Monday, June 28, 2010

WORD OF THE DAY - Monday 28 June 2010

And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17 NKJV)

Most Kind and Loving God, our Dear Heavenly Father ~ Thank you for the vitalizing gift of life on this new day. We are astonished that a great door is open for us to enter that will give access to the source of eternal life. We are humbled when we consider that Jesus Christ already paid the high price for our free gift of eternal life. Give us wisdom as we patiently live in this world and look forward to receiving our eternal reward. Help those who have not yet accepted this beautiful invitation of Christ to do so without delay by having faith in Him and obeying the Gospel. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

The place where the church meets is situated in the center of a large city park. One should never miss an opportunity to have some fun on the playground equipment.

Following our worship, we once again enjoyed the hospitality of the members by sharing a little food and getting better acquainted.

We had some people missing, but we had a visitor to our service. Valentina had previously visited once before when we were in America. We have an appointment with her for an individual Bible study this week.

Yesterday we decided that since we didn't even have water for flushing as we were getting up and getting ready for worship service, that we would walk the block to McDonald's and take advantage of their 06.00 opening time for breakfast. Just as we were getting ready to leave we heard the sound of water coming up the pipes. But, it was too dirty to use, nevertheless we filled some buckets and the tub just in case we needed water when we got back home. When we came back later in the afternoon, we discovered that we have nice clear running water again! The maintenance crew got their work completed. We are thankful to God for water! Isn't it pitiful the way most of us just take it for granted most of the time.

These two-toned crows behave and sound very much like their one-color counterparts in North America. Did we have two-toned crows in Minnesota? Maybe someone can refresh my memory.

We saw on the news last night that former Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas died yesterday. We remembered how we returned from Ukraine in 2000 and there was a message from him on our answering machine inviting me to come and work as a missionary in Lithuania and guaranteed that we would not have the kind of problems we had in Magadan. After we left Magadan in February 2000 following a long period of being detained and going through a trial, we applied for and received a new visa to return to our work in Magadan. We took a trip to Ukraine while we prepared for our next work in Russia's Far East. While we were in Ukraine, the elders of the North Atlanta got in touch with us and told us that our visas to Russia had been revoked with no explanation. We returned to America and North Atlanta suggested that we go to Almaty, Kazakhstan since they were just getting involved with a mission work there. We applied for and received visas to Kazakhstan. However, when we arrived at the airport with all our stuff to live for 5 years, we were denied entry with no explanation. We had to return to the States and start all over again. We lived in one of those extended stay motels while trying to find a place for our next work. After much prayer and consultation with North Atlanta, our sponsoring church at that time, we decided that since we had just been in Ukraine, why not go there and help begin a church in a city where there was no previous mission work. We got visas, but then when we arrived at the airport in Kiev, we were also denied entry to Ukraine with no explanation. Galina was not actually denied, but we are together. We began praying and I started sending out letters to countries that we felt like would have a substantial Russian speaking population and where the Churches of Christ had little impact. Some Russian speaking people in Argentina suggested that we come there as well as Canada and New York City/New Jersey area. And then, this gentleman in has place of authority at the time, made that nice call. However, at the time we heard the message, we had suffered the agony of being denied entry into two countries - one to Kazakhstan and even Ukraine refused us to enter the country. We were never told, but deduced that this was due to Russia's revoking our visas. So, we prayed and decided that since we had no visible support for work in Lithuania, we would take jobs in America while we continued to pray for entry back to Russia. However, that did not come for me until 6 years later. During those 6 years of being denied a visa to Russia, Galina was able to make four trips out to Magadan to encourage the church. Also, while preaching for the church in Cedar Key, Florida from August 2001 until September 2008, I regularly preached sermons to the church in Magadan over the telephone and they had their phone hooked up to speakers. It was a crude, but effective means of staying in touch so they would not lose the momentum that had been developed during the times we were living there. Galina stood in one room of our house while I stood in another room and she interpreted while I preached. We are very thankful for the many people who have helped us achieve some of our evangelism goals, and that includes this official who stuck his neck out to invite us to his country. He is the same person who helped modern Lithuania gain their independence from the Former Soviet Union. We also have the highest gratitude to the modern country of Russia for issuing us religious worker visas for 3 consecutive terms. Hopefully, you didn't get too bored with this little history lesson of part of our mission activities. I am always thankful and amazed that God has people in high places around the world. Thanks for your prayers.

