A Homeland is for the Choosing

The original German-language version of this mediation is scheduled to appear in the Mennonitische Enzyklopädie”. For that reason, I can only publish the English-language version for the time being. --wy


A Meditation on Ruth


When it comes to a homeland, I think of the converted pagan woman from Moab, Ruth. In Ruth 1:16, she assures her mother-in-law: "Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” God then blessed this decision, this great leap of faith, abundantly. As a widow, Ruth married a wealthy, loving and faithful man, a Jew from Bethlehem.


I have also been blessed.


One’s homeland is part of the identity that God gives you. This homeland does not necessarily need to involve real estate. Even a pious, life-long sailor has his identity from God and it can result in his swaying underpinnings becoming a kind of homeland. Home is the familiar, the beloved, where one feels most comfortable. For me, as a US-born American, home is with my spouse in Kaliningrad region/Russia.


When I decided to live in Russia (I married Galina in Siberia in 2007), I never dreamed that we would soon be dealing with a world-disrupting European war. The significant expansion of the Ukrainian war on 24 February 2022 was a terrible shock to me. And yet I have the feeling that God intended for me to reside in Russia at a time marked by these catastrophes.


God has blessed my wife and I - we are even sufficiently provided for financially. The US State Department may warn its citizens against travelling to my new country, but I am at home here and that is quite OK. Perhaps the warnings don't quite apply to me: Since the end of 2021, I have enjoyed having a second (Russian) citizenship. Mine is probably an alternative life of a different kind.


These times offer me a unique opportunity to observe the world through different eyes. I wanted to do that as a child in Florida and that's why I spent a considerable amount of time in the GDR (East Germany) between 1971 and 1989. As a church journalist, my subject suddenly disappeared when the Wall fell. I consequently moved to Russia in 2001. Since then, I have had even much more on my plate than I had expected. God writes straight on crooked lines. And wars - as well as serious traffic accidents, for example - are a crooked line.


Ruth's great leap remains a role model for me. Orpha, her sister-in-law and fellow Moabite, made a different decision by returning home to Moab, and yet God blessed Ruth plentifully.


William Yoder, Ph.D.

Ladushkin, Kaliningrad region, 29 February 2024


A journalistic release for which only the author is responsible. It is informational in character and does not express the official position of any church organisation. This release may be reprinted free-of-charge if the source is cited. Release #24-01, 414 words.