An Adventure in Missions: A Practical Guide to Missions

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2012-05-24
  • Publisher: Textstream
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The Military Police come for a friendly visit In 1994 I was doing team setup for the Navigators for the Co-Mission Project. I was in the former Soviet Union, in the city of Vinnitsa Ukraine; I was trying to find interpreters, drivers, helpers, cooks and apartments to rent for the American team due in four weeks. I bought washing machines and dryers for each of the apartments that I rented. The team was scheduled to stay for a year. Hiring the local team support people would also provide employment opportunities for many in need. One day, my interpreter, Boris, wanted to go fishing so I was on my own for the whole day! I was really looking forward to this. Surprisingly, a couple of plain clothes police officers stopped by the apartment that morning at 8:30. I guessed they just wanted to say "Hello" and check my Visa. They quickly decided to invite me to the police station for questioning. This ruined my big day off! Their English language skills were pretty rough; they only knew fifty words or less. The few things they could say in English were things like "You come," "You sit," and "You stay." I felt like a dog on a leash. Their car was pretty small compared to American standards—something the size of a small compact, but this had four doors. I knew they were military police when I got in the car because I recognized a hat I saw in the back seat. It was Army officer's military police hat with a red-band around it. It was like the one I had in my room back in Kiev as a souvenir. Little did I know there was a secret army base just outside of the city of Vinitsa and little did I know the restaurant I liked to have lunch in once in a while was a also a favorite of many off-duty Army officers. They took me in their tiny car to a regional police station of some kind. After some delay, they took me to the local police station. Now I was beginning to get a little worried. The police station was more like a secure garrison with brick and concrete walls around it with broken glass on the top and it was about eight foot high. They took me through a big iron entrance gate. When we went inside and the gate closed, I felt like this wasn't going to be much of a day off for me. It was an old building, typical of government buildings in the former Soviet Union. It was well made and well used. We went to the second floor, and we were directed by the officer at the front desk to go to a certain room down the hall. Two other officers joined us. Now I didn't feel good about this at all. There were four of them and one of me. Then the questioning began. Soviet style military police interrogation is not something I'd recommend for recreation. I was in a room with bars on the windows and about fifteen feet away was the entrance to the holding cell for prisoners. After four hours of grilling from Colonel Kozechenko and his three helpers, I was sweating and wondering if I would ever get out of this police station to see the sun again. Never mind ever getting back home again! I had no phone connection back to Kiev, and only a rude e-mail capability. The Navigators and Campus Crusade directors only knew that I was in Vinnitsa setting up for the team coming in four weeks. No one knew I was in the police station and no one knew what was happening. That was the worst part. The interrogation was intense and I recognized them playing "Good Cop/Bad Cop" with me. Three of them were asking me questions at the same time. It was stressful to say the least. The questions were like these: What are you doing here in Vinnitsa? Why are you here? Where are you from? Where were you born? Who do you work for? Who do you work with? How much are you paid? Who pays your salary? Where do you get your money from? Who authorized you to be here in Vinnitsa? When did you arrive here? Where do you live in Kiev? How old are you? Where do you live in America? What do you do in America? How long were you in Moscow? What were you doing in Moscow? How long were you in Leningrad? What were you doing in Leningrad? This interrogation went on and on, and around and around, for hours. Everyone in the room got in on the questioning except for one interrogator. I guess he was the "Good Cop." He did seem like a nice guy too. As I look back I think perhaps they just wanted to hear English spoken without a Russian or Ukrainian accent, but they were intense about it. Through all this I tried to maintain the persona of a person who was not very important in the scheme of things. I couldn't answer a lot of their questions because I didn't know. Actually, I knew a lot but it would have compromised the Navigators and Campus Crusade operation in Kiev if I told them all they wanted. So I played dumb. Who me? I don't know nada. After all, I was just a guy trying to help out where I could. During the interrogation I focused more on the humanitarian aspect of our mission in Ukraine and Russia. People were receiving Christ as their savior and I didn't want to endanger that activity. New Believers were coming under the interrogation process too. A very dear friend in Vinnitsa was interrogated by the same KGB officers after it was discovered he had become a Believer. He had been a Communist until he saw the Jesus Film and put his faith in Christ. He and I would walk for hours in parks where he would ask me many questions about his new found faith. After my interrogation, I had to go to the regional government's administration office to get a letter from the regional director authorizing me to be in this city and in this region. I had to get the invitation letter authorizing me to be in Vinnitsa from his office, signed by him, and then return to the police station the next day! If I couldn't get the letter and authorization, I had two days to be out of Ukraine or I would be arrested and sent to jail. In spite of my situation, I had a secret weapon! My prayer partner, Jack Whalen, prayed for me every evening. Jack and his wife Shirley have been a gift to me from the Lord "for such a time as this." I've been in similar circumstances and I knew Jack was praying for me. It was such a comfort to know God is faithful to watch over us and answer our prayers. The important lesson out of this is to have a faithful prayer partner on your side that will faithfully keep you in prayer for a covering of the blood of Jesus over you and a hedge of protection around you. I knew Jack and Shirley were not aware of my situation but I knew they would be praying for me. It seemed like the Lord reminded me that He had people praying for me. I remembered this while I was being interrogated and that was a great comfort.

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