Hearts knit together in the Joy of the Lord

Submitted by Sis. Kathryn Muir

London, Ealing Ecclesia, England

The 100 year old Chinese grand piano stirred into life under the sure hands of Sister Ludmila, it's music stand intricately carved. I sat on a small stool to her right, the bass notes sounding loud, her eyes closed with the feeling and emotion of the music. Tears pricked my eyes as three or four Ukrainian Brothers and Sisters sang with gusto their song, the first they'd composed in Russian, for the first All Ukraine Bible School held in August 2001. 

"When the road gets tough and times get hard, then just pray, pray to God this prayer".

 This was the best translation I could get. The prayer repeated between each verse, over and over. Here in this humble apartment in Poltava, now furnished with a mismatch of items. All the Chinese antique furniture, the family heirlooms brought from China where Sis Veronica was born, had been stolen by an acquaintance of her son, while she and her son were in hospital. The only item that remained was the piano, too heavy and difficult to steal. Neighbours had seen the thief, but the means to bring him to justice were far beyond the reach of possibility. Veronica's simple acceptance of the fact, and comment that God would "see to that man". The town dentist murdered outside her flat one night, simply because he wore a superior coat.

The tears pricked my eyes further. Here in this country still suffering the long after-affects of the Chernobyl Nuclear Accident, where official unemployment is running at 40%, and a pensioner receives just $US20 a month, where vegetable oil or margarine or jam is added to a base of porridge oats to add "nourishment" for breakfast. Where the reminders of approaching harsh winter are shown in the browning and falling of the autumn leaves and the chill in the morning air, where preserves are made and pumpkins hoarded for the approaching months, here the love of Christ is shining, shining through.

The arrival of another Sister with humble contribution to the shared lunch to follow the simple breaking of bread, the kind treatment of the blind interested man from the apartment upstairs, the delaying of the meeting for an extra half hour so that another Brother will be able to get there from his 10 hour a day job. The concerned enquiry after the other's son or daughter, the laughter and discussion over photos from the recent Bible school, the comments that they "live for such events".

As the notes faded away, Bro Phil Ashforth and I were now motivated to sing some songs we knew. Ludmilla brought the Chinese piano once more to life. English words filled the room. And I thought of our new Brother in China, Zhang, and his pleas for prayer, that he may be encouraged on the road, living in a country without Christian background. How he would have loved to sit with us, singing together around this ancient piano.

Even so come, Lord Jesus.