that they helped us, Russian believers, to plant a church in Ryazan. And of course I understand that it is God who has made those amazing things possible.
God has blessed me abundantly with wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as with a wonderful family.