Monday, November 19, 2012

WORD OF THE DAY - Monday 19 November 2012 Nikolaev, Ukraine

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. (John 11:33 ESV)

Иисус, когда увидел ее плачущую и пришедших с нею Иудеев плачущих, Сам восскорбел духом и возмутился (От Иоанна 11:33 Russian)

Ісус був глибоко схвильований її горем, тим, як вона побивається і як плачуть юдеї, які прийшли разом з нею. (Йоан 11:33 Ukrainian ERV)

Dear God, our heavenly Father ~ we enter your gates with the deepest sense of devotion as we rejoice over the realization of another day under your merciful and watchful care. Give us more of a sense of sincere compassion like Christ our Lord, as we encounter the many injustices in this world where evil is running amok, and where so many people, speaking from their lofty pedestal of worldly wisdom, criticize our basic beliefs about life after death. Help us not to become jaded and unresponsive when we see hearts that are grieving over the departure of a loved one. Renew and strengthen our faith in the power of Christ over every enemy that challenges our joyful and positive expectations. We pray in the precious name of Jesus, Amen. 

Nine souls braved the cold wave that is currently engulfing this part of Ukraine. Elena could not stop congratulating us about our extension until February! Our two space heaters were no match for the freezing temperatures outside and about the same inside. The owners of the building where we meet decided they could not afford to heat the building this winter. So, it is up to each tenant to heat your own space. That is practically the way it has always been. We could at least feel a little warmth in those batteries, but now they are simply cold steel. They did winterize the windows for us in a way better than we usually do ourselves. We will now go shopping for one of the heaters like we have in Magadan. So far, the owners do not speak about charging any extra rent for the use of electricity. We hope that will remain through the winter. 
Speaking of Magadan, Russia – for almost a year, the church has been able to make the rent payments each month without help from Christians in America. Now, the owners of the building where we meet have once again hit the church with a 24% increase in rent. They are not at all certain what they will be able to do, but in our conversations with them, they tell about some possibility of moving to another space that will be more affordable. We join them in prayer as they do their best to work this out this challenge.
We have the opportunity now to begin this week here in Nikolaev and not back in Alabama - for that we continue to thank God. We are so very pleased at the responses from our various students and others that we work with each week. In some messages with Lesya at the University yesterday, we were able to solidify our schedule for this week. We also learned that Tatiana, our friend and head of that department is in the hospital with pneumonia. We hope to learn more details today. Thank you for your fervent and effective prayers regarding our service for the Lord in Ukraine. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

WORD OF THE DAY - Saturday 17 November 2012 from Nikolaev, Ukraine

 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. (Hebrews 12:12-13)

Итак укрепите опустившиеся руки и ослабевшие колени и ходите прямо ногами вашими, дабы хромлющее не совратилось, а лучше исправилось. (К Евреям 12:12-13 Russian)

Тому то опущені руки й коліна знеможені випростуйте, і чиніть прості стежки ногам вашим, щоб кульгаве не збочило, але краще виправилось. (Евреи 12:12-13 Ukrainian)

Almighty God, our glorious heavenly Father ~ thank you for this new day that pulses with fresh opportunities and challenges along with appropriate blessings that enable us to carry on each day in spite of external circumstances than often pull us down. Give us strength so that our walk and talk will reflect the presence of our precious Savior who is absolutely the Way that leads to eternal life. Help us to use our fresh energy with greater wisdom so that we always communicate the message of your love with clarity and love. We pray in the blessed name of Jesus our Lord, Amen.

