SID: Did you know that you have a legacy? Natasha’s great-grandfather was the only Christian she knows of in her family. There were 70 years of atheism in the former Soviet Union, communism. How old were you when you saw your first Bible?

NATASHA: About 30 years old.

SID: Can you imagine? The first Bible she ever opened, she’s age 30. She was raised as an atheist. She couldn’t understand someone that believed in Jesus, but her grandfather, once a week, he would gather their big family together and he would read from what book?

NATASHA: He would pull his big Bible and he would open it. He would put his glasses on. He would point the finger on the page and start reading. My grandmother, his daughter, she would tell me the story over and over because when I was just a child, I would come to visit her every summer and she would tell me that story. Because I grew up under communism, didn’t know anything about God, I thought it was kind of she made it up or just a strange thing.

NATASHA: But then, after later when I became a Christian, got born again, the first thing that the Holy Spirit reminded me, it was that story. I knew that every time a miracle would take place when my great-grandfather, who was absolutely illiterate, didn’t know alphabet, couldn’t read newspaper with the Stalin speeches printed in there, and yet every Sunday he would open his Bible, put his 11 children around the table, and read the Scripture.

SID: One day, a colleague of hers, another atheist, Alla, had a brain tumor. She calls you up and what did she say?

NATASHA: Well, she invited me to come and visit her to her apartment. We hadn’t seen each other for almost a year and so I went to visit her. Here she started to tell me about Jesus. She gave me her story. She developed a brain tumor, and you know the medical service in Soviet Union was very poor, so the doctors really diagnosed her with a brain tumor and said that, “You are going to die. We cannot help you.” She went to all the extra sensories and the last person she went to was her aunt. She was an underground Pentecostal believer. Her aunt took her to the church and Alla received Jesus into her heart and right in front of all the believers, the swollenness disappeared. Pain was gone and so she was healed. The next day, she took all the medical papers that she had, went to the doctors, and just ask him to run the tests, etc., and they were so shocked to see that she was absolutely healed.

SID: What did you think when she told you what happened to her?

NATASHA: I thought just what the doctors told her. They said, “Well, sometimes unexplainable things happen, but it cannot be God because God doesn’t exist.” This is what it old her. “You know, don’t tell me about Jesus because it’s a medical figure” because this is exactly what the Soviet encyclopedia placed in every library all over the Soviet Union. It said next to Jesus Christ, “a mythical figure.” I told her, “He is just a fairy tale.”

SID: She gives you a Christian magazine.

NATASHA: Mm-hmm

SID: You don’t throw it away because at that time, in the former Soviet Union, they had nothing.

NATASHA: When Alla gave me this magazine, a Christian magazine printed in Russian, smuggled into the Soviet Union by Russian Baptists located in Sacramento, California, I took this magazine and told her, “Don’t call me anymore because, you know, I don’t want to hear about God. I don’t want to hear about Jesus. He helped you, that’s fine, but I don’t believe in Him.” I told her, “When I’m ready, I will call you.” I left.

SID: By the way, when you left, what was going on in the mind of your friend, Alla, when you walked out that door?

NATASHA: This is what she told me later. She said, “When you closed the door, I went into prayer and I told God, ‘God, she is going to hell. There is no hope for her.'” She really gave up on me. I was so resistant. I was so hard. I just wouldn’t accept that as a truth. I read from cover to cover this magazine and it’s the first Christian literature that I ever seen in my life. I decided to write a letter to the editor, very short. “I’m 29 years old, I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in the existence of God. If He existed, then why?” Then I listed all the questions. Mailed the letter. Gorbachev became just the head of the Communist Party. A little bit more freedom, but still the country was closed and KGB watched through every mail, so I didn’t expect even that they will let the letter go through the border.

NATASHA: Then two months later, to my surprise, I received this package. I opened the package and for the first time in my life, I see a small blue Bible in Russian. You know, there is something. This is what I realized. You can live in the lie. You can be brainwashed for 70 years in the country when the system tells you there is no God, and you really don’t know what’s truth anymore. But if you are looking for the truth, when you see it, everything in you really recognizes it. When I opened the Bible and the first page, the first verse, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth,” something was going on on the inside. It sound so familiar, although I never read it before, never seen.

NATASHA: It’s almost like every cell in my body was responding to the truth. I didn’t know at that time what was it, but it was God already knocking at my heart and trying to reveal Himself to me. The funny thing was there was a Bible in the package, there were some Christian brochures, and I couldn’t really understand why in the world they would put 10 copies of the same issue of the Christian newspaper. Well, what happened was when I brought this package and this Christian literature to my home and I put them on desk and I start reading magazine and the newspapers, my father came. He was a political officer in the Soviet Army teaching communist ideology for 28 years. He comes home and here he sees all this Christian literature.

NATASHA: He got very angry and he said, “You need to get rid of this ’cause they will come.” They. You know, I didn’t know who “they.” “They will come and if they will see, they will arrest us, etc., etc.. Just take away this.” Because my family, we were readers. We love to read. We had a lot of books, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Pushkin. I just hid those brochures between the books on the bookshelves, and then I hid one copy of the newspaper in my room and then I took the nine others. We lived in an apartment building and I put them in the mailboxes of my neighbors because, you know, you don’t waste anything in the Soviet Union. We lived in the time of deficit. You don’t throw away even a newspaper. I put in the mailboxes, thinking, ’cause I was still an atheist, thinking, “If they will come, then I will not be alone on the train to Siberia.”

SID: Okay. A miracle happened. Two months after she sent this letter to America that she didn’t even think would get there, a letter comes back from America and two sentences in that letter, you’ll be shocked when you hear it. Totally transforms her life. Be right back.

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