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Yakov Kulakov, a retired pastor, speaking with Adventist Mission in his home in Podolsk, Russia. (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)

‘Doctor Wants Me to Have an Abortion’

A special prayer leads a church member to a hurting mother in the Soviet Union.

By Andrew McChesney,

Seventh-day Adventists didn’t have religious literature to distribute in the Soviet Union.

Evangelistic meetings were out of the question, and many congregations didn’t even have church buildings. Members gathered in private homes.

So, how could people share their faith?

Pastors taught church members to pray every morning, “Lord, send me someone who I can tell about You.”

Dina — a 60-year-old grandmother and factory worker living in the Far East region of Kamchatka, just across the Bering Sea from the U.S. state of Alaska — prayed this prayer every morning.

One morning in 1978, Dina knelt and prayed, “Lord, send me someone who I can tell about You.” Then she hurried to the bus stop in Kamchatka’s capital, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, to start her day’s activities.

As she waited for the bus, Dina noticed a pregnant woman standing nearby.

“Are you expecting?” she asked, kindly.

The woman began to weep.

Dina learned that the woman, Lyuda Savostina, was expecting her first son, but the physician had insisted that she have an abortion.

“I already have a little girl, and I have always wanted a boy,” Lyuda said, tears rolling down her cheeks. “But the doctor says that if I try to have this child, he will be stillborn and I will die.”

Dina comforted the woman and, before the bus arrived, invited her to visit her house-church the next Sabbath. Lyuda had never attended church before, and she agreed to go.

A Firm Stance

On Sabbath, Dina and Lyuda joined 12 other church members listening to Pastor Yakov Kulakov preach about God’s faithfulness. Lyuda had never heard a sermon before, and the pastor’s words about God’s faithfulness touched her heart.

After the sermon, Lyuda met the pastor and shared her dilemma.

“My doctor wants me to have an abortion,” she said.

The pastor encouraged Lyuda to put her trust in God and His faithfulness. The church members surrounded Lyuda as the pastor prayed for her.

On Monday, Lyuda announced to the doctor that she had decided to keep the baby.

The astonished doctor berated her.

“Have you gone mad?” he said. “If you keep the baby, both you and the baby will die. This is the last week that we can perform an abortion, and you must have it to save your life.”

Lyuda would not be swayed. The frustrated doctor summoned her husband, Vladimir, and explained the situation.

After the meeting, Vladimir also tried to convince Lyuda to have the abortion.

“Are you so selfish that you are willing to die and leave your daughter without a mother?” he said.

“I will keep this baby,” Lyuda replied. “I trust in God.”

Then her husband was convinced that his wife had lost her senses.

“Who is this God that you are talking about?” he said. “There is no God!”

But he was unable to convince her, and he gave up.

The next Sabbath, Lyuda returned to the house-church. She worshipped there again the following Sabbath. Soon she was taking Bible studies with the pastor and a female church member, and then she was baptized.

Baby Is Born

The day of the birth finally arrived, and the doctor turned out to be wrong. He had predicted that the baby would be stillborn and that the mother would not survive. The baby was born alive, and Lyuda did not die.

The baby, however, was sickly and suffered seizures. Little Sergei would stop breathing during each seizure, which lasted about 10 seconds, and then he would start taking breaths again.

One day when Sergei was about a year old, he suffered a seizure more severe than before. Ten seconds passed. Twenty seconds, and he still wasn’t breathing. His lips turned blue, and the area around his mouth turned blue.

Lyuda frantically picked up the baby and threw him onto the bed. Falling onto her knees, she cried out, “Lord, You gave life to this boy, please don’t take it away! Lord, You gave life to this boy, please don’t take it away!”

Her husband, hearing the wailing, rushed into the room. Lyuda saw him standing at the door and cried, “Come here and pray! We need your faith, too!”

Vladimir ran to the bed and sank onto his knees.

“Lord, I believe! Lord, I believe!” he cried.

At that moment, the baby began to breath.

Guess who went to church the next Sabbath?

The husband accompanied his wife; daughter, Natasha; and Sergei to the house-church. He later took Bible studies and was baptized. The whole family became Adventist, and the children, now in their 40s, remain faithful church members, said Pastor Kulakov, 66, who has retired after 41 years of ministry and lives in Podolsk, south of Moscow.

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Yakov Kulakov, 66, describes a simple way to share Jesus in Soviet times — and today. Afterward, he sings a song about the faithfulness of God. (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)

A Powerful Prayer

Why did this family become Adventist?

The reason, Pastor Kulakov said, is because an elderly woman prayed every morning, “Lord, send someone who I can lead to You today.”

“There is power in this prayer,” he said.

He recalled another church member who prayed this prayer before walking to church in the Far East city of Vladivostok. On the way, she passed a sobbing woman.

“What’s wrong?” she said.

The woman didn’t say anything, and the tears flowed even more.

“Can I pray for you?” the church member asked.

The woman nodded, and the church member prayed. When she finished, the weeping woman finally spoke.

“Where are you going?” she said.

“To church.”

“Can I go with you?”


The woman ended up having Bible studies and being baptized.

“There is power in asking God to send someone to tell about Him every day,” Pastor Kulakov said. “If the prayer resulted in miracles in Soviet times, think how much more it can do today.”

He invites every church member — including you, dear reader — to start praying this pray today: “Lord, send me someone who I can tell about You.”