Anya first came to Aenon at the run up to Christmas last year (2012). Her journey expresses the Grace of God towards His creation. We have been privileged to be a part of Anya’s journey into faith. We have seen Anya’s struggles while also knowing God was at work in her life. Like many ‘God-incidences’ The Saints Alive course was happening at just the right time to help answer the many questions she had, this is her story.Pastor Keith
I was born in the Soviet Union.
There was no sex.
There was no love.
There was no God.
And I was born in Russia.
Two thousand years ago Russia accepted Christianity. Beautiful churches were built. Wonderful books were written. Amazing paintings were made.
But Soviet people were made to forget that they were Russian.
They destroyed their churches.
They destroyed their books.
And they cut up their paintings.
When I was a baby I thought I was special, but I did not know in what way and so I set out on a long journey to find out.
It was a painful journey and I was made to forget.
I was made to believe that there was nothing special about me. That I was just a difficult child and the sooner I conformed and accepted the rules of this world, the easier my life would be.
But for some reason I did not stop my search.
There was a voice in my head, asking all these difficult questions:
Where did we come from?
Where are we going?
Why do we hurt each other?
Why do we kill?
Why do we help each other?
Why do we give and want nothing in return?
Why did the Russian soldier walk into a ruined house in Berlin looking for a German woman to rape, to avenge his wife and children who were tortured and mutilated by German soldiers, but instead, helped her to deliver her baby and take them both to safety?
What does it mean to “Forgive & forget?”
And what is it about living your life to the highest standards possible?
Where did these standards come from?
Who is responsible for our path and happiness?
What is ‘the choice’ and what is ‘the destiny’?
Nearly fifty years down the road, the answers are finally coming my way.
When I was a baby I did not know why I was special.
I am forty-eight and now I know.
Today my path of pain and sorrow becomes a journey of joy: my search has brought me back.
The voice of God.
The presence of the Holy Spirit.
The light of God.
They have always been with me.
God is within me.
Three months ago these words would have made me shiver! It took a lot of effort for me to survive through the Christmas service at this church. Every time I left this building I promised myself that I would never be back and I apologised to Keith & Pauline for that and they did not mind. They have never judged me for my ignorance.
Working in the hospital I saw Jan – always calm and serene, always happy and peaceful; surrounded by the craziness and ignorance of some of the NHS servants. What I saw was, that although she worked for the NHS, she also served a different employer.
Me – restless and tense – I was always on the lookout for the attack, and was defensive and isolated, unhappy and uncertain. And Jan did not judge me either.
But I wanted to be joyful and happy, like Keith and Pauline. And I wanted to be a good midwife, like Jan, to all the women who were put, by chance, into my care. And I knew I had to get off the path of sorrow and find the way to happiness and joy – and I prayed, and said,
“I am a silly, silly girl, who was told that there is nothing special about me, I knew it is not true. Because I have survived through things not everyone would have survived. And because I always feel the presence of somebody, who in my darkest hour, always lights a little candle for me to hang on to, to look at, to go towards.”
And I said:
“I searched for you everywhere, I am giving up, I am exhausted! I cannot fight anymore. Just tell me what to do. Just show me the way.”
And I said:
“But if you are not there, if you are not real, just leave me alone and don’t ever bother me again, with all your voices and messages, with all your people coming my way and calling me to accept your gifts, with all your help and miracles! . . .”
And I said, “Will you show me yourself?”
And the first ever page I opened in the Bible was Genesis chapter 32 – about Jacob’s wrestling with God.
The first words I read were, “Let me go for it is daybreak.”
Face to face with God is not the same as being face to face with:
Microsoft’s Chief Executive! . . .
The burning bush – the telephone call.
The flood and the locusts.
The traffic jam that meant you missed the plane, which crashed two hours later.
The fire from heaven, the feather on your doorstep.
The help from a stranger, and gifts from friends.
The coincidence . . .
God has always been with me.
It was me who was blind.
It was me who was deaf.
It was me who rejected, wrestled and fought with the best thing that ever, ever happened to me.
I was made to forget.
But now I want to remember.
I want to see things differently now.
I want to learn to know the real things from unreal.
I am special.
Because I am a child of God.
And God goes with me wherever I go.
God is in everything I see because God is in my mind.
God is my service:
God is the light on which I see.
God is the mind with which I think.
God is the strength in which I trust.
It is His strength, not my own, that gives me power.
What He gives is truly given. That’s what I read in the Book. That’s what I want to believe.
I can receive at any time and anywhere, wherever I am and whatever circumstances I find myself.
And I understood:
God is my forgiveness. And as I am being forgiven, there is nothing to stop me from forgiving everyone. I have nothing to hate, I have nothing to be afraid of, God is my safety in every circumstance.
There is nothing to fear. Amen.