Tuesday, 5 June 2012

What's Real Life?

Just playing some V-BALL
The last few days has been a radical change from life in Ukraine, a country where I hardly can speak the language, just started to truly understand the culture, had a few people to talk to for support, and then moved back where I know the language, the people and the culture... life in Canada. So many times people say that once they come back from missions they return back to real life. The truth is, you are not back in real life, you never left it. I know that God called me specifically to go to Ukraine with TREK for this past 6 month experience. I, along with all Christians, am called to a life of ministry, it does not matter where I am or what I am doing, I must do it all for the glory of the LORD. We read in 1 Cor 9 about Paul speaking about becoming all things for all people-when I went to Zaporozhye I was prepared to drop the "norms" found in Canada and dedicate my life to preaching the gospel, now what is the difference when I come back to Abbotsford? I am called to put aside the lifestyle from Ukraine and come back to Canada ready to witness to people in the best way that I can, no matter what that means.

NDAY doing their sound check
We had an amazing last few on assignment, and must of that is because the final BBQ went great! We had just over a hundred friends and church members come and celebrate the time that our team was blessed to have in Zaporozhye. David and I set up a volleyball net, we grilled hot dogs, played games, took seemingly a thousand pictures, had a concert with the local Christian band NDAY and the most important thing was that the GOSPEL was able to be shared to all our friends. I was able to go one stage a tell everyone why our team was there, what the goal of this trip was and about the amazing love that Christ has for each one of them and that he desires a relationship with each person. It was held in a park so there were many people attending the concert who had never even met us but they heard the word of life.

My team arrived back in Abbotsford on Sunday and now I am living back at the Mark Centre for two weeks of debrief. I am taking this debrief very seriously and I want to bring a good end to this experience so I would politely ask for no visitors, I am finished on the 16th of June. It is a time in which both of the teams are united once again and we are able to just talk about what happened on each one of our trips and our stories and experiences. We also pray that God will guide each of us into a smooth transition back to life in our hometowns. I am not too physically tired but my mind definitely is in a bit of a confusing stage right now just trying to process the changes that have happened and will happen.
Please PRAY for the seeds that we have planted in Ukraine. Our friend Kristina is so close to entering into relationship with Christ but she is just afraid of giving everything to Him, please join us in praying that God will reveal to her his greatness and that she may give Him all that she has. The New Hope Centre/Church is working hard at starting their trade school this coming September, please pray for funds and also house parents to live with the students. Also as I am entering back into life in Canada, it is a very big change and please pray that my mind with stay focused on the LORD and allow Him to lead me and allow me to process the whole last 3 months in a positive way. I do not want to just slip into the regular routines of life, but I want to continue to put my all into advancing the Kingdom of God. Thank you for all of your support, and I look forward to seeing and sharing with you personally when we meet.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Hidden Treasures

    "My son, if you receive my words
        and treasure up my commandments with you,
    making your ear attentive to wisdom
        and inclining your heart to understanding;
    yes, if you call out for insight
        and raise your voice for understanding,
    if you seek it like silver
        and search for it as for hidden treasures,
    then you will understand the fear of the LORD
        and find the knowledge of God." Proverbs 2:1-5

Search for wisdom as if it is as valuable as hidden treasure, it has great worth! This has been the focus of the last week here in Zaporozhye. I do not want the knowledge or wisdom of the flesh to consume me but I want the Holy Spirit to fill me and spill out of me. For what God speaks is of more value than any silver or gold that we can find here on earth. His mind is so great and so wise that he thought of the design of the universe, the earth and all that is in it. He thought out precisely how I shall be made, how my heart will beat, how my blood will flow, how many hairs are on my head...his knowledge is greater than any earthly wisdom. This has especially relevant to me as I preach. I never want to speak out of the knowledge that has been tainted by the evil in this world, the earthly wisdom that promotes impurity, pride and self-reliance. I desire for the words that flow out of me to be prompted upon by the Spirit of the LORD.

But how could I ever be able to obtain this wisdom from above... I must receive the words of God and treasure them, incline my ear to His whispers of knowledge, cry out to the LORD for his insight and SEEK it! I have been convicted of not having spent enough time with the Christ in silence and solitude, I had been asking and calling out for the wisdom of God but I have not been earnestly searching for it as if it diamonds, gold or silver. So that has been something that I have changed and will need to continually work on in my walk with Jesus. I have not been devoting time in the evening for God just to speak to me, I have been trying to tune my ear to His still but ever so present words. I feel comfort and a security more than I ever have before in my God. He has been telling me to just continue to pray...that when I feel that the puzzle of pieces of life just don't seem to be fitting together, he spoke and said "Relax, remember who made the pieces".

These last few weeks have gone by so quickly, and now we only have 5 days left. Five days to be confident that we left the mark of Christ on all of the land that we walked on and all the people that we met. The devil has been persistently attempting to place doubts in the mind of myself and my team in these last days. In the name of Christ these doubts have not right to be believed, be gone Satan and be bound by the blood of Jesus. I am a servant of the LORD, I have been called by the Almighty God to be here in Ukraine for the last 3 months, and our ministry is not and was not in vain. The truth in the Bible and the wisdom of God is able to give me this assurance.

Orphanage 3 Final Bell Ceremony
In these last weeks we have attending the graduating ceremonies for the two orphanages that we have been heavily involved with and landscaping a lot at one of the local dental clinics. David and I were also blessed to be apart of a Bible study held by one of the friends that we have met through our Friday night English Clubs. We have been meeting with people and inviting them to go for coffee and talk about the love that Christ has for them. Our friend Kristina is still very hungry for the power of God to fulfill her life. We have given her a new testament copy of the Bible in Russian and she has been reading through the Gospel of Mark and we are meeting with her a few more times this week. Please pray that the blinders that Satan has placed upon her will be broken off and anything that she is holding on too from the past will be destroyed and she will have no doubt in the love that Christ has for her and that she is a beloved daughter of God.

Please Pray for our final barbeque this coming Thursday. It is our final goodbye and chance to really share the gospel with all the people that we have met, there are going to be lots of people attending, pray that the presence of God will be evident and that people accept His love and relationship! For the healing of Alona's tailbone. We have been trusting and praying that she will be healed before we leave. For the New Hope Church, they have a baptism classes this week and pray that the people that have accepted Christ in the last year will attend these classes. For the Christians that have been attending the church for a long time but have not yet accepted Christ, they are continually in the community but have not made a decision to enter into relationship with Jesus. For our team, please pray for peace and trust as we are leaving our new friends and family in Christ, that we will REJOICE in all things no matter what happens that we will stay focused on our remaining ministry.

Monday, 21 May 2012

We are ENFORCERS, not captives

Reaching an entire city...is it possible? Do you think that through the power of the LORD we would be able to tell a whole population that Jesus Christ loves them and desires to have a personal relationship with them? What is holding us back...Money? God, in whom we trust, he is the one who holds all the finances of the world in His hands. Rejection? It states in Galations 1:10 that we are not here on earth to please man, but that we are here to please God. He calls us and we read in the Great Commission that we are to reach OUR city and then go to the ends of the earth and proclaim His glory. Trials? In James 1:12 it says "Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.". What is holding me back, what is holding the church of Christ back?

Preaching at New Hope Church
Throughout the last couple weeks I have read through "That None Should Perish"-Ed Silvoso and that is when I really started to think of the best ways to reach people for the sake of Christ. God has been teaching me more and more about advancing His kingdom at all costs. When I left Canada, I came here willing to adapt to the culture and try to think in the mindset of a local, and I desire to do the exact same thing when I get home. At all costs, being fully adaptive to my surroundings, I want to spread the love and grace of Christ to all people. I preached this Sunday at The New Hope Church in Zaporozhye about the body of Christ uniting together and becoming ENFORCERS OF TRUTH. That we may no longer be slaves to the deceiver and captives to lies but to be free as officers of God to claim back that which is rightfully His! Zaporozhye is His, Abbotsford is His, the world is HIS, we need to serve the evil one his eviction notice in the church and in our daily lives.

Playing at orphanage in Volnyansk
Although we only have two more weeks serving here in Ukraine, I am trusting that God will still use us greatly for His name. We are at a stage in ministry that we have built strong relationships and have told many of our english students the gospel. We had a girl come to our house this past week and we did a devotional through John 3 with her and sang worship songs and she is hungry for a Savior right now. Her name in Kristina, so please join me in praying for her that we will see her coming to know Christ before we leave on June 2nd.

Please pray for our friend Alona as well for the healing of her tailbone by June 2nd, so that she may sit on it again with no pain. Also please pray for our team, it is very close to the time that we will be leaving and all of us are not looking forward to saying goodbye to the friends that we have made here. Pray that our hearts will be at peace for leaving and also the re-entry into Canada that we will place God as the provider of our lives. Like I said previously, we have had a great impact on many teenagers lives since we have come and we have a goodbye BBQ which is our last time to tell them about God and why we exactly came to Ukraine. The New Hope Church will be there and we are praying that we can connect these young people to the church and see them have a personal relationship with Jesus. Thank you for all of your prayers!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

A New Heartbeat

Our hearts beat at least 100,000 times everyday. It works around the clock to pump blood throughout our entire bodies and without it we are unable to support our mortal bodies. What is God's heartbeat, what gives life to the King of Kings? Answer: THE LOST. The thing that God lavishes His love over is the lost and seeing them come to know Him. This is not saying that He does not care for those who have faith in Him, but the main focus is on those who do not yet know Him. I have been focused and praying to obtain this desire to see the lost saved. The people that surround us day after day are not just mortal bodies that are going to live for 80 years but they each represent an eternal life...everyday I need to remind myself of this, an ETERNAL LIFE! I want the heart like that of the shepherd that left the ninety-nine to seek the one lost sheep. I have been learning and reading about praying for those who do not yet believe in Christ and through this I have been getting excited to advance the Kingdom of our Living God! I no longer want to just list off a number of people who need to know Jesus and pray the same words for each person. I want to pray for specific ways for the Lord to minister to them and show them how they can find peace in His name. "And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”-Matthew 21:22. It is all about FAITH! God desires for me to put all that I am into His power and His name and lift up prayers for the lost with a healthy expectation that he is going to reveal Himself to the people that I am asking deliverance for. I want God to use the trek team and me specifically to see fruit amongst the people here in Zaporozhye. I desire for each of the beats of my heart to be driving me to see the spiritually blind set free and find rest in Christ's love.

Playing English Games at School 40
Our weeks here in Ukraine have been jammed packed and filled with many different things. Our team had our last day of teaching English at School 40 this week and it was sad to say goodbye to our awesome students. This day was also extremely uplifting from the response of our time there from the teachers. They were so thankful that we came every Thursday and they wished deeply that we could have spent more time with them and their classes. They went around and spoke words of encouragement to each one of us on the TREK team. I was confirmed by a teacher named Lienna that I have been given the gift of teaching and I show a passion in all things I did. She also wished me much luck for my going into church ministry and she said that all the teachers and students were amazed when God blessed the opportunity for the team and I to share the gospel with the students around the Easter season. All of her words touched my heart and I felt so encouraged to hear this non-Christian lady speak with such kindness and sincerity for me and the ministry within the Church that I am pursuing.

