I was serving as a Physical Therapist at the Seventh-day Adventist Clinic in Moscow, Russia, and treating a beautiful little shy, blond, blue-eyed girl of eleven. Natasha had broken her forearm while playing with her brother. The arm was put in a non-padded cast and she was sent home. Consequently, one of the three nerves to her hand was damaged. Later, as the doctors tried to give her more hand function by transferring tendons, they accidentally cut another nerve. Her hand was left functionless.
As I worked with Natasha I shared the good news of Jesus with her. She received Christ into her life and began to attend church. Her parents became very much afraid because of false rumors about the church, and forbade her to attend. She came any way. They then took away her church clothes, so she came in school clothes. Then they locked her in the house, but when her father came home and left the door unlocked, she would leave and attend young people’s meetings.
One Sabbath, Natasha was asked to offer the prayer for church service. During that prayer she lifted her hand to God and thanked Him for her crippled hand because it had led her to know Jesus. At school she was learning about evolution and Darwinism. After class she shared her views with the teacher and he asked her to give him some Bible studies.
The false rumors continued to come out in the newspaper, so one day Natasha wrote a rebuttal to the editor. He was so impressed that he published her letter and asked her to write a weekly column about her beliefs. Shy little Natasha won the hearts of many.
When she wanted to be baptized her parents threatened to kill her. She came to the baptism anyway and surrendered her life to Jesus. Fortunately, they did not kill her and finally let her continue to worship and share as God led her. How often we forget how precious is our religious freedom.
Would we be willing to stand up for Jesus despite the threat of punishment?
—Written by Vernon Putz
Vernon is an ordained minister and a member of the Milton Adventist Church. He served as a missionary to Russia for four years.