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Calling Random Numbers

To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, May 25.

By Andrew McChesney


yubov wanted more than anything to share her love for Jesus in Armenia. But how?

A friend suggested that she witness over the telephone. It was 1995, an era long before cellphones in the former Soviet republic. She would have to call over a landline phone.

Lyubov had never spoken to strangers over the phone. The idea scared her. She didn’t know where to start. For seven days, she prayed for God to reveal to her whether it was His will for her to witness over the phone.

As she prayed, a desire slowly grew in her heart to talk to strangers. On the seventh day, she prayed, “Tell me which number to call.” Then she dialed a random number.

“Hello,” she told the stranger. “I want to study the Bible with you.”

The response and those that followed were not encouraging. Some people who answered the phone were upset. Others listened carefully but declined Bible studies.

Then Lyubov called an elderly woman named Olga. She agreed to Bible studies.

Olga enjoyed the phone calls, and the two women began to speak regularly. During one conversation, Olga mentioned that her mother-in-law was old, ill, and not a Christian.

“Go to your mother-in-law,” Lyubov said. “Tell her about Jesus. Ask her to accept Jesus as her personal Savior.”

When Lyubov called back a few days later, Olga said her mother-in-law had died. But she had hope. “The very day that we spoke, I went to her and told her about Jesus,” she said. “She accepted Jesus as her personal Savior and asked Him to forgive her sins. That night, she died.”

Two years later, Olga gave her own heart to Jesus and was baptized with another relative.

Lyubov was thrilled! Three people — Olga, her mother-in-law, and another relative — had been won to Christ over the telephone.

Lyubov kept on making phone calls. One caller began to cry when Lyubov mentioned God. “I have a daughter who isn’t feeling well,” the sobbing voice said. “She has serious epilepsy. She has lost all hope. You can talk with her if you like.”

Before Lyubov could reply, the mother handed the phone to her 23-year-old daughter, Alla.

Lyubov spoke, but Alla didn’t reply. The phone was dead quiet on the other end. Lyubov wasn’t used to one-sided phone calls, and she prayed for help.

When she called the next time, she told Alla that she was reading Early Writings by Ellen White and was enjoying her description of the New Earth. Alla was silent.

Lyubov described the lovely garden that God was preparing for His children on the New Earth. Alla was silent.

Then Lyubov remembered a popular Soviet-era cartoon that also featured a beautiful garden.

“Do you know that cartoon?” she asked.

Delighted laughter broke out on the other end. Lyubov was surprised. It was the first sound that Alla had made.

“You know how to laugh!” she exclaimed. “Imagine that God has prepared a garden for us that is even more beautiful than the one in the cartoon.”

Lyubov kept talking about the New Earth. Then she heard a click on the line and the sound of a woman’s voice.

“Excuse me,” the woman said. “I’ve been listening to you for a long time. What you are saying is very interesting.”

Alla laughed heartily. Words of joy spilled out of her mouth. She was delighted that someone had been eavesdropping unexpectedly on their call on the party line.

Then Alla’s mother came onto the line. She was happy to hear Alla talking, and she was wondering what had caused her to laugh.

So it was that three people — Alla, her mother, and their neighbor — began to participate in Lyubov’s Bible study.

A few weeks later, a man joined the call.

“Excuse me,” he said, interrupting the Bible study one day. “I’ve been listening to your conversation. It’s very interesting.”

He introduced himself as a leader from another Christian denomination. Then Lyubov had four people taking Bible studies.

After some time, Alla gave her heart to Jesus and was baptized. Her epileptic attacks stopped, and she is a faithful Adventist today.

Lyubov praised God for the opportunity to witness over the phone. “I’m very grateful to the Lord God for the gift that He has given me to serve people, especially strangers, over the phone,” she said.

Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help open a center of influence that will help families know about God in Yerevan, Armenia, where Lyubov lives.