Heb 13:3 Remember those who are in prison as if you were their fellow prisoner, and those who are ill-treated, since you also are liable to bodily sufferings. (Ampl)
1. Turkey: I Want to Belong to Jesus Asli is a Christian girl in Turkey. During the summer, she invited her friend Yildiz to go to a Christian camp with her. Like most kids in Turkey, Yildiz grew up in a Muslim family. But happily, her father said she could go to the camp.
Yildiz heard the good news of Jesus for the first time at camp. Every evening, she called her father and said, “Dad, I want to belong to the Lord Jesus.”
“No way,” her father answered. But Yildiz kept calling, and finally her father reluctantly agreed. Yildiz was very happy. When she went home, she told everyone that following Jesus was the most important thing in her life. Pray that Yildiz will grow in her faith, even if others give her a hard time about it. Muslims in Turkey who become Christians often face persecution from their friends, relatives, teachers, and bosses. Pray that Asli’s parents will come to know Jesus, too.
2. Vietnam: A Letter from Dad
Rebecca and Samuel live in Vietnam, where the government controls all religious activities. Like dozens of other Christian children in Vietnam, they are separated from their father because he is in prison for his Christian activities. The children rarely see their father because the prison is far away from their home. Rachel and Samuel were thankful for this letter they received from their dad in prison:
My dear children, whom I long to see,
I write you some words today to open my heart to you. I wish you good health in God’s hands. I miss you very much. Dear daughter, be a good student. Study carefully literature, English, and math, three important subjects. Remember to teach your younger brother.
I say goodbye for now,
Rebecca and Samuel pray that their father will be able to come home soon.
3. Iran: Risky Questions
Marzieh and Maryam, Christian women in Iran, suffered under harsh prison conditions after their arrest for their faith in Jesus. Officials in Iran discussed whether Muslims who become Christians should be executed by the government. Police raided a house church, arrested the Christians, and took their Bibles. That’s the kind of thing Christians in Iran faced in 2009.
So why would anyone in Iran want to become a Christian?
A Muslim leader gave a speech at a public school in Iran. He said that the kids could write questions on pieces of paper. The students turned in 40 pages of questions. Many students asked questions about Christianity. The students said that their parents believed in the teachings of Jesus more than the teachings of Islam. Muslim kids in Iran want to know the truth, even when the truth is risky. Pray that they will find the truth in Jesus Christ.
4. Sudan: Meat for the Soul
“What does meat taste like?” asked 10-year-old Peter Diing Wol. Peter is an orphan in Sudan. A Christian from America visited the area where he lived. Peter saw the American eating beef jerky that she brought to Sudan with her. He had never eaten any meat, fruit, or vegetables. Peter and many other south Sudanese children lived on corn, rice, and other grains. Muslim attackers from the north destroyed food supplies, leaving many Christians very poor.
VOM and other groups have taken Bibles to the Christians in Sudan. Peter studied the Bible every day, even when he was hungry. The Bible was meat for his soul. “God began to show me in the Bible that Jesus is God’s son, just like I was my mother’s son,” said Peter. “One day, Jesus will come again and take us away from all this evil.” Peter wants to be a preacher someday. He began to teach preschool orphans about Jesus for practice.
Now Peter is a teenager. Christians have provided him and his orphan friends with meat to eat and a place to sleep. Peter has earned a scholarship to go to high school in Uganda, where he will study and prepare to become a pastor.
(Source: Make Way Partners)
5. Laos: Girls Stand Up to Police
Ban is a teenager in Laos. One day, a Christian man came to her village. He told everyone about Jesus. Ban wanted to belong to Jesus but did not know how. The man soon left.
In 2009, a group of Christians came to Ban’s village. They explained how people can come to Christ and follow him. Ban and five other girls accepted Christ into their hearts! They began to study the Bible and worship together.
Ban’s parents were angry. They did not want her to be a Christian. Many people in Laos worship false gods and spirits. Ban’s parents asked the police to stop their daughter from following Jesus. Two policemen and a group of other adults took the six Christian girls to a village hall and scolded them. They threatened to take the girls away from their parents or to put them in jail if they did not stop following Jesus.
The girls did not give up their faith. “We are sinners and we need Christ,” they said. “If we die, we die with faith in Christ and in his ways.” Ban is now living with a Christian friend. She does not know what will happen next in her life, but she trusts God.
6. Indonesia: Muslim Youth Leader Becomes Christian
Arief lives in Indonesia. He went to a Muslim school and learned to be a strong Muslim. Every Thursday, he taught others about the Quran at his mosque. (The Quran is the Muslim holy book, and a mosque is a building where Muslims worship.)
Arief’s mother became curious about the Bible after she saw Jesus in a dream. She and Arief began reading the Bible. After Arief finished Matthew, he started visiting a church. He decided to follow Jesus, and so did his mother! Arief’s stepfather was angry. He kicked Arief’s mother out of their home. He gave Arief and his five younger brothers and sisters a choice. They could stay or they could leave.
All the children chose to go with their mother. Now Arief reads the Bible every day and plays guitar and keyboard at a house church of 40 believers.
