500 Copies Sold!
Without any paid advertising, Serving God Behind Enemy Lines has surpassed the 500 books sold marker. Thank you for making that possible. Please continue the word-of-mouth campaign! Remember, 100% of the profits go to the building fund of Bridgeway Baptist Church!
If you have read the book and not yet sent in a review to Amazon, please do! It helps place our book higher on their recommended reading list.
Here are a few reviews we have received:
· Great book! It reads like an adventure novel. I couldn’t put it down.
· This is a dangerous book- it kept me up until 4:00am two nights in a row.
· A modern ‘edge of your seat’ testimony of missionary work in Russia.
· I enjoyed the feeling of being beside Ron and Kathy as they made their journey through life.
· Amazing read! I couldn’t put it down.
· Inspiring and convicting read! I’m excited to tell others about this book.
· I felt like I was there!
· Faith Building and God Glorifying
· A tremendous story from start to finish.
· A wonderful, personal, impactful story.
· This book will change your worldview.
· This book covers a lifetime of service to the Lord. It is wonderful to see how God blesses faithfulness and supplies needs not just once, but every time.
· I cried with the Reasoners, and I rejoiced with them as well.
With every 500 books sold, I will include a deleted story from the original manuscript which was over 202,000 words and almost 700 pages. We worked diligently to reduce it to170,000 words, 510 pages. The story below was originally the first chapter of the book but got condensed to three sentences in The Survey Trip chapter.
My Family Tree
Everyone has a story. Every story has a beginning. The Reasoner line can be traced back to a direct ancestry of John Alden & Priscilla Mullins who came over on the Mayflower which sailed on September 6, 1620, from Plymouth, England carrying the first English Puritans to the New World. Also known as Pilgrims, they came to America to escape religious persecution and preserve their family values. They were persecuted in England for holding Biblical truths above the law of the land. They moved to Amsterdam, but soon realized their children were being lost to Dutch society and worldview. Sailing to the New World seemed the best place to raise their families without outside influence and restrictive laws. Of the 130 passengers and crew who set sail from England, two died before reaching land, and one baby was born, Oceanus.
The Pilgrims anchored in the New World on November 11, 1620 remaining on board through the next day, a Sunday, for prayer and thanksgiving unto God. Monday morning, they set foot in the New World and settled a colony which would later become Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Priscilla Mullins came to the new world with her mother, father, and brother. Her father was a representative of the Merchant Adventurers who funded the Pilgrims’ journey in exchange for a share of the future profits they foresaw in the New World. That first winter in Plymouth was brutal. Half of the passengers died. Among them were all of Priscilla’s family. She was left an 18-year-old orphan in a strange land of sickness and sorrow.
John Alden was a cooper/carpenter on the Mayflower. He oversaw building and maintaining the storage barrels. As the youngest man on the ship at 21 years old, John had the option of staying in the New World as the town carpenter or returning to England the next spring. He chose to stay because he fell in love. The courtship of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins is perhaps the earliest tale of romance in the American Colonies. Here’s how family legend says it happened……
John Alden spent his mornings with Captain Myles Standish, writing down Plymouth records for the sake of history. John looked over the pages before him, “OK, we’ve recorded the names of those who made the voyage, and those who have succumbed to the harsh winter’s battle. Is there-” suddenly John was interrupted by an unexpected sob behind him. He turned to see Myles staring out the window at his wife’s grave.
“You know, she was one of the first to die in the New World. Rose was a wonderful wife, but now I am left alone. I comfort others, but who will comfort me?” Myles sobbed as he continued to stare at the grave.
John loved and respected this mighty warrior. He rose, put his hand on Myles shoulder and whispered, “God will comfort you. God must comfort us all.”
“Of course, you are right, Young John, but sometimes even the strongest are weak.” Myles pulled his eyes from the graveside and looked John in the eye, “Didn’t you say you had somewhere to be? Run along! We’ve done enough history recordings for one day. Off with you!”