Our games night continues to be an amazing way for us to outreach to those who we teach at School 40, those we meet at English Club and throughout our other ministries. We invite those who want to come to play games, eat some dessert food and snacks and then one of the trek team members shares what God has been teaching them that week. It is an easy, fun and productive way to share the love of Christ with those who do not yet know Him. Please pray for a girl named Kristina, she has asked for us to buy her a Bible and she is coming to church next weekend. Pray that she may see again the love the Christ has for her, that He will never leave or forsake her. Also pray for our friend Yefim. I met him at our English Club on Friday nights and he has come to the orphanage in Volnyansk to translate and wants to come again. He strongly dislikes the politics that many of the churches in Zaporozhye facilitate so please join us in praying that he will see the freedom and relationship that is offered to him through Jesus.

With some friends from Feodosia
Our team was also encouraged by joining and worshiping together with a church in Feodosia. We spend the weekend with the congregation and had a picnic and church together and we were very blessed by them and their love for the LORD.

Some other prayer requests would be for our friend Alona. I have prayed with her a few times and we are praying for her tailbone to be healed. She has been unable to sit comfortably due to the pain for over two years and ever since we have started praying, she has been feeling better and better. I am asking to God that He will heal her so that she may sit down with no pain by the time that our team leaves for Canada on June 2nd. Also pray for me this week as I am preaching at two services at The New Hope Church, that God and His Spirit will choose the topic and reveal it to me that I may bring all the glory to Him. Thank you so much for your support and your much loved and needed prayers. I can definitely feel the prayers from home and it is so encouraging to remember that the God that you and I are praying to, across the world, is constant and does not change. HALLELUJAH!

Friday, 27 April 2012


Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”-Exodus 33:16 

Singing "My Redeemer Lives" in Russian in Calodisnaye
Moses after pleading for God's wrath to be calmed and his presence to come upon the people of Israel asks/states this powerful question. He knew that the presence of God that made the Israelites distinct amongst all people. This passage was the focus for my sermon this last Sunday at a church in Calodisnaye, which is a town in the area of Crimea. For there are people around the world that are doing great things for people in need and they are doing it all without showing the love of Christ, so how are my good deeds different than theirs? The Israelites asks to be like the other nations, they created a golden calf while Moses was on Mount Sinai to lead them out to the promise land, and they asked later in 1 Samuel 8:5 for a king to rule over them. They were wanting not to be different but to mold into living in a lifestyle like everyone else...but followers of Christ are called to be DISTINGUISHED! The presence of God in our lives has called us to be the lights in the world that are not hidden but standing out,  "In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."-Matthew 5:16. Not only am I called to be a light but also I am called to be the salt of the earth. Salt as we all know is a very bold taste that adds flavor to many different things. Let us be distinct, let us fulfill what it says in 2 Corinthians 2 when it calls us to be the fragrance of God and the aroma of Christ. Let me carry the presence of God with me everywhere! Lets not live empty lives apart from the presence of our living all powerful God, I need him to make me DISTINCT.

Teaching Guitar at Orphanage 3
This has definitely been on my heart recently as I have been here in Ukraine. Our team is different than the people here in physical, social and cultural features but we still are all human beings. I needed to read and have that confirmation that if I follow God diligently, His presence will flow in and through me in everything that I do. No matter if I can speak the language or not, because if I carry the aroma of Christ, no words need to explain it. If these past weeks we have been doing a lot of work in the orphanages in Zaporozhye and also in Volnyansk. We had the great privilege of being asked to make an Easter presentation for both of these orphanages. In Volnyansnk we sang songs that Jesus has been risen from the dead and that he lives in our hearts, we played games, gave out candy and had a huge easter egg hunt over the whole property. The relationships that we have been building at the orphanage are very encouraging and our team is told that they are so excited for us to come every Saturday.

Another great ministry that our team has been doing is what we call Games Night. Every Thursday night at 7:00 we have people come over to our apartment and we hang out together. We have snacks and dessert and of course we play a variety of board and card games together. A lot of students that we teach from School 40 have been coming for the past few weeks and they say that they absolutely love it! Apart from playing games, we also have a short 5-10 minute testimony given by one of our team members and we talk about what God has been teaching us in the past week. This ministry builds friendships with the students and evidently leads to us inviting them to talk about God and to come to the New Hope Church on Sundays. Some names to pray for are Kristina, Karina, Ann, Marina.

Please Pray for a girl named Alona. We have been praying for the healing of her tailbone which has given her trouble for the last 2 years and she has already been feeling much better since we have started praying so pray that the LORD will bring healing and through it her father Olek will come to know Christ. Also for a guy named Vasiliy, I have been meeting with him every week and I have been inviting him to church, pray that he will see that God can be the orchestrator of his life. God is moving amongst the students that we are teaching at School 40 and pray that we may see a harvest of believers spring up from these kids. God is good and together let us continue to pray against spiritual darkness amongst these students and also the orphans in Ukraine that the light of Christ may shine through all things and that they may come to know Christ!
Many Blessings and thank you so much for your support!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Spreading Easter's TRUE Meaning

"If the church does not go out and make disciples, the culture sure will"

If we do not go out into this world and spread the gospel and tell others about Christ, the ways of our world will grab them and mold them into its warped and twisted views. As we are told in the Great Commission, in Matthew 28 from the mouth of the Son of God...make disciples & preach the GOSPEL to all nations

Playing Easter games and eating a traditional meal with my students
Our team had such an opportunity to go out and spread the good news of Christ and Easter (celebrated this coming Sunday in Ukraine) at the school in which we teach English. Our theme for the lesson was Easter traditions and what we believe. After hearing so much about the culture in Ukraine and the way that they live out this season, legalism binds the people to the church, not a relationship with the God who defeated death and not by faith. So to put it in the simplest terms, we each gave a full GOSPEL presentation in each one of our classes. In my classes, I went through the main points of the truth of Easter with a picture to explain each main point and a few verses from the Bible. I started with saying that I know that I am a sinner and I am not perfect, and because of His love, God sent Jesus to come and live in the flesh and He lived a perfect life.