7. Iraq: An Eternal Home
Mary, Sarah, and Anna live in Iraq. Their parents used to be Muslims. Then one day, their dad, Ali, watched a DVD about Jesus with a Christian friend.
Ali didn’t really believe the teachings of Islam, even though he was a Muslim. He was glad to find out the truth about Jesus, and he decided to accept him as his Savior.
Since that time, Mary, Sarah, and Anna have had to move around a lot. Their grandfather kicked them out of his house after Ali became a Christian. They were kicked out of their next home after Ali shared Bibles with Muslims. Then the girls and their parents rented a house next to a mosque. When Muslims found out they were Christians, they surrounded the house. Some even stood on the roof. The owner of the house asked the family to leave.
The girls and their parents are happy that they will have an eternal home with Jesus in heaven someday, where no one will force them to move anymore.
8. China: Children “Forbidden to Believe”
Sixteen-year-old Shao Yuji helped plan and organize a summer youth camp for Christian kids in China in 2009. Chinese police raided the camp and arrested 28 kids, including Shao Yuji, and four adults. According to a witness, the police said, “It is forbidden for those under 18 to believe in Christianity.”
The police also took the kids’ cell phones, Bibles, and other belongings they brought to camp with them. They drove the Christians to the police station and beat up the youth. Then they let most of them go. But they kept the four adults and Shao Yuji for several days. For two of those days, they gave the Christians no food or water. Pray that the youth will remain strong in their faith and that the police will come to know Jesus.
9. Pakistan: Chased Away for Reading a Story
Nathan is a tenth-grader at a school in Pakistan. He helps lead a Sunday school class and youth group at his church.
One day, Nathan was reading a Christian pamphlet at school. The pamphlet told the story of Abraham and his son Isaac. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son in obedience to God. But God spared Isaac and blessed Abraham for his obedience.
A Muslim student saw the pamphlet. Muslims believe that Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son Ishmael instead of his son Isaac. The student and his Muslim friends were angry. They said that Nathan was insulting Islam by reading the pamphlet. (Islam is the religion of Muslims.)
The Muslims were so angry that Nathan and his family had to leave their home for their own safety and stay with Christian friends in another town. Other Christians in Pakistan have been treated the same way by radical Muslims.
10. Nigeria: Precious and Miracle
Nigeria has one of the highest rates of twins in the world. Precious and Miracle are two of those twins.
The twins have three brothers and a sister. In northern Nigeria, where their family lives, most of the people are Muslims. Christians suffer during attacks by Muslim rioters. The girls’ father died after an attack in 2006. Their mother could not care for all of her children after their father died.
Now the twins live at the Stephen Centre, a boarding school built by VOM in Nigeria. The school provides an education and a place to live for children whose families were left poor after Muslim attacks killed members of their family. “I have learned how to forgive and love others because God loves that,” said Precious, who is now 12. “His will for my life is for good and to give me a future and a hope.”
(To protect their identities, the names of some of the people on this site and some identifying details have been changed. Some of the quotes and stories have been edited and paraphrased from the original sources for clarity.)
This morning very early I was meditating on these words by Hudson Talyor when he was but a young teenager:
"Not many months after my conversion, having a leisure afternoon, I retired to my own chamber to spend it largely in communion with God. Well do I remember that occasion. How in the gladness of my heart I poured out my soul before God; and again and again confessing my grateful love to Him who had done everything for me—who had saved me when I had given up all hope and even desire for salvation—I besought Him to give me some work to do for Him, as an outlet for love and gratitude; some self-denying service, no matter what it might be, however trying or however trivial; something with which He would be pleased, and that I might do for Him who had done so much for me. Well do I remember, as in unreserved consecration I put myself, my life, my friends, my all, upon the altar, the deep solemnity that came over my soul with the assurance that my offering was accepted. The presence of God became unutterably real and blessed; and though but a child under sixteen, I remember stretching myself on the ground, and lying there silent before Him with unspeakable awe and unspeakable joy.
For what service I was accepted I knew not; but a deep consciousness that I was no longer my own took possession of me, which has never since been effaced. It has been a very practical consciousness. Two or three years later propositions of an unusually favorable nature were made to me with regard to medical study, on the condition of my becoming apprenticed to the medical man who was my friend and teacher. But I felt I dared not accept any binding engagement such as was suggested. I was not my own to give myself away; for I knew not when or how He whose alone I was, and for whose disposal I felt I must ever keep myself free, might call for service.
Within a few months of this time of consecration the impression was wrought into my soul that it was in China the Lord wanted me."
"Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom are all things." 1 Corinthians 8:6
Once it was the blessing, Now it is the Lord; Once it was the feeling, Now it is His Word; Once His gift I wanted, Now, the Giver own; Once I sought for healing, Now Himself alone.
All in all forever, Jesus will I sing; Everything in Jesus, And Jesus everything.
Once 'twas painful trying, Now 'tis perfect trust; Once a half salvation, Now the uttermost; Once 'twas ceaseless holding, Now He holds me fast; Once 'twas constant drifting, Now my anchor's cast.