John quickly put the journals and quails away. He grabbed his coat and ran down the stairs, out the door and into the forest. He stopped to pick a few wildflowers along the way. Priscilla loved the smell of flowers. Priscilla- the very thought of her gave him goose bumps. Her smile, her kindness, her beauty were far beyond anything he ever imagined could exist. She was known in town as the Puritan Maiden. John had taken her under his wing after her family died. He shoveled her snow and chopped her wood. He escorted her to town and Sunday gatherings. And, truth be told, he had shared some of his winter rations with her so she wouldn’t die with her family. Yes, John knew he was in love, but he was way too shy to tell the Puritan Maiden. So, he just visited her everyday. He escorted her, helped her, repaired her home- anything to show he loved her because the words would not come. He knocked on her door.
“Oh John, it’s so nice of you to come! Are these flowers for me? You shouldn’t have!”
It always took John a few moments to collect himself when he saw Priscilla. Her beauty stole his breath and thoughts every single time, “Good afternoon, Miss Priscilla! How are you today?”
“Come in! No wait! I’ll come out. It’s such a lovely day, let’s go for a walk on the beach. Just let me get my coat.”
They walked along the beach, picking up shells and chasing the waves. It was wonderful. It was always wonderful when they were together. Tell her! John commanded himself, Tell her you love her and want her to marry you! Now! Now! But the moment passed, and John had failed yet again.
The next day while John and Myles were discussing the particulars of the Mayflower Compact, Myles stopped abruptly and proclaimed, “I have decided what I will do about my loneliness! I have decided to remarry! I have even decided with whom I should wed. Do you know the Mullin girl? Her parents and brother died this past winter. She is alone and needs a strong man to care for her. I am determined to be that man.”
Myles didn’t notice the color drain from John nor the look of absolute horror on his face. Myles merely plowed ahead with his plot, “Now John, you know I am great with swords and guns, but I am deplorable with words. You, John, you are great with words. I have formulated a plan. You will propose to Priscilla for me!”
John stood there in silence. His heart nearly stopped beating. How could this be happening? How could his mentor, his hero, his friend be determined to marry the same woman John himself was in love with? Why hadn’t he spoken sooner? Now it was too late, Priscilla would never be his.
“Go now John! Seal my fate!”
John silently left the room. He adorned his coat and slowly walked out the door. Was he such a sinner that God would tear from him the one his soul loved?
More out of habit than thought, John picked a bouquet of flowers as he walked through the forest to Priscilla’s house. “Good morning, John! I wasn’t expecting you so early today. Please come in.” She took the bouquet and smelled their sweet fragrance. “Thank you for the flowers by the way.” Priscilla’s even present smile and kindness nearly put John to tears.
John sadly hang his coat on the rack and turned to face Priscilla head on. He might as well get it over with, “Priscilla, I have a proposal of marriage for you- from Myles Standish. He wishes to wed you!” he blurted without thinking how cold and careless it sounded.
“Excuse me? How can this be? Why has Myles not come himself to offering me his hand in marriage?”
“He’s too busy. He had other errands to run.”
“I mean so little to him that he sent someone else to propose. If he can’t be bothered with the marriage proposal beforehand, how am I to presume he will act after the wedding? Would I not always be second to others?”
John heard pain and bitterness in her voice. He grabbed her hand and whispered, “Priscilla, I’m sorry. I should have chosen better words. Myles sent me because I have a way with words, and it seems I have failed in my mission to woo you.”
“Speak for thyself, John!” Priscilla gasped, jerked her hand away and turned away. “Please leave.”
John grabbed his coat and ran out the door. What did Priscilla mean, ‘Speak for thyself, John?’ Had she anticipated a proposal from him? Did she love him? But alas! He was too late. John could never betray his friend. All was lost.
John took a stroll down the beach on the way back to his home. He saw the Mayflower anchored in the harbor. Tomorrow she would sail back to England. He would be on her. Everyone’s problems would be solved if he left. Priscilla would be free to fall in love with Myles and Myles would be free to claim her. It was decided! John went home to pack.
