The Missing Link
Finding God in a Godless place.
by Marina Alkassas
I grew up in a communist country — Russia — when the KGB kept everything and everyone under tight supervision and a person’s faith in Christ was kept secret. My father worked for the government, making the supervision of our family even closer. No one ever spoke of believing in Christ to me; no one ever said there was a God. Most people told me Christianity was a fairy tale for the faint-hearted.
At school the teachers often told us about Yury Gagarin, a Soviet cosmonaut who was the first man to travel into space, and other communist heroes who secured a bright future for us. These had never seen God, so the teachers concluded there is no God. The only “holy” thing that everyone respected and feared was the Communist Party.
At nine years of age I attained the honor of being the first among my peers to enter the Young Pioneer organization, the Communist Party’s branch for children. I swore the traditional oath, declaring myself an atheist, and determined to uphold the teachings of “Grandpa Lenin.”
However, soon I faced something that shook my communist beliefs.
One morning my family was preparing to drive to Zelenogorsk, the little town close to St. Petersburg, to see our friends. But Mother refused to go. “I had a dream,” she said. “If we will go now, we will have a car accident and might not survive. I saw a big truck dropping a concrete block on top of our car as we stood by the stoplight.”
Russian truckers were often careless about the cargo they transported. They were paid per month of work, so it didn’t matter how and what they did as long as it could be classified as “work.” It was not uncommon for truckloads of debris to be scattered all over the road.
But my father refused to listen to what he called her “superstitions,” so off we went. Halfway to Zelenogorsk we got stuck in a traffic jam. After moving slowly for half an hour, we finally got to a little side road we were supposed to take to get into the town. The minute my dad turned our car, the nearest stoplight changed to red. We found ourselves gazing at the back of a huge truck carrying concrete blocks.
An eerie feeling came over us. As my father looked up once more, his face turned pale. He tried his best to steer away from the truck, but we were parked too close to it. Because of the other cars behind us, my dad worked another five minutes to move the car.
And then mother’s dream came true. An old piece of wood, which held the concrete blocks together and protected them from falling out, cracked under the weight. Seconds later we watched, speechless, as one by one the large blocks fell out of the truck onto the road, crushing the car that stood in our car’s place. Aside from a little shock, we suffered no harm.
Searching for answers
I could never forget the events of that day. Curious about the nature of things, I set out to find a logical, tangible explanation to that “prophetic dream” Mother had. I studied everything I could, but still there seemed to be a missing link. There was no explanation for her “sixth sense” — none besides believing that God gave her those glimpses of the future and a way to save our lives.
But I would not accept that. Following close in my dad’s footsteps and admiring him for his hard, invincible exterior, I went solely by the “can’t see, can’t believe” theory. Soon I graduated from school and filled my days with what I truly loved: studying physics and astronomy. I was headed for the bright future that my beloved government often promised us: great education and many years of work in a science laboratory — all for the good of Mother Russia. The years of communist training showed their fruit: I was still trying to prove that I needed no God in my life.
However, I still desperately wanted to find some sort of answer somewhere –anywhere. So I prayed, “Good God, if You really do exist and if You spared my life that night, then please show me just once more that You care. Send someone to talk to me on the street. If You do, I will believe.”
I cautiously stepped out onto the dark street of frozen St. Petersburg. I shivered all over thinking about what had happened when we drove to Zelenogorsk, that God had performed a miracle to spare my life. Why did He do that? Is He going to answer my silent plea and give another sign?
I didn’t take more than ten steps in the direction of my home when a girl handed me a beautiful poster. “God is Love!” it stated. “And He loves you!”
I was stunned. “Why are you giving this to me?”
“Because He told me to,” the girl answered. “God wants to be there for you. God is love, so if you believe in love, you believe in God!”
She told me about Jesus Christ dying for my sins and showed me a few passages from the Bible where He promised eternal life to anyone who believes and repents of their sins.
My newfound friend prayed with me, and I asked God to forgive me of my sins. When I finished praying, I knew I’d found the missing link! Needing to learn more, I agreed to meet the girl two days later at her house to study the Bible.
Courage and confrontation
Two months later, having read about Jesus and the Bible, I made up my mind to become a missionary. Because I was seventeen at the time, my parents didn’t take me seriously at first. But that changed when my father walked into my room and found me secretly packing my bags to go to a Christian youth camp.
“And where do think you are going?!” he thundered. “You are not thinking of sneaking away with your foreigners, are you?”
“I promise, I was going to tell you,” I answered. “I want to become a missionary and help people. It’s just for three months, Father.”
“Three months! Do you realize what can happen in three months? It’s plenty of time for you-know-who to find out that my daughter is meeting foreigners — and Christians on top of that! I’ll be kicked out of the Party and could even be suspected of being a spy. If that happens, then we’ll have no jobs, no money. And you will be to blame!”
I tried to explain that the Iron Curtain had just fallen and that the laws would be different now from what they used to be. But my father would not listen.
“I guarantee that if you go with them, you will end up being one of those starving artists on the street: no home, no income, and no future!”
My father’s lecture went on for four hours, but somehow it did not shake my convictions. In my heart I knew that God had called me to be His servant, and I was going to follow that call no matter what. I committed the future of my family into His hands and continued to pack.
Looking for a sign
When my mother saw that my father was getting nowhere, she decided to see for herself what kind of people I was meeting. She confessed her sins to God and accepted Jesus’ death during the first Christian meeting she attended!
On the night of her conversion we had another heated discussion with my father. To his surprise, mother took my side. After a long talk, he finally agreed to let me be and give God a try — if He would give him a sign.
That night my father’s simple, old-fashioned watch switched over to Daylight Savings Time by itself. The next morning he realized that his was the only watch in the house that showed new time without anyone adjusting it. He was overjoyed that God had answered his request for a sign.
My father repented of his sins and accepted Christ as his Savior. From that day on he was proud to be a Christian. “The communists promised only a bright future for us,” he told me later. “God actually has the means to give it and answers our pleas.”
Signs and miracles
A few months later I finished my studies at the Christian college and became a missionary. During the past ten years my husband and I have worked in Russia, Ukraine, and Holland. I’ve seen many more signs and miracles that proved God’s existence — but none greater when God connected my heart to Him.