Russell and Duenes

show your passports and go through

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Does God answer prayer in specific ways? I think He does and a particular answer of His always stays in my mind. In August of 1995 I was part of a team that went to Kazakhstan. Me and about twelve others had been planning this trip since January, meeting, praying, strategizing and team-building. We were all excited about what God might do, particularly in this new post-Soviet era. Of course there was the usual paperwork that had to be acquired, passports and visas. Our plan was to visit a small city on the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea called Aqtau. Our journey there included a non-stop flight from Los Angeles to Frankfurt, then on to Moscow. We then had a ten hour layover in Moscow before catching a flight to Aqtau that departed around 3:00AM. I mention this because we had been informed by an Australian team already in Aqtau that there was to be a city celebration on the day we arrived. They were requesting that we prepare a few songs and sing in the celebration. As you can imagine after traveling all that distance, we figured that all we’d want to do upon arrival is crash and sleep for a good twelve hours or so. We chafed a bit, but agreed to sing.

So we’re nearing the middle of the summer and everyone on the team is excited. Just a few short weeks and we’ll be off. Not so fast. The consulate that handles visas informs us that they have mishandled our visas for Kazakhstan and will not be able to get them to us in time for our trip. Not having these visas means that we would likely be unable to get out of Russia and into Kazakhstan. All those months of planning and anticipation, down the drain. Unless…unless we decide to go anyway and see if God will get us in. We decide to trust him and go anyway, praying that He will see us through and that He has a purpose for our going.

We make it to Moscow and we’re waiting around for our flight to Aqtau. None of us speaks any kind of Russian, so we’re not sure what to expect. A couple of hours before our flight, our team leader heads off to try and discuss something with the Russian airport officials. He’s with them for about two hours, and only God knows what they were talking about. All I know is that when it came time to board the flight, a crank of a Russian guy waves us through the line and on to the plane (the trip to the plane on the “tram” would be worth a story in itself). As we roll down a runway full of potholes in some piece of crap Soviet plane that has dogs on it, my only thought is, “Dear God, let this plane fly.”

We arrive early in the morning in Aqtau, wondering what awaits us. We should’ve been turned back. We didn’t have our papers. But God had other ideas. Remember the city celebration in which we had no desire to participate? Well, our presence was requested and word was sent to let us through. So we pass everyone else waiting in line to go through customs, flash our passports, get our luggage and head out. We were in!

After all of it, we had a good time singing in the city and we eventually got visas while we were there (We were informed not to try this again). I don’t know all of the things God did through us while we were there, but I trust He had His purposes. What I do know is that He did many things in me, one of which was to show me that He can be trusted and that He answers prayer.


Written by Michael Duenes

January 28, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Posted in Duenes, Reflections

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