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  • Beth Lantinga

Over the Border And Into Ukraine

Even now, I can hear Daniel’s voice expressing confidence that God’s promise to be with him was trustworthy. For Daniel, trust was not an abstract concept, but something he put into practice whenever he encountered hostile border guards or lost books. He often confessed that he was not a brave man, but a trusting man. In these days of stress, anger, and division, I long to be a Daniel.



If God Is With Us

This area became more and more special because I had relatives there. I was able to cross the border because I had papers from Moscow giving me permission to come and to spend some time. Prisoners were coming back from prison and exile in the labor camps – second and third-class citizens. I saw their misery, and the Lord showed me how we could help. We had to be very careful but it was a great joy.


So, we tried in the usual way when it was possible, some kind of business, traveling by autobus. The Lord was on our side more and more, and I saw that the Lord was supporting this direction. One-time dear Scottish brethren asked me to take a radio monitor over the border. In that time a radio was considered to be spy equipment. Obviously, it was very dangerous. They said, ‘We will stay back in Hungary until you come back and continuously pray for you.’ I said, ‘Maybe I will stay back and pray for you. You take the radio over the border.’ With my friend Sandor I took it. I was wearing black because my father had died. We traveled on the autobus with a mix of people, with gypsies and black marketeers. Everybody knew that many travelers were taking things over the border to sell. Some of our fellow travelers told us that the border guards would notice us because we were different. They warned us, ‘They will pick you out and ask many questions.’ My friend Sandor and I carried suitcases filled with clothes. Usuall the guards searched every suitcase or container going into the Ukraine. They would say words like, ‘We could find nothing at all, but we are sure that you did something illegal! We will catch you next time. We will try.’ So, we arrived to the border with the clothes and the radio. I said I had my food with me and tried to push the radio suitcase with my foot to avoid the control table. Then I noticed a looking glass behind me and thought, ‘O no, Lord, now I can turn only to you and pray.’ Then I put everything on the table – my big suitcases filled with clothing from my father and also the case with the radio. The officer came, ‘Are you crazy? What is all this? Is this some kind of business? What’s the idea? So many things to take! I said, ‘Please sir, my father died? I want to take all his clothes to the relatives here. This is no business.’ I held my breath when he put his hand on the radio case, but then without opening it he said, ‘So your father died. Go and take all these things.’ He didn’t even search our suitcases! I wanted to jump over the desk, hug him and say, ‘You are angel! An angel in a Soviet uniform! You are the Lord’s man here.’ Naturally, I couldn’t say it, but it was difficult to keep myself back, to keep from crying. So more and more the Lord gave me courage to go on. Many times, I would gather money together and bring it over the border to buy something big like cars, but before I could deliver it someone would say, ‘O, Dani, someone died and there are children,’ so we would give the money for that. I tried to concentrate the money for one big thing, but sometimes I had to begin to start collecting over again. And we did that on and on. Naturally it was some dangerous activity, but at the same time I was happy that I could do it.


In the Lord’s Hands

I was under the conviction that to destroy the Soviet Union - it was not up to me. It’s not up to anybody, but to act with a free heart - to love and to care for these people – this is what the Lord wanted to give to us. I have always loved to see the Lord in action outside of the church walls. More and more I have seen him, how great he is, not only in church life, the prayers and ceremonies, but even our enemies are in his hands. And I mean that he is able to rule over all rulers, and when the time came, he said, No to the Soviet Union and No to the secret police system. He changed them. He is greater than we could imagine and all things are in his hands.

Just a part of this vision – I was able to be in Moscow sometimes to follow negotiations in connection with the rare books that had been taken from the Sarospatak library. There was a big expo for the books. I was at a reception for great ambassadors with some people from Holland, Germany, from Hungary and from Russia. I was standing with a glass of fine champagne in my hand and was talking with some highly educated, dear ladies who managed the expo.



I said to them, ‘Do you know that the books are not really in our hands?

You have to know that the books are not in your hands. They are in God’s hands, and so long as the Lord wants, the books will be here, but when the Lord decides to take them back, then they come back - no matter the laws of the Duma. I don’t mind how the laws might change, the books will come back. The Lord took them out of the country and also the Lord could take the books back. He is the Lord. The empire was not in your hands; the Lord wanted it to collapse. The secret police, the camps in Siberia, the economy – the secretary of the communist party had to close the door at last. I have to tell you that you yourselves are not in your own hands. You also are in the Lord’s hands.’ They just listened and listened and then, one of them said, Daniel, just now we both have babies and would you be so kind as to bless us. I was just standing there, just a Hungarian, with the Russian ambassador on one side and the cultural attaché on the other side and champagne in my hand. I hesitated and said that this was a sort of formal situation here, a reception. But the cultural attaché with whom I had formed a friendly relationship said, ‘Dani, I know the Russian soul. If they came to the point of asking to be blessed by you, put down your glass and don’t mind the great ambassadors, please bless them.’ So, in a quiet way I blessed them. They hugged and thanked me for the blessings. So, they took it very seriously, even more than I. It was a great thing. The Lord is in charge; the Lord is in action.


Here's a link to a story about the books.: https://english.radio.cz/russia-returns-medieval-books-hungary-8622142

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 © Beth Lantinga 2020