Susan Down & Susan Warren's Bio:
Growing up as a child of the sixties in Oklahoma, I viewed the bomb/tornado drills as an integral part of my well-rounded education and preparation for life. To my first-grade mind, a Russian bomb was just as likely to fall from the sky as one of our trademark twisters. These drills came at regular intervals—every other month or so—but always at a time when we least expected them, intended to catch us with our guard down and our reactions slow.
Each time the continuous, ear-piercing trill of the school bell began, I wondered if this time the alert was for real and not a practice exercise. I remember wanting my mama oh-so-desperately when Mrs. Pierce instructed us to fall in line, in an orderly fashion, and move calmly yet swiftly into the hallway. Fear drove my heartbeat into a double-time pound as I squeezed between two classmates and huddled in the Myers Elementary hallway with my head between my knees. (As if that would protect us from a nuclear bomb!) Praying. Hoping. Waiting for the all-clear signal to sound.
I hated the Russians for scaring me. This was all those Soviet Communists’ fault. Why did they want to hurt little American girls like me?
That latent fear, that dormant hatred, lingered for decades—until the inconceivable occurred and the Soviet Union crumbled along with its Communist government. We were missionaries in South Korea at the time, and soon after the Soviet Union morphed into the Commonwealth of Independent States, my husband made his first trip to Moscow to help establish a mission work there. He came home brimming with tales of wonderful encounters with the citizens of that once-enemy land. His depictions defied all I’d been taught to believe about America’s Cold War nemesis. The people he described couldn’t possibly hail from the same country I’d been conditioned to despise.
Then, I had the great fortune to experience Russia and her people for myself. In my work as an international adoption coordinator, I rode the trains into the snowy hinterlands, met with government officials, stayed in villagers’ homes, worshiped with believers of likeminded faith—and made friends. To my amazement, I discovered we shared a lot more in common than we had in difference, these new friends and I.
I thank God for the privilege of living in the age of an ever-shrinking globe, for the gift of friends from other cultures and languages and lands. I dedicate that which is mine of Nadia, this Cold War-era story, to the generations of persecuted Christians who kept the faith—even when to do so meant risking their very lives. Great is their reward.
I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hand. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
God has a sense of humor, and I experienced it firsthand as I wrote Nadia, the story of the spy racing through Russia, trying to bring her beloved home. I had spent the last year watching my husband struggle between his missionary calling and his family, just as Nadia did. Little did I know that once we determined God wanted us to move to America, our adventures were only beginning. I wrote Nadia while living in a 28 x 30-foot garage without running water or electricity (thank the Lord for laptop batteries). Easily, I conjured up the cold starkness of being in a gulag cell as winter descended outside our poorly insulated garage or sleeping in cramped places as we tucked our family of six into our popup camper. Most of all, I wondered at my purpose in life, now that I was no longer a missionary. I found joy in Mickey’s understanding that only God could make his life significant and answers in Nadia’s revelation that God would give her daily wisdom and work out His perfect will as she drew closer to Him.
Most of all, God reminded me that I write each word by His grace. He will teach me and equip me to write for Him, even if it means putting me in a garage!