The following is an account of a visit to us by a friend of Diana’s this fall. I thought it gave a fresh outside view of what we do, and what God is doing here.
I have never experienced anything quite like it. Arriving in St. Petersburg late on a cold and rainy night, heavy laden with luggage and jet lag, I was greeted with bright light and warmth by Diana and Lyle. Once settled in, Lyle invited me to join a prayer meeting with several members of the ministry’s core group. I am not sure what I expected, but what I witnessed was amazing. The group shared with and prayed for one another in ways that were both genuine and touching. I saw how Lyle has taught these men and women to minister at a heart level. I saw the support and encouragement they offered one another. Being somewhat familiar with the emotional and spiritual challenges that Russians with orphaned hearts face, my own heart was touched by the way in which I saw how God is using Lyle to minister to these people.
Over the course of the following three days, I saw this real-life/heart-love continue as the Thomas family shared themselves with their Russian brothers and sisters in Christ. What I left with was more of an image than a description. The image is of the Thomases’ apartment. It is really two apartments side by side and joined by one large room. In my image, the apartment on the left is American; baked oatmeal and coffee, college talk and Monopoly. The apartment on the right is Russian; food, drink, and language-all Russian. Then there is the large room joining the two apartments. I see it as a bridge between the two worlds. It is in that room Russians see and experience the real-life/heart-love of the Thomas family. They meet, talk, pray, minister, resolve conflict, watch movies, study Russian, study English, and play the keyboard. They live life and model for these Russians what it means to love Christ and love one another. That room is a representation of the life and love the Thomas family pours out to their fellow believers.
I am so very grateful to have had the opportunity to visit with the Thomas family and personally experience what God is doing through their ministry. If you have the chance to see this heart-level love poured out to a people in desperate need, I encourage you to take it. Your heart will be touched for the Russian people and the work of God through them.