Heidi’s plan was simple: Teach her favorite Kay Arthur Bible study at church. Watch women grow in Christ.
She ordered a dozen copies of the book in English, a common language in the Middle Eastern country where she served. But when the shipment arrived, something was horribly wrong.
“There they were, 12 beautiful books, but … they were all in the Russian language!” Heidi says.
Heidi’s co-worker said to send the books back. But Heidi realized God must have a plan.
“OK, God, … You have brought these books in,” Heidi prayed, “and so we will keep them and give them to whoever You may lead us to.”
It would take 20 years to see God’s full response to that prayer.
Forgotten in a Book Shop
Heidi put the Russian copies of God, Are You There? on a shelf. Then she ordered a new set in English so she could lead the Bible study as planned.
Over the years, God brought a few Russians Heidi’s way.
There were two tourists who passed through. Then Heidi met a Russian group while visiting at a hospital. Another time, an expatriate worker introduced Heidi to her Russian family. Each time, a book or two was given.
But Heidi works at an international church, where she mostly meets English-speaking Asians, Brits and Americans. When it seemed there were no more Russians to meet, Heidi put the remaining copies in her church’s book shop.
“I … totally forgot about the books,” Heidi says. “But God wasn’t finished with the ‘mistake’ yet.”
A Surprise Russian-Speaker
Heidi and her husband, Zach, were part of a recreational facility, where many expatriates liked to mingle. One of the first questions members usually ask each other is, “Where are you from?”
One day, Heidi and Zach posed that question to the receptionist, Medina. She replied that she came from a country in Central Asia — a rare reply.
“Russian was her primary language, yet she spoke perfect English,” Heidi says.
Heidi and Zach began talking regularly with Medina, building a casual friendship. But one day, she announced she was returning to her homeland.
The couple invited Medina to a farewell dinner, and they began trying to think of a meaningful goodbye gift. That’s when Heidi remembered the Russian books again.
It had been 20 years since the books first arrived.
One Book Saved for Medina
Heidi went to the church’s book shop and asked the clerk if they had any books in Russian.
The clerk replied that she had found an odd book and tucked it in a cupboard. She wasn’t sure what language it was in.
“We started searching, pulling books out of the lower cupboard, and there it was,” Heidi says, “the one and only book in the shop that was in the Russian language: God, Are You There? by Kay Arthur.”
She knew God had saved this book for Medina!
That week, Heidi and Zach took Medina to dinner, and God opened the door for a more personal conversation than expected. The discussion turned to spiritual things, and Heidi and Zach got to clearly share the Gospel with Medina.
“She had gifts for us as a token of the friendship we had developed,” Heidi says, “but we also had something very special for her.”
When the couple presented the book to Medina, she clutched it to her heart with joy. She shared that a Christian friend had given her a Bible several years ago. She promised to study both books together.
Trusting God for Her Salvation
Medina left for her home country two days after the dinner, but she’s stayed true to her promise.
“We continue to stay in touch with her, and she has been reading,” Heidi says. “We trust in God’s timing she will commit her life fully to Him.”
After 20 years of watching God’s plan unfold, how could they not trust Him to complete it? What was first a disappointment has opened 12 doors for individuals to encounter the living God.
For Heidi, there can only be one response: “We praise God for the ‘mistake.’”
God can do so much with a simple prayer of faith. Will you join our prayer team and lift up missionaries like Heidi? Each month, we’ll send you a new prayer guide, featuring a different area of ministry or missionary life! Get the monthly Prayer Focus.