Monday, November 9, 2015

1913 “THE SALES OF VJESTNIK SPASENIJA Part three of three.....

Part Three of Three

Ten Years in Russia pp 35 -36
Karl Larsson
Stockholm 1937

At its peak, eight to ten thousand copies of the Russian equivalent of the War Cry, called Vjestnik Spasenija (Herald of Salvation) were sold weekly. Two thousand were sold in Russian speaking SA corps and to Russian military soldiers stationed in Finland.  Our editor was untiring in seeking new distribution channels and outlets attempting to make the Army known in ever widening circles. 

Even the Petrograd workers café’s with their billiard tables and mirrored faux sophisticated salons offered the opportunity to sow the good seed.  Least liked of all were the elegant luxury restaurants because the sin and ‘baggage’ that flourished there had made the patrons completely deaf and blind to higher life values interests than a moment’s indulgence and satisfaction. 

One man who had made many miscalculations and regrets in life decided to end his unlucky life.  To this end he had obtained a very strong poison.  With only five kopeks left he purchased a copy of our newspaper, Vjestnik Spasenija, from one of our sellers. The papers content piqued his interest and he decided to seek out the newspapers editorial offices in accordance with the address shown in the paper. There were no officers present on his arrival was available and the lady who opened the door had been instructed in order to avoid any entrapment, had been instructed to say to all unknown visitors that The Salvation Army could not be found there, but was instead situated in Finland. 

The man didn’t give up easily and in spite of the harsh freezing winter weather set off by foot to Viborg in Finland, a journey that would take him at a minimum two to three full days.  When he finally arrived in Viborg he sought out a SA corps where he was welcomed with coffee by the officers. 

In the worship meeting that followed they placed a talented linguist next to their visitor and who translated all that was said.  As the meeting came to its conclusion and the invitation to ‘come and receive Jesus’ offer of release from all that binds you’ he went forward and kneeled at the ‘Mercy Seat’, handing the flask holding poison to the Salvationist who prayed with him. 

He’d held on to the bottle in the event his hope of help from the Salvation Army proved futile.

From Viborg he was sent by train to Helsinki where employment was arranged for him.

We’d come a long way in just six months in 1913. The results far exceeded expectations. Officially the SA wasn’t yet operating in Russia, we were simply visitors from Finland. The Vjestnik Spasenija sales persons were considered purely as newspaper sales agents. But each day seeds were sown whose fruit couldn’t be withheld; tens of thousands came to learn something of the SA and became interested in our work. Still we had a long way to go to reach our goal.

Translation and narrative: Sven Ljungholm

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