Once 'twas busy planning, Now 'tis trustful prayer; Once 'twas anxious caring, Now He has the care; Once 'twas what I wanted, Now what Jesus says; Once 'twas constant asking, Now 'tis ceaseless praise.
Once it was my working, His it hence shall be; Once I tried to use Him, Now He uses me; Once the pow'r I wanted, Now the Mighty One; Once for self I labored, Now for Him alone.
Once I hoped in Jesus, Now I know He's mine; Once my lamps were dying, Now they brightly shine; Once for death I waited, Now His coming hail; And my hopes are anchored Safe within the veil.
Like a golden radiant medallion, the morning sun emerged from behind the sleepy horizon and slowly rose over vast flat Ukrainian fields that stretched as far as the eye could see. The dark, black soil lay freshly turned from recent plowing and harvesting of wheat.
A few hours earlier our small team of Ukrainians and Americans got into a bus from Kirovohrad and we were on our way to KYIV – the capital of Ukraine. As we sped towards our destination we could see from small bus windows a glimpse of this miraculous event that happens every day – Dawn. What a breathtaking sight! I tend to think that even angels wonder at it!
As the morning rays warmed the chilled October air and gladdened the Ukrainian landscape it brought to mind what God seemed to be doing in Ukraine; radiant waves of the Gospel Grace shine on the rich soil of many people’s hearts and there is a lingering sense of preparation and expectation of Precious Seed.
The soil is rich here, so much so that in World War II Hitler’s armies shipped train cars full of this black soil back to Germany. But to no avail – it is something that can’t be transported or stolen – only cared for.
I’ve now come to the end of this surprisingly blessed trip and it is as if all of Heaven traveled with us to the churches in 5 cities we visited. Traveling with me were 6 men from L’viv, Odesa, Kirovohrad, Cherkasy Dnepropetrovsk and Kyiv. There was of course the abundance of laughter, fellowship, the Word, & good Ukrainian food. The only thing that we had little of was sleep.
Every city we went to God brought young people to us that told us that they were called to the ministry and that wanted to study in Bible School. One of them was Volodiya.
As I exited the main train station in Kyiv having just arrived by plane from Bishkek, there was a surprise that awaited. Pastor Juha & Lasi from Finland were there with Albina & a young man with long hair. We greeted and talked about how we were to get to L’viv for the Ukrainian Conference. Turning to the young man that stood there I asked, “Як тебе звати?” He answered me in English; ”My name is Volodiya, you know me” he said smiling. “I do?” He did not look like anyone I had met before. “Yes”, he said “I’m from Truskavets, you knew me as a teen there” He was one of the young teens that came to our Bible Study p. Yura Hrodz led in the mid 90’s in Truskavets. Then 3 months ago he re-appeared in Kyiv as someone emerging from the wilderness and contacted p. Misha in L’viv. Hearing that we were to be in Kyiv he found us and was with us till we departed from Ukraine. “What are you doing here?” I asked, “Waiting for a church to start here” was the sum of his answer. He was invited to Kyiv for work and God began to work in his heart.
When we retreated to a nearby Pizzeria from the noisy bustling train station he went on to share with p. Juha and I that he was Greater Grace and that he had no church in Kyiv to go to. He was voicing what I’ve heard so many times already from the growing number that lives in Kyiv that consider themselves part of our church.
It was evident the heart cry from this young 23 year old and in many ways it was disturbing to hear. Everyday for the following 2 weeks his words stirred our hearts in prayer and petition to the Lord of the Harvest.
So we have started to plan and strategize.
Is it possible for a shepherd to sleep when he hears the bleating of a young lamb lost in the wilderness? How can we not do any thing? As Jesus had the necessity to go through Samaria so we have this necessity laid on us to preach in Kyiv and tend to the sheep there. When we kneel in prayer this young man appears to us as an angel from the Lord saying “Come on! Let’s do it”
Lord help us to help them. We cannot, we do not claim to know how – “Thou knowest, O Lord!”
Luk 10:21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.
We all felt the same way - it was if God had let us in on one of His multitudes of secret treasures. The 3 days we spent together in Bishkek with the church seemed to be a door that had been opened to God's Throne room.(Other guests attended from Almaty, Samarkand, Finland and Baltimore), The joy and tears, the conviction and release was incredible.
The pervading theme was the Love of God, and every session was blessed with the Presence of Christ Himself.
One testimony I'll never forget and that was from an older woman from the south of Kyrgyzstan who had found our conference. She told us how she had gotten saved and for 10 months she told no one for fear of persecution and rejection from her Muslim family. But as her aunt lay dying she could no longer be silent - she shared the Glorious Gospel with her and she found Christ hours before her death. In retaliation her family in a fit of rage beat her, hung her upside down by her ankles and broke her fingers. She was tortured and thrown out of the house. In Islam when someone in the family gets saved the whole family is cursed they believe. Now she was homeless in Bishkek. But God led her to the new family where we were able to comfort her and help her. Many people that find Christ are often beaten by their family members.
Each day began at 9 am and ended at sometime around 2am. Those of us that came from the States (p.Drew, p.Peter, P. Schaller and I) hadn't slept for 2 nights already & and when we got off the plane we went right into the meetings. God's quickening was amazing - I've never seen anything like it. We weren't even tired. At one point p.Schaller had preached for 5 hours; 3 messages and one rap session. Then we would go with all the men to the Turkish restaurant and had fellowship till late.
