In my early years at the very beginning of this ministry, the Lord was patiently teaching me that he was preparing the way: people he had chosen all around the world were waiting for others who would come and join them.
Upon arriving in St. Petersburg, Russia, many years ago to attend a conference, I was asked by the hosts to speak the following morning on the topic of “civil society.” Though this was unexpected (by me) I would soon discover that it had been planned all along (by Someone else). In spite of wondering what I would say the next morning, I slept soundly, falling asleep to the Holy Spirit’s voice, telling me that He would give me His words.
After a three-hour presentation on civil society (which is about two and a half hours more than I could have mustered on my own!), a young Russian woman approached me, talking rapidly. She was clearly very excited and passionate about whatever was on her mind…but I couldn’t understand a word! Upon finding an interpreter, I heard her story.
Dr. Vita Lutinskaya was a physician. She had been waiting for someone to come alongside her to help address a great need for women’s health in Russia. She entreated me to see the work that she was doing outside of St. Petersburg, in a town called Pushkin, so I agreed to visit her the following morning.
That next day I enjoyed a lively train ride, sharing my seat with chickens and pigs, cabbage and potatoes, and many other goods bound for market. What have I gotten myself into? Upon arrival in Pushkin we walked for several blocks to a big gray cinder-block building. Vita met us at the entry and escorted us inside. We walked through the crowded first floor, filled with women patiently waiting to see a doctor, and made our way upstairs.
On the second floor I was confronted by something I will never forget. The sound is what came first: a low, mechanical, rhythmic thrumming. The sight came next: open doorways through which I could see women having abortions. The view, the sound, the lack of privacy…I was stunned by what I was witnessing.
Vita urged me to follow her to the next floor, where I discovered what I had come to see: a rudimentary healthcare facility for women who did not want to have an abortion. This, merely one floor above an active abortion hospital.
As we sat down to talk, through an interpreter, Vita asked me what I did for work. I told her that I was a pastor from the United States. I said that God was leading me to use my voice to uphold the sanctity of human life in the nations. At my words Vita began to cry, then weep openly. I looked at the interpreter, wondering what she had said…it must have been wrong!
The interpreter told me that she had communicated exactly what I said. But then why was she crying? Vita needed about ten minutes to compose herself before she could explain. She had been praying for a pastor from the United States to come and help her with this life-giving work.
Come on now. You’re kidding, right? My suspicion must have been evident on my face; Vita left for a moment and returned with her prayer journal. She allowed me to see her pleas to the Lord. One and a half years she had been praying. Her first prayer was on…wait. What? The date of her first prayer—for a pastor to visit from the U.S. and and help her—was the exact date that the Lord told me to carry His message of life into the nations…an encounter that formed the foundation of LIFE International. Okay, okay! You’ve got my attention!
In that moment I accepted God’s invitation to join Him in a global movement of life. I could not—and would not—turn away from this woman of God who had been waiting (for me!) for over 18 months. This marked the beginning of some of LIFE International’s earliest ministry activity, expanding to include several operations in the region surrounding St. Petersburg, Russia.
Since that time, the Lord has continued to open doors and reveal to us others who have been waiting. LIFE International has now trained, equipped, and influenced leaders with the sanctity-of-human-life message in more than 82 nations.
Someone in the world—in your community, in your state, in your nation…or in some other nation—is offering up a prayer for which, through God’s providence, you are the answer! Your Vita is waiting for you—how is God prompting you to respond? Ask Him and He’ll let you know! His answer may freak you out, upend your expectations, and rock your world…it sure rocked mine! But being a part of Vita’s story is something I’d never exchange. Her faith built mine, and my showing up in her world strengthened her own resolve to continue serving God and serving women in her city. Many are waiting. How will you respond?