Yesterday, I announced on Facebook – to anyone who is concerned about such matters, that we stopped by a café to have a cup of coffee and tea with some Блины blini (thin pancakes) as a way of celebrating the fact that we had received our passports that have the stamp reflecting our extending our stay in Ukraine. When we ordered our round-trip tickets in July, I chose the farthest date out as possible. That was 13 February 2013. If you don’t think God has been with us through all this time consuming and expensive process, just consider the date they stamped for our extension – 13 February 2013 which is the same date as our tickets!
Galina picked up a new calling from all the time we have spent at the police passport department. When new people arrive at the office, there is no one to tell new members of the confused herd which door they should go stand and wait. She volunteers her kindhearted help to all who asks and even those who may step out of their turn in line. We received our passports and though we were not finished taking care of all details, suddenly it was time for the workers to take their lunch break. They close the place up and run everyone outside in the cold. Of course after standing for long periods most people are scrambling to find a toilet. Even though it is a public building, there are toilets for the workers, but those who come as clients have to hold that urge of nature until later in the day, or get someone to take hold your place in line while you walk fast for a few blocks to the little pay toilet in the square.
We always have so much to rejoice about each day. We can now pay more attention to our daily tasks that go along with leading souls to Christ; as well as spiritually and numerically building up the local church; teaching English using the Bible and the well-written World English Institute lessons. In addition, we work each week as English language consultants at the University. We also conduct classes each week for young boys who are orphans in one way or the other, how to become adults of good character using the Bible. We also do our best to find time to help the little orphans who are in the house of Babies whenever the director makes a request. We could not do any single one of these things without the ever present help of God our Father, Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit and – all the very dear partners who support and encourage us in many ways. We intend to do our best to make the next period of almost 3 months as meaningful as possible as God gives us even more strength and wisdom to do his will. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

WORD OF THE DAY - Monday 12 November 2012 Nikolaev, Ukraine

 For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all made to drink of one Spirit. (Corinthians 12:13)

Ибо все мы одним Духом крестились в одно тело, Иудеи или Еллины, рабы или свободные, и все напоены одним Духом. (1-е Коринфянам 12:13 Russian)

Бо ми всі одним Духом охрищені в тіло одне, чи то юдеї, чи геллени, чи раби, чи то вільні, і всі ми напоєні Духом одним. (1 Коринтяни 12:13 Ukrainian)

O LORD, our dear God and heavenly Father ~ thank you for the brightness of your everlasting grace and mercy that greets us on this new day. Give us a minute speck of your vast wisdom so that we will properly understand the magnificence of the great congregation of believers around the world who by faith in Jesus Christ as your Son, have been immersed in water and the Spirit, signifying the unity of the singular Body of Christ. Grant us courage during these last days before Christ appears so that we will do our best to convince lost souls to repent and turn to the Savior, who alone died as a substitute offering for the sins of all people. We pray in the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Thirteen souls were present for worship service here in Nikolaev yesterday. This was warming to our hearts as our bodies are now starting to adjust to the cold. We also had another excellent Bible study with the boys yesterday prior to worship. After the worship service, the boys Vitalik, Dima and Zhenya quoted the verses they had memorized the past week. They love to come to our meetings and get along well with older people. Later in the afternoon, we took someone shopping for food since they had to use money to buy a coat and were hungry. We enjoyed our walk home going a little different route than usual. Now, we face another week of trying to squeeze in some teaching activities while preparing to return to the Donetsk region in order to receive the proper stamp in our Passports that proves we have the 90 day extension. Thank you for the prayers. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

WORD OF THE DAY - Sunday 04 November 2012 Nikolaev, Ukraine

 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)

Сердце чистое сотвори во мне, Боже, и дух правый обнови внутри меня. (Псалтирь 50-12 Russian)

Серце чисте створи мені, Боже, і тривалого духа в моєму нутрі віднови. (Псалми 51-12 Ukrainian)