P. Emil and the church there have gotten the permission they needed to start building their new church in Bishkek. The fact that they got the permission was a miracle. So much so that one of those working on their approval decided to canvas the neighborhood to gather signatures against the church and their plans to build. But no one would sign the petition in that Muslim neighborhood because they knew the church and loved our people there.
God is doing something new and precious in Central Asia. P. Drew & I were able to visit the work p.Gani has begun in a poor village on the edge of Bishkek (photos to follow soon!)
I've added a slideshow of the time there. "even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight."
Technology has become the new "mode de vie" in the world we live in where individuals become more and more isolated in a intricate web of social networking and data tsunami's. Studies show that the quality of interpersonal relationships in families, friendships and marriages in the last 10 years has significantly plummeted. To the point where in some places as in Korea and England, programs have been initiated to teach children how to socially interact and how to have a conversation.
As I write this blog I'm on a speeding Bolt bus from Baltimore to NY fitted with a Wifi feed and power supply, wow, how we've progressed. In '92 we didn't have Wifi, Laptops, Email, nor Mobile Phones, not even fax machines; yet the work in Ukraine began. I remember buying a hand full of phone "zetons" and calling all of our people on one of the only payphones that worked in L'viv city; thus we began every trip to Ukraine from our base in Krakow, Poland. Today we send a tweet and we could gather a crowd in moments anywhere we are via geo-Tweeting.
"Digital spirituality" has become the "new snake in the garden" that lies and eventually robs man of a face to face relationship with God. Internet, mp3's, dvds and streaming "Church" allows people to avoid the healthy relationships that require accountability in Body life.
We've become a society, a culture that is so plugged-in to alternate identities & "2nd lives" that we've become un-plugged from those that are siting next to us and the cry of their hearts.
As I travel a small group from Samarkand is making their difficult way to Bishkek to see us FACE to FACE. It is costly for them in a country where the poor are getting poorer and borders are becoming more impenetrable. They are traveling 24 hours - a distance that in the US would be about 4 hours. They will be subject to long waits at the border, harassment, and confiscation of any "digital material" that is Bible related and when they arrive to Bishkek they will be sleep depraved; but nothing will match their joy to be together at the conference.
What privilege we've happened upon that we know such people. In Russian I like what they say "Это не телефонный разговор" - "This is a conversation not for the telephone". Face to face is priceless. A few hours together in the Word, in the Spirit, and in the Precious Body of Jesus Christ is incomparable to any price we pay. It is a gift - and it's something that can't get DELETED by accident.
I covet your prayers as I go with P. Schaller to Bishkek, Uzbekistan, & then I go to Ukraine for conferences in all 3 countries. Special thanks to my wife Gosia who usually stays behind in support and prayer. She's a treasure.
It didn't look to promising as two worried mechanics made their way to the plane engine. It was only minutes later that they, shaking their heads walked away from the plane we were all waiting to board. IcelandAir flight 343 would be grounded due to "technical issues" and we would be spending the night on this chilly island.
The inhabitants of this curious island of 300,000 people still speak "Islenska" claimed to be so close to what the Vikings spoke that Icelanders can read and understand the writings of Leif Erickson written centuries ago.
Beginning to pray I asked God what he had me here for on this stark island where the terrain reminded me of the lunar surface with tufts of grass and moss struggling to survive on it. The crystal icy water surging over black volcanic rock seemed to properly portray the environment of contrasts here where seafaring Vikings once lived as they plundered the coasts of Northern Europe.
With many sullen faces around suddenly it struck me it may not be very pleasant to talk to people about Christ here. I was about to escape to my hotel room when I saw a teenager reading a Bible and writing notes on a scrap of paper.
"is that a Bible? Are you a believer?" I asked. It was and as we began to talk about grace and the finished work I understood that this was a divinely ordained appointment. This teen was coming from Finland where God had met them and began a work in their life after months of straying "God sent you here" she said.
Sheep wander and can even be found in Iceland
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Helsinki, Finland: July 24-27 - Summer Conference with P.Schaller and the Finns - "Fruit that Remains"
After not having been in Finland for 16 years it was such a blessing to see so many still walking with God that I had known years before. Now they had children that were in their teens and you could see the determination in their eyes from the narrow way. We often found ourselves surrounded by these young people and youth raps would spontaneously start. The last night I was there I got together with 8 Finnish guys and had Finnish "Hornets" (chicken wings) - from 5.30pm to almost midnight we rapped about the call of God. Just being with these guys was one of the great highlights of my time there.
My last day in Finland I had the blessed opportunity to train up to Vaasa and visit P.Tero & Riitta with their church there. Vaasa is a city of 56,000 people and 18,000 of them are international university students. It was a great blessing to see P. Tero and Riitta ministering there.
