Be careful for nothing: but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:6,7
When our TV ministry first began in the former USSR, we needed low-hanging, directional lights for our studio. Our staff was inexperienced, but they were all we had, so I sent them out to search for lights we could use to illuminate the studio where we were going to be filming our TV programs. With great delight, they returned with 40 big lights that they were sure would work to light up the studio. For a week, the staff members carefully hung the lights in place and tested them. After being satisfied that the lights were exactly what we needed, they said, “OK, now we can begin to film new TV programs!”
I was excited that the studio was so well lit and that the low-hanging lights looked so professional. But our studio had no air-conditioning, which made the room very hot. To stay cool, I wore a dress shirt, tie, and suit jacket from the waist up — and from the waist down, I wore shorts and put each leg into a big bucket of cool water in an effort to cool down while we were filming. Even with my legs submerged in that water, sweat would pour from my brow, and I would have to wipe my forehead the whole time we filmed. However, on this particular day, it felt especially hot — much hotter than usual.
After two hours of non-stop filming under those 40 lights, I felt very hot, so I took my legs out of the buckets, untied my tie, unbuttoned my top shirt, and went outside to get some fresh air. When I walked into the edit suite where the producers were working, they were trying to adjust the colors on the camera, because my skin looked so red on the monitors. They twisted this knob and that knob, trying to get the color to look right. They were so focused on what they were looking at on the monitors that they never actually looked at me! Eventually I heard them say, “We think we’ve got it fixed. So, Rick, why don’t you head back into the studio, and let’s film more programs.”
Once I resumed filming, I didn’t stop again until I had filmed a total of eight hours of TV programs that day. It was a personal record for the most TV programs I had ever filmed in a single day.
But this time when I walked out of the studio, the producers looked at me to congratulate me for completing such a successful day. When they saw me, they gasped. It was at that moment they realized the 40 lights they were so proud of — that I had been sitting in front of for eight hours — were sunlamps! My face was severely burned and red beyond imagination. Try to imagine what you would look like if you sat in front of 40 sunlamps for eight hours! To make matters worse, I had been sitting in shorts with my legs in two buckets of water, and the radiation from those lamps literally scorched my legs. But the worst of all was what happened to my eyes — I could hardly see because my eyes were so burned. And every time I blinked, it felt like shredded pieces of glass were being dragged across my eyes.
At that time, pharmaceutical products were scarce in the former Soviet Union, so there were no medications or ointments to put on my burnt body. Instead, a local doctor recommended that I be covered in sour cream and that I then be tightly wrapped in plastic, like Saran Wrap, to keep the moisture trapped around my body! So I lay on the couch as Denise and her helpers literally doused me from head to toe in sour cream, and then had me roll over and over so the plastic would tightly stretch around me. My arms were trapped under the plastic; my legs were bound; I was immovable. I remember telling Denise that I felt like a huge enchilada!