Jesus paid a debt He didn't owe because we had a debt we couldn't pay

I explained the word "debt" and told them that I deserved death for my sins, but Christ through his life, death and resurrection has saved me from this payment. Another picture I showed was stating the verse
John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” Something that I stated with great importance was the fact that this is a belief of FAITH, we are saved not by good works of through baptism but through confessing our sins and declaring our love and allegiance to Jesus Christ.

The students and the teachers we very curious at what I had to say and the response was so great. We brought invitations for the Easter service being held at The New Hope Center this Sunday and all of the papers were taken! I am praying that God will bring some of the students and hopefully some of the teachers to come and see the truth and the faith that they can have in Jesus. One of the teachers spoke to me and said that she can see such passion inside of me and that I have been given the gift of teaching and of being a pastor. I was at lost for words, this was not a believer speaking to me but just a bystander to the powerful message of the love of God and she noticed and could see the Lord working through me...All the glory to God!

Earlier in the week I was blessed to speak in church in a village two hours out of Zaporozhye on Palm Sunday (Willow Sunday in Ukraine). It was such a loving congregation of about 20 adults and about another 15 kids that were so excited that a group from North America would come and share with them.

We also went to a town called Tokmak to visit the local orphanage. We put on a presentation of games/songs and a message about Jesus. The kids were so active and very welcoming to our team and they were excited to be able to play soccer with us and listen to our songs.

Please pray for a harvest amongst the non-believers coming to our Easter service this Sunday that we may see people come to know Jesus and that they will have faith in the living God! Evil will try to attack and deceive both our team and the non-believers into a lack of faith and pray with the authority that we have in Christ that this will not be so and that they will be bound and forced to the feet of Jesus for judgment. I am asking also personally that you will pray for me that I may have a peace of mind and that all my focus will be directed to Ukraine and not focusing on the things I will confront when I come home. 
 God is good, He is faithful and His love is beyond anything we could ever imagine...JESUS let us see the lost come back into your loving arms! Thank you for your prayers, many blessings from Ukraine.
-Mitch (aka Meesha) 

Friday, 6 April 2012

Seeking and Building Relationships

Last Sunday, our team had the great opportunity to go to a village called Nikolipolia and help run their local church service. David, Megan and Katie-Sue shared a little bit of what God is doing in their life, we sang two songs and I had the privilege to preach. The congregation consisted of fifteen 40-80 year old men and women and we had so much fun. We stayed for tea and pieces of bread lathered in mayo with a little piece of sausage on top. The LORD put on my heart to talk about his great power and how he is living and dwelling inside of us, and because of all of this we should not limit His power in the church and in our daily lives. We should all dream big for the church, for a harvest of new believers and unity among the Bride of Christ (all-Christians). I also am speaking this Sunday at another church that we are visiting, and Easter is one week later in Ukraine this year than in Canada, so I will be speaking about Palm Sunday.
 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
        Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
    Behold, your king is coming to you;
        righteous and having salvation is he,
    humble and mounted on a donkey,
        on a colt, the foal of a donkey.(Zechariah 9:9 ESV)

 Well David and I finally got to see the gem of Zaporozhye this last Monday, Hortitsa Island. A lady from the English Club that we help at invited us and how could we decline? We did not know who all was coming or what we were going to do but we just went for it and it turned out to be amazing! It ended up being our English Club friend Ann and her two daughters, her friend named Lienna, a man named Dima, another missionary John Charlier, David and myself. We were told in the morning that we did not need to pack a lunch because Ann was going to bring chicken....we did not know how she was planning on bringing chicken but it is Ukraine, so we just rolled with it. We ended up touring around part of the beautiful island and having a picnic along the Dnieper River. Out of Ann's little mickey mouse backpack came a pot filled with fresh chicken wings that she cooked that morning, a homemade thermos with tea and a pan with an apple cake, it was a delicious picnic meal.
The bridge to Hotitsa Island

The most exciting part of this day was just the fellowship and conversation that we had together. They are not believers in Christ but I was able to have a very good conversation with Dima. We talked about a very large range of topics, starting with me trying to explain the fact that legalistic/political churches are just buildings and not a strong community of believers of Jesus and we went all the way to the question of why Christians disagree with having sex before marriage. He says that he believes in God but he hates "religion" and he wants freedom, so I did explain the true freedom that I have through the LORD and it was a great conversation. We exchanged phone numbers and tonight he came to the English Club and we talked more and plan to meet this week and talk more. Please pray that God will reveal to him the freedom that he can have through Jesus and that he will come to know Christ.

I was also able to have a great conversation with another youth named Vasiliy. He speaks very good English but would like to get even better, and he enjoys talking with me and says that he would like to be my friend and show me around the city. He is not religious and says that he does not need a God in his daily life. I am just building a relationship with him and I am sharing the gospel when I feel that the Holy Spirit is leading me. I enjoy talking with Vasiliy and it is great to learn more about the city through him. Please pray that he will see that God is a living and loving God that desires a relationship with him and that he will enter into relationship with Christ.

Praise God these past few weeks for his financial provision. We have found out that roughly $40,000 dollars has been given to The New Hope Center and now they can begin working on some of their bigger building projects! Also please pray for the healing of a girl named Alona, an unusual pain in her tailbone is not allowing her to sit and this has been going on for quite a while now and we believe that God wants to heal her of this and He is the only God that can bring healing to her body. I have really been sensing the presence of spiritual warfare and darkness in the last few days so prayer that God's light will shine through and that we may see a harvest of believers come to know the love of JESUS CHRIST in this Easter Season.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Giving Anything to Advance the KINGDOM

 "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain"-Philippians 1:21

My life on this earth, according to Paul is not only dedicated to serving Christ but it says that the definition and meaning of my life is to strive to be like the Son of God. It is a hard concept for my mind to overcome. When I started this TREK program I had to think of all of the things that I would have to give up, like time, comfort, a loving family, an awesome girlfriend and work/time to name a few. But in all actuality, do I even have the right to these things if my life is to serve Christ. If the path for my life, laid out by the Lord of Lords, directs me one way or another, and my life as Paul says is to serve Jesus...do I even have rights? Following Jesus=laying down our "rights". Now I am not saying that it is bad to have a girlfriend or a loving family, but what Jesus wants has to come first in our lives, because all that we have is His.

