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It’s The Broken Places That Let The Light Shine Through

Posted by admin in July 31st, 2021
Published in Uncategorized

“God could never forgive me,” Natasha was almost whispering. We sat in her small Soviet kitchen on the outskirts of Moscow in one of the more modern clusters of apartment buildings constructed to appease the restless intelligentsia. Though not luxurious by any stretch of the imagination, the apartment was cozy and clean—especially Natasha’s kitchen.

Natasha and I had spent many nights huddled at her small kitchen table drinking sweet hot tea, looking out the window and discussing life. Natasha was the model poster woman for the Soviets—well-educated with a PhD from Moscow State University (the Harvard of the Soviet world), an independent woman, an academic, a mother of two sons, a wife of a Soviet scientist who actually discovered Teflon. Natasha knew where to buy goods, how to jump the long lines, and always had extra coupons for sugar and yogurt to share—luxury items back in 1991.

Natasha and Gerrig had taken care of me from my first day in Moscow. They met me at the airport on my arrival; they helped me get settled in the university housing; they took me to museums, beautiful parks, and introduced me to the intellectual community of Moscow. Every Friday night, Gerrig would pick me up at the university and take me to their home. Natasha made incredible meals from sparse ingredients in a very tiny kitchen. Gerrig played his guitar and sang romantic songs from films and their sons made my sides split with laughter as they practiced English with their new American aunt. I spent almost every weekend with them and then, on Sunday morning, Gerrig would drive me to the English-speaking Protestant church.

Some of my best memories happened in that small Soviet apartment. I loved Natasha, Gerrig, and the boys. One of my greatest burdens was to lead them to Christ. Time and again I attempted to share the Gospel with Natasha. She’d listen, sometimes even shed a tear or two. She’d follow me up to a point, and then shut down the conversation.

Natasha came to watch me teach occasionally. “You have a genuine love for your students and I’ve not seen that before.” It was Natasha with me at the bus stop when the old babushka clung to me and cried for me to bless her, “Angela! Angela! Blagoslovenie!” It was Natasha that stood there with me and broke the awkward silence by saying, “Well, you do always have a very pleasant look on your face Teresa.”

Natasha was a gift from God to help me survive that first rough year in Moscow, 1991. The USSR had fallen and there were no products in the stores, no bread, no cheese, nothing. She and Gerrig brought me fresh produce from their dacha and never let me feel lonely.

So, on this snowy, freezing-cold winter night, Natasha and Gerrig wanted me to see the Russian Bely Medved swimming club as part of our New Year’s celebration. We walked in the dark down a long path next to their building and followed the few brave souls to the small lake nearby. It was like something out of a movie. The snow, the soft voices, the freezing cold, and the excitement. We watched the men and women taking a plunge in the lake where a chunk of ice had been sawed out and one by one the crazy Polar Bears jumped in.  Afterwards, we walked back up to the apartment and Gerrig and the boys went to bed and Natasha and I drank a hot totty at her small round kitchen table covered with an ancient oilcloth.

“Natasha, why won’t you ask Jesus into your heart? Why don’t you embrace God? I believe you really want to. What’s holding you back?” I was determined that I would not be timid in the New Year and I was determined to pull Natasha into the Kingdom of God. It was time.

No lights were on in the kitchen, but we had two small candles lit on the table and I could see her face in the candlelight.

“Teri, it’s easy for you. Look how good you are. Of course, God loves you. But He could never love me. He could never forgive me. I believe in God and I think I believe in Jesus the way you describe Him, but after what I’ve done, not even God could forgive me. You are so naïve and life is so simple for you. For me, it is not that simple. I committed the worst sin imaginable and not even God can forgive me.”

She meant it. She was crying, but controlled. I put my hand on hers and I explained to her that God, through Jesus, forgives us of all sin – there is no sin outside of His power to forgive. I recited I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.” But she just shook her head no.

I couldn’t figure out how to reach her. My burden for her was heavy and yet I felt helpless in convincing her of Christ’s power to forgive. “Please help me Holy Spirit! Please Jesus. Help me,” I begged silently as we sat there.

“What is it Natasha? What did you do that is so horrible? Please tell me.”

Calmly, but with her head bowed low, Natasha told me that when she and Gerrig were in college she had become pregnant and they decided to abort the baby. Natasha had an abortion. “God loves you Teri. Look at you! You are such a good girl. But He could never forgive me for killing my own child. Never. How could He? It must be the worst sin to Him.”

I tightened my grip on Natasha’s hand and I told her to look me right in the eyes.

“Natasha, you think I am such a good person and that is why God loves me? No. God made me good. Natasha, when I was 20 years old, I too had an abortion. It was horrible. I knew it was wrong. I fell into a deep depression and thought my life was over. But Jesus found me! Through God’s love, I brought my sin to Jesus and I asked Him to forgive me. Natasha, He did! He cleansed me with His blood and made me new. He freed me from my guilt and shame. God forgives us because Jesus died for our sins—all of our sins.”

She sat there for a moment and then with a look of amazement she said, “If God can forgiven you, Teri, He can certainly forgive me!” And there at that small kitchen table on a dark snowy night in Moscow, my dear friend Natasha gave her life to Jesus and experienced His forgiving grace.

In 1991, the average Muscovite woman had 18 abortions in a lifetime. The procedure became so common that the medical world stopped calling it abortion and began calling it a cleansing or washing. Little did I know that when Jesus rescued me and cleansed me from all my sins, that He would one day use the most horrible, shameful, awful thing in my life to minister to Natasha. But that’s how God’s redemptive power works, isn’t it? That He can take the most horrific thing in our lives and turn it for His purposes. It wasn’t God’s will that I had an abortion. It broke His heart, but His power of forgiveness and the cleansing blood of Jesus are so amazing that He can take even the most vile things in our lives, and reflect His glory in spite of them. That is Redemption! That is Romans 8:28! That is the Power of God!

After Daryl and I married, we went to Moscow twice and always stayed with Natasha and Gerrig. They loved Daryl and together Daryl and I made new memories with them. The boys grew up and went to college; Gerrig left the academy and worked for the private sector. Sadly, we lost contact when Moscow refigured its phone system. I wrote a letter to Natasha and it was returned, “undeliverable.” Moscow also refigured its zip code system. I’m sad to have lost contact with Natasha and Gerrig, but I know we’ll be reunited one day with our Savior on Streets of Gold because of Jesus’ redeeming love. Isn’t God good? Peace.

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58797. Angela said,
August 2nd, 2021 at 7:53 am

Thank you for sharing your beautiful story.
God is truly faithful and true.

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face to shine upon you.

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