by Naomi Munson
It was six years ago this month that my husband and I received the call that our daughter and five other students were incarcerated in a Russian prison. One of the girls had been able to leave a message on an answering machine of the the missions school they attended as they were being hauled off the train. The school had no other information.
After we received the call I immediately went into a season of prayer and fasting. I didn’t know how long it would be, but I was determined to seek God until they were free. There was a place that I found at the edge of my sofa which became my secret place. I occupied that space every night (and sometimes for hours during the day as well) for the next seventy-seven days while the incident was under investigation. While we awaited the call that would tell us whether the students would be released, spend the next six years in a Russian prison, or something in between. Everything was unknown. Prison rules changed from day to day. Updates on their case were sparse. We didn’t know what conditions they were in, except that they were each in separate cells and that their cell mates were Russian prisoners. I would sit there praying, crying, pleading with God for their freedom.
We had received little communication during that time—one censored email a month through the state department. We couldn’t tell people. The political scene with Russia was too volatile and there was concern that the Russian government might use the students as an example—a tool for their own agenda. We needed to keep it quiet— to keep word from getting out so that the students would have a greater chance of getting released; a better chance of being safe. We were restricted to sharing her story with a handful of prayer partners. . I isolated myself to keep from answering questions from people who knew her, and might ask me how she was doing on the mission field.
Yesterday, I sat on my deck,communing with God and pondering all that has been going on in the world these last few months. I considered the Corona Virus and how it was affecting my life, and impacting lives of those around me. I realized that I find myself in a similar place now as I did a few years ago, when we received the call informing us that the students had been arrested, but they had no other information to give us. Confused and full of questions, with a feeling of helplessness and a fear of the unknown. The call that made me feel lonely, without control, and brought me to my knees. Except this time the entire world is walking through it with me.
We find ourselves alone and in situations that we have never experienced before. Sometimes we feel as if our world is caving in around us and we wonder where God is in all of this? The unknown subconsciously, if not actively plays in the corners of our minds and tries to make us fear. We are separated— distancing ourselves from those we love- to keep people safe. And it is not easy. It’s difficult! It’s lonely! It’s frustrating and restrictive! Time drags on: hours, days weeks. Everything has changed. When we need the companionship of our friends most, they are removed from us. We desire to spend time talking to them looking into their eyes, watching the movement of their lips as we enjoy sweet conversation. Now all this is taken away. We feel alone, isolated and desperately in need of companionship.
As I communed with God on my deck as the sun rose, I was reminded of verse of scripture in Psalms 46:
“God is our refuge and our strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the midst of the sea.
The Passion Translation beautifully interprets the beginning of that Psalm with these words:
“God, you are such a safe and powerful place to find refuge! A proven help in times of trouble — more than enough and always available whenever we need you. So we will never fear even if every structure of support were to crumble away.
Isolation time is stretching out longer. When will it end? What will our world be like when it does end? Will life ever return to “normal”? These thoughts can be frightening.There is a verse of scripture that God gave me when my husband passed away a few years ago and that I have reminded myself of often these past couple of months. Isaiah 41:10 and repeated in Psalm 41:13. It is something God reminded His people of many times and in many situations.
Do not be afraid for I am with you. Do not be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.
God is always with us. He never leaves us , He never forsakes us and He never fails. He didn’t say that it would be easy. Life is hard! But He promises to walk through it with us.
During this tumultuous time, look to God. Find a secret place and pour out your soul to Him. Your fears. Your worries and concerns. Your grief. Your frustrations . And know that HE WILL MEET YOU THERE.
Thank you for reading, my friends. I will continue my story where I left off in our next blog. As Paul Harvey used to end his broadcast ( I’m dating myself here-) “Tune in next week to hear The Rest of the Story.”
Until then I leave you with the words of the Psalmist: Psalm 121 The Passion Translation (TPT)
God Protects Us
A song of the stairway
I look up to the mountains and hills, longing for God’s help.
But then I realize that our true help and protection
come only from the Lord,
our Creator who made the heavens and the earth.
He will guard and guide me, never letting me stumble or fall.
God is my keeper; he will never forget nor ignore me.
He will never slumber nor sleep;
he is the Guardian-God for his people, Israel.
Jehovah himself will watch over you;
he’s always at your side to shelter you safely in his presence.
He’s protecting you from all danger both day and night.
He will keep you from every form of evil or calamity as he continually watches over you. You will be guarded by God himself.
You will be safe when you leave your home
and safely you will return.
He will protect you now,
and he’ll protect you forevermore!
The purpose of IVHOP Academy is to disciple, train, and equip people to fulfill their destiny in Christ. Our focus for this blog is to impart biblical revelation, coupled with practical application, for the purpose of deeper spiritual transformation.