On Wednesday afternoon we left Camp Viafani and headed to “Tabita”, an elderly people’s home in a small village. At the home, which is home to 42 residents (20 of whom are bed-ridden), we were delighted to be able to entertain the elderly people by performing a Bible story (Jesus heals the ten lepers) which was translated into Russian, and then we sang worship songs. We delivered food packages as gifts to each resident in the home and it was really lovely to see their faces light up as we greeted them with “Doberii deni” (good day) and gave them a smile. After delivering our gifts we were given the opportunity to talk further with some of the residents at the home, along with Karen, Lily and our translator Anna, we went and visited Sophia.
We quickly learnt that Sophia was an inspirational woman with an incredible story of faith and how Jesus has worked in her life…
Sophia was born in Russia during the Soviet rule. She was discouraged from having any beliefs regarding God and encouraged to follow Russian ways of life. From the age of seven she began to have visions which she now believes were from God and depicted her with Jesus. When Sophia told her sister of these dreams she discarded them as nonsense and was told not to tell others.
Years later, Sophia found herself living in an apartment in St. Petersburg which was not safe for people to live in. She had a fourteen year old son and once again she found herself questioning God when her son asked about who this God was that he had heard about. Sophia tried to provide her son with answers but in her position in a communist country it was forbidden to talk about any religion. That night her son decided that he wanted to fix the electricity, which was constantly being cut off from the flats, in order to help those in his community. Despite Sophia’s warnings that he could seriously injure or paralyse himself her son took himself off to fix the wires. Sophia still blames herself for her son’s death which occurred that night as he climbed onto the electricity cables. She believes that if she had told him about the possible fatality of the wires he would still be alive. Our hearts broke for Sophia as she told us how she hoped that night, when her son did not arrive home, that he had stayed at her sister’s home on the other side of the river but she knew in her heart that she wouldn’t see him again. Tears were shed as Sophia shared her thoughts that her son might not be in “paradise” as he did not come to know God. We were able to assure Sophia that our God is merciful and has a plan bigger than we are able to comprehend.
Eventually Sophia moved from Russia to Moldova and whilst in hospital here she met a woman who preached Jesus’ good news in a way she had never experienced before. Many months after this encounter Sophia decided to go to church and find out more about this God she had been told about. She found her Saviour here in Moldova and after years of hurt and pain was finally freed by God’s healing power. Sophia’s life changed and the woman whose words in a hospital brought peace to Sophia eventually became her grandmother-in-law! God is good!
Now Sophia is knowing peace as she continues to sow seeds of Jesus’ love in the lives of the other residents in Tabita. She will turn 80 later this year and is then waiting for God to call her home to paradise.
Walking out of Sophia’s room, after hearing her incredible and inspiring story, humbled us all and encouraged us in our walk with christ. I know for sure that Sophia will be someone who inspires me to pray and hold strong in my faith when times get tough. If you would like to pray for Sophia she asks us to pray that she can continue to spread God’s love and his word to others in the home. I know that she would be smiling from ear to ear to know that we are praying for her!