An Atheist Finds God in A Stove

“…you shall be My witnesses…”     Jesus   Book of Acts 1:8

I recently read Grace and Then Freedom by a World War II Russian paratrooper officer named Nikolai Alexandrenko. It is his story of being born and raised in communist Russia and as a young man fighting the Nazis in WWII.  After being wounded and captured by the German army in southern Russia, he spent four years in post-war Germany as a displaced person.  One day while trying to start a fire in a wood burning stove, he, an atheist, found two pieces of a gospel tract in Russian that someone had torn up and thrown in the stove.

Following is his testimony of what happened to him when he read these two scraps of the gospel tract.  It shows the power of the gospel when it falls into the hands of one whom the Holy Spirit has prepared to receive the good news of Jesus Christ.  He starts by sharing what he found:

 “So these two little leaflets in my native language caught my eye, and I began to read.

One was Revelation 3:20, in which Jesus Christ says “Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him and him with me.”

Then there was Matthew 11:28, in which Jesus says, ” Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Following these two verses there was an explanation about the verses that were quoted from the Bible. And I remember particularly this question, saying, “Jesus Christ, the son of God, is standing now at your heart and is knocking. Did you knock to God in your sorrows?”

Those words from the scripture and that question struck me like a sledgehammer. I just stopped and forgot about everything else in the world, and I said to myself, “God—does God exist?”

“After that question an answer came —-yes, there is God. And then a second question —-then why am I so miserable in my life? And a second answer —because I never knocked to God in my sorrow.

Though I was alone in that big cold room I suddenly felt that someone, though invisible, was standing before me and knocking on my heart.  He was talking to me personally.  And I felt an urge to say something to that invisible somebody. So for the first time in  my life, not really being a Christian, I offered my first prayer. I said “God, for 27 years of my life I have been in darkness.” I said “God, if you really are, if you really exist, lift me out of this condition, and explain all things about yourself. If you really are, do you want me to spend the rest of my life in the darkness?”

When I said those words in my prayer, I felt the tears begin to roll down my cheeks and words of repentance about my sins began to come out of my mouth.”

He goes on to explain that, through all the hurt in his life, he had never cried, even when his mother died as a boy. God would later open a door for him to come to the U.S. and eventually was a professor at a Christian college in my hometown.  I met Dr. Nik in 1980 while working in the yard one Saturday and he was visiting the neighborhood to invite people to the church he was attending.  Later he would interpret some letters for me that we had received from Russians we had met while planting churches in Russia after the Iron Curtain came down. He was a very interesting brother in the Lord.

I encourage you to be a witness in your daily life. Tracts are cheap and easy to hand out to people you encounter in your daily business.  Don’t let the devil put the fear of being rejected on you.  If they reject you, they are really rejecting the One who sent you. And remember, there are more Dr. Nik’s out there who the Holy Spirit has prepared to receive the seed of His Word.

Be a witness.

Carl