The story in this book is not about how one man against all odds took his family halfway around the world from Siberia to America. This is about how God reveals his wisdom, power, and knowledge in our present, everyday lives!
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My grandfather went to work for the railroad in the bitterly cold Siberian region of Russia. One day, a man came to the house from the railroad department and told my grandmother that her husband had died in an accident. He did not tell the details of the accident or why it had happened.
Because she received no benefits from the railroad, she faced the tragic reality that she would have to fend for herself and try to survive the best she could with her two children. Because Grandfather had just started to work for the railroad, they had no money saved up. This and the fact there were no benefits from the railroad meant Grandmother was left penniless with two hungry mouths to feed. The landlord was gracious enough to let them stay in their house rent free until the summer, at which time she would have to start paying rent.
There was, of course, no way she could continue to support the two boys and herself through the freezing cold Siberian winters. She talked to her friends and the church officials to get suggestions and ideas about how she and her children could survive. Her friends and the priests from the church told her that she should take the boys to the monastery where they would be well cared for. There, they assured her, the boys would have a roof over their heads, clothes, food, and most importantly, an education.
As winter set in, my grandmother went back to the church, one more time, to talk to the priests, just to make sure that taking her sons to the monastery was the right thing to do. The priest at the Orthodox church assured her it would indeed be the best step for her to take. He said that they would get a Christian education and might even become priests of the church in her village. The church certainly could use them.
Now, Grandmother, being a very devout Orthodox Christian, believed what the priests told her and soon decided to take the boys to the monastery. Deep inside her heart, she knew that the priests were right. Instead of slow starvation and freezing to death, the boys would have a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs, food, and possible education.
However, after spending many exhausting, sleepless nights and days pondering this life-changing decision, she was no longer sure. The issue remained unanswered. It was frightening and heart-wrenching. While wrestling with her thoughts, she strongly and selfishly became convinced that she could provide for them. The three of them could survive. Then reality would set in once again, and she would envision herself and the boys dying from starvation and cold. She could not bear the thought of losing her boys in such a way.
So with mounting emotional turmoil, physical stress, and mental fatigue, she realized that the time had come to let the boys go, cut the apron strings, and pray that God would guide them on the rest of life's journey. She did not want to part with the boys but had to. It was a very agonizing and painful decision.
Of course, she was like all mothers — she wanted the best for her children. She knew she could not support them any longer. She knew that she could not provide what they needed. However, the monastery would provide them with almost everything that they would ever need.
It broke her heart to make this difficult decision, but it was a matter of life and death. If she made the wrong decision, it would mean death for all three of them. The right decision would mean life for the boys but a broken heart for her. With time, God would heal her broken heart, and her boys would live.
She had made her decision, and it was final. The monastery it is! she told herself. The new home for the boys! Early the next morning, she got the boys up and gathered the few clothes they had. She tied the clothes into bundles and then bundled up the boys in their coats and hats with ear covers. Then they all put on homemade snowshoes over their own shoes and walked through the snow. They left on a two-day journey in the blistering Siberian cold to the monastery, their new home.
Their mother knew that they had to make it to her friend's house, which would be halfway between their village and the monastery. They could spend the night there with her friend. The next day they would leave early in the morning to make it to the monastery before dark.
They walked all day, following the sleigh tracks. They saw no fences or houses. They only saw trees covered with snow. She thanked God it was a nice day without wind. As evening approached and the darkness set in, their mother said, "Boys, look everywhere for a light in front of us that can be the house of our friend. We are close, so we must look for the light."
Shortly after she said that, the boys spotted a dim light not far ahead of them! They hurriedly made their way to the distant light. Their mother prayed that they had arrived at the right one and not some stranger's house.
As they picked up their pace and headed toward the light ahead of them, the crunching of the frozen cold snow beneath their snowshoes became louder and more pronounced. It was getting dark and harder to see the tracks on the road in front of them. Once they had seen the dim light ahead of them, the boys hadn't bothered to look at the tracks. They knew where they were going. They headed straight for the light in the window.