Truly fruit that remains...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Saint Petersburg Russia July 20-23 with P.Schaller
A group of about 100 gathered together from Uzbekistan, Finland, Baltimore & Russia in Saint Petersburg for a summer conference titled: "All Things are now Ready" The three days we were there were packed with the word, fellowship, and lots of Russian. Every night was finished off in a small kitchen area in our youth hostel with a rap with 30 Russians chowing on everything from melons to caviar. We are truly blessed people that we can live this life.
I traveled 7 hours with 12 teens and Bible college students with p.Love crammed in a small mini-bus from Warsaw to L'viv Ukraine. There we had the best summer conference with the Ukrainians. P.Love preached on the riches of Grace and the pervasiveness of the anointing permeated us all. One thing I don't think we'll forget is the Youth hostel with the 3 Igors and the "Freeze Mob" evangelism we did in the center of L'viv with no practice at all - you can see it here: (http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1204557273577)
Thanks to P. Misha and all those that worked hard during the conference to make it an amazing event.
Enjoy the slide shows below - these are only some of the photos taken: (if you cannot see them click here: http://goye4th.blogspot.com/2009/07/delayed-but-determined-displaced-yet.html)
L'viv Summer Conference w/ P.Love:
FinnCon '09 - Shots here from Missions' Night and the Youth meetings
"Every golden era in human history proceeds from the devotion and righteous passion of some single individual. There are no bona fide mass movements; it just looks that way. There is always one man who knows God and knows where he is going." - Richard E. Day
After a fantastic Spring at the brook Cherith here in Baltimore and a life changing Convention; we are ready to goforth on eQuad. If you haven't gotten the messages from Convention check here.
Follow updates from our trip on Twitter or Facebook. There will also be updates here on the blog.
Here's my itinerary:
July 12 - Berlin
July 13 - Poland
July 14-18 - L'viv, Ukraine w/ P. Love & the Teens from Balto.
July 19-24 - Kharkov, Lughansk; Ukraine
July 24-27 - Tsymliansk, Russia - Conf with P. Misha Loginov
July 28-31 - Side trip to Yerevan, Armenia & possibly Tbilisi, Georgia
We gathered this weekend in an old castle with the Polish leaders and a few others for a get away conference in Lwówek Sląski. This little town is found in Southern Silesia (Sląsk)- a part of Poland that was German for many years until World War II.It is named Lwówek meaning "Little "Lwow (L'viv). It has been named so due to the fact that after the war many Poles and Ukrainians were forced to move there from Lwow in western Ukraine(or in Ukrainian L'viv").
The town sits neglected with many buildings and homes falling into ruin since the Germans left that area after the war.There is an atmosphere there of depression in contrary to its beautiful landscape with dense forests, forests that you'd often find in Germany.
Butthis weekend was a special event in that little oppressed town. Many of us gathered around the Word, prayer and fellowship with a lot of laughter. The Polish churches have a vision to reach Poland and raise up new pastors, missionaries and Bible Schools in the next few years.
One nearby town that we've done outreach in before is of special interest for us, Legnica. This town is one of the regional centers found in Silesia (Sląsk). P. Tomek in Wroclaw has had outreaches there and there are people there we've heard of that are waiting for a team to move there. Legnica is a type of Samaria I think and people daily gather there by a well that cannot supply water everlasting. Our prayer is that this year we'd see a team move there.
This summer in July a team of us are going to travel through Poland among other places. Please check out the blog on this subject and maybe you'd could join us for an awesome mission trip: http://euroquad.blogspot.com
Thank God for the steadfastness of the Poles and their ministry over the many years in Greater Grace. Keep them in your prayers. Check out their site in English: http://www.ggwo.pl
Enjoy the slideshow from P. Maciek Knechciak below of our time in Lwówek Sląski:
Joh 11:4 When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
In 1995 a group of our Bible School students from our school in L'viv began to minister in a hospital where people that succumbed to severe drug addiction came to recover physically, or in the case of some, they came to die due to the advanced stages of sickness because of drug abuse. That day 14 years ago turned out to be a divine appointment set in the Heavenlies for the glory of God.
3 patients lay there in there beds in terrible condition. 2 were to recover and become students in our school but the third, the nurse said he had been "released" meaning there was nothing more they could do for him. Vitya had only a 55 red cell blood count and weighed only 60 kilos. They gave him three days to live.
That day he found Christ when he met our students and after three days when he was to be dead he was one his feet recovering miraculously. Not long after that he became a Bible school student and graduated years later and moved back to his home town Volodymir-Volinsk (a city where statics show every 4th individual living in that city of 40,000 was addicted to some form of substance abuse).
While in bible School he was a quiet student but very faithful to the church and often brought many new people. 8 months ago Vitya started meetings with those people that he had been investing in Volodymir-Volinsk and today Vitya has a church of 30+ people. Many have responded to his testimony and gotten saved and he is a pastor for many in that small town.
What was a soul destined to die in a grungy Ukrainian hospital - a last stop for many drug addicts - was a soul Jesus raised up for His glory!
As our little team of four men traveled by car back from Volodymir the sun set over beautiful Ukrainian fields green with spring. Our hearts were full of joy and our spirit worshipped the God of Vitya. This is Greater Grace.
Never underestimate 3 things: the Seed, God's people, and time.