Most Holy God, our dear Father in Heaven ~ we give you thanks for the fresh hopes we anticipate realizing on this new Lord’s Day. Give all faithful Christians a right spirit of love for our glorious Savior who reigns in majestic splendor at your right hand. Help us to cause the pure light of truth to shine from your Church which gathers in various communities around the world. We fervently pray in the precious name of Jesus, Amen.
As we certainly anticipated, our experience with the boys at the Boys Home yesterday lifted our spirits and boosted our hopes. Two of the boys were out sick, one didn't come back from time with relatives (AWOL), and one was with his Mama for the weekend. The boys who have family look forward to this time even with troubled families.
All boys were very well prepared with their memory verses that were from Exodus chapter 20. It is their time to learn more details about what God considers sin. Each boy made some small comment as usual about his verse and we had a discussion. They will study more and we plan for deeper discussion in the days and weeks ahead - God willing. We were very pleased to observe the progress of Vadim. Natasha has appointed him as the class monitor. He even had the responsibility of assigning the memory verses yesterday. He quoted 3 verses instead of his usual one yesterday.
We had the joyful privilege of presenting the boys with warm sweatshirts (hoodies) that were sent from Christians which meet on Tuesday evenings as one of the small groups of the East Cobb Church of Christ in Marietta, Georgia. The boys immediately scrambled to put on their timely gifts and went out to see us off. We also have some of the little toy cars on hand and each boys eyes lit up to receive this favorite gift.
Many thanks to several partners who help us allow these boys to realize that they are not alone in this world. They have the opportunity to learn truth and to experience the joy of God’s love while learning the blessing of giving. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

WORD OF THE DAY - Saturday 20 October 2012 from Nikolaev, Ukraine

 Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way. (Proverbs 19:2 ESV)

Нехорошо душе без знания, и торопливый ногами оступится. (Притчи 19:2 Russian)

Теж не добра душа без знання, а хто наглить ногами, спіткнеться. (Притчи 19:2 Ukrainian)

Dear God, merciful and gracious Father in Heaven ~ we shout the highest praises from our hearts and voices on this new day that is certain to bring victorious news to all who trust in Christ as Lord. Help all believers to have an insatiable appetite for more knowledge of your inspired word that contains the message of eternal life. Give us more of your perfect wisdom so that we will have greater ability to enthusiastically lead souls to salvation by utilizing our knowledge of the truth.  Help us to pause occasionally and carefully consider the direction we are going in order to make sure we are indeed following your perfect plan for our own lives. We plead in the precious name of Jesus, Amen. 

Yesterday we did some shopping for goods and services around the city since it was our first day to begin getting used to being without our dear friends in Christ from Montgomery, Alabama USA. As we walked down one main street that has a tram rail line in the middle of the street, we came upon a man lying in the street near a bus/tram line stop. One young couple had witnessed the man fall into the street and saw that they could not help him and called Emergency Services. They had already been waiting for several minutes when we walked up and Galina called the local police and they came and used their phone to call the ambulance. It was 15 minutes after we called until the ambulance finally arrived. We saw once again the harshness of life here in Ukraine and many other parts of the world. So many people need to know God's love and put it into practice in their daily lives. The man was finally cared for and taken home since they determined that he was drunk. Later when we went to our mobile phone company to add some money to our plans, we ran into our friend and WEI student Zhenya who is the manager of this company. He was very happy to see us and we both look forward to our next study with him. Today we plan to visit with the boys at the Boys Home. We were so thrilled that our men were able to experience this joy with us on a first hand basis. We hope they will have the same opportunities to become familiar with the Lord's work in Western Ukraine since we would also like to know more about those successes so that we might do a better job here of reaching lost souls for Christ. Thank you for the prayers.

Friday, October 19, 2012

WORD OF THE DAY - Friday 19 October 2012 Mykolaiv, Ukraine

And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. (Luke 19:6)

И он поспешно сошел и принял Его с радостью. (От Луки 19:6 Russian)

І той зараз додолу ізліз, і прийняв Його з радістю. (Лука 19:6 Ukrainian)

Dear heavenly Father ~ we thank you for another spectacular day that greets us with the dazzling brightness of your abiding love. Help us to have the same sense of obedience as Zacharias, so that we will always rejoice about welcoming Christ into our hearts and invite others to do the same. In the blessed name of Jesus we pray, Amen. 