The boys were younger, stronger, and more energetic than their mother, therefore, they ran ahead! Their mother, being older and slower, lagged behind the boys. She finally caught up with them, walked around them, came to the door, and knocked.
Sure enough, this was her friend's house. The trio entered the house. Her friend greeted them warmly with open arms. She offered them hot tea, cheese, and bread. The tea consisted of hot water and a little splash of milk, basically to color the water because milk was very scarce. As sugar was not available, she added a pinch of salt to the tea to give it flavor.
The boys finished their snacks and got ready for bed. After feeding the boys and putting them to bed, their mother and her friend stayed up a long time to discuss their situation. Their mother told her friend about her husband's death and their financial situation. The friend agreed wholeheartedly with her decision to take the boys to the monastery, where they would be cared for and get an education.
Early the next morning, they rose and were ready for the usual breakfast of hot-water tea. However, in addition to the tea, each person had a bowl of hot buckwheat cereal with butter and a piece of bread and cheese.
Because the mother and her boys wanted to get an early start, they got their things together and left on the second half of the journey to the monastery right after their breakfast. As they were leaving, their friend told them to follow the road with the sleigh tracks. It would lead them to the monastery. She added that they must not stop and rest too long during the day or they would never make it to the monastery by nightfall. If they did not make it to the monastery before dark, they would freeze to death in the snow.
She repeated, "So, remember, don't rest too long when you stop or you will freeze to death standing still! And don't stop too many times to rest. Keep moving, and you should get there by nightfall."
As they walked, the mother emphasized how important it was for them to keep on moving steadily that day. They didn't want to be caught out in the open at night and freeze to death. They must rest briefly and then keep on walking quickly to make it to the monastery before dark.
As evening approached, the darkness rapidly closed in around them. They continued to follow the sleigh tracks in front of them, but the darkness made it difficult to see them. The sky was gray, and the trees, which were covered with snow, looked grayish white. Most of the trees were white birch, which naturally blended into the background. So everything was grayish white — the sky, the trees, and the road.
They followed very closely the only thing they were able to somewhat see — the sleigh tracks in front of them. They knew if they missed the tracks and made a wrong turn, they would probably get lost in the forest and freeze solid by morning. Those thoughts sent chills down their backs. They didn't want to freeze to death. Images of themselves frozen in the woods became firmly engraved in their minds.
As the thought of freezing became very real, it brought new gravity to the phrase "freezing to death." When they had first started off, they had thought this was going to be a fun trip. They would walk, play in the snow, and have a good time. Now they realized how serious it was. With those thoughts constantly swirling in their heads, they made every effort to follow the almost invisible sleigh tracks in the snow-covered trail.
Several times, the boys had to get on their hands and knees to see the sleigh tracks. Occasionally, it was too dark to see them, and they had to kneel down and use their hands to feel where the snow was packed hard to tell which direction the tracks were heading. That is how they stayed on the correct road.
As the evening became darker, the night's temperature continued to drop rapidly. Now it was even colder. They subconsciously picked up their pace and walked more briskly to stay warm and reach their destination as quickly as possible.
As they walked briskly and followed the tracks as best they could, their mother said, "Boys, look ahead. Look for a light. Look for any light! It does not matter whether it is the monastery or a private home! We must find shelter in any home or we'll be frozen solid by morning!" It was getting later, darker, and much colder. They had to find shelter soon.
They thought they were getting close to the monastery. Their mother said, "Let's all look for the little light. That little light hangs above a small door of the monastery that people use."
One of the boys said, "Look, Mother, there's a light ahead of us!" They quickened their pace and walked straight toward the light, as their mother prayed that it was the door to the monastery. As they approached the light, they noticed that it was above a bell, and the bell was above a small door. Their mother quickly reached up to the bell and rang it.
As they stood there in front of the door waiting for somebody to open it, the boys noticed that their toes and fingers were getting numb. They were beginning to lose the feeling in them as they stood there. It didn't feel that cold, but in actuality, it was very cold! They were literally beginning to freeze right at the monastery's front door.
