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 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!

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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!