WORD OF THE DAY - Sunday 27 June 2010

Blessed are the people of whom this is true; blessed are the people whose God is the LORD. (Psalm 144:15 NIV)

Блажен народ, у которого это есть. Блажен народ, у которого Господь есть Бог. (Псалтирь 144:15 - 143-15 Russian)

Блаженний народ, що йому так ведеться, блаженний народ, що Господь йому Бог! (Псалми 144:15 Ukrainian)

O LORD our God, Dear Heavenly Father ~ Thank you for this new Lord’s Day and the joyful privilege to assemble with other Christians to celebrate our faith in Jesus Christ our Lord. Bless the leaders of all nations with wisdom to search your ways and commit themselves to leading their people in the superior way that is revealed in your inspired word. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Yesterday, thanks to having a young child under our guidance and care, we learned a little more about what some families in Nikolaev do for entertainment. They have the option of going to a very nice movie theater in the City Center - a modern shopping and entertainment mall complex replete with escalators up to the 4th floor. We have been working here for over a year sowing seeds of the Gospel and had only been in this building once right after we arrived. We walked quickly through that time not even noticing the theater, because all the shops had such high prices on things like clothing and other basic stuff. We prefer to shop where the mainstream live, work and shop. But, it is enlightening to know that all this pizzazz is right here in Nikolaev only a 20 minute walk from our apartment. Three free movie tickets – courtesy of McDonalds, helped us learn a little more about the local culture. Now we know what else we are up against in reaching families for Jesus Christ. Thank you for your prayers as we prepare for today’s worship service.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

WORD OF THE DAY - Saturday 26 June 2010

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he would later receive as an inheritance, and he went out, not knowing where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8)

Our Dear Father in Heaven ~ Thank you for the precious and mysterious gift of life that emanates from your life that exists forever and ever. Give us stronger faith like that of your servant Abraham as we learn more about Jesus your only Son and become obedient to his perfect example and teaching. Help those who are flirting with witchcraft, sorcery and other ancient forms of disobedience to repent while they have time and accept the rule of Jesus Christ as their Master in all things. As Abraham had to leave such a culture behind, give us wisdom as we consider that Christ is the new and only way for all people today. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Верою Авраам повиновался призванию идти в страну, которую имел получить в наследие, и пошел, не зная, куда идет. (К Евреям 11:8 Russian)

Вірою Авраам, покликаний на місце, яке мав прийняти в спадщину, послухався та й пішов, не відаючи, куди йде. (Евреи 11:8 Ukrainian)

Photos: On our last day in Slavyansk, Galina's mama went out in the garden about 05.00 in the morning and chose us the best raspberries for our last day of feasting from her abundant crop. She presented them to me as I was doing my morning Bible reading and study.
Sonya has one last day to help take care of the animals. I think they are missing her little talks and petting.
Our train didn't leave Donetsk until 10.30 Thursday night, which gave some time to explore the facility.
In one of the many Ukrainian villages, some farmers flock of geese getting fattened up on the byway alongside the long rail line on the way to Kherson.
A typical farming community that we passed on the beautiful ride from Donetsk back to Nikolaev
Our train stops briefly in Apostolov, a small Ukrainian city named in honor of one of the apostles of our Lord. Could it have been the apostle Paul? He traveled far and wide proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Kherson there are archaeological excavations going on of ancient Greek ruins. There are also some old ruins of communities from the era of ancient Greece in and around Nikolaev. Today we have an appointment with Olamide our newest convert and we plan to review the many lessons that he has completed even during the time of his final exams at the Maritime University.

WORD OF THE DAY - Friday 25 June 2010

Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. (Psalm 127:3-4

Almighty God, our Dear Heavenly Father ~ Thank you for the exhilarating gift of life on this new day. Give us wisdom as we contemplate on the amazing gift of children to our homes. Help Christians to realize more completely the extreme benefit of bringing up children in their own good examples as imitators of Christ. Bless all families with love for one another. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

WORD OF THE DAY - 24 June 2010

If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O LORD, who could stand! But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. (Psalm 130:3-4)

Most Kind and Holy God, our Dear Heavenly Father ~ Thank you for the splendor of life on this new day that arrives with new opportunities to make a fresh beginning. Give us wisdom as we strive to obey Christ so that we will be able to sincerely forgive others as you forgive us. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Photo 1:After sending and receiving our e-mail at a Wi-Fi hotspot at the Central Post Office in the center of Slavyansk, we made the usual 30 minute walk back to the outlying village in the shadow of the almost defunct insulator factory in a record 50 minutes. If there weren't ice-cream stops along the way on this hot day, it could have been a little quicker.

