In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!
We call St Nicholas the great Wonderworker not only because his miracles took place in some ancient times. The role that St Nicholas plays in people’s lives today is just as amazing, and the help that he provides remains just as effective.
St Nicholas is revered beyond the Orthodox or even Christian Church. There are many testimonies of his help to non-believers and atheists, directing them towards knowing our true God and Savior Jesus Christ.
Many Orthodox churches dedicated to St Nicholas have been built in China: Harbin, Shanghai, Urumqi, Gulja and other cities. Many Chinese people have experienced the intercession and help of St Nicholas on their way to Christ.
However, some might regard all that as the dim and distant past. But what about today?
Today Saint Nicholas continues to help non-believers discover God in ways that are extraordinary by worldly standards. The inconceivable signs that he sends people literally shake their souls, evoking thoughts about God’s Providence, changing lives and gradually leading them to the Orthodox faith.
The events that I am going to tell you about are quite recent. They took place in our Pskov-Caves monastery in June of this year.
We all know our monastery’s gateway church of St Nicholas. This is where everything happened.
Perhaps I should start with a short prequel. I sometimes visit China as member of the Patriarchal Council for Culture. In the beginning of June I received a call from a person that I occasionally contact during my visits. This Chinese man is sincerely seeking God, but has not encountered Him yet.
He told me that he was in St Petersburg as part of a large official delegation. He had a free day, so he asked if it was possible for him to come to the Pskov-Caves monastery, of which I had talked to him a lot. As a matter of course, I invited him to visit, together with his translator.
By the morning next day our Chinese guest’s car reached the Pskov-Caves monastery. As one would expect, the first monastery church that he saw was the gateway church of St Nicholas. It was also the very first Orthodox temple that our guest entered in his life. Meanwhile, the first thing he heard in it was the Liturgy, being celebrated in… Chinese language!
Our guest was completely shocked. When he went up to me after the service, he could hardly understand how that could have happened, and what was going on altogether. To be honest, at first I was surprised no less than him. But soon I understood everything.
Do you remember the pilgrims from the Chinese mission in Moscow, visiting in June? There is a church in the capital where the Chinese Orthodox can celebrate divine services in their native language. They first came to Pechory on a pilgrimage just a couple of days before that and asked to give them the opportunity to celebrate the Liturgy in Chinese. Since not all Pechoryans know Chinese, I suggested that they serve separately in the little side chapel of St Nicholas.
So, on that morning, for the first time in the history of not only the Pskov-Caves Monastery, but the entire Pskov diocese, an Orthodox liturgy in Chinese was celebrated at St Nicholas church. And so it happened that on the same day, and at the same time, all the way from distant Beijing and through St Petersburg, a man entered the holy gates of the Pskov-Caves monastery, seeking the True God. He entered the first temple that came into view and heard the Gospel reading and singing in his native Chinese!
Having listened closely to my explanation, my Chinese guest still could not help asking if I had deliberately arranged all that for him, although he understood perfectly well that it was impossible to a human with all the will in the world since I was informed of his arrival no earlier than the night before.
However, I answered him that in substance he was right! All of that really had been arranged solely for him, i. e. for a person, sincerely seeking the True God. It was not me, however, who had arranged it, but the great, incomparable, omnipotent and merciful Providence of God, descending on humankind through the prayers of St Nicholas and other saints who carry their obedience in a special way, helping those who have not yet found their faith in Christ, but are seeking God, Who “desires everyone to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2: 4).
Through the prayers of St Nicholas, Lord Jesus Christ, our God, have mercy on us! Amen!
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds