It was an ordinary comment, stuck in the middle of a weekly report from 3ABN Russia. Every week our team from Nizhny Novgorod produces an amazing spreadsheet, detailing the programs they’ve recorded, the literature they’ve sent, the cable contracts they’ve landed—and so many other details that it makes me tired just to read it. How do they find time to accomplish so much?
In this particular week’s report there was a message about one of our Russian workers. “He and his wife have endured a difficult illness and the loss of a family friend—a dog—but we hope he will start recording again soon.”
I sent a simple message back, offering my sympathy and prayers. Within a couple of days a heartbreaking e-mail returned. They were childless, and this dog had become part of their family. Not only that, but they had experienced great pain when the dog suffered at the end and they were unable to help him. Why is pain worse when there’s nothing I can do to make the situation better?
The depth of His love for her amazed me.
My part should have ended there. A few heartfelt prayers, offered up over the course of the next few days. A short e-mail expressing my sorrow for their loss. A moment of my time in the busyness of life.
The problem was, I forgot about answering the e-mail. I was caught up in a hectic recording schedule and endless deadlines, and it got buried. Overlooked for weeks. In fact, I forgot all about it.
A month later I awoke and checked my e-mails, as I always do in the morning. Only this time there was another e-mail, a forward this time, about the couple and their dog. Guilt washed over me. Jill, this woman from Russia was hurting. She needed you. And you didn’t even take the time to answer her when she needed you most.
Arriving at work, I began composing the e-mail, expressing my sorrow along with my belief that suffering and grief are not so heavy that our God cannot lift, that our burdens are not so great that He cannot relieve, that He walks with us through our storms and brings us out on the other side. It was sent with a prayer that God would use it to bring encouragement to the woman I’d never met halfway around the world.
Later that day I received an e-mail from our executive director at 3ABN Russia. She had translated my e-mail into Russian so this woman could receive it. And then she shared the miracle: nobody had forwarded that e-mail to me. As far as anyone could tell, it had never been sent. How did it get to me? I still have no idea. And not only that, the woman who lost her dog had stopped attending church. She and God were not on the best of terms.
I read the e-mail and cried. God had sent me an e-mail just to remind me to answer this woman in Russia. He cared that much for her. In spite of my busyness and neglect, He orchestrated events so this woman—who didn’t want anything to do with Him—would be reminded of His love.
The depth of His love for her amazed me. The measures He took to reach her overwhelmed me. The fact that He wanted to use me humbled me. What a God we serve!
Jill Morikone is vice president and chief operations officer for Three Angels Broadcasting Network (3ABN), a supporting Adventist television network. She and her husband, Greg, live in southern Illinois and enjoy ministering together for Jesus.