Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Odyssey of Pastor Mike: Part IV

Michael Kazimirov was wrapped in the arms of a forgiving God, weeping and appealing to God because he wished to live. To truly live. It was a sincere plea, born not out of a selfish need for preservation, but out of the realization he had not served God to this point in his life, and there was much to do. He pledged his life to God, begging for forgiveness, for direction, for absolution. And it came upon him in waves.

Several months later, as the date of Michael’s execution drew close, the military tribunal reconvened, unexpectedly. Michael faced the court, unafraid, knowing that God was moving, and was not surprised when he heard his sentence changed from death to a life sentence. He saw the hand of God moving now, committed himself to following where it led him. But where would it lead? What would happen next? How would he know where to go? He had so many questions, but this time he sought the answers, and he had a place to turn.

Michael returned to prison that day, and began to read. He picked up the Bible from his cell, seeking God’s words, devouring it like a meal set before a man who had been starving for years, which was, in effect, what he was. God continued to move, but now Michael knew who was in charge of his life, recognized the force of God. Michael was allowed to mingle with the other prisoners and began to share the word of God with the lost souls who occasionally surrounded him, men just as lost as he had been.

And Michael Kazimirov spoke with authority, showing the men how God was working in his life and the power of God’s forgiveness. Not surprisingly, his fellow prisoners began to listen. At first, just a few came, huddled close to hear the story this former Special Forces soldier, this murderer who had been redeemed by God’s love. Word spread throughout the prison of a man with the fire of God about him, and Michael was preaching with the fire and zeal of a new believer, a man who had experienced the redemption of the Holy Spirit. His ministry continued to grow in the prison and he became the prison pastor. After 12 years, he had 50 people in his group of believers.

The tribunal convened again, and Michael’s sentence was declared complete. After twelve years, God released him from his chains, and Michael was a free man. He went back to school and applied himself in the study of God’s word and was ordained as a Pastor. He preached in his native Russia for five years, building churches, visiting hospitals and prisons, bringing good news to all who would hear it. Michael looked at his work and felt satisfied; he was bringing the Word of God to his people, as he had promised to do.

But once again Michael began to get the feeling he was missing something, that there was a question he was not answering, that something was about to change.

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