Svetlana, 38, and her family emigrated from Saransk, Russia when she 13, and she left behind many friends, her way of life, and the dream of one day becoming an Olympic cross-country skier. She currently ministers to college students at Georgia State University, and it wasn’t long after I met her reading in a hammock, that she was indirectly ministering to me with her near encyclopedic knowledge of Scripture.
I came up to her simply to ask what she was reading and if I could take a photo of the whole peaceful sunset scene. As I drew closer, I saw it had a shimmery gold cover with cursive handwriting on it.
“My Bible,” she answered with an accent that’s a charming blend of Russian and Southern drawl. I was equally captivated by the quote on it from the Book of Jeremiah:
Your Words were found,
And I ate them,
Your Word became to me,
The gladness and joy of my heart
“We don’t want to just read the Bible. We want to eat the Word like Jeremiah did,” she passionately explained like a waitress describing the daily special on the menu.
I quite enjoyed her intelligence and enthusiasm (Gr. entheos=“the god within”), and we spent the rest of the evening talking and philosophizing about God and religion in general. [Editor’s note: I was going through old photos for this project and was pleased to discover several I had unknowingly taken of Svetlana in that very same spot back on May 1st. I’ve run into Svetlana several more times since our first meeting and genuinely grateful for my new friend (she referred to a particular footnote in the Bible as juicy; how could I not like such a person!)]