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  • Eric Kampmann

A Light in the Ruins

See Psalm 28:1–2


An American missionary who once lived in Ukraine told me a story about an encounter he had with a friendly atheist. This young woman was giving him a tour around the city of Odessa. As they walked from place to place, she began to open up, and at one point, she told him that believing in God was ridiculously irrational. How could any educated person believe that God existed? She was not belligerent; she just stated her belief as a proven fact. She indicated that she was doing fine without God in her life.


As they were talking, they came to a blighted intersection that was nothing more than a ruin left over from the devastation of World War II. The empty, decaying structures were fragmented shells. Rubble rather than trees created an impression of a wasteland. Even flowers and weeds seemed to avoid this desolate place.


It was at that moment that my missionary friend turned to the woman and observed: “Look around. If you want to know what the world looks like without God, here it is right before us.” She gazed at the wretched scene and seemed to make the link between a war-torn world and mankind’s banishment of God from this modern and enlightened world. Did she see the relationship between famine, disease, and war, and our fractured relationship with the God who created us and nurtured us? Can love even exist in such a place? My missionary friend believes he touched her by using that desolate scene as a way of introducing God back into her life. He did not make his point with words or with arguments or talking points. He just revealed the obvious, and he let that do its work in her heart.


—Eric Kampmann, Signposts

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