I have been in Russia a little over two weeks now, and it is absolutely amazing! God has been so good to me – he has helped me get registered for classes, get a great place to stay, and already provided me with some great friends and a good church. Despite the cold (which actually isn’t too bad) and some differences in culture and living conditions, there is nowhere else that I would rather be at this time. It is amazing to me that I feel so at home here in Russia. St. Petersburg is a wonderful city. All around me are beautiful buildings – palaces, cathedrals, universities, museums, and just regular businesses and shopping centers – all constructed with exquisite and detailed architecture. St. Petersburg was built to be the rival of any city in Europe, and it is indeed the jewel of Russia.
But it is not the buildings, the rivers, or the canals that now capture my attention. It is the people.
I sit across from a young man named Danil, a Russian student here. We get to know each other in English, as my Russian has not progressed much further than: “Hello, my name is Paul. What is your name?” and “I have a pen. This is my pen.” We have a great conversation, and eventually we begin to talk about God.
I ask him what he believes, and he declares that he is an agnostic. As I look at him, I can see that he wants to believe, he wants answers, but he is so plagued by doubts, and my heart breaks for him. I tell him why I believe, and I tell him about how God has changed my heart. I share about God’s love, and that nobody loves better or has ever loved better than Jesus Christ.
I have become acquainted with quite a few Russian students, and so many are just like Danil. They don’t have the faith to believe. They have never experienced God’s love, and they don’t know Him, only some facts about Him. While it has been so enjoyable having good conversations with these students over coffee or tea, there is a great sorrow that often feel for them. I want them to know Jesus personally.
More than anything else I could say right now to you about my time in Russia, I want to say this: please pray for this country and the people here. I plead with you to join with me and really persistently pray that God would bring a revival to this city and to the hearts of these university students, and that he would move in a powerful way. Only He can reveal to those here His great love for them. Please pray too that He will continue to burden my heart and the hearts of other believers here for those who are lost, and that he will use us to reveal his love and goodness.
May God bless and keep you close to Him.