Photo 2: At the end of a long day of going to town, gardening, helping feed rabbits, chickens, dogs and cats, it is time to get in a little reading before going to bed. What a wonderful blessing from God, to live long enough to spend time with your great-grandchildren. This is Sonya's first time to be with Babushka Elena in 5 years. It has been a grand re-union is helping to heal Elena's grief. Today we will spend some time gathering berries to be used in making preserves for the long winter. We will not likely have time to do any e-mailing, but will give this last day to helping Elena with the garden and other needs. Later today we catch a ride (yet to be determined) to the train station in Donetsk. Then we ride the long trip down to Kherson where we will arrive, God willing, tomorrow around 1.00 PM. We will then have a taxi to take us 'home' to Nikolaev. Yesterday while we were walking down the street in Slavyansk, we had a call from a young man in Nikolaev who wants to study English with us using the Easy to Read Bible course from World English Institute. It pays to inform people about our offers, and then watch God bless efforts to plant the Gospel seeds. Since we have been here this week, we received an answer to our prayers also when we got a wonderful e-mail message from Dick Ady, the founder and President of WEI suggesting that I contact Tom Langley who heads up their short-term mission teams. Tom and I are now in ‘conversation’ about the possibility of a 4 weeks course in the summer of 2011 with teams of teachers coming from the USA to teach English and at the same time introduce people to God’s wonderful plan of salvation. Thank you for your prayers for the new student Pavel and other people here that we are teaching about God's amazing grace in providing us the perfect Savior and Lord.

WORD OF THE DAY - 23 June 2010

The Ukrainian countryside between Donetsk and Slavyansk. So we may say with boldness, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me. (Hebrews 13:6)

Our Dear Heavenly Father ~ Thank you for the precious gift of life on this day that brings fresh joy as we consider our relationship as your children by faith. Give us wisdom so that we will live each day without fear of failure because we know for certain that our basic needs are always covered. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Photo 1: The Ukrainian countryside between Donetsk and Slavyansk.
Photo 2: Just to give you some perspective of the geography of Ukraine, counting the time from Nikolaev to Kherson, and the 2 hour ride from Donetsk to Slavyansk, it took us a total of 15 hours. It still remains difficult for the average person to travel around the country. Many more people have automobiles these days, but they are still in the minority. I asked a taxi driver in Donetsk how long it takes to drive the distance to Nikolaev and he said it is about 8 hours of hard driving. Anyway, not much long after our arrival here on Tuesday morning, Sonya brought joy to her great-grandmother Elena by exploring her sumptuous garden with her and tasting some of several varieties of currants along with some raspberries and strawberries. I was able to find some time to pull some weeds in the large garden in between rain showers. Hopefully, we will have an opportunity to go into town and send and receive e-mail. Our cell phone connection that I sometimes use for Internet is not too good here. Thanks for the prayers of faith.

WORD OF THE DAY - 22 June 2010

Therefore God has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

Almighty God, Creator and Sustainer of life ~ Thank you for the new day that reminds us again of the awesomeness of your power that exists independent of the sphere of our created world. Help us to overcome the earthly tendency to be unduly proud of ourselves as if we created ourselves. Give us a true spirit of humility as we imitate our blessed Lord Jesus Christ in whom we trust for eternal life. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

We are riding the Ukrainian railroad again to go check on Galina's mother who is grieving following the death of Galina's papa. Nikolai Tkhor agreed to teach the Wednesday night Bible class. Monday afternoon, we caught a taxi to the nearby city of Kherson to catch the train to Donetsk since there is no direct train there from Nikolaev. It was a little over an hour's ride from our apartment to the station in Kherson. As usual it seems, the train we were catching was on the track that requires you to cross over the tracks with your luggage in tow. Elena is normally a very positive person, but now finds it difficult to get up each day and face things alone. She is not a Christian but lately speaks of some type belief in God. I hope once again to have a chance to reach her heart with the Gospel. We plan to be back in Nikolaev on Friday of this week.