I have been reading a lot from the letters written by Paul in the Bible and also an awesome book Back to Jerusalem by Paul Hattaway within the last week. Both of these awesome literature's speak and talk about examples when people have been bold in faith and have laid down not only comforts in life but also their own lives! Racing through my head is the question, am I that dedicated on the WORD that I would right now lay down my life for my God? Or even, am I that bold in faith that I would be put in a situation where my life was on the line for the sake of the gospel? Now I have talked a little about the first part of this verse at the top found in Philippians 1:21 but look at the end "...and to die is gain". When I die, I can be firm in the belief that I am going to enter into eternity with my LORD and Savior...but then why am I contemplating if I would give up my life for His namesake? This book by Paul H. talks about a missions movement in which is within the church in China, it talks about leaders and the torture and jail time that they have faced because of their faith. It has talked about our brothers and sisters that have laid their lives in means of spreading the good news of Jesus, but you know what else it talks about, it talks about people coming to faith, it talks about miracles, visions, supernatural healings, a bond of believers, church unity and an advance in the Kingdom of God, AMEN!

So as I am reading this book and also some of the letters written by Paul I am surrounded by texts of boldness and the laying down of human rights that I would feel obligated to have. This has kicked me in the pants and reminded me what my life is and why I am here in Ukraine. Whether it is serving at the New Hope Center, or at one of the orphanages, or teaching english or even walking through the market, I am carry the truth to eternal life and why should I try to hold it in, what should I feel afraid of?
If I say, “I will not mention him,
    or speak any more in his name,”
there is in my heart as it were a burning fire
    shut up in my bones,
and I am weary with holding it in,
    and I cannot. - Jer 20:9

I should be weary and afraid to try to smother and trap this good news, I need to just spread it every where that I go and in everything that I do and not be afraid of the consequences. The news of Jesus is offensive to people, not everyone is going to agree with it, but it NEEDS to be proclaimed.

So I am not here in Ukraine looking for persecution or looking for trouble, but I am here for one purpose and that is to advance the Kingdom of Heaven and that is what I am going to do. Thank you for all of your prayers and support for me while I am here and I welcome you to join me in praying for the advance of Jesus Christ's name here in Zaporozhye through the current missionaries and my team and I. Pray for boldness and a firm remembrance of the powerful name that I carry with me everywhere that I go. Please remember our friend Natascha who has shown a deep interest in Jesus and for the other relationships that we are building amongst the Ukrainian people.
Blessings from Ukraine!

Please email me if you haven't received my newsletter and you would like to: mitchell.claassen@gmail.com

Friday, 16 March 2012

Seeking and Expecting

"For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ" -Galations 1:10

The question is to be asked in our lives, who are we desiring to please? This verse has been sitting on my heart all week. I begin to think of the amazing opportunity that I have to serve here in Zaporozhye amongst a majority of people who are not living under the care of our loving God. So I get excited about sharing the news of Christ, because it is filled with so much life that at times I feel I could not hold it inside even if I wanted to. But where is the line of being outward with faith but not jamming it down peoples throats? I just look at the apostle Paul, I look at the way that he was bold to share his faith wherever he went no matter what the consequences. Now at the same time I understand that different people groups need to be ministered to in a variety of ways, and I am praying for God's counsel in revealing to me the most effective ministry that I could do with my team here in Ukraine.

Playing the game "fruit salad" with the orphans in Volyansk
The first way that seems very obvious to me is to build relationships. The New Hope Center, is a great place to start some of these relationships. During the week, youth from around the area come for the free computer use, ping pong and fooseball that this center has to offer. We have been hanging around the center and playing with the youth and in doing so allow them to feel comfortable with us. With the Center, we attend and help at a class called English Club on Friday nights, we serve at an orphanage in Volyansk on Saturdays. I have played on the worship team at the New Hope Church and I am also playing this next week. We attend a Bible Study started by John and Ev Wiens and we hosted the study at our apartment this week in which a youth name Andrei attended and he is not yet a believer. We are in the process of setting up two days in the week that we will be serving in a local orphanage in which I will be teaching guitar, Megan will teach piano, while David and Katie-Sue help with the carpentry class.

Showing the class picture of family and friends
As of yesterday, I have become a teacher and I don't even have any professional schooling, who would have thought? Every Thursday from now on we are teaching students at a local school English for a full day. It was so much fun and the kids had a great time. We all introduced ourselves to each class and came with pictures from home and we shared our hobbies and interests. I am not going to lie at all when I say that I am right in my element. I do not have any fear of talking to basically anybody and I love teaching. The main goal of us being there is to get the classes to really use the english words and phrases that they know in discussions and conversations. It is going to be very fun to have the responsibility to lead a class, and most likely use some Psalms for reading practice.

Exciting news today, a girl that we just met at English Club is coming to church on Sunday and told Katie Sue that she is very interested with Christianity and she thinks that it may be the missing piece in her heart!  We will be having her over next week as well for supper and for a hangout/Bible study evening. I have been praying in the last few days very specifically that we will see fruit from our ministry and work here. I know that we need to pray for the power of the LORD to work and pray with faith, but also to expect that we will see Him work. I prayed the entire 30min walk from our apartment to the church this evening and following every request was the statement that "I am expecting to see you work LORD", God is so good. This girl seems to be very close and I am praying and please expect with me that we will see her come to know Jesus Christ as her Savior.So prayer for this girl would be appreciated, her name is Natascha.

