The 2015 Thalassa Prize winner is Sara Schmeling MLC ’11.

From August 2014 through June 2015, Sara Schmeling served in Novosibirsk, Russia, teaching English, leading Bible studies, and steering other church programs. MLC’s International Services Office awarded the $1000 prize. Sara will receive $500, and the mission she has chosen, WELS Daylight in Russia, will receive $500.

God’s Light in a World of Darkness

Dark. Cold. Dreary. Those are words commonly associated with Russia. Having adventured through frigid Siberian winter and traveled through several days of Arctic night, I can attest to this.

Walking in sub-zero temperatures, on a January night, in St. Petersburg, was a moment that brought those words to my mind. Ahead was my destination, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, a giant Orthodox church engineered to inspire awe. However, the information plaques surrounding it focused more on its historical significance than the Savior of its name. Floodlights illuminated the church with a blinding intensity when compared to the night.

That wasn’t what caught my attention however. The moon was holding its own, shining down and spreading its glow, even as the church and the rest of the city lights tried to drown it out.

God’s love works just the same here. The darkness of the world, the inaccuracies of the Orthodoxy, and shadows of logic over faith try to obscure God’s grace. But there is always the glow, the glimmer—no matter how faint—of the Gospel being faithfully proclaimed.

John 8 declares, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness.” From the missionaries welcoming us with open arms and the church members that are always ready with a smile and helping hands, to the joyful children who are learning to appreciate an oasis of love, God’s light and love is evident everywhere. For those we came to serve, we pray that they see God’s light in us.

Light. Warm. Loving. When I hear the word Russia, those will be the words that I think of, and I pray that HIS Light will keep shining in this country and all others.

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