Monday, June 21, 2010

WORD OF THE DAY - Monday 21 June 2010 from Nikolaev, Ukraine

Following the worship service, it was a beautiful day in Nikolaev. We took Olamide to have lunch with us and catch up on his status as a student here at the Maritime Institute. Thank you for remembering this work in your prayers as we make new plans to reach more souls here in this city. This week we are putting out more advertisements for our English classes using the WEI course material. There is still much interest in the English language around the world and we must take advantage of that while we can. We teach English using the Bible as a text.

We only had seven worshippers yesterday, but those present worshipped God in spirit and in truth. These new Christians continue to amaze and encourage us by their devotion to Christ and the church for which He died.

Galina receives a little help in preparing the Lord's Supper before the worship.

So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. (Acts 12:5 NIV)

Итак Петра стерегли в темнице, между тем церковь прилежно молилась о нем Богу. (Деяния 12:5 Russian)

Отож, у в'язниці Петра стерегли, а Церква ревно молилася Богові за нього. (Деяния 12:5 Ukrainian)

O LORD, our One and Only True and Living God ~ Thank you for this new day that arrives with ever increasing blessings as we place our hope and trust in Christ for flawless leadership. Arouse within the church a renewed determination to take the gospel to the teeming cities of Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, South America and the populated island nations. Give leaders of churches the burning desire to train volunteer evangelists with strong Bible knowledge and effective language skills. Dear Father, as countless people are dying without hope of salvation, please awaken your church from its slumber and propel us into a great revival of world evangelism even in this current generation. Defeat us in whatever we are presently doing that takes our focus away from saving souls. In Jesus name we fervently pray acknowledging your eternal will in all matters, Amen.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

WORD OF THE DAY - Sunday 20 June 2010 from Nikolaev, Ukraine

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV)

Итак, подражайте Богу, как чада возлюбленные, и живите в любви, как и Христос возлюбил нас и предал Себя за нас в приношение и жертву Богу, в благоухание приятное. (К Ефесянам 5:1-2 Russian)
так, подражайте Богу, как чада возлюбленные, и живите в любви, как и Христос возлюбил нас и предал Себя за нас в приношение и жертву Богу, в благоухание приятное. (К Ефесянам 5:1-2 Russian)

Most Kind and Holy God, our Dear Heavenly Father ~ Thank you for this new Lord’s Day and the grand privilege to assemble with other believers of the same precious faith. Give us wisdom as we strive to reach a new level of discipleship by imitating your love in our everyday affairs. Help us to give ourselves in your service not only when it is convenient. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Yesterday morning Galina waved to us from our 4th floor apartment as we headed out for a little shopping trip and a stop at the Post Office.

Walking toward the church meeting place yesterday afternoon, eating semichky (sun-flower seeds) while discussing plans to clean up and make preparations for worship tomorrow. Sonya asked, "Babushka, what is Dedushka going to be doing?"

Nothing like a little team-work to get our worship room prepared for Sunday meeting.

Alyona is one of the managers at the local McDonald's that is one if not the only place that caters to families. We have had many good discussions with her about the Lord, and she wants to study English with us and to attend services. Her busy hours along with a husband and son to look after always keep her too occupied. She promised us yesterday that she is getting a better job soon and will have time to come to our meetings. Pray that our friend who always greets us with a big smile and hug will come to know God's love.

We took a stroll down Sovietskaya Street which is closed to automobile traffic. Saturday was a festive day with many different events taking place in Nikolaev.

One of the events of the day Saturday was the grand opening of a motor sport race. This was the 8th year for this big Nikolaev event. Driving teams were present from different cities in Ukraine, Turkey, Belarus and Moldova. Several winning drivers of other races were on hand to greet the large crowd of people. We didn't know about this until we heard the noise of the engines as they roared off from the start. That was not an actual start, but something of an event to get things started for the real race today. Somehow, they like to do a lot of these things on Sunday all over the world. We sincerely appreciate your prayers as we continue our work of spreading the Gospel here in southern Ukraine.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

WORD OF THE DAY - Saturday 19 June 2010

Do not trust in extortion or take pride in stolen goods; though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them. (Psalm 62:10 NIV)

Не надейтесь на грабительство и не тщеславьтесь хищением; когда богатство умножается, не прилагайте [к нему] сердца. (Псалтирь 62:10 {61-11} Russian)