Please Pray for Natascha that the LORD will reveal himself to her in undeniable ways and also a boy Andrei that attended Bible study this week that he will see the love of Christ as well, for deeper relationships with the youth (especially the boys) that hangout at The New Hope Center and that as a team we can learn Russian quickly for a greater ease in communication.

Thank you so much for all of your support and prayers, they are definitely felt! Please email me any prayer requests you have and my mailing address if you are interested is:

5 Mera St.   Apt. 14.
Zaporozhye, Ukraine


Friday, 9 March 2012

Going back to my ROOTS

Zdrasfuchye (hello),
Now as I have been in Ukraine for about half a week I am all settled in at our apartment in Zaporozhye. My expectations have definitely been stretched, pulled, perplexed and broken and most actually better than I could have imagined. Our apartment is a lot bigger and nicer than what I thought it would be like. We have two bedrooms, one bathroom and a kitchen…oh and I don’t want to forget about our living room which has one table and four chairs and is serving mostly as a clothes drying room.

As for the actual city and people, it feels to put it in the simplest terms that we are living during the times in WW11. Most of the buildings are made of brick and they do not have names but are all numbered and this has been the same since just after the bombings from the war. The people here have very "dry" expressions but on the inside they are so sincere. We have walked around our apartment a few times and we have had a couple encounters with locals because we look american and they start talking to us, but I can just feel the darkness that they are feeling and experiencing and I just want to tell them about Jesus. If you would ask them they would all say that they are Christians but they are orthadox, and since it is a free place for religion we have to be very sensitive about talking about faith. If you bring up Jesus in a conversation too fast you can tell that the people are turned off, so we need to just build relationships then witness through our actions.Another thing I have been blessed by is to see all of the deep Mennonite roots that are here in Zaporozhye. John took us out yesterday and showed us some of the monuments, old schools, hospitals, houses and villages created by the Mennonites in the 19th century, and how they are still standing now to this day and structurally very strong. It really touched my heart to see how my ancestors lived and worked in Ukraine.

John and Ev have been showing us around the city and some orphanages this last week just to slowly put us into the Ukrainian culture. We have gone to a Bible study held by John and Ev, and we met and talked with some Christians from the area and we are hosting this study next week. We also been hanging out with mostly orphan girls lately, we have gone ice skating with them and taught them some English and they have taught us some Russian. The girls are a lot easier to talk with and they open up faster than the boys but I am going to continue to strive to build strong relationships with the boys so that in the future they can be strong heads of their households. 
 Old Mennonite Girls Finishing School in Zaporozhye

Please pray for continuing opportunities to talk with the locals and to show them the love they can have in Christ. Also that the LORD will bless us with fast language learning so we can carry out a conversation and build stronger friendships and trust with the Ukrainians. I have a strong feeling from God that he wants to do healings and work with freeing the oppressed, so please pray and expect that He will use us to show his love, authority and supernatural strength through that. Thank you for your prayers, I can definitely feel them lifting me up everyday. We are trying to get WIFI in our apartment this next week so I will be able to update more regularly. GOD IS HERE AND WORKING!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Give me more JESUS!

What an awesome God we have, I get to be a witness of Christ in Ukraine as I leave Abbotsford this Sunday on March 4th! Continually I am being reminded as I am on this journey of faith that our God is the orchestrator of all things. I have been thinking about the fact that we were created so uniquely, God meets with us each uniquely, the plan for our lives is unique and the ways that we worship and dwell in the presence of the LORD is unique. I get so excited when I start thinking about this because it is a reality that we each get to personally interact in intimacy with the only living God.
Now as we were all created, God did not just put us here on earth to mope around, make money, buy stuff and be lazy. We are sent out to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth "And he said to them, 'Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation." Mark 16:15. We need to continue to be good stewards and push for advancing the kingdom. But as we are pushing to increase the Christian faith there WILL be opposition, so what do we do? Well I see Luke 10:19 as a verse that we all need to have memorized and use against the evil one in times of battle and attack. "Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you." Luke 10:19. Jesus sends out 72 people to go and spread the Gospel, heal the sick and cast out demons. When they returned they were amazed at the fact that even the unclean spirits listened to them and Jesus states in verse 19, that we have been given authority over the power of the evil one Satan and nothing will hurt us; authority is not in our own names or our own bodies but it is the LORD JESUS CHRIST flowing through us, we carry His authority. He dwells in us, and we dwell in Him. This authority is not a spiritual gift but it is given to absolutely everyone!

During our All-Night Prayer with MB Mission
 What is one of the key things that we need to have as we encounter the evil one, or when we are witnessing to those who do not yet know the living God? It is a knowledge of the WORD, the Bible, if we do not know our Bibles (swords) we cannot expect to put up much of a fight against the enemies attacks. That is why I am so fired excited about Luke 10:19, that verse is a strong strike on the enemy in battle, for in what way does he have a greater name than that of Jesus Christ? Through all of this, I have been pursuing a knowledge of the Bible because I can grow closer to my Father above and protect not only my own faith but I can assist in defending the faith of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and show to the unbelievers the truth in the scriptures.

One way that I have been gaining a knowledge of the Bible is through memorizing. For me, there are so many verses that I wish I could remember what and where they are but I never actual get around and just memorize them. I decided a week into TREK training that I wanted to memorize the Book of James and this last week I have finally finished memorizing the whole book. It has been a blessing that I cannot describe, I feel like the verses that I have read numerous times now make so much more sense. They are ingrained in my mind and I am able to lean on them in times of trial, joy, prayer, sickness, defense and attack. Memorizing is something that I am going to be working into my daily life and schedule.

To sum up what God has been pushing in my heart over this time of training at the Mark Centre is this, I need and desire to be rooted in the Word of God, I thrive on intimacy with God because He wants to talk with me and provide for me so I should listen, and I feel empowered to Spread the glory of the Lord wherever I go with a humility and confidence.