Yesterday - Thursday, was our last day to enjoy the company of the three brothers in Christ who were with us from the Dalraida Church of Christ. They were only able to spend four and a half days with us. Even though their visit was far, far from being long enough in duration for them to experience all aspects of the work here, at least they had a sampling of our mutual work here in Nikolaev, Ukraine. This congregation is the sponsoring church for our efforts to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and plant a Church of Christ here in southern Ukraine.
When we are in the USA due to problems involving the duration of our stay in Ukraine, we spend most of our time in Montgomery and worship with the Dalraida congregation. So, they know us in that way, but now these three men know us as working missionaries and not just people showing pictures and giving reports. When they are back with their home church, they can tell people firsthand about our work for Christ.
In the morning, we were able to take them with us to the Nikolaev House of Babies and met briefly with the Director who was on her way to a meeting at some other place. However, before she left, she gave instructions to the chief doctor to show our guests all around the facility. Ludmila the doctor took us into every nook and cranny of this pristine facility.
Not all such homes in the former Soviet Union are so well maintained. This is in large part due to the tireless devotion of the Director and staff. Also, this particular facility has been the recipient of help from some of the adoptive parents who became familiar with this orphan’s home when they came here to arrange for the adoption of their child or children. We were able to photograph a few of the children. But, in most cases we were not allowed to take pictures since some of the children are already involved in the adoption process, or they are part of a special department that helps local parents with caring for their children with various birth defects. They only come during the day and at night are home with their families.
For the children who are not adopted, this is their home until they reach their 4th birthday at which time they are transferred to a facility that takes care of children up until the age of 17 unless they are adopted – or run away as some of our boys at the Boys Home had done.
There is always a great amount of emotion that usually leads to tears after such encounters with children who have been rejected by their parents or were orphaned due to some great tragedy. In one room, there were a few children playing and as usual, I like to get down and talk with the kids. One curly haired little boy, grabbed one of my fingers and we talked a little while the others were listening to our guide. When we had to leave that room, he would not release his grip from my index finger. I had to pick him up and carry him over toward the woman in charge and even then it was very difficult for me to let him down. For some reason, God is constantly giving me personal reminders of what it means to have “pure and undefiled religion”.
The three brothers – David, John and Will surprised Galina with some beautiful flowers that they purchased with the help of our sister Nastya. They brought them to her as we were taking care of some last minute details at the church office/meeting place. After that we went to the hotel so they could fetch their things and had a little company meeting in the café situated on their floor of the hotel. John and Will witnessed our signatures on our absentee ballots and agreed to mail them for us when they arrived back in the States. We were so relieved about that since we had mailed absentee ballots from Magadan, Russia in a previous election and our votes never made it to the election office.
We watched the men leave Nikolaev with our friend Maxim who has a nice car that he can use for this purpose, and he took them to the airport in Odessa. They were scheduled to arrive last night in Ivano-Frankivsk to spend a few days observing the mission work that the Dalraida church is also involved with in that city of western Ukraine. They will only be able to spend 3 days there before they return to their homes in Alabama.
Nastya walked with us back to the church office where we had things to pick up on our way to the University for our weekly session with the Master Degree students. On the way there, we received a call from Lesya and she explained that they were involved with some other activities. So, we spent some time visiting with Nastya and then went shopping for a few things for home since we had not taken care of that for the days we were hosts – or hostess would be more to the point, considering how Galina was so involved with all of the interpreters making sure they were doing a good job, and she was very concerned as a mother hen about the safety and welfare of the three brothers while they were in our city. We sincerely appreciate your prayers. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

WORD OF THE DAY - Monday 17 September 2012

 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33)

Итак всякого, кто исповедает Меня пред людьми, того исповедаю и Я пред Отцем Моим Небесным; а кто отречется от Меня пред людьми, отрекусь от того и Я пред Отцем Моим Небесным. (От Матфея 10:32-33 Russian)

Отже, кожного, хто Мене визнає перед людьми, того перед Небесним Отцем Моїм визнаю й Я. Хто ж Мене відцурається перед людьми, того й Я відцураюся перед Небесним Отцем Моїм. (Матей 10:32-33 Ukrainian)

Dear heavenly Father ~ thank you for the unbounded joy that we experience on this new day that brings evidence as fresh and clear as the morning dew that you are our Only God, the great giver and sustainer of life in all its forms. As it is within your great plan for us, we ask according to what little we know about the future to grant us more of your wisdom so that we will understand ourselves better, but mostly so that we will be able to know how to communicate your perfect plan of salvation to those who do not yet know Christ as Lord. Give us courage so that we will never take the foolish way of denying our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ but will always stand firm in the promises of our faith. In Jesus name we pray, Amen. 

