‘I know there is a lot of pride in Russia’

Marina’s story | Seeing everyone the same

“I was born in Ukraine, and I grew up in Russia from when I was four years old. My family went to church in Russia, and at 21, I came to know Jesus. I remember standing on my balcony in Russia and crying out to God, please help me. At that time, God heard me. He saved me. I trusted in Jesus. Life just changed from then on. I opened my eyes and I could see that the sky was more blue and the grass was more green. It was beautiful.

After some time, I started to meet with people who were living in the way of Jesus. They were different to others (even others in the church) and I could see they had a close relationship with the Holy Spirit. That’s what I needed. I started to pray more. I wanted that deep seeking, praying relationship with the Holy Spirit.

God is giving that to me now. My life is not perfect at all, but when I open the Bible and read the words, I am listening and discussing it with God. I am seeing new things in the Bible every day. God is feeding me! My husband and I got married last September and we are now living in Shillong, northeast India. We are helping the people here, just living with them, sharing about practical things, doing what we can.

But since we have been in India, the war in Ukraine has started. For me, it’s so difficult. I was born in Ukraine. My blood is Ukrainian. I was happy growing up in Russia, but from time to time, I would ask myself, Who am I? Am I Ukrainian or Russian? Where do I belong? What is my home? I didn’t know the answer then, and it didn’t always matter.

Now it matters. The war has happened. It feels like the war has happened inside of me. It is my people. But I need to say out loud what is going on. I need to say that the Russians are killing Ukrainians. The Russians are doing great evil in the sight of God. A lot of Christians are not talking about it. They are staying quiet, but we must talk. Of course, it’s dangerous to talk. If we do talk, we could end up in prison back in Russia. I’m praying for the war to be over, every day. I’m praying for peace for Ukraine.

I have lived in Russia, so I know there is a lot of pride in Russia. It’s easy, in Russia, to think Russians are the best. Putin is always saying Russians are better. Even for me, recently, I was thinking about how Russians think like that… and then I had to stop and ask myself, do I ever think like that? Do I ever have that spirit?

I got on my knees and I asked God for forgiveness. I realised I was brought up to think like that and I could have those thoughts. So I took all those thoughts to God and I gave them to him.

Since then, I have been looking at people and seeing them differently. Everything in the world, and every person in the world, has been created by God, and for God. There is beauty in everyone because of Jesus. So I am looking around me, and seeing the beauty in everyone, the same. I know that Jesus has great compassion. He doesn’t see some humans as being better than other humans. He is around, and among, the people who are struggling, beaten, oppressed and written off. My eyes have changed. It’s so different now. Even as I look at the people near me, here in Shillong, I am seeing them differently. God is showing me himself, through the people. He is saying that the only way to truly love Jesus is to love his people – all of them the same. And when I can truly see the beauty in every person, then I can bring glory to God.”

Marina’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click here for more Faith Stories.