School #433

A Testimony of the Power of the New Birth

Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 ESV)  Without a doubt there is no power that can change a human being like the power of the new birth.  It is also called the second birth.  I was born into the human race when my mother brought me into the world but then I was born into the family God by the miracle of the new birth.  In the story that follows you will hear from one of God’s missionaries to Russia after the iron curtain came down.

“It was back in 1992.  Communism had just come crashing down a year prior.  The Russian education system was scurrying around looking for a civics curriculum that they could substitute for the weekly block of communistic principles that were taught to the school children religiously.  How were they going to teach their students to be moral citizens and serve their country well?  The Minister of Education quickly acted.  We were invited along with hundreds of other Christian educators to train the Russian elementary teachers in a morals and ethics curriculum based on the Bible, but more importantly based on the life of Jesus.

I began my nine weeks of training with school #443 with a little anxiety.  On one hand, it was a miracle that the 15 teachers had agreed and were allowed to work through the Bible curriculum given that Alexandra Petrovevna , the director of the school, considered herself a staunch communist.  On the other hand, Alexandra Petrovevna agreed on the condition that she must attend every session.  So our nine weeks began in a very cramped room with teachers sitting on either side of a long narrow table.  I was to stand on one end to present while Alexandra sat opposite me at the other end of the table. She sat with her arms folded across her chest, watching me with unblinking eyes.  It seemed to me a challenge.

The weeks of training went along generally smoothly.  It seemed that the teachers were understanding.   I saw some engagement with the material.  It was difficult though to have robust conversation since Alexandra Petrovevna sat there week after week silently.

The 9th week session concluded and I opened if up for questions.  The atmosphere became very heavy when Alexandra Petrovevna’s chair scraped the floor as she slowly rose to her full height.  She then spoke her first words over the course of the 9 weeks of training.

‘Allow me to tell you what I am hearing.’  I gulped.  Was she going to erase all our work in the hearts of these teachers over the last 9 weeks with one comment?

‘Communism gave us a number of rules to follow.  It tried to change us from the outside in and it didn’t work.  But, you are saying, that a personal relationship with Jesus changes us from the inside out.’

I was stunned.  All I could do was nod my head incredulously.  She got it.  Christianity was a relationship where His words are written on our heart.  We can only be changed from the inside out.”

School #433

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