One of our deacons, Janet, works locally as a midwife where Anya was retraining as a midwife at the same hospital. Just before Christmas last year, 2012, Janet invited Anya to the Church nativity service and, somewhat hesitantly she came.
This was the beginning of Anya’s journey into relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ and is a story of God’s amazing grace.
Anya came, but was very uncomfortable. Her upbringing in Russia did not include God or His Son Jesus Christ. In spite of this Anya was asking lots and lots of questions, but God had everything covered! We were beginning a Saints Alive course in the New Year and suggested that Anya came and joined the course, which she did.
Every week Anya would say she would not be back. By week four Anya was struggling big time! After the meeting she said, “I think you are all lovely people, please don’t be offended but I can’t come any more – It’s too hard.” We said not to worry and that we’d always be there for her (while praying, “God, please bring her back”.)
Through those first four weeks we recognised God at work in Anya and had to trust that He would finish the work He had begun.
For the next week I was taken out with a double whammy - food poisoning and a chest infection together, at one stage all I could do was pray. As I prayed for Anya I saw her, in my mind’s eye, walking into church. I asked the Lord, “Lord, what should I do when she comes back?” “Give her a father’s hug!” came the reply.
(You need to understand the significance of this. Anya’s father left when she was born, so for Anya to receive a father’s hug, God would have to do a major work in her heart.)
Two weeks later Anya came to an evening service. I shared with her that I knew she would be back – she looked somewhat puzzled, “How did you know?” she asked. “God told me, and He’s also told me what to do.” “What you to do?” came the reply. “Give you a father’s hug!” I said. “Let me prepare for father’s hug” said Anya.
When Anya was ready, she received ‘a father’s hug.’ God released His Father’s love upon her - there were tears all round. A week later, on the Saints Alive course, Anya committed her life to the Lord. There was much rejoicing.
We have seen a wonderful change in our sister; from a defensive, unhappy and uncertain lady into a confident, joyful child of the Living God.
But that’s not the end of the story!
Anya was baptised on the 21st April this year. Anya’s daughter Polina had taken a holiday from her job in the USA and was at the baptism.
Later in the day Polina asked for a chat, God gave us words of knowledge that just spoke into Polina’s situation, substantial and harmful ‘walls’ came tumbling down and just one week later Polina received Jesus as her Lord and Saviour. On Sunday, 25th August, Polina was baptised in the sea at beautiful, secluded Aber Mawr bay in Pembrokeshire.
The Holy Spirit has given both Anya and Polina a deep desire for God’s Word and an equally deep desire for His precious presence in their lives.
As a church, we’ve watched our gracious, loving God at work and can’t help but be humbled and excited, privileged and in awe of the God we serve.