Prayer Requests: Peace for this transition into Ukraine, team unity and bondage, knowledge and intimacy with God, a boldness in faith to step into this new culture and to carry the fragrance of Christ with me wherever I am.
Blessings- please email me at mitchell.claassen@gmail.com so I can put you on my email list

Thursday, 9 February 2012

In the name of JESUS CHRIST

I was able to spend 4 days on beautiful Pender Island. It was a time that I was able to really to be silent before God in many ways, but especially through nature. God displayed His vast power and his great size through seeing the ocean and all of the towering mountains. We continued having sessions and learning through Sam Dick, Ray and Judy Harms-Wiebe and Steve Klassen.

Now when we got back to the Mark Centre we had a big week ahead of us. This week's them is Spiritual Authority, some pretty intense stuff to say the least. I was unsure when we started the week if I would agree with the speakers or not just from a spiritual point of view. I am not saying that I do not believe in being charismatic, but I just wanted to be persuaded all through scriptural evidence and support. This is because the church and servants following Jesus need to be centered and focused on him through all things. We had the privilege of having Randy Friesen start our week off with giving us the basic information and truth that is found in the Bible about our authority in the Son of the Most High. For instance if a man is standing in the street with a gun, he has power with the weapon. But if a police officer that is fresh out of training stands in the street in uniform with his hand raised, he has authority without needing to hold a weapon. Anyone can hold a gun and have power, but it takes a person of faith to wear the uniform which gives authority!

After this we have had the opportunity to talk with Keith and Joan Martens about ways that we can use commands in prayers to use the authority we have in Christ to drive out demons, heal the sick and free people of spiritual bondage. The authority in Christ is not a spiritual gift but it is something that we have all been given when we offer up our lives to follow our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a time in which we can say that Christ is working through us and we use His name as our authority. It has been such an awesome experience to finally here this exciting news from people that have a lot of experience in declaring their authority in Christ and give us practical ways to pray for people in various situations.

I feel such a security and confidence in knowing that Christ is speaking through me and I want to go out into the field and use this new found authority through the Lord of Lords and do His will. I know that God has so many things in store for my team in Ukraine. Keep praying!

Sunday, 29 January 2012


Well yesterday, to say the least, was a day of unique team bonding. Based off of the TV show amazing race, TREK created a one day race that teams compete against one another in various challenges. We were told that we would start between 4-6am with no wake up call, so we had to be ready to go. The teams were told to have a towel, a Bible, flashlights and water bottles...and of course dress for the weather.

So after a good 3 hour sleep, I was ready to go in the great room at 3:30am, my early attitude landed me a nice comfortable couch to rest on for the next 2.5hrs. Then we were off at 6:00, we did gps tracking under the power lines in Downes Bowl, then back to the Mark Centre for breakfast. This breakfast filled my stomach with 3.5 balut eggs(a fertilized duck egg with a nearly-developed embryo inside that is boiled and eaten in the shell), spam, corned beef, seaweed and chili pepper just to name a few...a good hearty breakfast. Then we ran around as a team all over Abbotsford having to complete memorizing challenges, running challenges, "team knowledge" tests, Biblical knowledge quizes, build a fire with striker and flint. It was a day that tested each teams unity and stress levels.

Our team won the actual race but that did not matter much to us, the biggest thing is that we finished it TOGETHER. We represent a variety of strengths that worked surprisingly great together and we all contributed at an equal level in the areas that we succeeded in personally. It tested my stress level and my ability to be a good and strong teammate that kept the spirits of our team up with encouragement and determination. It showed me just how God saw all of our gifts and put us together to work with one another in harmony. Out on assignment there are going to be many challenges and this race is to show us a little glimpse of somethings to expect when we are in the Ukraine.

PRAYER: team unity, for the people in Ukraine and missionaries John and Ev Wiens, finances for me going out on assignment, for me to have an ear listening to God

Team Verse: Isaiah 58:8-9a
8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
   and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
   the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
   you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Well...Ukraine it is

Well this morning, after quite a mysterious revealing, I found out that God is calling me to go to the Ukraine for the assignment phase of TREK. I am going with a team of one other brother in Christ and two sisters in faith. We will be going to work along side with John and Ev Wiens in Zaparozhye. I feel very happy to know that this is exactly where GOD wants me to be at this stage of my life.
Now we will begin to start praying into this country and for the missionaries while we keep training for another month and a half. I am going to do my best with trying to learn to speak Russian before I get to the location because I want to be able to communicate as much as possible. We still do not know much because it is still the early stages but I am pumped for being able to use my training for God's glory. We are making prayer cards very soon and I will be sending those out for you to have a picture of the Ukraine team.

Prayer Requests: Team unity, prayer to prepare the people who we will meet, financial support, for a mind like a sponge that I will remember and hold onto everything I am learning in training, a growing passion for the people in the Ukraine and their culture

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Entering into Silence

I find myself quite a motormouth at times, actually most of the time. It is not that I cannot listen, it is just the fact that I love to communicate with people and letting them know what is happening in my life. God loves it when we talk with him, but also he has much that he wishes to communicate to us as well. This week at TREK, we have been focused on "Hearing God's Voice". We have had many sessions about how we can get in tune with the Spirit and how the Holy Spirit knows all things and even the depths of God. We have been given ears that WILL hear from God, we just need to cast our burdens aside and listen intently to HIM.

All of these sessions have been in preparation for a 48 hour silent retreat we are taking part in starting Thursday afternoon. It is going to be a time where we will be in silence with each other and also before the Almighty God. We are only allowed to use and carry around is the Bible and our journals, no internet, no phones, no technology, just open ears ready to listen. It is going to be a challenge but I am very excited to come before the LORD of LORDS and humble myself quietly before Him. It seems like a long time to not speak to others, but I am looking forward to spend my time talking to the big man upstairs.

