The simple and powerful life of Maria Zeitner Linke from her childhood through her release from the Russian gulags is plainly and honestly conveyed in Ruth Hunt’s East Wind.

Mrs. Linke’s story opens in Germany in 1945, as the Russian army rolls into the shambles of Hitler’s fatherland.  A Russian-born German, she finds herself an outcast in Germany and Russia as each government rejects her as a traitor or a spy.  Captured by Russian soldiers and brutally raped, Mrs. Linke finds herself standing on the tailgate of an army truck, one end of a heavy rope tied around her neck, the other end lashed to the overhanging branches of a sturdy tree.  Moments before her death, she remembers her broken promise to God, made as a young girl, to be a faithful witness to others of the truth and grace of God which she had experienced and received. 

East Wind is a story of the grace of God, and Mrs. Linke’s steadfast witness to its life-changing power.  Her moment of truth on the tailgate of the Russian truck is the first spark that ignites a powerful fire in her soul, enabling her to endure years of torture, cruelty, and lies from the Communist governments that sentenced her to prison.  Even greater than her own resilience however, is her powerful witness to the women joining her in the gulag.  Often times her experiences of God’s grace in the midst of suffering provide the hope and encouragement needed to revive the flagging faith in the weary souls she meets.

Many books have been written about the saints.  A good deal of those that I have read tend to elevate the saint to superhuman glory by emphasizing their virtues and strengths without adequately explaining the weaknesses and sins that beset them.  The result is a paean to an idealized portrait of a fellow pilgrim, which creates a deep chasm between the reality of the reader’s experiences and struggles and the untouchably glorious life of the saint who could do no wrong.  East Wind is not one of those books.  Mrs. Linke’s sins, weaknesses, and struggles are presented just as simply as her faith, trust, and resilience.  The result is powerful in pointing the reader to the grace of God, rather than the indefatigable human spirit, and glory is given to the One who makes all things possible.

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Posted by Tex

4 Comments

  1. Andrew McKnight Selby February 19, 2006 at 10:51 pm

    Yes, that’s great. Saints become saints by diligently praying and getting to know God. My guess is that most saints were completely unaware of their saintliness, but life for them was about a relationship with God. To be good at a relationship takes careful consideration, communication, repentance and time.

    Mrs. Linke’s story sounds very powerful. Thanks, Tex.

    Reply

  2. Tex,

    Thanks for the review of East Wind. It is not the review of the book that I would like to comment on, but your statements (as well as Andrew McKnight’s) about the “saints.” How are you defining “saint”? Who are the saints? From my understanding of scripture, “Christians” or “believers” is synonymous with “saints,” yet it seems like you are saying saints are something more than that–they have their own books about them because they are something special. Also, McKnight’s comments refer to “saints” in the past tense, as if they’re no longer with us.

    I draw your attention to this, and ask your opinion, because the Catholic church has “saints,” who are elevated to a place above us–to whom we can even pray. Is this your view? This certainly is not orthodoxy.

    As I am sure may be difficult to see through type text, this is not an attack. Nor am I trying to say that you are saying any particular thing. I am simply asking what your view is because you chose this term over another and because McKnight seemed to think you are using differently than you might be.

    Your thoughts (even though this is not the main point of this strand)?

    ~Eric Mannino

    Reply

  3. Thanks for the review of East Wind. It is not the review of the book that I would like to comment on, but your statements (as well as Andrew McKnight’s) about the “saints.” How are you defining “saint”? Who are the saints? From my understanding of scripture, “Christians” or “believers” is synonymous with “saints,” yet it seems like you are saying saints are something more than that–they have their own books about them because they are something special. Also, McKnight’s comments refer to “saints” in the past tense, as if they’re no longer with us.

    I draw your attention to this, and ask your opinion, because the Catholic church has “saints,” who are elevated to a place above us–to whom we can even pray. Is this your view? This certainly is not orthodoxy.

    As I am sure may be difficult to see through type text, this is not an attack. Nor am I trying to say that you are saying any particular thing. I am simply asking what your view is because you chose this term over another and because McKnight seemed to think you are using differently than you might be.

    Your thoughts (even though this is not the main point of this strand)?

    ~Eric Mannino

    Reply

  4. “Saint” carries a connotation that “Christian” or “believer” does not. A saint is someone who has been greatly sanctified and cleansed from sin in his or her life on earth. A Christian or believer is someone who has had his or her guilt legally or forensically removed but still may exhibit many sinful habits that must be removed through the gracious operation of the Holy Spirit and the cooperation of the individual.
    While men are never given authority to judge the state of another’s soul or legal standing before God, and thus may never say with perfect certainty that so and so is saved, we are given the duty of examining the fruit of the lives of those who claim to be Christians. “Saint” is a useful way of designating those professing Christians who exhibit such abundant spiritual fruit in their lives that it is most reasonable to presume that God has indeed forgiven their sins and has removed many of the habits and results of those sins from their life while they walked on earth. They are special and worthy of admiration and emulation, not because they are somehow super-human or holy by their own merits, but because they are living testimonies to the work that God graciously does in the lives of His people, work that might be accomplished in our lives as well, if only we submit to Him.

    Reply

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