Before he even closed the front door, Myles yelled down the stairs, “John! You are late! What of your errand to Priscilla? What did she say?”
John had many talents but lying was not one of them. Besides, his Christian character would not allow him to deceive anyone. “Um, well, I asked her, and she was surprised.”
“Yes, yes, but what did she say?”
“Well, she said, ‘Speak for thyself, John.’”
“Caesar had Brutus and I have you- my friend who has betrayed me!” Myles pointed to his sword on the wall. “I brought down greater men than you with this sword. I have mind to use it on you now! How could you betray one who has sacrificed to teach you all manner of life? How? How?”
John honestly feared for his life but was relieved to hear the front door open and someone yell, “Captain Myles, come quickly! There is talk of war with the Indians. Come quickly! We have assembled at the Town Hall and need your wisdom.”
Immediately Myles grabbed his sword and armor. John backed away, prepared to defend himself, but Myles pushed past him through the door and to the Town Hall. From there he took a journey to negotiate with an unfriendly tribe. He was gone for several weeks.
John rose early the next morning. He carried his bags to Plymouth Rock. He had been the first one off the Mayflower to step foot on this rock almost a year ago. Now he waited as the Master took letters and small packages from the townspeople who lined up for the sendoff. Those who could not write begged the Master to tell their families this message or that. Finally, the Master reached Plymouth Rock and stepped into the small boat which would take him to the Mayflower.
John took one glance back. There she was, all alone, standing at the back of the crowd and staring at him with tears in her eyes. John couldn’t leave her. He motioned for the boat to leave without him. He watched as it reached the Mayflower and began to unload men and supplies. When all were aboard, they pulled up anchor and began their journey home. John turned to leave, almost tripping over Priscilla who had come to stand behind him.
“John, I’m sorry about yesterday. I spoke out of turn. Please do not allow my forwardness to ruin our friendship. You are much too precious for me to let you just walk away.”
“Oh Priscilla, I am the one who must apologize. I should have spoken sooner. Now it is too late. We are doomed to a life of friendship for I will never betray my friend- even if he hates me now.”
They continued to meet as friends for almost a year. Myles did not pursue Priscilla, but neither would John disrespect Myles but asking for her hand in marriage. One day while helping Priscilla pull yarn for her weaver, there was a knock at the door. Priscilla opened it as John stood behind her. A young messenger declared, “I have terrible news! Captain Myles Standish has been killed.”
John caught Priscilla as she fainted. His heart was both broken and exuberated at the same time. Sorrow and freedom filled his soul. Guilt and relief came together. He was free to marry Priscilla!
They were married a month later in 1622. It was a lovely wedding, and the reception was attended by the whole town. Just as the meal was getting under way, a figure appeared in the doorway. The gasps started small, but quickly turned to shouts of excitement. “It’s Myles Standish! He is back! He is yet alive.”
The newlyweds fearfully looked at each other. John grabbed Priscilla’s hand. Just married, yet would they die before their wedding night? Myles approached the bride and groom. John stood in front to protect Priscilla as Myles spoke, “The reports of my death were greatly exaggerated but in fact were of my own doing. I knew you would never marry while I was alive, so I arranged my death. Please know that I harbor no bad feelings and wish only the best for you both.” Myles engulfed John in a hug as all was forgiven.
John and Priscilla went on to have ten children. Some of their famous offspring are three US presidents: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Calvin Coolidge. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in their lineage four generations later. He authored the poem, The Courtship of Myles Standish which is the family account of this love story.
They say some traits run in the blood. Perhaps the pioneering spirit is one of them. John Alden and Priscilla Mullins started my family tree on American soil. It took grit and character to survive the ocean voyage and first winter at Plymouth Rock.
Generations later, God called one of their descendants to cross back over the Atlantic Ocean as a pioneer to take the Gospel to the regions beyond in Russia, where Christ had not yet been named among the Reindeer People.
Throughout the ages, God preserves people to take His Word to others. He saves some from pestilence, famine, and shipwreck so that they and their descendants may continue preaching His Word to those who have never heard.