BIMI

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military, pro-Russian Chechens, and Chechen separatists. Relations were not good between Russia and Georgia. The Russian leaders accused Georgia of harboring Chechen rebels, a charge that the Georgians denied. There were also tensions between the Republic of Georgia and Abkhazia, which is situated in the northwest- ern corner of Georgia with the Black Sea to the southwest and the Caucasus Mountains and Russia to the northeast. After winning a war of secession with Georgia in 1992– 93, Abkhazia declared itself independent in 1999. Georgia regarded it as a separatist region “occupied” by Russia. e boarded the bus and drove to our hotel that was surrounded by soldiers with machine guns. After checking into our rooms, James and his assistant, Brant, went to the American Embassy to inform the staff that we were in the city to distribute Bibles. They were told by the Embassy staff that the team should be very careful because it was a very volatile situ- ation in Tbilisi. Our friend Gary, who was the pastor of a Gospel- preaching church in the city, instructed his church mem- bers to watch us carefully. They seemed to take our safety as their responsibility for the entire week. It was a joy to partner with those dear Georgian Christians in dis- tributing Bibles and Gospel literature throughout the city. Even though we spoke different languages, our hearts blended together in the fellowship of Christ. On one occasion, while distributing Bibles and lit- erature in an open market, the team members were ordered out of the marketplace by a very stern police- man. We returned to our bus, but within a short time W we saw Pastor Gary com- ing toward us with the policeman who had or- dered us out. Of course, we all assumed that we were going to be arrest- ed. It was with great relief that we learned that the policeman was actually coming to apologize. Pastor Gary had gone to the head of the police department to inform him of what had happened. He also informed them that the team had not broken any laws because we had the freedom to do what we were doing. After sighs of relief we returned to the market. he week passed quickly and the Lord protected us in every situation. As we boarded our special bus to return to the airport, the road was lined with soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder with machine guns. We were informed that someone had tried to assassinate the president and the city was on higher alert than when we had arrived. We boarded the plane and as it began to circle Tbilisi, I looked at the city below me. It had indeed been a memo- rable trip. As I rehearsed in my mind the events of the past week, it seemed that the times of danger began to fade T continued on page 13 NATIONS • 11