Several years ago, my friend Wanda sent me an e-mail from a missionary in the Ukraine. It includea request to pray for the homeless and made special mention of an older woman named Ludmilla. She attached a photo which immediately pierced my heart.
The photo exposed a rotund woman who appeared to be in her late sixties. Her silver hair was covered by an orange and green babushka (headscarf) and, although layered clothing is popular in the US, hers was not a fashion statement as it displayed an attempt to protect her from the cold. My eyes peeled away the layers, and it became obvious that her “coat of many colors” was made of three separate garments. She was unable to close them around her and the conglomeration of apparel too small for her frame made her look as if she could play linebacker in the NFL.
There was sadness in her eyes as she tried to smile, and her ruddy cheeks betrayed the long-term rugged weather conditions in which she lived. Her hands were visible from mid-palm down. They looked as worn as her face.
I cannot explain what happened as I viewed Ludmilla except to say the love of Jesus invaded my heart. I wept—first for her and then for myself. The missionary had not yet been able to share the gospel with Ludmilla. I wept for the condition of her soul. I wept because of her living conditions. I wept because she symbolized millions of people across the world. I wept and I wept and I wept.
I began to pray for Ludmilla. I printed her photo (8 x 10) and sat it on my desk at work. At first co-workers saw this pitiful looking woman and laughed. But they were curious enough to ask about the photo, and I was able to share Jesus with many of them. I continued to pray and ask my friend, Wanda, if she had any news about Ludmilla. Wanda became my lifeline from Texas to the Ukraine.
On March 10, 2005, I received the email I feared. Wanda’s friend recounted the story:
“We had a terrible snow storm two weeks ago. I last saw Ludmilla blanketed under a cover of snow. I was going to go back and check on her but the weather turned so poor I was unable to get out of the house. I wish now I had gone against the wind and done so.”
Her friends on the street recounted the story of the storm, Ludmilla’s collapse, a call for an ambulance and the drivers that refused to take her to the hospital until the shouts of the people on the street convinced them and how the hospital had refused her any treatment because she had no money. Ludmilla had been buried in a nameless graveyard somewhere outside the city.
I’m weeping now. I pray she gave her heart to Jesus. I do not know. I do know this—God has commanded His children to come and see then go and tell. I do not go and tell the way I should. I’m convinced that I must be a better witness for my Lord in 2013. There is no shortage of people to tell—family, friends, neighbors. Hurting people are all around me. I have asked the LORD to continue to keep Ludmilla fresh on my heart.
Has God interrupted your life with your own Ludmilla? If He hasn’t, I pray that He will. I pray He continues to break my heart for hurting people. I pray He gives me the courage to “fear not”. I pray that I won’t miss the opportunities He gives me to influence one person’s life for Jesus.
What is your prayer?