Let us introduce you to our friend Vladimir from Ukraine. Father of 12 children, he has been receiving and studying Russell's English tapes and Russian transcripts for several years. Each time he receives lessons in the mail he writes back in his broken English to thank us and tell us how the messages are being applied to his own life. On holidays he often blesses us with beautiful greeting cards in Russian, and his letters begin with quoting Bible verses to us in English.
His personal ministry in Ukraine is to sit at the auto station (what Americans would call the bus station or bus stop) and play Christian music on his accordion, often accompanying some of his children while they sing songs about Jesus. Recently while he was passing out tracts, one of the busses started up and drove straight toward his little girl, barely missing running over her. She was crying but safe, but Vladimir's accordion was a casualty as the bus crushed its case.
To support his family he was employed as a night watchman, allowing him much study time, but some months ago he lost that job. Right now he repairs shoes, and the family has a "greenhouse" where they raise vegetables for sale as well as for their own food supply.
His latest praise? Much prayer kept a leaning wall of his house standing through the snow of winter, and now that warmer weather has come, he has been able to repair the wall. When occasionally bystanders at the auto station try to give him money for playing the music, he refuses and explains to folks that he plays for the glory of God only.
Because he speaks some English in addition to Russian, Vladimir asks many questions not only about the meaning of Scripture but about life in the United States. Those questions range from "What is the purpose of man?" to "Is everyone in the U.S. a Christian?" He would dearly love to find a retired pastor or missionary who would become an old fashioned "pen pal." He has no computer (and only a tape player) and would love to know more about the world outside his country.
From time to time we have also sent Vladimir used Bible story books in English from which he teaches the children. We know that the Lord multiplies the investment made in this one family with others across his country who are not able to correspond with us often, but our translator, Joleen, passes their stories along to us in English. True to Scripture, God's Word does not return void!