Не надійтесь на утиск, і не пишайтесь грабунком; як багатство росте, не прикладайте свого серця до нього! (Псалми 62:10 {62-11} Ukrainian Bible)

Dear God, our Heavenly Father ~ Thank you for the sparkling gift of life on this new day the brims over with your lavish gifts. Give us wisdom so that we will not be tempted to equate the value of our lives or those of others with the size our balance sheets. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

We had an accidental (I don't think so!) meeting with our brother Nikolai Tkhor at the train station yesterday. He was escorting our sister in Christ Nataliya Sekerina, who is from Donetsk and was visiting her daughter in nearby Kherson. We already "knew" Nataliya through her great reputation and by e-mail. She told how she and some others prayed that someone would start a Church of Christ in Nikolaev so that our new brother Nikolai could come to Christ and have a church to be involved with. We told her how we had been praying for God's guidance in choosing a place to work in Ukraine and how it was suggested for us to come here by some Christians at the Obolon church in Kiev. Don't forget to pray and be prepared to act on God's answers. Vlad, one of our previous WEI English students called us and wanted to make an appointment to resume his studies on the 29th. God always provides the challenges and opportunities to share our faith.

After the train station, we rode a bus back toward the center of town and had time to chat a while with our dear Nataliya. We got off at the large Kolos market area and went shopping for some walking shoes for Galina. She didn't find what she was looking for, but we loaded up on some fresh fruits - cherries, raspberries, strawberries and chernika (similar to blueberries but darker and more tart - yummy) We also bought some fresh vegetables and later enjoyed the fruit of Galina's cooking a pot of borsch.

At the end of a long day, we finally kept a promise to take Sonya to a very nice park situated next to our apartment building. It is on some land set aside by the city and is kept up very nice with some security measures in place and lots of families make use of it. We finally ran out of gas chasing her up the gangplank to the deck of the mighty schooner - the Nikolaev.

Friday, June 18, 2010

WORD OF THE DAY - Friday 18 June 2010

And from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 1:5-6 ESV)

и от Иисуса Христа, Который есть свидетель верный, первенец из мертвых и владыка царей земных. Ему, возлюбившему нас и омывшему нас от грехов наших Кровию Своею и соделавшему нас царями и священниками Богу и Отцу Своему, слава и держава во веки веков, аминь. (Откровение 1:5-6 Russian)

та від Ісуса Христа, а Він Свідок вірний, Первенець з мертвих і Владика земних царів. Йому, що нас полюбив і кров'ю Своєю обмив нас від наших гріхів, що вчинив нас царями, священиками Богові й Отцеві Своєму, Тому слава та сила на вічні віки! Амінь. (Откровение 1:5-6 Ukrainian)

Our Dear Heavenly Father ~ Thank you for the outstanding blessings that greet us on this new day that sparkles with more certain evidence of your presence in our human affairs. Help us to grasp the magnitude of the extreme value of each person as we consider that our King Emmanuel, who is higher in authority than any earthly king or ruler, shed His blood so that we could experience cleansing from our sinfulness. Give us wisdom and courage as we labor to expand the borders of Christ’s kingdom – the glorious church, so that all people will have an opportunity to be saved. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

WORD OF THE DAY - Thursday 17 June 2010 from Nikolaev, Ukraine

Our Wednesday evening service included the faithful three of Nikolaev - Nikolai, Stepan and Luda. We have our work cut our for us as we make a fresh beginning to reach lost souls in this great city of Ukraine near the Black Sea. Your prayers are most appreciated!

We had a very good meeting with our brother Nikolai as he explained with joy how the group carried on while we were in Magadan. They had a few problems, but remained united in the bond of peace.

A brisk afternoon walk to our meeting with Nikolai Tkhor.

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of faith. (Galatians 6:10)

Итак, доколе есть время, будем делать добро всем, а наипаче своим по вере. (К Галатам 6:10 Russian)

Тож тому, поки маємо час, усім робімо добро, а найбільш одновірним!
(Галатяни 6:10 Ukrainian Bible)

O LORD God, our Most Kind and Benevolent Father in Heaven ~ Thank you for the very expensive gift of renewed life as we consider how much we receive from your fathomless grace on this new day. Give us wisdom as we encounter opportunities to give so that we will give freely to those in need without neglecting our dear brothers and sisters in the faith. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.