The year was 1992. I was now with my three kids living in Uzhgorod capital of Western Ukraine. It is very close to the border with Hungary and Slovakia. I went as an undercover Protestant missionary as the Communist influence was still very strong. Ukraine was still answering to Moscow and was not yet an independent country. The only way I could get a visa was to teach English which is something I am qualified to do having taken the TEFL course offered by Linguarama or Cambridge school as it was called in in 1983.
Now that barriers were coming down there was a great interest in English and I started teaching every day at the Pioneer Place a sort of Boy scouts Girl guides equivalent in Soviet states.
I had been teaching at the Palace which of course was no Palace but a rather large austere grey building like so much of Soviet architecture, for about a month and then it was the end of their term.
To get our missionary efforts off the ground we sorely needed some kind of supernatural happening. We were making rather slow progress spiritually amongst the people. We had distributed hundreds of Russian Bibles and New Testaments which were gobbled up and it was actually rather dangerous handing them out as there was such a rush to get hold of the forbidden book.
So all the different departments would put on a show in this large auditorium. There were exhibits from Gypsy Dancing, Ice hockey and many more and then there was us. Our contribution would be a concert for 10 minutes with our kids singing simple Gospel songs, which we sang in English and then again in Russian.
The Theatre was packed and so there was no room for Mum and I and our 3 children and Timothy our first Russian disciple and interpreter to sit, so we had to wait our turn back stage. First came the Gypsy dancers followed by a troop of Acrobats.
I noticed that the acrobats were performing to a sort of very unpleasant Heavy Metal Raucous Rock sound. Remember we were standing in the wings and were watching from one side. Right at the very beginning a young teenage girl hurt herself, not badly but it was kind of an indication of the spirit of the show.
Then the captain of the troop did the leap of death. This is where there is a see-saw springboard and one man jumps from a height onto one end of the see-saw sending the man on the opposite side flying into the air. He was then meant to do a double somersault and land on his feet. Well he went up just fine and instead of landing on his feet he landed a kind of a belly flop. Actually I can't remember whether he landed on his back or on his front. He did not move. He did not groan and there were no signs of life in him.
The curtains went down and there was an awed silence and then pandemonium broke out in the room where they had taken him and had laid him out in an armchair. Of course there was no doctor. The director was in a panic and everyone was shouting. I looked at Timothy my interpreter and a new member of our team. My first thought was that this was not any of our business and we would best keep out and then something made me radically change my mind.
I stormed into the room and at the top of my voice yelled out in English with my translator trying his best to put it with the same emphasis into his own language with equal conviction. "God, You are not a dead God! In the Name of Jesus Christ raise this man up from the dead." There was a hush in the room everyone including myself was very taken aback and surprised. At that moment the captain of the troop opened his eyes. Now the time came for the real miracle. I wasn't able to wait there any longer as now it was our turn to give our little concert. The audience was still in a state of shock. The Lord had his perfect timing. We sang our songs to wonderful applause and then lead the whole auditorium to sing together with us loud, "Voidee moyo circza Isoos" "Come into my heart. Come into my heart. Come into my heart Lord Jesus. Come in today. Come in to stay. Come into my heart Lord Jesus." We sang it over and over and the crowd of parents, communists, atheists and ever present Mafia joined in whole heartedly.
It was a victory for the Lord, Game! Set! Match! The Director Panov had his agenda and programme and Our Lord also had His programme, which was a resounding victory for Him and his children. A few days later I was stopped on the walking street by a man who told me that the Captain had no broken bones and had made a complete recovery. Again later the Captain himself fell at my feet and hugged my legs, thanking me for his healing. I explained it was only JESUS!
Now about 13 years later we were driving from Kosice to Bratislava in Slovakia in the middle of the night. We had stopped at a gas station. We had no money which is usual for us and so we were distributing some literature for a donation to try and get Diesel. Joanna spotted an Ukrainian car parked in the darkness. I had seen it too but usually they are very poor and I did not hold out much hope of getting a donation from them. Of course that is totally the wrong attitude as we should witness to everybody and trust the Lord to supply the donations. Mum was with my daughter Angela. The man got out of the car and hugged us all saying he thought about us every day in his prayers of thanks. It was the Captain of the Acrobat team and they were sleeping in their car between shows touring Slovak cities. He did give a big donation. Angela now 16 was amazed and I think the Lord did it for her benefit too. She could well remember the incident as it was such a turning point in our lives.
After this miracle in Uzhgorod we were able to see the Lord open many doors. We were able to get visas without any more teaching in the Pioneer Palace. The local TV station did an expensive full blown programme which really helped us to get started in this new free country.
From what we heard about this situation was that there were no signs of life in this man that lay slumped in his chair where they had laid him and were dousing him with ice cold water. The timing was amazing. The audience who were atheists like so many of you were taken by surprise. First shock and then the coincidence that it was our turn to be on stage. Then the coincidence that the man opened his eyes at my shouting words. Then that he met me a few days later with so much gratitude and then that it was 13 years later in the middle of the night up in the Tatra mountains that we would meet him again. Not even in the same country.