Tuesday, December 26, 2000

Sons of Siberia

He called a little child and had him stand among them. Matthew 18:2

In Salekhard we conducted programs for children at various orphanages and boarding schools. Concern was voiced about the older teenagers (especially the boys) seeing our program as too juvenile. The second day of the program I retreated exhausted after my performance, into a crowded dormitory styled bedroom where we stored our coats and all the gear that protected us against the 50 below zero wind. As I lay back to rest and restore my spirit, one of the translators came in and started a conversation. She explained it was very unusual for professional interpreters in the region to work with groups such as ours, and she wanted to practice her English with me. She began to ask a variety of questions on many topics.

The Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say Luke 12:12

One by one the teenage boys (15yrs - 17yrs) entered the room. They began practicing their English (though limited to "my name is..." and "I am 17 years old..." "I go to school...") and asking questions through the help of the interpreter. They asked if they could see what I really looked like, but as the conversation developed their questions turned serious. What did I think of Chechnya? What was my political opinion of the American President, etc.? On the surface typical questions anyone would ask a foreigner - BUT - they were asking a CLOWN!! Laughingly I said to the interpreter “they want to know a clown's opinion?” She replied, “they see what is underneath and that is whose opinion they are asking”. I was honored.

"Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

As our dilapidated bus made its way across the ice, I thought of my own sons, whose biggest concern is if they will get to ride their motorcycles this weekend and what’s the latest movie they can take their girlfriends to. It was the first time I cried in Siberia. Here in the outer regions of the frozen tundra, boys the same age, without parents, are concerned with thoughts of war, worried about their future outside in the cold, very real world that will neither accept or embrace them. I shed tears for these sons of Siberia.

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there. Matthew 19:14-15