Everyday Miracles (cont. from June 16):
Ilya apparently knew that Christianity revolves around Jesus—fully God and fully man—who died on the cross for all humanity, that He forgives those who repent and guarantees us believers eternal life. Sadly, however, he had also flatly stated that he did not want to get “too close” to Christianity because he was not willing to repent and change his ways. This, of course, is a problem with which we *all* struggle at certain times in our lives: “Who is God? Jesus or me?”
After some silence, I said, “You know, in a few months we’ll observe the 20th anniversary of 9/11. I remember that morning very well. Like everyone else, I was horrified, even wondering whether these horrible attacks might trigger World War III. But I also distinctly recall thinking about the people sitting on those planes. Word about the first plane crash had quickly gotten out to the passengers on the other hijacked flights as they received frantic cell phone calls from their loved ones. And so there they are, strapped into their seats, probably bent over in a crash position, knowing that within minutes they would be blown to bits.” I paused. Ilya leaned forward, apparently very intrigued. “Let’s assume that some people on those flights didn’t believe in Jesus. Do you wonder whether some of them might have repented—knowing that they were about to die?” “Repented?” Ilya asked. He looked the word up in the English-Russian dictionary on his phone. “Ah, yes, to believe in Jesus Christ as your God and Savior and to ask Him for forgiveness…”Ilya looked out the window, staring at the German countryside flying by. We talked for another two hours—about all kinds of Christian scenarios—from Dietrich Bonhoeffer to others in history who died for their faith in Jesus. We both got out at Mannheim. I gave him my card and said, “If you have more questions about Christianity, I’d love to continue the conversation.” Ilya smiled, said he might get in touch, and headed down the platform. (PS: Ilya gave me permission to take these pictures and to tell this story—another Everyday Miracle).