It was spring, and I and a group of Full Gospel Business Men were planning to leave the following Tuesday on a mission trip to central Russia. The Friday evening before I planned to leave for Russia, I noticed that a local store was placing their riding lawn mowers on sale the following day. I couldn’t resist the thought of sitting on a big new lawn mower and mowing the lawns on our fifteen-acre ranch home. The following morning, I was among the first in line to purchase a new riding lawn mower. By early Saturday morning I was pulling my one ton Silverado pickup into the driveway of our home, with my new riding lawn mower in the back of the truck.
Upon arriving at our home, I grabbed my tools and climbed into the rear of the pickup to knock the sides of the packing crate off the new mower. All the way home from the shopping center I had been thinking how much easier it would be to mow the lawn with this new sit-down lawn mower. I could hardly wait to get the new mower uncrated and get started mowing the grass. I climbed onto the bed of the truck and knocked the top off the packing crate. As I did so, the sides of the crate fell outward against the bed of the pickup, leaving a narrow space between the mower and the packing crate for me to move. As I stepped into that narrow space, I lost my balance and fell against the side of the packing crate. My weight against the packing crate caused it to buckle, and within seconds I found myself crashing backwards, four to five feet to the ground. That fall ended with a loud, sickening crunch, as I felt my ribs snap. No one else was home, so I painfully drove myself to the nearby Hospital where they confirmed what I already knew… I had broken four of my ribs, and I had broken them only three days before I was to leave for Russia. I was in tremendous pain.
My wife, Barbara said, “Bob, you can’t go to Russia with broken ribs!” But I knew I had to go to Russia with the group if the mission trip were to succeed. I was the only member of the airlift team who knew our contacts in Russia, and I was the only member of the team who had been to Russia previously. It was settled! I was going.
On Tuesday morning, I arrived at the Airport in excruciating pain. All the way to the airport my wife Barbara was telling me, over and over “Bob, you can’t go to Russia in that condition”, and I was telling her, “I am going.”
Our Airlift team was made up of two groups. My group of four men would travel to Perm, an industrial city on the western edge of Siberia, and the second slightly larger group would travel to Ufa, an oil rich city located several hundred miles to the south of Perm.
After two hours in the Seattle Airport, eleven hours on the Aeroflot International Flight to Moscow, a transfer to the Moscow Domestic Terminal, an eight hour wait for our plane to arrive from Perm, and then an additional three and one half hour flight from Moscow to Perm, I was physically exhausted and was beginning to think I had made a terrible mistake.
Our Russian hosts picked us up at the airport and drove us to a local hotel. We had three and one-half hours to rest before we were to speak in the first evening meeting. As soon as I was in my hotel room, I lied down on the bed and fell soundly asleep. I was physically exhausted!
Around six in the evening, our Russian hosts drove us to our first meeting. I asked the other three men to give their testimonies first; I would be the final speaker. Finally, it was my turn to speak. I climbed the steps of the elevated platform on which the podium was located, and looked out over the crowded Russian audience. I began by explaining the series of events that had led to fracturing my four ribs. As I leaned back to illustrate how I had fallen from the bed of the truck, I felt no pain… I reached behind me to feel the fractured ribs, but there was no pain! I was healed. Some of the Russian men came to me after the meeting and questioned me extensively. They could not believe that God had just healed me. But then I could hardly believe it myself!
I was free from pain the entire two weeks I was in Russia. There was one exception to this statement, when I was traveling all day and remained up after midnight, one area of my back would ache a bit. This happened on two occasions, but this probably would have occurred even if I had not fractured my ribs.
We spoke and traveled around various locations in the city of Perm and southwest of Perm, to the city of Ihzvesk for two weeks before returning to our home in Seattle. On the third day after returning home to Seattle, the pain in my ribs returned with a vengeance, and it took two or three weeks of additional healing before the pain left me for the second time. I have never quite understood why the Lord didn’t heal my ribs permanently while I was in Russia, but I am forever thankful that He took away the pain during the time I was ministering in Russia. ‘The Lord has mercy upon His people’ seems to be the best explanation I can offer.
When the pain first left as I stood to minister, I thought God was honoring my faith and healing me. But later, when the pain returned after I had returned home in Seattle, it became very clear that I had not been healed! So it couldn’t have been my faith, because whatever happened that night in Perm only lasted until I arrived home in Seattle. While I don’t understand what happened, I am very grateful for the mercy that the Lord showed toward to me during the two weeks that I was traveling and ministering in Russia.
At the end of every War Story it has been my habit to explain the spiritual principal that occurred in the War Story. However, in this month’s War Story the only explanation I have is the mercy of God!