ancient Russian passenger train slowed after an overnight trip toward
Voronezh, a city south of Moscow. Though I was sure God wanted me to
accompany the other members on this mission trip to take gifts of
medical supplies and other needed essentials to orphanages and
hospitals, I did not go without some trepidation.
Due to severe arthritic pain in both knees, several family members and
friends were concerned about my ability to keep up the pace needed on
this ten day trek so far from home. I had prayed for a
miraculous healing of my knees, even wondering if He were going to
heal me on this trip.
we approached the station, I was aware of the gentle snoring of one of
our Russian interpreters in the other bunk in my compartment. It
was just before dawn as I opened the curtain covering the only window
between the bunks. It was that time in which the indigo of night was
changing into the light pink of dawn before the sun bursts into
splendor over the Russian plains.
the sky became lighter, I could see the outline of foliage of
the numerous birch trees, framed by the window. Several cumulus
clouds began to appear in the upper sky. Then right in the
middle of this beautiful sunrise, I saw something I shall never
forget. In the midst if shapeless clouds were two vertical lines
of equal length. In a a horizontal sweep was a broad swath of
cloud that formed the crossbar of two perfect crosses joined together!
I was so awestruck that I forgot to take a camera out of my bag .
After several minutes of travel, the crosses were gone from my
window, but not from my mind's eye. The only sounds were the train's
braking noise and passengers slowly awakening for morning coffee.
Deep in my heart I asked what was the significance of the marvelous
sight. Almost immediately, Jesus asked me in that still, small
voice, " I have taken up my cross. Are you ready to take
became clear that I was not here in Russia to be ministered unto, but
to minister. I needed to continually, daily die to self and live
When I returned stateside, I contacted a local artist referred
to me by a friend on the same mission trip. He beautifully rendered a
painting that matches what I saw on the train to Voronezh.
Hanging over the spot where I enjoy my quiet time each morning, often
before daybreak, it reminds me of the eternal question the Savior
asked, "Are you going to take up your cross again today?" It
also reminds me of that love note he painted for me on that Russian