One by one we gathered on top of a hill overlooking the city of L'viv - Vysoki Zamok until there was a good crowd of us . Many in the city were just waking up this early Ukrainian Easter morning. We moved to a higher location to see the city better, and then we began to pray...
Today was Orthodox Easter, where most Western Ukrainians celebrate Easter. Jesus was in our midst as we had prayer, that led to fellowship then scripture reading and then prayer again.
As we prayed the Spirit brought these words back to my mind: "...And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. " Mat 28:7. Jesus already told his disciples this at the last supper. He had a plan to meet them where it all began, Galilee. After the trauma of the crucifixion and the terror and guilt that lay in the disciples' hearts - Jesus already had a plan after the fact of it all - He would meet them there where He called them in the beginning.
Whatever happens in our lives, at whatever level, He will always meet us at Galilee - the place where He called us by name to follow Him in Grace - where He made us fishers of men.
New people have begun to come finding the church on the internet. Vitya Rozumniy has come out ofthe hospital. His church is rejoicing with him as God rasied him from his sickness.
This week I go to Cherkassy, Odessa and then Volodymir-Volinsk. This weekend a group comes from Budapest to visit Tolik and the church in Uzhhorod.
Our time in Ukraine is winding up and our extended visit with the Ukrainian churches is coming to a close. Much has happened. Our mission of Grace here has been accomplished, thank you for your prayers.
Please join us for the summer camp we will have with P. Love and those that come from Baltimore July 15-18!
The bright spring sun beat down on the small group that gathered by the water in a secluded area away from the busy road in Limassol. Amir waded into the water with another brother where they proceeded to baptise 2 newly saved Iranian girls who were due to be deported from Cyprus back to Tehran. Amir, a young believer leading a Bible study for Iranians has only been saved a couple years. The Lord has brought his path into ours and we spent much time in fellowship together. He as well as many other Iranians and other newly saved muslims and Greeks on the island dream to attend a Bible School in Cyprus and be a part of a word of grace fellowship.
A few days earlier we traveled up to Lefkosia - the capital, a city divided in half into a Greek and Turkish side. It reminded me of the old Berlin Wall in the 80's. We visited both sides of the city and made contacts there. It would be great to have a two-pronged ministry in Lefkosia for the Greeks as well as the Turks.
This past week and a half has been a time from the Lord seated at His Table. George and Lula Petrides have been tremendous hosts of our visit and we are so thankful to them as well as David & Angela Morris, Angelos & Olvia. During this short time many many doors have opened up and we have been impressed in our spirit that we are to return here for a longer period to minister.
"If thou knew the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him...". I was thinking of these words this past week - Jesus met people at the place of their need and bondages, with an offer of Living Water, that they would never thirst again.
His statement to the woman at that well peeled back the layers of sight and penetrated her spirit - To know the gift of Grace and who it is that speaks to us leads us to ask of Him what He desires to give freely. Otherwise we ask amiss in James 4.3 - amiss in the original is "kakos" or to ask according to the old sin nature.
He gives greater grace - "μείζονα δὲ δίδωσι χάριν" - ask of Me... let's ask boldly for Cyprus
Enjoy the slideshow of our trip below or click here: http://picasaweb.google.com/goye4th/CyrpusMar09?authkey=Gv1sRgCPLD26-1icW2igE&feat=directlink
The excruciating pain intensified from the torture as the Iraqi Republican Guard strapped Zuhair, a Chaldean Iraqi, upside down to a large spinning fan suspended from the ceiling. Already his father, wife and son were executed and he was sure he'd be expiring soon. The flogging began from a board with nails attached on the end. The torture ended when the nails pierced his lower back and damaged his discs. Lowering him down to the floor he was told he was free to go. Go where? he thought. After 2.5 years in an underground dungeon? He was a hotel owner of the only 5 star hotel in Bagdad, that later became Sadam's headquaters. Fleeing Iraq he found his way to Jordan and then on to Cyprus where he made his home and met Jesus Christ!
Today on outreach we met Iranians, Syrians, Russians and of course Greek Cypriots. What an awesome opportunity here in Limassol, Cyprus. Thank you for your prayers! God bless you! P.Chris and Gosia
Act 13:4-6 So they, being sent forth by the Holy Spirit ... sailed to Cyprus ... they preached the word of God ... and [when] they had gone through the isle unto Paphos ...
Tonight we depart for Cyprus after an incredible time at Eurocon in Budapest. We will be there for at least 9 days. Please pray as we will travel around the island, meeting our contacts, making new ones and sharing the Gospel. Will update this blog as we can with photos and videos.
(Photo of P. George Petrides' church in Limassol, Cyprus)
"Jesus riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. " Jn 13:4-5
Greetings! I am writing to you from my hotel room in Krakow as we prep to go to Budapest tomorrow.
My personal meditation has been on these chapters the last couple weeks - Jn 13-17 - the last moments Jesus has with his disciples at the last supper before he would be betrayed and delivered up to be crucified.During these last hours, Jesus aware of Judas' intent to betray him, does just the opposite of what the average man would do upon hearing he would be betrayed unto death; he takes a towel and a basin and in an act of ultimate vulnerability ministers to those whom he has loved unto the end.
