The Miracle of Not Preaching

One of our mission excursions into the old Soviet Union back in the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s took us into the middle of Siberia… exactly 12 times zones removed from Mobile.

The small mining town of Angchero Sudchznsk was our mission destination.  If I remember correctly, there was no airport there and we traveled by bus from Kemerova, a city several hours removed from our destination. 

Our team consisted of about 8-10 individuals.   We were the first Americans ever to set foot in this formerly held Soviet region.  Our excitement was equally matched by those precious, persecuted and poor people who met us at the bus stop upon our arrival.    

One dear Babushka (grandmother) pulled me aside and in tears spoke through one of our translators… her remarkable story related how over 40 years in the past, in the time of severe persecution by the KGB, a prophecy was given to her small underground church… and that prophecy explained how some time in the future, a group of foreigners would come to her town and preach the Gospel during a season of peace and freedom.  She had lived long enough to witness the fulfillment of that Word from God… she could not contain her emotions as she held and hugged each member of our team.  

We were warned that, in some isolated regions of the Soviet Union, the KGB was still active, even though Communism had failed and the collapse was quite apparent in the large metropolitan areas.  So, I had made this known to our group and we were all a little on edge knowing that we might encounter some opposition from the KGB.

One day our team was being transported in the bus to a preaching site.  We noticed a suspicious black sedan following us.  Even when we changed our route, the black sedan stuck with us.  Our fear of arrest and detainment was heightened when the car sped around us and slowed to a stop blocking our progress.   Four men jumped out of the car carrying packages and indicated that they were going to board the bus.  We all began to pray and wait for the inevitable.  When the door opened, the men burst into our bus, opened the packages and gave ice cream to all our team members.  God is good!

When we gathered for our first meeting in the small Cultural Hall which was secured for the services, the room was filled.  I will never forget the love that filled that place.  We did not speak their language, did not really understand their culture and certainly did not dress as they did.  Everything we encountered was all but totally opposite to what we were normally used to.  The picture of their faces has been indelibly burned into my heart…

We tried to sing a few choruses.  We tried to teach them some new ones.  We were met with frustration as we were hindered from communicating effectively with them even though we had translators.  We were just not “getting through” to them.  Since I was on schedule to preach, it became apparent that any type of verbal communication with this wonderful crowd of spiritually hungry individuals would be all but impossible. So, sometimes it is better for the preacher not to preach.

I asked the team members to gather in a line on the floor at the foot of the stage.  Then I instructed the translators to inform the crowd to come in an orderly fashion to the front and start at one end of our “line” and pass, one by one, to the other end.  God began to flood over my entire being with an unexplainable river of pure love…. And the same thing happened to the team members.  Without a word said, or a song sung, or a sermon preached.  We did nothing but physically hug and impart the Love of God into each one who passed in front of us.  It took a long time for everyone to get through the line.  And God was doing supernatural things in the lives of those present.  Alcoholics were immediately and supernaturally delivered.  I mean some were so intoxicated they could hardly stand or walk.  They were instantly sobered and saved.  Family relationships were healed.  Numbers of them were saved.  Prayer was made for the sick and infirm.  Miracles happened.  We were fused into one entity by the measureless Love of Almighty God.

Sometimes it is better for the preacher not to preach

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