29 Apr 2012
"I was afraid that if I didn't give the right answer, you would beat me."
This was the stunning admission that Maria made. She was describing how she felt, one year ago, when she courageously joined a small group to investigate faith. Last weekend, her small group was part of a 'Zerro' weekend retreat, where young people explore what it means to follow Jesus.
The leader of this weekend was Slavic Karpyuk, Director of Innovista Siberia. He picks up the story:
"Maria's fear makes perfect sense when you know her story. Her mother abandoned her when she was six months old. Her father didn't take care of her and she was left to be looked after by her grandmother. Nearly all her relatives were drug users and alcoholics. Maria didn't talk until she was seven years old."
"Somehow, despite her fear, Maria kept coming to one of our small groups," continues Slavic. "She began to trust others and share her story. Then she came on the Zerro weekend.
"At the close of these weekends, we give everyone a candle and invite them to find a quiet spot and tell God whatever they need him to know - their questions, doubts, hopes, fears. I lit a candle in the main room and gave them a candle, with the invitation that, if, after talking to God, you decide that you want to follow Jesus, then light your candle and come and put it next to mine."
Fifteen minutes later, there were five candles burning. And one of them was Maria's.
Thank God for Maria, Anton, Inga and Lisa who all lit candles and decided to follow Jesus. Pray that they'll grow and shine brightly, leading their friends and family to new life too.