Jesus could do so because of what was written immediately before hand in verse 3 - "the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God". Jesus knew his origin, direction and destiny affording him to be focused on the more important issue at hand, is disciples' need to be ministered to and their understanding of critical truths that we see Him speak of in the following chapters.
These past few months in Ukraine have been months with a towel and a basin - much is happening here.
We have a precious new church in Volodimyr Volinsk with a Towel & Basin ministry. I will upload photos and more information soon after EuroCon.
Tomorrow Gosia and I drive to Budapest to meet the saints! We are very excited and looking forward to the fellowship and strengthening by the Towel and Basin. We will see many of you soon.
Please enjoy this video below of a recent trip I took to Odessa just a couple weeks ago.
THEREFORE, SINCE we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). - Rom 5:1
But none of these things move me; neither do I esteem my life dear to myself, if only I may finish my course with joy and the ministry which I have obtained from [which was entrusted to me by] the Lord Jesus, faithfully to attest to the good news (Gospel) of God's grace (His unmerited favor, spiritual blessing, and mercy). - Act 20:24
Walking down the hallway of the hospital, we could sense the heaviness of heart you often find in Ukrainian hospitals. Turning the corner we saw Pan Petro's room and upon opening the door we found a cramped room full of people each huddled around one of the 5 beds in the hospital room. Laying on one of the cot like bedswas Oksana's father, Petro; an 80 year old man that had recently received Christ as his Savior. Just days later he had a massive heart attack that he would never recover from.
The room hushed from the nervous chatter of relatives as p.Mihailyo & Ibowed our heads and prayed aloud over this dear man whose face testified of a man who had peace with God. After we prayed we had the attention of everyone in the little room and proceeded to speak to everyone of Petro's peace that he with God.
This hospital room was a room where many would come and succumb to their heart attack. It was a desperate place where little hope resided. A man next to Petro layed in his bed and listened attentively to the Gospel. His eyes were rounded with shadows of fear. He later received Christ as well as others in that roomthat day.
Pan Petro lay asleep resting like a young baby sound asleep unaware of the testimony of his peaceful countenance he had to all in the room. A few days later the Lord took him home to Himself.
As I write I am on an express train from L'viv to Kyiv where we'll meet many of our people today and have fellowship. Tomorrow I'll train to Cherkassy to do a service with our church there. The scenery outside my window is like a rapidly moving film of snowy fields and sleepy farm homes. All seems calm yet in the hearts of many Ukrainians lays apprehension and unrest. With the pervading pessimism of the looming crisis already in Ukraine, many people haveshrunk back to a protectionist way of thinking.With predictions of a 40% unemployment rate in the next 2 years, many Ukrainians today cannot withdraw their savings from their banks.
Yet many in our churches in Ukraine have not been overcome with the global trend of fear and loss of vision. Actually it's funny for them and they are able to maintain a free spirit as David had in Ps 51because of the love of God dwelling deep in their hearts and an easy yoke.
These past 3 weeks in our Bible School have been very rich in the Word and we've been feasting on Chapter 4 of the Ephesians class by Pastor Stevens. Our choice is not vanity of mind but a renewing of the spirit of our mind in the Word of God as we put on the new man moment by moment.
It's such a joy and privilege to be among these precious Ukrainians. What is precious - it is Christ Himself that walks among them, on their streets, visits their small apartments and communes with them at their tables drinking their tea and eating their Borsche soup. The Word is alive in us, and there is so much gladness of heart to be here these days. Thank you Jesus that we may walk with you here and bear forth the Words of this Life...
"God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore." - 1 Kings 4.29
What God gave to Solomon was not only understanding and wisdom but largeness of heart. This heart was characterized by breadth and depth that we see described in Isaiah 60.5 "Then you shall see and be radiant, and your heart shall thrill and tremble with joy [at the glorious deliverance] and be enlarged; because the abundant wealth of the Sea shall be turned to you". The expansion of heart came from a revelation of the love of God shed abroad in Solomon's heart - Romans 5.5. The love of God always expands our heart so that we welcome more people into our personal sphere of fellowship - this is evangelism and inreach isn't it? Largeness of heart fears no risk taken when we love unconditionally. That way we do what we do with a whole heart; "heartily" with "singleness of heart" - Col 3.23. Otherwise it will be inevitable that we live at the tree of knowledge - good knowledge and bad information about situations or people or our ministry from the Lord. Knowledge never sets people free; good or bad knowledge, because the roots of the "tree of information" are deep in a Satanic philosophy and mindset. In largeness of heart there is a treasure house, we see this in Luke 6.45. In this treasure house in our heart there are people, places, memories, vision, plans, determinations, and Jesus Himself - Eph 3.17 that tabernacles there with us by faith.
It's been only one week here in Ukraine and the preciousness of the fellowship and the Word has been so present among us all here. Gosia joins me most likely in a couple weeks. Thank you for your prayers, please continue to hold the ropes for us.
A few upcoming events this month:
February Outreaches to Kyiv
Feb 27-March 1 - Preach & Teach Seminar - Odessa - with P. Mikhail, Kim Shibley, Cliff Olson, Micah Stambo from Romania & P. Julian Timothe and P.Mark Knowles from Moldova.
