In the days leading up to our Moscow witnessing campaign, I asked God for His blessing more times than I can remember. You can see for yourself how He answered.
One evening, a volunteer and I came to our designated place for our sortie (tract-passing expedition). I looked around to see where we should stand. Immediately I noticed a huge, non-stop stream of people, a perfect place to hand out broadsides, meet people, and hopefully get contacts for further ministry in Moscow. The crowd was to my right, whereas to my left, only a few people were walking by, scattered across a large area. Clearly it would be difficult to offer anyone a gospel tract or start a conversation there.
Suddenly, my volunteer said in a commanding tone, “Now listen, I’m going to stand on the right and you’re going to stand on the left. My eyes widened in surprise. But I heard a voice in my heart, “Accept this.” I was about to tell the volunteer, “We will both stand on the right, where there are plenty of people to take our broadsides.” However, again, I heard the voice in my heart, “Accept this.” I smiled and replied to the volunteer, “OK!”
For the first half hour, I observed my brother gladly handing out broadsides to a crowd which could easily have used two people, while I stood at an empty site. I thought to myself, “There is no doubt that God Himself told me, accept this. Perhaps this sortie is just a test on my humbleness and obedience to God? Lord, will the entire sortie go like this?”
Then a Jewish man stopped to talk with me.
“I’ve been an atheist for all my life, but over the years, I’ve begun to understand that it’s important to believe in God. I have a children’s Bible, and I love this book.” Ilya had a lot of questions; he gave me his contact info, and I promised to give him a Bible.
I turned my head, and there was a Jewish woman waiting to talk to me. When Yana heard about the way of salvation, she too gave me her contact info. It happened that we were having an event in just one hour, presenting Marc Chagall’s work in the framework of the gospel. I told her about it and she said she would go. And so it continued. On that “empty” site, God gave me seven conversations with Jewish people, and all seven gave me their contact info.
A few hours later, I learned that Yana had attended the Marc Chagall event and prayed the sinner’s prayer, recognizing Yeshua as her Savior. Each day of the campaign, I saw how God answered my question and my prayer, “Will you bless me in Moscow?”
After the campaign was over, I stayed to help with follow-up. I ministered to many people on visits, and remembered my promise to give Ilya a Bible. The night we went, there was a heavy shower and cold wind. It took two hours and three different kinds of transportation to reach his apartment building. I rang the doorbell, but I couldn’t hear any sound. Maybe I needed to push that button at a certain angle, and then it would ring? I kept pushing the doorbell button again and again. I did not hear a sound, but apparently Ilya did.
Ilya finally opened two security doors and invited me in. The apartment was filled with smoke, and it was difficult to breathe. Ilya was running to open all the windows and doors, yelling, “You just saved my life! Do you understand that I’m serious? Jews for Jesus, I will never forget you, as you just saved my life!”
It turned out that Ilya had put something on the stove and while it was cooking, he went to another room (his apartment is large and the room was far from the kitchen) where he fell deeply asleep. The burning food had filled the apartment with smoke while Ilya continued to sleep. It was the repeated ringing of the doorbell that woke him up.
How different everything might have turned out had I not listened to God’s voice to stand where I never would have stood on that sortie. The seven Jewish contacts, Yana’s salvation, Ilya being woken before the smoke overtook him . . . it’s quite amazing. I’m not advocating for missionaries to allow volunteers to dictate how we conduct our outreach, but God sometimes works in mysterious ways. He wants to speak to our hearts. And although we may think we see the best course of action, God may direct us differently. Walk in obedience to Him; there will be abundant fruit for the Lord’s glory, and your life will be filled with the privilege of being a participant in His miracles.
Svetlana Kotlomina ministers with our Kharkov team.
Click here for a summary and photos from this year’s Moscow campaign.