When Mikhail Gorbachev came to power, local Russian officials reopened an old
Orthodox church building in what was then still Leningrad and turned it over to
a Baptist pastor and his congregation. The ornate beauty of the church had long
since been obliterated. Only the shell remained.

One day, while working to fix up the inside of the church with a crew of
Siberian men, the pastor was interrupted by a man off the street.

“Is the priest here?”

“Yes, I’m the priest.” (There isn’t a word in Russian for pastor.)

“There are four young ladies outside who want to talk to you, but they refuse
to come in.”

“All right, I’ll go out.” So he walked out to the street where the
young women stood waiting. But when he stretched out his hand to greet them,
they all refused the gesture.

“Why won’t you shake my hand?”

“We are not worthy to shake your hand. We all are prostitutes and the
reason we want to talk to you is to find out if God will ever forgive us for
what we’ve done.”

“Of course He will forgive you!” The pastor took his Bible, opened
it, and told them about the death of Jesus Christ and the blood of Christ that
cleanses from all sin.

“Will He forgive us right now?”

“Yes, right now!” So there on the sidewalk the four women prayed with
him to receive Jesus Christ. When they finished, one of them asked, “Are
we forgiven now?”

“Yes. You see, the Bible says, ‘Your sins and evil deeds I will remember
no more.’ ‘The blood of Jesus cleanses from all sin.’ So you are

Before this, the women wouldn’t even shake the pastor’s hand. Now they embraced
him and asked, “May we come in to the church?” There wasn’t much to
see, but the pastor gave each woman a Bible and explained more about what it
means to experience God’s forgiveness and receive new life in Christ.

Most people are painfully aware of their sinfulness. They’re desperate for
God’s love and forgiveness. When they hear the Gospel and receive Christ, the
difference He makes in their lives is amazing for all to see.

Illustration taken from:
Palau’s book, How to Renew Your Spiritual
, Discovery House, 1995.

View more sermon illustrations for inspiration for your next message.

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About The Author

Luis Palau and his ministry have shared the Gospel with more than 1 billion people through evangelistic events and media. He has spoken in person to 30 million people in 75 countries, with more than 1 million registered decisions for Jesus Christ. Luis Palau festivals have produced some of the largest audiences ever recorded in cities from south Florida to South America. His radio broadcasts in both English and Spanish are heard by millions on 3,500 radio outlets in 48 countries. Among other top-tier programs, Luis currently hosts Luis Palau Responde, an international Q&A program in Spanish, and Reaching Your World, a devotional-style program emphasizing biblical wisdom. He has authored close to 50 books, contributed articles on issues of faith to countless publications, and counseled business leaders, political leaders, and heads of state around the world.

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