March 17-21 - EuroCon 2009
March 23-April 6 - Cyprus Mission Trip
Enjoy some of the recent photos taken from this week :
An on going theme in my heart since October has been this precious thought on the anointing of Christ and it's power in the believer's life. David understood the importance of the anointing and the consequences of functioning without an anointing. David before he was king of Israel was anointed 3 times: First, by Samuel at Bethlehem (1 Sam. 16:13). Second, by the men of Judah (2 Sam. 2:4). Third, by the elders of Israel (2 Sam. 5:3). This meant for David a sacred consecration to be king though he was not yet king; God anoints and the anointing abides way before there is a visible recognition before people. The anointing for David also meant 2 other things; enabling for the call before him to be king and the enduing of the authority and power to carry out his task as a king after God's own heart. Right after the first anointing by Samuel, 1 Sam 17, David slays the giant Goliath.
The child of God is anointed in his seating with Christ the Anointed One (Lk 4.18; 1 Jn 2.20,27), but unless that anointing is manifested as it was in Mat 26.7 there is no fragrance, no power, no ministry, and no blessing from our lives. For that to happen the vessel must be broken, the believer's life, as in the calling of Paul the apostle in Acts 26.16-18, must be poured out before the Lord Himself. The anointing is what breaks the yoke of bondage - Isaiah 10:27, it is not sin or life or anything else that breaks a man or a nation - only the precious anointing of the Spirit of Christ that breaks the slavery to sin and the flesh. That is why the vessel must be; it must be broken - 2 Cor 4.7 - that the priceless life of the Savior may be a fragrance to all in the room around us. If the anointing is not released moment by moment in our ministry than the giant Goliath is not slain and God's people will remain in captivity.
To function without an anointing in the work of God is certain destruction. We experience the anointing and manifest it when we are rightly aligned to the Anointed One Himself - Ps 133. That alignment and submission comes only by understanding the words in Jn 19 - "It is finished". To that measure we kneel at the cross, lose our soul-life Mat 16.25, and exchange our life for His; is the measure we walk in the sweet fragrance of grace and the yoke is broken off the neck of God's people. That's what missions is in short; walking in His Anointing - Act 10:38 Ampl. "...God anointed and consecrated Jesus of Nazareth with the [Holy] Spirit and with strength and ability and power; how He went about doing good and, in particular, curing all who were harassed and oppressed by [the power of] the devil, for God was with Him."
Here I am posting a worship song by Klaus Kuchn & Kari Jobe that has ministered to me much in recent days. May it bless you as it does me.
Here is a video of a recent trip we took, 14 bible college men, 2400 miles, 3 states, 5 days 35 hours of driving. preaching, door knocking, preaching, prayer, outreach, fun, food, fellowship. Wow, what more can be said...
* Center of population:Two-thirds of the world's population -- more than 3.2 billion people -- live in the 10/40 Window.
* Unreached and unevangelized: 95% of the people living in the 10/40 Window are unevangelized. Many have never heard the Gospel message even once. o Good news: There's a difference between unreached and unreachable. In 1989 there were only four known Christians living in Mongolia. That country now has an estimated 10,000 indigenous believers. Also, Christian television programming can now be received in many closed 10/40 Window nations such as Iran.
* Poverty: Eighty-five percent of those living in the 10/40 window are the poorest of the world's poor.
* World religions: Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism are centered within the 10/40 Window.
* Least evangelized cities: Half of the world's least evangelized cities are in this window.
Statistical data on unreached people groups / prayer points:
The statistics of the numbers of non-Christians can be staggering
* 865 million unreached Muslims or Islamic followers in 3330 cultural sub-groupings * 550 million unreached Hindus in 1660 cultural sub-groups * 150 million unreached Chinese in 830 groups * 275 million unreached Buddhists in 900 groups * 2550 unreached tribal groups (which are mainly animistic) with a total population of 140 million * Forming a smaller -- though important -- unreached group are the 17 million Jews scattered across 134 countries * Good news: The most rapid Christian expansion ever is in China where there are 10,000 new Christian converts every day.
Bible translation availability
* At least some part of Scripture has been translated into 2,212 of the world's 6,500 languages o 366 languages have the entire Bible o 928 other languages have the New Testament o Individual books (such as the Gospel of John) are available in 918 additional languages * 80 percent of the world's people have access to at least some portion of the Bible in a language they can understand.
My House is Full There is peace and contentment in my Father's house today, Lots of food on His table and no one turned away. There is singing and laughter as the hours pass by, But a hush calms the singing as the Father sadly cries,
My house is full, but my field is empty, Who will go and work for Me today. It seems my children want to stay around my table, But no one wants to work my fields, No one wants to work my fields.
Push away from the table. Look out through the windowpane, Just beyond the house of plenty Lies a field of golden grain. And it's ripe unto harvest, But the reapers, where are they? In the house, Oh, can't the children hear the Father sadly say,
My house is full, but my field is empty, Who will go and work for Me today. It seems my children want to stay around my table, But no one wants to work my fields, No one wants to work my fields.