One Sunday night a couple of months ago, Brandon Moore and I took a cab home not preparing to be broken by the time we reached our destination. Vadim was our driver. He had black thick hair, a several days old shaddow, a thick accent and a good bit better than broken English. Our conversation developed naturally as I asked general get-to-know-you questions. We learned that Vadim was divorced and had been living alone in Brooklyn for many years. Immediately my heart leaned toward him in compassion as I tried to put myself in his shoes. I had no idea how impossible it was actually going to be to put myself in Vadim’s shoes. He was born in Russia but has no desire to return. Oddly, I don’t remember exactly how we began to talk about Jesus; it was that natural. He asked a few questions and the door was wide open to share the gospel. I probably shared for about 4-5 minutes. I could tell he was listening intently. As I finished, Vadim asked a tough question about where God is in the midst of suffering. He interrupted my attempt to respond and began to passionately tell his story as an orphan in Russia. As Vadim shared, I thought about Dr. Russell Moore’s stories from adopting in Russia. Vadim’s passion intensified as he told about being alone, hungry and beaten in an orphanage. “Where was God, when I was abandoned, hungry and being beaten?” Though I had an opportunity to share about the responsibility of God’s people and a little about the Moore’s adoption, Vadim was now unleashing his bitterness without reservation. His intensity continued to rise and there was no longer a conversation. It felt like we were hearing years of pent up pain and bitterness. By the time we arrived at our Harlem apartment Vadim was flabbergasted and refused to talk any more. My words felt empty. A cab ride of compassion was only enough to unearth his pain. It didn’t even begin to address it. Maybe Vadim is your neighbor. If so, he desperately needs you. If so, he desperately needs Jesus. May God help us invest the time, energy and affection it requires to touch Vadim with the love of our Father.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27