 Yesterday morning, we had our usual 3 boys for Sunday school class taught by Galina. We received an SMS message from Tatyana their usual teacher during the class period. She has a son working in New Jersey, so she has gone to visit him for a couple of weeks. We have a small English lesson for the boys and we are teaching them to sing Jesus Loves Me in English. They already know it is Russian. We had 16 present yesterday for our worship services. Omo led the opening prayer with Galina translating. Pasha led the church around the Lord's Table. Olamide led the closing prayer. After the worship, the 3 boys Dima, Zhenya and Vitaly, recited their memory verses. Dima and Zhenya are sons of Pasha and he helps make sure they do their memory work. Vitaly is their good friend and doesn't have anyone at home to help him with the Bible. He even caught the bus and came by himself yesterday. He's the tallest of the three boys. Later during our fellowship, we had time to have a little visit with our visitor Alexander (Sasha) who lives 2 hours away and comes when he can. Next week he plans to attend the seminar that is put on each year in Feodosia which is in the Crimean region of Ukraine. Galina presented the boys with prizes for saying their memory verses. Omo, who is a university student, is far from home in Nigeria and we gave him a little toy also which he gladly received.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

WORD OF THE DAY - Sunday 16 September 2012

For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. (1 John 3:20 NKJV)

ибо если сердце наше осуждает нас, то кольми паче Бог, потому что Бог больше сердца нашего и знает всё. (1-e Иоанна 3:20 Russian)
бо коли винуватить нас серце, то Бог більший від нашого серця та відає все! (1 Йоаново 3:20 Ukrainian)

Almighty God, our dear worshipful Father in Heaven ~ we give you the greatest thanks for granting us the indescribable gift of life on this new Lord’s Day. Give all followers of Christ our Lord the wisdom and courage to overcome whatever obstacles stand in the way of their attendance with other Christians. Help us not to be overly self-destructive or hyper-critical of ourselves since we know that Christ died for our sins and we have obeyed His gospel message. We pray in Jesus precious name, Amen.

 We spent a big part of the day yesterday looking around the city for some items that we needed to take to the boys. Natasha had requested some basic necessity type items - toilet paper, bathing soap, cleaning supplies, paper towels, etc. Part of the boys training is to learn how to take care of their space. We took socks, lined and graph notebook notebooks, paper for teachers, plastic files, pen and pencil pouches, ping-pong balls and a paddle, and of course Snickers. They really need some underwear, and we are anticipating a shipment of those from dear friends in the USA. The boys and Natasha were really excited to see us. They have had a tough week getting back in the groove of school which is rather the same around the world.
They truly made us happy when every boy recited his memory verse and made a little comment about what it meant to him. Those comments easily become fodder for criticism from your friends, but they know they are in the same boat and don't become too critical when another boy makes a mistake. Natasha said she had extra duty as the acting Director of the Boys Home since Vladimir was out of town. She told the boys what they had to do, and she said they acted very responsibly.
We really like these boys! In the beginning, we had a review of our first English lesson from last week. We assigned our memory verses for Saturday and had time to visit with each boy. As we made the long walk back to the pontoon bridge, we had to walk past a goat herder who was letting her goats feed on the grass by the side of the road. Galina was not too excited to ease by these 59 critters with various horns. We then had the pleasure of passing a goodly number of cows that were under a watchful eye from somewhere. As we got close to the bridge, we noticed a family loading all their fishing gear in the back of an old station wagon. The son/grandson was loading the boat on top of the car and we said to each other at the same time, “he looks like Sasha.” He looked at us with a little smile and we knew it was Sasha the Korean boy who used to come to our Children’s Bible Classes in 2009 when we met on Frunze Street.  He is now about 6 feet tall and towers over the rest of the family. We could only exchange greetings since they were anxious to leave and our taxi showed up.
Each day brings some special surprises as we serve our Lord Jesus Christ in the harvest field of Ukraine. Thank you for the prayers.