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Monologue by David Jennings

Jennings, David
Kim, Jia
Date of Interview: 
stories and storytellers; overcoming obstacles; cultural identification; tolerance and respect
David Jennings tells story an American missionary from Russia recited about a little Russian girl and her faith.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Jia Kim and Cynthia Farley interview Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
DJ (David Jennings): Uh, well, Jia, I remember being told all kinds of stories, stories from my mother, my father, my sisters. They told me all kinds of different stories, you know, fairy tales, stories like that. But I guess of all the stories I remember, the ones that stick out most in my mind are the true stories with happy endings. Things that really happened. And the one I'm going to tell you is one like that. I heard it from an old man who went to our church. His name was Mr. Kovall. A Russian man. He's American but he was born in Russia. His mother brought him here when he was a child before communism closed Russia up. I don't know how he worked it out, but since he was born in Russia, he could go back there once in a while for a short visit to see his relatives, but he really used that opportunity as a Christian missionary. He had to do that secretly because it was a terrible thing to be a Christian in Russia. Remember now, this is during the Cold War, not long ago. It was a serious thing to be a Christian in Russia. It was a crime. Well, Mr. Kovall would save up money for the trips, ask all of us to pray for him and the Russian people and then he would leave for Russia. He would stay there as long as he could and when he would come back, he would tell us what happened. He always had such wonderful stories of the people there. He'd tell us how people are so poor but very, very hungry to know about God, all over Russia. He was so excited. He would tell us, "God's going to open up Russia again. He will get His word to the people. We will see it happen soon. He hasn't forgotten them." And of course, he was right. It did happen. Every Sunday before church, Mr. Kovall would tell us what God's doing in Russia. He told us how Christians were put in prison there. One Christian prisoner would not stop witnessing. He'd talk about God to the other prisoners, the guards, even the warden. He made such a stir that they let him go just to get rid of him. Too many prisoners and, uh, even guards were becoming Christians. I remember him telling me about people he met in a village deep in the forest somewhere. They thought they were the only Christians left in the world. They didn't know there were others in other countries. They were that isolated. When he told them that the world was full of Christians, they all thanked God so much, they celebrated. But before they accepted Mr. Kovall, first they all examined his hands to see if he was a working man like them. They didn't trust Christians who didn't work hard, who were lazy. They thought maybe he was a spy or something like that. Another Russian man, he told us about in the city begged him for his English Bible. He said he would learn a whole language just to read God's word. Well, one of Mr. Kovall's stories that's always stuck in my heart, and the one I'm going to tell you about, is a story about a little young Russian girl. I don't remember her name, but she's a famous Christian in Russia now. The girl's father was a politician of some kind, really high up in office, a top man there in Moscow. I don't remember his name, but he was a very influential man. He had a lot of money. They weren't poor like most Russians are. They were rich. They could afford nicer things than most Russian people. They had a big home with nice furniture. The little girl had nice clothes and toys. Her most favorite things in the world were her grand piano and an expensive doll that her father bought for her. Every day she played with her doll and she played the piano for her father every night after school. One day, someone had told the little girl about Jesus. She became a Christian. She was so excited and believed with all her heart. She came home and told her parents about Jesus and how much He loves us. She told them, "He loves you, too. It's true." Well, her father, a very strict, stern Russian man told her, "Look here. That's got to stop. You're going to have to get rid of that. You can't be a Christian and live in this house. You hear me? You can't have God and us, too. You want to bring shame to your mother and me?" Well, that little girl would not change. She kept telling them that she knows that God loves her and them, too. Her parents could not change her mind. They couldn't do anything with her. They punished her. They threatened her. Her mother got upset. Her father got upset and finally spanked her good and hard and sent her to bed crying without any supper. That night, the little girl couldn't sleep. She laid in bed just crying and praying to God to forgive her parents and change their hearts. She remembered her father saying that she couldn't live there and keep God, too. So she made a decision. She had to leave home. So, she got out of bed, got dressed, reached for her suitcase and put her favorite doll in it. Well, it just so happened her father couldn't sleep that night, either. He couldn't get his daughter out of his mind, how happy she spoke about how God loved them. She talked to him with such a warm heart and smiling face, but he just spanked her so hard and made her cry. He hated to whip her. He loved her and regretted whipping her and making her cry. He couldn't figure out why she felt the way she did. He's trying to give her all she needs. Why does she need to talk about God, too? What is this that could make his daughter change so completely and so fast? It really troubled his mind. So he got out of bed and went to sit in a chair and think about what had happened. He sat in a corner chair near where his daughter's room was. He heard his daughter crying and watched her come into the main room there where the piano was. She didn't know her father was there, too, watching her. She was still crying. She walked up to her piano, opened her suitcase, took out the little doll and placed it on the piano stool where she used to sit and play for her father. He father knew what she meant by that. It was her way of saying, "Goodbye father. Here's your daughter now." She loved her home and family, but she was giving it all up, her piano, her doll, everything she had, her entire world. Her father had told her to choose and she was making a choice, God. The little girl headed for the door to leave but as she left, her father called out her name and said, "Wait. Don't go." He walked up to her and saw the big tears streaming down her face. He bent down and just hugged his daughter, big, kissed her on the cheek and said to her, "Does He mean that much to you? You'd leave your home and mother and me to keep Him?" She said, "Yes, father. I wish you could know Him, too." The little girl was so sincere it melted his heart. The father took her by the hand and said, "Come and tell me more about Him." They sat on the couch and talked and the mother came in too and that night that little Russian girl, with a great big faith, who was earlier spanked and threatened by her parents for loving God, spent the night telling them how much God loved them and they believed. Both her parents believed and followed Jesus from that very night on. They became active Christians, on fire for God. And that little girl's father, with his influence, became a key player in opening up Russia to the world to let God's word in there. I just think that is a beautiful story. How God can use someone so small to do something so big. Even though it's a long time since I heard, I still think about it a lot. I've often wondered just how deep that little girl's faith in God may have influenced Russia. Well, Jia, that's my story.