Rick Ives' Story
While in Russia last month, I spent several hours visiting a Women’s shelter. I was privileged to talk with and pray for the unwed mothers who have been rescued from the streets by the volunteers there, led by Natasha Kirilova. Natasha worked as an interpreter for Heather and me back in the 90s when she was just 18. Today, Natasha is a ministry leader, mother of 2, and recent widow (rest in peace dear friend Igor).
When the communists took over in Russia in the 20s, they destroyed churches, convents, and monasteries while exiling and killing priests and nuns. The complex I visited was one of many victims of the communists - totally destroyed, then turned into a factory that fell into ruins many decades ago.
As the Iron Curtain fell, a brave young nun, now Mother Sofia, went to the abandoned factory site. Sofia and just 5 nuns reclaimed the site for God and began to clean it and restore basic functions. As I toured the site and saw everything that is now happening there, I realized that it had to be a God-inspired Plan, far beyond what the ability of human effort could accomplish. Today, this once-destroyed area is again thriving with religious and humanitarian activity; lives are being impacted at churches, shelters, and schools.
God called one woman, Sofia, and now so much has been accomplished. I was humbled to walk these grounds, meet the priests and nuns, and minister the hope of the Gospel to the ladies. While I may see some theological items differently than the priests here do, I know that God is pleased when we work together to bring Jesus and hope to those who are unchurched and hurting. I learned a lot on this trip to Russia.