3 Warnings in Abkhazia
By Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission
Valentina Dmitrienko, intent on finding corn to bake lepyoshka flatbread for her family, hurried to the outdoor market in Abkhazia, a breakaway region in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.
She didn’t have much money, and a months-long armed struggle in her hometown, Sukhumi, had caused a severe food shortage.
Valentina found a woman selling dried corn kernels from a cloth bag, but she didn’t have enough money. Valentina stood silently and thought, “How can I feed my family?”
Suddenly, she felt someone tap her left shoulder and address her with a friendly but firm voice, “Valya, get out now!”
Startled, she spun around. No one was there.
Valentina stood puzzled for a moment, but her thoughts quickly returned to her husband, Pavel, who worked as a Seventh-day Adventist pastor, and their 16-year-old daughter, Natasha. She looked at the woman with the precious corn.
Again, she felt a tap on her shoulder.
“Valya, get out now!”
Realizing something was wrong, Valentina rushed toward the exit but stopped to greet two neighbors, Yury and Taisia. Then she saw a woman selling straw brooms and asked, “How much?”
She felt a tap on her shoulder for the third time. “Valya, get out now!”
Valentina fled. Two minutes later, she heard the terrifying whistle of an artillery shell flying over her head. Two more shells followed in quick succession.
Valentina stopped dead in her tracks as a loud boom reverberated across the city center. Valentina saw a huge cloud of smoke and dust rising from the market.
Tears streamed down her cheeks as she ran home, praying, “God, thank you for saving me! But who am I? Why did You protect me?”
Later, Valentina returned to the market and saw craters left by the blasts. Two craters marked the exact spots where she had stood and looked longingly at the corn and brooms.
Recalling that day in 1993, Valentina often thinks about Isaiah 43:2, where the Lord says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you”.
“The artillery shell is like the fire that scorches people, but God promises, ‘I will be with you’”, said Valentina, left. “We gave God the right to protect us by walking with Him and living with Him. Our whole life has been a life of service. Why did Christ come into this world? To serve, as Ellen White says. This has been the goal of our life – to serve”.
Produced by the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission.
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