I thought we’d go on a fun trip with all the new readers, and share something with you that, unless you’ve been around for quite some time, you don’t know about us. This first post will be about me (Ben) and is something you know if you’ve read my 25 things post, but I’m about to take you all the way back to 2001 and fill you in on the details. So crank up the Kirk Franklin, because this story will make you want to stomp. (I’m really sorry for that reference. I won’t let it happen again)
I was in Central Asia (can’t tell you the country, but I can tell you it used to be a Soviet Socialist Republic…) with Campus Crusade, and a friend named Chris and I had been invited to a local student’s house. We were excited to go, and took a “taxi” trip (anything with 4 wheels and an extra seat is a taxi in that town) that dropped us off right around the corner from our destination. The local student met us, shook hands (as is the custom), and motioned for us to follow him.
I wish I had taken a picture, because using words to describe what happened next simply doesn’t do it justice.
We rounded the corner to find a late-middle-aged man in what I hesitate to call an above ground pool, for fear that you won’t envision a giant tin can filled with water. Also of note is the fact that our as-yet-unintroduced new friend was wearing what appeared to be tightie-whities. I can’t confirm that, because there’s a one glance maximum on those types of things.
Our fully-clothed student friend looked at me and struggled to come up with three English letters, all the while pointing at the man in the tin can, who I had just noticed was holding a half empty bottle of vodka… “K, um, G, ah, B” he said, “yes, KGB”
Let’s pause and recount. A student in a former Soviet country had just introduced two American college students (who were in the country to share their faith without government permission) to his friend the nearly-naked, definitely-intoxicated former KGB agent.
You’re thinking it couldn’t get any more surreal than that, right? Surely this story has hit it’s weirdest point?
Nope. Let’s fast-forward past the pleasantries of meeting one another.
Vladimir (the name I’ve just given the naked KGB agent) put down the vodka, looked up, and asked in his thick Russian accent, “So, what is difference between Muslim and Christian?” followed by, “I never read Bible. What is special about Bible?”
Yup, that’s the most conflicted I’ve ever felt. Do I answer this guy’s question and risk it being a trap, or do I feign ignorance and face the very real potential that he never meets another Christian in his lifetime? No pressure. I refused to make eye contact with Chris, hoping he’d take that as a cue to answer the question.
I honestly don’t remember exactly how the rest of the conversation went. I do know that we dodged the question the first time, and tried to figure out why he wanted to know. I also know that we left him with a Russian language Bible, and had fully explained the gospel by the time we left.
I hope Vladimir read that Bible. And I hope Jesus took the scales off his eyes to see God for who He truly is. And, someday in heaven, I hope to get that story from his perspective. Because it’s easily my most memorable conversation about the gospel to date, and, most likely something you didn’t already know.