From Russia: Nathan & Heidi Taljaard Share
What a privilege to hear from Nathan & Heidi Taljaard as they returned from a trip to Russia. Listen below and read some of the incredible things that God is stirring!
From our Sunday Celebration on July 16th:
From Nathan & Heidi:
In a prayer time with friends, Nathan felt that God impressed on his heart that we were to go to Russia in July. This was totally unexpected to me, but in true activator fashion, Nath started the wheels moving in that direction and before I knew it we had purchased two nonrefundable tickets to St. Petersburg!!
Only then did I begin to get nervous. Through praying with some friends of mine, I received so much peace and a word that this was a giant gift with a bow on it from our heavenly Father.
I decided to check some old Facebook messages right after that and opened one from an old friend and she had sent a picture of a card that had “Habakkuk 1:5” written on it. She said, ‘Do you remember? You gave this to me.’
I looked up the verse and it reads,
“Look among the nations and see;
wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days
that you would not believe if told.”
The timeliness of this was stunning to me and so encouraging.
Nathan and I have felt the call to Russia for a long time and were shocked in July 2016 to hear that the Russian parliament (the Duma) had passed a law that greatly restricted religious liberty in the entire nation. It was now illegal in all of Russia to preach the gospel, pray for someone on the street, hand out a Bible or even send an email inviting a friend to church! Everything had to be done with government permission, with certified papers through a registered church.
We wrote to our friends asking about the law but they were unable to talk freely about it and so we wondered what it would be like and how in the world were we to make an impact with religious outreach being illegal? This verse in Habakkuk reminded me that God is sovereign over the nations and His eternal purpose can never be thwarted. We should not only be expectant for what God is going to do, we should be expectant for greatness!!
Although it ended up taking us almost 3 days to get there, we made it to St. Petersburg and Hansie De Bruin met us at the train station on Sunday morning with a smile, “Well, you brought the sunshine.” I guess it had been raining in St. Pete’s for days.
We rocked up to church that morning wearing Hansie and Lyena’s clothes because our luggage had gone missing (ha!) and it was wonderful to see everyone. After church everyone met in a city park for a picnic and I walked with a girl “Lyuba” who told me all about how God was using her as an evangelist and the stories she told were just amazing. I asked her how she got by the Yarovaya Law and she said, well, she was just sharing her opinion 🙂 The Russian laws have their loopholes 🙂
Nathan and I met with several different groups/ministries during the week and also spent a lot of time with Hansie, as his family were out of town visiting Lyena’s mother. The church of Russia is alive and well and God is on the move in that great nation! Nathan and I heard and saw much of the challenges that they are facing, but more than that we saw the power of God at work and the JOY that comes to His people despite difficulties or trials. There was such an assurance of that. Joy is what happens when God’s people willingly lay down their lives for His kingdom to come. We learned about the challenges that face Russia’s children in a nation where so many have been orphaned as a result of drug or alcohol abuse. The orphanages are often extremely harsh environments and more than that, do not properly prepare the children for life outside when they graduate out.
Nathan asked Hansie how we could partner with Hope Church and Hansie responded that most important is just building a relationship. We saw again and again that that is how God’s kingdom advances-as the whole body works and stays interconnected, His kingdom advances on the earth.
I have been thinking lately about the concept of “the butterfly effect”. How tiny changes can have enormous effect in the earth’s environment. So often earthly examples give us a picture how things work in the spiritual realm. I am encouraged that every decision that we make to walk by faith and in sync with the Holy Spirit there are dramatic effects happening now and reverberating around the world and even into eternity. The needs of this world are not insurmountable because we still serve the same Jesus who took 5 loaves and 2 fish and fed over 5,000 people with it. 🙂 The key is, giving Him everything that we have.
We came back with a strong sense of God’s powerful love at work in Russia. And the gates of Hell will not prevail against it because He has promised “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14 Hallelujah!