Rewards of Courage: Rejoicing Through Trials
an interview with Stephen Ross
Q: Stephen, what was your response when your family joined ATI? Were you excited? nervous? indifferent?
A: When I first joined ATI, it was then referred to as a “Pilot Program.” My idea of a “Pilot Program” and Dad and Mom’s idea were totally different. When I realized that ATI was not a flight school, my attitude was one of indifference.
Q: The Lord led your family to serve at the Moscow Training Center for a number of years. During the time with your family in Russia, were there specific lessons you learned? How did your time in Russia affect your outlook on life?
A: One of the main lessons I learned while in Russia is the importance of contentment. If I am not content with where God has me at this point, I will never be content with where God will lead me in the future. Also, contentment differs from complacency. I need to be content with God’s leading in my life, but not in my devotion or service to God.
Q: In your life, have you faced obstacles that God gave you courage to overcome?
A: One of the obstacles that I had to overcome was that I felt I needed a college education to be successful in life. Through my father’s direction and my desire to be obedient to my authorities, I decided that, for me, it was more important to serve the Lord in Russia than go to college at that point in my life.
Another was during the time of physical illness. God showed me that life is short, and I needed to have an eternal perspective and work for the things that will last for eternity. Secondly, I learned that even through physical affliction I need to rejoice and count the blessings that God daily loads on me instead of looking at the impossibilities and uncertainties, such as paying bills, bad health, and so on.
Stephen’s wife, Anya, was a Russian atheist with a mother in the hospital when she met a radiant ATI young lady. Anya did not believe that God could heal her mother, but He did when the young lady prayed for her. Anya turned to Christ as a result of this, and served faithfully at the Moscow Training Center and at the IBLP Headquarters as a translator and hostess for visiting delegations, among other responsibilities. Stephen and Anya were married in March 2001. Their son, Jonathan Stephen Ross, was born April 16, 2002.
Q: Is there a Bible verse that God has particularly used in your life to give you direction and courage to do something you knew you must do?
A: God has used Philippians 1:20 as a life verse: “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.” This verse was the main catalyst in my decision to serve the Lord in all the apprenticeship opportunities that the Lord opened up through the years.
There also was a time in my life when I needed to clear my conscious, and I put it off for many weeks until I read the verse in Proverbs, “He that covereth his sins will not prosper.”
Q: Stephen, how did the Lord lead you into marriage?
A: I met Anya at the Moscow Training Center in 1995. Three years later I approached my father and expressed my desire to marry Anya. He asked if I would set aside marriage for the next few years to serve the Lord. I discerned that God wanted me to remain under my father’s authority in this, and so I waited for several years until I received the go ahead. Through this time God continued to teach me that He is all I need (lessons on contentment that I mentioned earlier) and also showed me the blessings of being under authority. During this time, I went through a period of physical illness that would have been a big challenge on any marriage.
Q: What is one thing you would like to communicate to younger ATI students?
A: As I look back over my short life thus far, the greatest blessings I have received came as I remained under my father’s authority and set my focus on serving God and advancing His kingdom instead of focusing on material riches. (See Matthew 6:33.)
Stephen serves as a financial analyst at a hospital in the South. Through creativity and effective cost-cutting measures, Stephen’s department at the hospital remarkably reversed a $2 million loss and generated $8 million in one year! Since then, his department has been nominated as a model of ingenuity for other hospitals.