We All Need A Hand

An older friend once told me: “If you want to lead a life of adventure, then follow God.  He’ll lead on some crazy adventures.”

I have to agree. So many great stories come while doing ministry overseas.

One time, while living in Russia, one of my teammates, Roger, and I did a weekly presentation in a sanitarium. The guests traveled from all over the region to rest, recuperate and drink the local spring water, believed to have healing powers.

blog photo - spring water

They stayed at the sanitarium for 2 to 4 weeks…so basically, most were bored. You can only drink and bathe in water that smelled like rotten eggs for so long.

The director asked us if we’d show the Jesus Film. This was in 1994, not long after the fall of communism in the country and many were curious to learn more about God and the Bible.

The guests could only sit for an hour at a time. (I’m guessing it had to do with drinking so much rotten-egg-smelling water. It has a way of keeping you  moving.) Therefore we broke the viewing of the film into two visits.

This particular night, we were showing the first half of the film. We had accidentally left the cord to our projector in the car. My teammate was the techy one so I volunteered to go retrieve the cord while he continued setting up.

I hurried down the three flights of marble stairs. On my way down I passed two younger guests who obviously had gotten bored with the rotten-egg water and had moved on to vodka…lots of it.

They tried to stop me as I passed by but l kept going, not thinking much about it. Sadly, it was common at that time to see many vodka-induced men stumbling around. I figured they’d be long gone by the time I returned with the cord.

I was wrong.

They were having a hard time mastering the stairs. However, when they saw me return they quickened their step and blocked the staircase.

I tried to pass but one of them grabbed my cord and my hand. I couldn’t get away. It was unnerving.

Their words were unintelligible but their eyes told me what they were thinking. I didn’t know what to do.

Not sure why these words came out of my mouth but I told them, “Come!”

They smiled and began to follow me. But I was late and they were slow so I yelled, in one of my few Russian words, “Bystro! Fast!”

They popped to attention and began to run with me up the stairs.

We walked into the auditorium filled with World War II veterans. They looked thrown off. Roger looked shell-shocked as I walk in with two drunk men, “helping” me hold the cord. But I didn’t have time to explain.

He took the cord and my drunk friends took the front row. Oh boy!

Roger and I stood up front to introduce the film. As I spoke I heard weird kissing sounds coming from the right. I look to see one of my drunk friends puckering his lips and patting the seat next to him.

Roger looked at me as the translator spoke. What the heck?

I shrugged.

The film began and Roger took the seat next to my friend. I half expected them to leave. They stayed but left quickly afterwards.

Phew! Thank God that is over.

The next week we arrived to show the second half of the film. As we stood to introduce the film, there in the audience was my drunk friend, except this time he was sober and cleaned up!blog photo - hand reaching out

Afterwards he went straight to Roger. He bombarded him with questions about the Bible and Jesus. He was returning home so Roger gave him one of the Bibles we had with us. He was thrilled and grateful.

I was amazed at the transformation.

I made a judgment that day. I saw a drunk who was wasting away his life.

God saw a child ready to hear the truth of His love but who was masking the void in his heart with substances.

I would have passed them by; God reached out.

God knows the hearts of men; we only see the masks they wear.

Perhaps that is why Jesus would often retreat to pray. Was He asking His Father to reveal to Him who to reach out to and help?

My initial reaction that night was to scream and cry out for help. But God knew it was my friend in the stairwell who needed help so He gave me the voice to say, “Come. Quickly.”












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