Their mother rang the bell again. Nothing happened. Nobody came to the door. Their mother tried to open the door, but the door was locked. Now they were very concerned. The bitter Siberian cold penetrated their clothes and their bodies, causing them to be extremely cold! Their clothes felt like they were frozen solid. Instead of holding the heat in and warming their bodies, it seemed as if the frozen clothes were sucking the heat out of their bodies.
Then the numbness in their hands and feet slowly spread to the other parts of their bodies. They were on the verge of freezing right in front of the door to the monastery. Could it be that they had walked two days in the snow and the cold and had finally reached the monastery only to freeze to death on its doorstep? How tragic! If only somebody would open the door so they could go inside and get warm.
Their mother frantically rang the bell numerous times. Apparently, the monk, who had been in a deep sleep, was suddenly jarred out of his blissful slumber by the annoying, high-pitched ringing of the bell outside. Deeply annoyed by the piercing sound and still half asleep, he rolled out of his bed as he mumbled under his breath. Steadying his gait by holding onto the walls, he slowly made his way to the small entry door and opened the little peephole. Without looking to see who was there, he yelled out with a loud raspy voice, "What do you want?" Mother replied, "The priest at the Orthodox church in our village strongly recommended that I bring my boys to the monastery to live, to study the Bible, and to learn about God!" In a moment, the monk unlatched the small old door. The door squeaked on its hinges as he opened it to let them in. They were enveloped in warmth as they stepped inside the monastery. Once inside, the boys immediately sensed the feeling in their fingers and toes coming back.
With an unsteady, wobbling gait, the monk took them to a room where he boiled some water. Soon they were enjoying hot tea, bread, and cheese. After finishing their refreshments, mother explained more about why they were there. She told the monk that she had discussed this with the church officials in her village, and they strongly recommended that she bring the boys to the monastery.
The monk nodded his head in understanding and said, "You made the right decision. You can leave the boys here. We will take good care of them here. They will always have food, clothes, and education. They may even want to become a monk or a priest. One of the boys may even be the future priest in the church in your village. We will help them, and we will educate them here. Here we will teach them about the church and the Bible." The monk then took the boys to a room and showed their mother to a guest room.
Life in the Monastery
The next morning, everyone was up early. The monks had already prepared a breakfast of hot tea with milk, bread, cheese, and hot buckwheat cereal.
After finishing her breakfast with the boys and the monks, their mother gave each one of the boys a big hug and a kiss. With tears in her eyes, she hugged them again and said good-bye as she walked back through the door they had come through the previous night. The monk led their mother out the same small, squeaky old door. The boys and the monk stood in the doorway and watched as the boys' mother slowly walked away from the monastery and disappeared over the snow-covered horizon. As the boys stood in the doorway and gazed in the direction their mother had gone, little did they realize that this was the last time they would ever see her.
The months slowly passed by. One day as the boys were doing their chores in the monastery, they noticed a stranger coming into the monastery. The stranger did not stay very long. He apparently had some business with the monks, which he discussed briefly, and then left.
Several weeks later, the monks informed the boys that their mother had been found frozen to death on the road back to their village. The monks told the boys that they had no known relatives now that their mother was gone. Henceforth, they would be considered orphans. They would live in the monastery until they were grown up.
Since their first day in the monastery, the monks taught the boys many rules and regulations they were to obey. Everyone had responsibilities, and each person had to do his share of work. A monk assured them, "We will discuss your schedules after you get settled in your new home." They anxiously waited to hear about their schedules — especially the part of the routine where they would be studying the Bible like their mother had told them they would be.
Instead, the monks gave them daily cleaning responsibilities. They were to keep the rooms clean and presentable at all times. They would soon find out that clean and presentable at all times meant scrubbing the floors, the doors, the windows, the walls and washing clothes every day. A monk chided them, "You have no time for play."
Sundays were supposedly reserved for church and Bible study, but they soon discovered that it did not always work out that way. After church, the monks always demanded them to do other chores. The boys had very little time to study the Bible.
Later on, the monks told the boys that Bible study would be done only on special occasions and only if they did all of their chores properly. Their reward would be time for Bible study on Sundays only.