4 The Lord GOD has given me
   the tongue of those who are taught,
that I may know how to sustain with a word
   him who is weary.
Morning by morning he awakens;
   he awakens my ear
   to hear as those who are taught.
5 The Lord GOD has opened my ear,
   and I was not rebellious;
   I turned not backward.-Isaiah 50:4-5
Prayer Requests:
 2nd Assignment Location, 48hr silent retreat, finances, team unity, intimacy with God, ears to hear

Friday, 13 January 2012

An Intimate God

Love is something that everyone is seeking for, everyone is waiting for that certain person that is going to fill this void in their heart. Well to all of those who are reading this, you should be pretty excited with the news I have for you...your true first love is waiting for you too. Jesus CHRIST is and HAS to be our first love and our deepest desire as we live here on earth. He is waiting for us with arms open wide, a love that has always existed, "In this love, not that we loved God but that HE loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins"- 1 John 4:10. Often I feel that we neglect to remember this PROMISE that he has made with us, He loved us first. He wants us to be so close to him and we can trust and know that our love with him will never fail.

This week has been one of so many new experiences, new people, a new home and a renewing of my faith with Christ Jesus our Lord. We have had so many sessions throughout this week and everyone makes me leave with more to praise for God. We learned about the basis of what MB Mission really is, risk taking obedience, God in finances, communication, the Gospel of Mark just to name a few. The two sessions we had today were with Pastor David Manuel and we learned all about God's love for us and how we NEED to love him back and all of this was backed up with numerous scriptural support...lets just say I could have listened to God speak through David so much longer.

I feel two major things that GOD wants me to focus on in faith right now and that is getting up and following Him and deepening my love/intimacy with him. I have never prayed and been so focused on God it seems ever in my life. With my team we are learning about listening to God and I am finding myself just stretching my arms out and desiring for God to speak to me and He does. Through prayer, worship, reading and silence I have been able to feel the presence of our LORD and striving for a more intimate relationship with Him. A new way I have started to focus on God is through starting to memorize the book of James. It forces me to depend on Him and His words that have been written to fulfill my spirit. I can feel Him moving and my words or posts will never be able to explain to relaxation that I find with God my Saviour and the knowledge that our love will never be broken.
"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:37-39
Prayer Requests: Intimacy with God, finances (there is a link at the bottom if you would like to donate), team bonding, spiritual awakening, assignment location

Thank you so much for all your support, Blessings!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Can These Bones Live?

I woke up after my first sleep and I felt quite refreshed. Today was my first full day with my new team and in my new home. Besides me eating oatmeal (which I once again realized I am not a huge fan of) we started the day off with what seems to be the best thing possible...that is worship. It was a time that we were able to sing, pray and be silent together really for the first time as a core group of teammates and friends. It was an intimate time with GOD and was so cool to feel His presence in this new place.

We had Sam Dick speaking about how everything to do in faith is our ministry, it doesn't matter if we are physically connected or not but we are one family and body. And we read and studied Ezekiel 37 with the Valley of the Dry Bones...all of our struggles in life is engraved on each of the bones lying dead in the valley whether it is pride, lust, temptation, lack of faith etc. But God asks Ezekiel "Son of man, can these bones live?" 37:3...is it possible for these dead bones to live again in flesh and in faith? God then tell Ezekiel to prophesy over the bones and they are given the flesh but still no breath, no life...but Gods breath filled them through the prophet Ezekiel and they created an "exceedingly great army" 37:10. I say lets do it, I want to live with the breath of life from God the creator of all! ~GOD chooses intimacy over efficiency~ He could have just raised those dry bones but he decided to use his prophet, to test faith and to show his power and he wants to use us. CAN THESE BONES LIVE?

Later on God was present at a group reading we did aloud of the Gospel of Mark and that just had so many other encouraging and fulfilling things that added to such a good first day!
Prayer Requests:
a ear willing to listen, assignment location, continued passion to learn and study, a book/passage that God will call me to memorize, team unity


Sunday, 8 January 2012

Name tags and board games...

I am now all settled in (for the most part) in my new home, or room I should say at the Mark Centre. I am living in a room that is shared with two other guys, Jonas and Bryan. I have only been here for a few hours but I am already loving it so much. We have a group of 10 people with an even split of guys and girls. We spent the evening eating pizza, playing settlers and trying to draw each others faces and see if we can guess who it is. In doing all of this you see confused faces looking around at name tags trying hard to memorize who is who and where they are from. I also have found out the that two potential locations for outreach are China/Mongolia or the Ukraine. Prayer would be very appreciated for guidance for the leaders as they decide where I will be sent. I am very excited to see what GOD has in store and the people that HE will place into my life during the 6 month adventure. Tomorrow we are starting right into our studies, back to school for me :) Blessings

Saturday, 7 January 2012

My TREK in faith

Well my suitcase is still not packed and I start tomorrow, I guess somethings never change. I am gearing up to start my 6 month missions experience in the Winter TREK Program and I am stoked! TREK is a missions school that prepares it's participants to go out into the world and spread the good news of our Heavenly Father . I am living at the Mark Center in Abbotsford for two months and then I will be sent off somewhere in the world to do a 3.5 month outreach. As of now to put it quite honestly, I know nothing, I don't know what my housing looks like, the people I will be with, the work load or my outreach location....but God does and He is so good. I am one of ten participants in this schooling and I am the youngest person this year. But I know in Gods word it says that we should not ever be looked down upon because of our age so I have no fear. Thinking about all of these things reminds me that God is a tower of refuge and strength, a God that will lead us down the path to righteousness. It has only really hit me in the last few days that I am actually doing this program, and I hope I can sleep tonight :)  I look forward to get into this new routine and see what God has in store for me. This is going to be a TREK of faith and I am ready to take the first step tomorrow. Blessings- Mitch