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This book is a first-hand account by the first woman pastor in Russia of historic and powerful chain of events back in the 1990s. Reflective of a country that was in the midst of transition on all levels and by all accounts, the book takes readers on a fascinating journey of this one woman, her family, and people she inspired to become supporters of the Methodist Revival in Russia. The fragile political climate of that era created a unique opportunity to let true miracles take place in a cold, industrial, closed-to-foreigners military city and in the hearts of people hungry for things spiritual even more than hard-to-find food items. A story of courage, trust, breaking stereotypes, making deep soulful connections and encountering equally deep disappointments offers a snapshot of historic breakthroughs, large and small – political, spiritual, personal. Without this book, history of Methodism and of post-Cold-War American-Russian Relations is not complete.
Now its Second Edition is available!
Lydia Istomina’s From Misery to Mystery is filled with short, easy-to-digest anecdotes that fit together to depict her story- the life of a mother, immigrant, and spiritual leader. Taken individually, each morsel is easily accessible and applicable to all of our lives. Childhood wonderment. Adolescent questioning. The growth and success, as well as loss and transformation, of adulthood. What is remarkable about Istomina is that she has not lost the connection to the unadulterated, sincere emotions that she lived in each of these anecdotes. The passage of time has not covered her memories in cobwebs and the retelling of them has not become mixed with the revisionism of ex-post facto rationalization. This quality of Istomina as a story-teller makes the experience of reading From Misery to Mystery so rewarding, the rewards compounded by the growing understanding of her worldview, humor, and spirituality that one gets moving through each story.
Zhizn’ Dushi, or Life of a Soul, is an autobiographical thriller – it has politics, religion, suspense, mafia, KGB, hopes and betrayals, friendships being forged and broken – you name it. An amazing array of historic, powerful events is even more profound because they are all true. All this really has happened. All this is still happening, as the story captures a snapshot of how it all began. At the center of the story is a woman – a courageous, yet naive, loving and risk-taking, yet cautious and reserved about her own abilities, ambitious yet humble. A sincere account of her personal transformation is written against a background of political and historic events that filled the 1990s. Humorous revelations of things already widely known about Russia at that time, raw truth about internal struggles of people in the country, not-so-well-known facts about American missionaries in Russia, and a German occupation of a religious kind make this book irresistible. It draws you in and does not let go, until the very last page, still making you wonder how it all plays out today.
The book is written by Lydia’s father Pavel Istomin in Russian. Lydia edited the manuscript of her father who wrote about the peaceful and genuine life of a peasant that was tragically disrupted by the Great October Revolution in Russia. The family becomes an outcast and migrates to Sverdlovsk, Russia, where the last Tzar of Russia Nikolai II and his family were murdered. This family saga is about keeping hope against all hope. The book is published in Russian and soon will be translated into English.