And Armenian-born Mamoud Shavershyan came to Russia 25 years ago.
Just a Man
For years he worked as an engineer, but then opened his own business in the Vladimir Oblast region of eastern Russia. One day one of his customers, an old woman living on a meager pension, came in to purchase a loaf of bread. As she counted her few small coins, the poor woman struggled to muster enough money to pay for her bread. Mamoud felt the ordeal was humiliating for her and he decided to give her the loaf. From that moment on Mamoud determined that he would be a blessing to his community—which was filled with other poor pensioners. He printed up hundreds of coupons that could be exchanged for free loaves. And after, he handed them out to the poor.
Word about the free bread spread fast and soon Mamoud was serving the poor in a cluster of surrounding towns. Each month Mamoud and his family were distributing about 2,000 loaves of white bread and 1,000 loaves of black bread to the poor—all at his own expense.
Assuming the Worst
Were Mamoud and his family hailed as heroes in the community? I wish I could say they were. Shockingly, Mamoud’s generosity and compassion have only earned him criticism and hatred—from the very people he helps. Why?
Mamoud is trying to help people in a country where, for nearly a century, everything comes from the government. People are not used to kindness, only the government dole–and a whole lot of government corruption. And they interpret Mamoud’s generosity as some sort of scam. Those who benefit from his free bread believe he receives the bread from the Russian government for distribution and that they are only receiving a fraction of it. The rest of them believe that Mamoud is hoarding his own profit.
Yet, despite their ingratitude, Mamoud—a man of true faith–is determined to continue his charitable work—to teach his fellow Russians about the true meaning of kindness.
Mamoud’s misunderstood kindness and compassion is not unlike humanity’s suspicion of God. Out of this vast universe—stretches 35 billion light years across—God has prepared this precious planet for our safe pleasant habitation. Earth is a rare oasis in a hostile universe whose inhabitants God cares for 24/7.
He placed our planet at just the right distance from the sun—to warm us rather than to roast or freeze us. He composed our planet with a powerful magnetic field that blocks the sun’s deadly solar wind. God keeps in motion both wind and ocean currents that moderate the earth’s temperature and spread nutrients to both plants and animals. He sustains the earth’s hydrological cycle which constantly waters the earth and carries desperately needed nitrates to the soil. He created billions and billions of symbiotic relationships between trillions of living organisms that all living things should serve and depend upon each other. There is no end to God’s bounty of blessings to His creatures.
And though our planet is damaged by sin—particularly its chief inhabitant, humanity—yet God has provided the costly remedy to redeem us. He has sent His one and only Son to bear the penalty for our sins and to rise from the dead incorruptible—thus becoming the Firstborn of a new creation, paving the way for all who believe in Him to be redeemed. And daily God blesses us with more and more of His favor and love.
And what is our response to Him? It’s much like the Russians’ response to Mamoud’s kindness. To a race of people who have lived in spiritual darkness so long. Minds have been so twisted by the slanderous lies of Satan, we misinterpret God’s every kindness. We view God’s every action with suspicion. We blame God for the mess we get ourselves in. And we scream bloody murder against any divine restriction upon our freedom. Then blame God for “allowing us” to bring such harm upon ourselves. God cannot win amongst a people whose minds are so twisted and whose thinking is so perverted.
If only we would open our eyes, begin to count God’s many blessings, and cease hating the God who loves us so purely and unconditionally. If only we would open our hardened hearts to the Heavenly Father who only seeks to bless and save us from our misery and madness. Let the simple but profound words of this verse finally sink in: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but shall have eternal life” (John 3:16). Stop running from the God who loves you. Turn and fall into His loving embrace.
Dear Father in heaven, please open my blind eyes to Your goodness and shine the light of Your love into my inner darkness. Help me to see You as You are and to respond to Your love with faith and repentance. Save me for Christ’s sake. Amen.
(Information from: http://www.odditycentral.com/news/grocery-store-owner-has-been-offering-free-bread-to-the-needy-for-the-last-8-years.html; https://www.tuko.co.ke/234835-businessman-criticized-by-poor-people-handing-free-bread-photos.html)