Bud Toole, was born and raised in Dallas, Texas and quickly became a very astute investment advisor. Within a short time he became the VP of Investments for Gulf Life Insurance Company in Jacksonville in the late seventies. As a committed Christian, Bud and his wife loved to travel to unusual places and learn about their Biblical heritage.
In the early 80’s a close friend invited him to go on a unique trip behind the Iron Curtain to Russia. But after he agreed, he was shocked to discover that they we going to smuggle in Bibles to some small underground home churches. If they were caught, they could have been put in prison and he might never return to his wife and 2 kids.
His heart was racing as they boarded planes and trains with their suitcases and trench coats filled with Bibles, always stopping at every border crossing.
But his Freedom had always taught him to exercise his faith and be a doer of the word. He stepped out his comfort zone believing this was God’s purpose to help a few Christians in their small home who studied and shared together by candle light, in the middle of the night... so as not to be found out. Whenever they heard noises outside their hut, they stopped and prayed until the person passed. It was an intense and gut wrenching experience.
Bud would return two or three times a year for 6 years helping more families and underground churches. Bud would say that the intense experience dramatically increased his faith and prayer life. “I felt like I was in the CIA instead of being a very conservative financial advisor to very wealthy people. I could not understand why God would call me to this.”
Until, without warning in 1989, The Wall came down. Bud then quickly understood God’s purpose in his adventure and the sacrifice he had undertaken. So he and Steve Maisel formed East-West Ministries. They raised the money to go into Russia with American pastors to teach local Russians who wanted to build their own Churches. For 12 years, they have helped over 1,100 Pastors reach millions of people through Churches all over the Russia.
Many of us would have rejected the vision and leading that God placed on Bud’s heart. But, freedom is not freedom unless we exercise it by our faith and trust in the one who created us. Not just our religious freedom, but political, economic, free expression and the ultimate... Freedom in Christ to use all our gifts and talents for His grand plan.