I, Dee Dee, was also able to meet this family, along with our children. The daughters, Yuliya and Nastya, and I enjoyed visiting together and two of our children were close in age. We invited the children to Sunday school and visited them every Saturday to invite them through giving them coloring sheets to bring to the next day. Through time, Yuliya began bringing her kids to Sunday school and even attended the Bible study herself. They came every chance they could and would even drive in from the city to attend church. We thought for sure that Yuliya would soon see her need for Christ and be saved.
However, through time she got involved in a business that kept her busy. The kids had recitals and gymnastics to keep them busy and they stopped coming to Sunday school. We tried to keep in touch with them and were amazed that they would reconnect with us during the holidays, often exchanging gifts with our children at Christmas time. But, there were a few years where we heard nothing from them.
Sometimes during the summer months when time allowed them to, the kids would come to church. Once we found out they were in the village for the summer we would again make weekly visits to their grandparent's house to invite them. But, Yuliya herself would not attend services. The family was usually out of town during the VBS programs, which we always wished the children could attend. It was one of those situations when we thought, what was it that caused Yuliya to stop coming to services? And with that thought came a million others, maybe she was convicted? Maybe she was offended? Maybe she was afraid to take the next step and accept Christ?
As we missionaries often do, we ourselves thought there had to be a reason why she stopped coming.
But, there never seemed to be any real reason.
The devil sometimes gives them just enough busyness in their lives to distract them and keep them
from making a decision for Christ.
Fast forward to last year's VBS program 2013.
Yuliya and her sister, Nastya heard about our VBS and brought their children to most of the week's activities!
Pollina invited a neighbor to come as her guest which has caused this pre-teen girl to start to regularly attend Sunday school!
This year, upon our return to Russia from our furlough, we again reconnected with Yuliya and her family, to invite them to Sunday school. Thankfully, all three children, began faithfully attending this summer and were able to attend every day of this year's VBS program! Just before the week of VBS began, Zhenia expressed an interest in knowing more about salvation. As I was talking to him after service, Pollina came up to listen in and agreed that she too wanted to know more! I promised them that I would talk to their Mom since she and I have had a good relationship so that she knew how the Lord was working in their hearts. After the first day of VBS, I was able to take Yuliya aside and explain to her that her children wanted to accept Christ. She, not completely understanding herself all that repentance meant, at that point agreed to read the "Done" book during the week of VBS and to come to me with any questions. She and her sister came each day as they could and sat in on every Bible lesson. Pollina and Zhenia even worked hard to earn medals for memorizing the most verses! Pollina beat out her brother for third place by memorizing 52 verses. Zhenia said 50 verses!
The next Sunday after the week of VBS was finished, Yuliya was in services while her children were in Sunday school. As they worked to finish reading "Done" together, we prayed for their understanding and offered to answer any questions. Yuliya herself, asked if she and the kids could come over during the week to visit. Every Sunday after services they have stayed to visit with us just because. This past Sunday, they explained how close they were to finishing the "Done" book and that they would complete it this week. Today, they were faithful to come early to be in their places for Sunday school. Once service was over, and I dealt with several other people and some medical questions, Yuliya waited patiently to visit with me while the kids played together. I asked about the "Done" book and if they were able to finish it this week. She said they read the rest of it in a day. Then she said, "There is a prayer of repentance at the end of it. We all three read it together and Zhenia asked me, 'Mom, does that mean that we just got saved?' I told him, I don't think so, Zhenia. We need to ask Dee Dee but, I think there must be more to it than simply reading this prayer." So, that broke the ice for more questions. I explained again how that in Romans 10:9-10 the Bible says:
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
I asked Yuliya if she would like for me to go through verses with her again and she agreed. She immediately called her children in and she, Pollina, and Zhenia listened intently as I explained the plan of salvation to them in detail.
I am happy to say that after our discussion, all in the same room and one at a time, all three of them placed their trust in Jesus Christ and accepted God's free gift of salvation!
Here is a photo of us in our home after we all spent some time together rejoicing over their decision to live for Christ!
Since Yuliya just today expressed an interest in reading the Bible together with her kids, she was excited to take the discipleship workbooks home with her for them to work on together as a family. Please pray for us as we explain baptism to them in detail, disciple them, and for the salvation of Yuliya's husband, Vanya.
GOD IS GOOD!