The Man from Magadan

Sometimes, something so radical and impossible happens that demonstrates God’s Love and Grace.

This incident took place back in 1989 after the collapse of Communism in the old Soviet Union.  As a result, the doors in that part of the world were opened wide for the influx of the Gospel.  Following nearly 70 years of oppression, when preaching and church and owning a Bible were illegal and punished severely by the communists, suddenly God made it possible for us to go in and hold evangelistic meetings and distribute Bibles in the Russian Language. 

It was during this exciting time that our church organized short term mission trips and travel with small groups from our congregation into various parts of Russia, the Ukraine and Siberia.  The object was to hold meetings, sponsor pastors and plant churches.  We would purchase a complete sound system, take thousands of New Testaments in the Russian Language, connect with a contact in different cities, and rent a large conference hall to conduct a 3 or 4-day evangelistic meeting and then establish a new church from the converts that were reached. 

We took a group from Life Church and targeted Kramatorsk, a large city in the Ukraine to hold a meeting and establish a church.  Since language was a problem, we would secure translators and interpreters to collaborate with us.  But one area of ministry was not so dependent on understanding words of a different language.  That area was the ministry of music.  So, we would prepare a group of songs, usually simple choruses, which were popular and effective in the states and use members of our group to sing, play instruments and minister with music.  Pat oversaw organizing the musicians and selecting the music we were to use in the crusade.   

One day, shortly after we arrived in Kramatorsk, the musicians were rehearsing the songs that were to be used in the opening evening session.  Since the building we were using was adjacent to a busy street lined with various kinds of businesses, the pedestrian traffic walking near us could hear the music and the singing that we were rehearsing inside.    One morning, a man, looking just like the hundreds we saw every day, came into our building, and approached one of our translators.  From what I learned later, their conversation centered on the songs and the music our team was practicing.  The man was extremely excited and explained that he oversaw the music ministry in his church that was now free to worship without fear of being arrested or detained by the KGB.  He was very interested to learn how he could have access to the songs and music he was hearing so he could teach the people in his church.

 He had with him a small, handwritten, well-worn booklet, bound together with a piece of string, containing the words to the songs and choruses he was using in his church.  The remarkable thing is his church was in the city of Magadan in the far reaches of eastern Siberia.  On the map, you can see it is in the proximity of the Bering Sea and nearly 4000 miles east of Kramatorsk.  He was so emotional, and so thankful for this Miracle Moment when he encountered just what he needed…. and at such an “impossible” circumstance of divine convergence. 

One of Pat’s most treasured possessions was the small, tattered, hand-written booklet of the songs the Man from Magadan gave her.  And it was this booklet and this God-Connection that became the driving passion and motivation for her and a few local musician helpers to compile the first Russian Language Book of songs and spiritual choruses ever published… complete with written music scores and accompanying words.  We were enabled to print tens of thousands of them and freely distribute them throughout all our mission travels inside the Old Soviet Union…

Because of God, the Man from Magadan and Pat’s Vision….

They are still in use in hundreds of churches and home groups over there today

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