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My first encounter with Russia by Dave Dilger

20 April 2016 No Comment

DilgersMy first trip to Russia with RRR was in 1997, only a handful of years after

“the fall of the Iron Curtain”. At that time, stepping off the plane was in many ways like stepping back into the 1940’s. Military personnel were everywhere. In public, it seemed that 40 percent of the people were wearing some kind of military or paramilitary uniform. The first taste of the culture was going through customs to enter the country officially. It was here that one had to lose the typical American tourist “I’m so happy to be at Disneyland” frivolity! Sober and straight faced was the mode to get through the scrutiny of customs, and out of the airport (Yes, one truly felt like a guilty spy).

It was only 25 yards from the customs booth to the front door, but any wrinkle in your paper work etc., and you would not make it; or at least not without paying a fine of some “creative” nature. Right outside the front door of the airport was the amazing city of St. Petersburg, which every American (that I know of) is always quite impressed with.

Once out in the general public, society was a bit strange for us. It was not common to greet strangers on the street, or even to engage in eye contact. In places where there were large crowds of people, it was abnormally quiet – the people were not laughing, joking, or even talking. This was not Kansas…

[Fast forward to the 2000’s, this has all changed, military uniforms have disappeared, people seem to be less paranoid and much more open, there is even now, smiling, laughing and talking in public – Thank God]

The most amazing and beautiful thing to me, my first trip, were the Russian Believers! After running the gauntlet in the airport, at the door awaited us a group of smiling believers (pastors and interpreters) with cards and flowers. It did not take me long to develop a great love and admiration for my Russian brothers and sisters. As I got to know them better I realized that they were on fire for God, would give you anything they had, had hearts full of joy, and a passion for others to know the saving grace of God!

It was a great testimony of the power and reality of Jesus in their midst! The more I learned about these believers and their churches, the greater I also realized, how amazing were the ministry and efforts of Rick and Heather Ives and of what would become Russians Reaching Russians. It was through their labors that this all came to be, and through which I was introduced to the land of Russia, God’s heart for the Russian people, and my wonderful brothers and sisters who lived there!

I ended up returning 11 more times to Russia. To this day, I feel that I have gained much more than I have ever given with my involvement with RRR. I have learned much from its leaders, I have gained very close Forever-Russian-Friends, and through it the Lord even fulfilled many of my own heart’s desires. First hand, I know that the ministry of RRR is Quality, and its fruit very Rich! It is our pleasure, as a church, to support it.

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