The boys did not think this was right. This is not what their mother had told them they would be doing in the monastery. She had told them they would be studying the Bible all the time, so they thought they would be studying the Bible every night.
The boys worked hard and tried to keep up with all of their daily responsibilities. Some days the chores were so overwhelming they did not complete some of the tasks by the end of the day. The monks punished them for not completing their daily tasks. They told the boys they had to learn how to work faster and harder in order to complete their daily tasks.
The boys did work harder and faster to complete their daily responsibilities so they would have time for Bible study. Studying the Bible was the most important thing to them. They thought studying the Bible was the reason they were in the monastery — to learn about the Bible and God.
Excerpted from "Fulfilling God's Will"
Copyright © 2017 Dr. George Peter Amegin.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations, xvii,
Chapter 1. My Grandparents, 1,
Chapter 2. Life in the Monastery, 9,
Chapter 3. Escape from the Monastery, 12,
Chapter 4. The Farmer's Invitation, 17,
Chapter 5. Accepting Christ, 20,
Chapter 6. Father Meets Mr. Kazakoff, 22,
Chapter 7. Hiding and Surviving in the Forest, 28,
Chapter 8. New Perspectives in God's Ministry, 33,
Chapter 9. Ordination and the First Siberian Evangelical Baptist Convention, 35,
Chapter 10. Practicing What You Preach, 41,
Chapter 11. Cooperate and Live, 43,
Chapter 12. Fleeing South toward China, 46,
Chapter 13. Night River Crossing into China, 50,
Chapter 14. The Road to Kuldja, 55,
Chapter 15. Kuldja, 57,
Chapter 16. Tekes, 62,
Chapter 17. Moving Back to Kuldja, 64,
Chapter 18. Almost Frozen to Death., 74,
Chapter 19. The Wall Fell, 78,
Chapter 20. Back to Kuldja, 84,
Chapter 21. Making Combs, 87,
Chapter 22. George Hunter and the Russian People in Kuldja, 90,
Chapter 23. Renounce God, Embrace Communism, and Live, 93,
Chapter 24. Communists Driven Back to Russia, 95,
Chapter 25. Xinjiang (Sinkiang) Province Now Under Full Communist Control, 97,
Chapter 26. Getting Ready to Flee, 99,
Chapter 27. Fleeing Kuldja, 104,
Chapter 28. Communist Checkpoint, 111,
Chapter 29. The Village of Turpan, 115,
Chapter 30. The Village of Hami (Kumul), 117,
Chapter 31. Mr. Chiu and His Son Join Us, 121,
Chapter 32. Showdown at Checkpoint Charlie, 123,
Chapter 33. On the Silk Road, 130,
Chapter 34. A Broken Wheel, 133,
Chapter 35. Up the Mountain, 138,
Chapter 36. Oasis in the Gobi, 143,
Chapter 37. A Strange Village, 148,
Chapter 38. Catholic Missionary, 154,
Chapter 39. Looking for the Holy Man in the Desert, 158,
Chapter 40. The Journey by the Great Wall, 163,
Chapter 41. Danger near the Walled Jiayuquan Village, 170,
Chapter 42. Problems with the Truck, 178,
Chapter 43. Our Baby Brother Dies, 181,
Chapter 44. Public Toilets, 186,
Chapter 45. William Borden Memorial Hospital in Lanchow, China, 188,
Chapter 46. Shanghai Bound, 197,
Chapter 47. Refugee Camp in Shanghai, 201,
Chapter 48. A Ticket to the Land of Milk and Honey, 212,
Chapter 49. The Last Free Ship Sailing out of Communist Shanghai Harbor, 222,
Chapter 50. Arriving in San Francisco, California, 227,
Chapter 51. Visitation, 231,
Chapter 52. The Opening of the New Russian Baptist Church in Bryte, 244,
Chapter 53. Satan Tests Father, 248,
Chapter 54. The Beginning of the Russian Baptist Mission in Sacramento, 253,
About the Amegin Family Today, 267,
A Personal Word from George Amegin, 269,
Author's Biography, 271,