From Hooker to Heaven
When Irina got off the floor and began to worship the Lord, we were overjoyed. It was the hand of God. She looked completely different.
Afterward she shared her story. She was a single mother living in a bankrupt country that was still too young, poor and disorganized to take care of people in her category. In desperation she resorted to prostitution to make ends meet. Of course she hated it.
Furthermore, her mother was a practicing witch, which brought all sorts of demonic interference to her life. She just wanted freedom. When she heard about our meetings, she began to hope.
A Cursed Charm
However the next night brought new challenges with Irina. Someone came and got me and said that Irina was outside of the auditorium and was asking for me. I went to see her and immediately noticed that her mouth was stuck open. She was barely able to explain that it had been like that most the day. I was confused because I thought we had cast demons out of her the night before.
As we continued to talk, I noticed a gold trinket around her neck. I asked her about it and she said that her mother gave it to her—her mother the witch. It turned out that the trinket was somehow connected to the occult. I told her, “You will have to get rid of that if you want to be free. It is cursed.”
“I can’t!” she replied, “It was a gift from my mother and it is gold.” When it became clear she would not part with the charm, I did something foolish. I offered her money in exchange for the charm. In Acts 19, it states that all the believers destroyed all their occult and witchcraft paraphernalia. They willingly burned it all, and Paul did not offer them money!
A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power. (Acts 19:19-20)
Fortunately, Irina refused my offer. Unfortunately, she also refused to get rid of the cursed trinket.
Sunday, Blessed Sunday
The next day was Sunday. What a glorious Sunday it was. This would be the first service of the new congregation that we were planting. The place, once again, was packed. The weather was simply perfect. Irina came to the meeting and her face was still contorting in strange ways.
After the service she invited us to her home, to bless us and to get rid of all the demonic garbage that she owned—except the charm. I can still remember walking to her home. The sun was shining and there was a cool breeze. My heart was simply on fire for God! My good friend Steve Bokmiller, a classmate from Bible College was with us, and Jerry Miller, my pastor and several young ladies, plus an interpreter.
That morning I realized that I was running out of money. It wasn’t the end of the world—I just needed enough cash to buy some food for the trip home. We would be taking a train the next day. As I was leaving the hotel for the meeting, the pastor of one of the churches that was partnering with us to do the outreach walked up to me. “Ron, the Lord spoke to me this morning to give you $100.”
“Wow! That’s great because I am nearly broke!” I thanked him and went to the meeting, with a clear sense that this money would only be passing through me. It wasn’t mine.
We arrived at Irina’s apartment and she began to bring out books on witchcraft and other demonic garbage. We packed it all up and prepared to throw it away. Still, however, her face was twitching and contorting out of control. I said to her, “You have to understand, you will not be able to defeat the enemy as long as you are wearing that charm. You must get rid of it.”
With a sigh of defeat, she finally took it off and handed it to me. As soon as she did, she was free! Her face returned to normal. It didn’t take much that day to make me cry. I had been crying all morning, realizing that we had walked into a city, preached the gospel to thousands, sending demons scattering in all directions, proclaiming the goodness of Yeshua the Messiah, and now a lighthouse—a beacon of hope—had been planted right in the center of the City. Tolyatti Christian Center was a reality. I was undone. So when she finally gave up the necklace with the charm and we saw she was completely free, tears began to flow again.
At this point I took her and the interpreter into the kitchen. I handed her the $100 and said to her, “I am not a rich American and in fact, I was pretty much broke this morning. Someone gave me this $100 just a few hours ago. It is sign from God that He is now your provider and you will never have to sell your body again!” Oh what a day—to see the gospel not only touch a city, but then to zoom in and see Yeshua change one specific life. From a hopeless prostitute, to an on-fire believer in Yeshua!
Of course afterward I was attacked with guilt. I was told that $100 would take care of her and her son for three months. What about after that Ron? You told her that God would take care of her, but you will never see her again. She will have to go back to prostitution when the money runs out.
But I was quite sure the Lord had told me to tell her that. And even if not, His Word is clear. This is what He does. He would take care of her and I would trust him.
“So, what happened?”
I was delighted to hear about a month later that the new church had hired her as their secretary. She continued to grow in the Lord and began leading a home group. Within a few years she became the overseer over all the home groups in the congregation under Pastor Mike. I was told that she got married as well and that her formerly witch mother, had also given her life to Yeshua.
On the way back to the seedy hotel, I dropped the charm in a sewer.
Come back tomorrow for Part 4, the final installment in A Prostitute in Russia.
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