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Beloved electricity

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We are home again… it’s Monday night. The electricity situation is becoming worse… but not something unmanageable. The cold hasn’t hit us yet though… and Russia is likely going to keep bashing away at our electricity infrastructure with missiles and drones… so security regarding a warm future is rather uncertain. We have already deeply appreciated the solar system. Today, again, we had electricity for only two or three hours during the day time, so having the power for phones laptops and tablets, plus lights and pumps, was wonderful. The 11 people who had online lectures couldn’t have done it without that power.

0-02-05-12b6239428962d95568897ae4318f5e0ef9fca790f665ec440bff3126db34887_e6e3c83b85783a75Nine of those people were children. (The first group of refugees have arrived.) It has been a good five days of getting to know each other. I realize that these children are going to be ones whom I invest in and love quite a bit over the next several months.  Good.

0-02-05-eed3184c0fe01734a217cbee19a07609e5bbed8ea4791b3d20d22326d05fc609_deac15a1b71e3e06[3]We figure we have room to take in another 15-20 “kind of comfortably”. If Kiev gets evacuated because of further attacks on stations, I calculate that we could take in about 80 people into the church building, our home, and two other homes available to us. We would need a heap more blankets and mattresses to facilitate this, (and that may be a problem getting them if people have to evacuate), as well as a heap more food and other supplies… but I’m reluctant to spend 1000’s of dollars on these things just yet. (Having said that, ironically, I’m making a trip into Kiev tomorrow to pick up some extra mattresses and couches and materials to make temporary rooms.) You might like to pray that the Lord will give wisdom regarding the making of these decisions.

0-02-05-b50a6cf9137f15ad5aef797073f599ccb92e1185088119bcfbfd6fc26253aef9_65a53d194a9405c4Theoretically, we have made our last trips to Boy-arka and Noviy Bikiv for this year to clean up and rebuild what was destroyed. This last trip, Mitya took with him a number of the men who are still in rehab.  They did well, and were excited to be going.  We will continue to visit Niviy Bikiv to teach the people who gather God’s Word – please pray for this. (In both places, people are in “the firing line” if Russia does have another bite at the cherry - Kiev.)

WOOD-CHIP PROJECT: We are looking to make a major push to get the drying room for wood-chips up and running – the next two weeks will be biggies. We need to start drying chips soon. The heating season has officially begun… We are hovering above zero, but in a couple of weeks should be seeing freezing temps steadily going forwards for a few months. There are a lot of people in our community who will struggle financially to heat their homes this year. I’m pretty sure that God will love it if we help.

0-02-05-e57c2e1801aa22c9b5806f0c7fc55746b825c7c68d4b1dfe48dd80aecc9e53e3_5851a9ace4fe2933Two men whom I deeply love, got baptized yesterday – both these guys come from extremely rough backgrounds. They love the Lord deeply and gave testimony to that in front of the church today. I’ve really enjoyed working with these two humble men over the last several months on different work projects, and it was so encouraging to see them take this step.  May God use them for His glory.

On Saturday, I nearly killed a dog. (Then the car in the opposite lane nearly killed it.) It was a German Shepherd and in its prime. It believed that it owned the road, obviously, and wasn’t moving for anyone. It got me thinking about confidence. Confidence can get you killed. But confidence also inspires. Something Sergei said on Sunday resonated with me because of these thoughts. He said that as a Christian now, he has confidence in God. When we have confidence in God, in His wisdom, power, authority, love, etc. etc… the security that this brings into our lives is impressive.  It reminds me of what God said to Isaiah before punishing Israel with war:  “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”  But the people weren’t having any of it.  They didn’t trust God.  They couldn’t, in a sense, because their deeds were evil.  And yet, God is always there for us if we will but trust Him.  Looking back, something that was a great comfort to our church was the trust in God that the leaders had.  It inspired people to serve and not “crawl into a hole” like many people did.

We are blessed.  We have confidence in God.  Thank you for your prayers.

Quiet Rzhyshchiv

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It’s 9:30 in the evening and, yes, it has been another eventful day for Ukraine. Many missiles fell. At least a couple flew over Rzhyshchiv, speeding westward; but as we’ve believed since this war began, it would be extremely surprising if a missile was aimed at our little town.

I was talking with someone earlier today and said that I didn’t know of anyone in Rzhyshchiv who felt fear for themselves this morning. “Concern” for those further afield, yes; but not fear for our own safety. We are in a nice, quiet, comparatively-safe town.

And to continue with the rational, pragmatic thinking: It is impossible for Russia to continue this sort of bombardment daily. We shouldn’t think that more of this WON’T occur, and perhaps be even more successful in taking out strategic infrastructure… but the “savagery” God allowed this morning will dissipate now for a time.

We are well. Elle is home from her time in the U.S., (and has returned the computer I can use to post to this blog). She felt like her time there was good but is thankful to be home again.

Pris is busy loving the many people she loves in the many ways she loves them. I’ve often thought that God gave me the perfect wife for the road he had planned for my life.

We continue the trips north to help those who suffered loss because of this war. Of recent weeks, I’ve been going up to Borodyanka, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZbggSYTLR4), with two or three men to help Tanya with rebuilding her home. Tanya’s home is further down the road that the drone footage shows in the video. The Russians tanks drove into the town and pretty much indiscriminately shot at houses on the way in. The houses all around her suffered damage too – but because of sheltering in her cellar, she and several others survived that shocking moment. The added bonus in helping here is that Tanya Beloshapka has a heart to love and serve in the Name of Jesus… and Bible studies will continue to occur in her home going forward into the future.  It’s a privilege to help.

imageThe Bible study group gathering in Noviy Bikiv, the town we’ve been visiting for the last several months, is going well. Here’s the latest pic…  God has been speaking to these people and it’s wonderful to see!

We’ve been getting a lot of new people at church. It shouldn’t be surprising. I noticed that on Sunday, we were maxing out our seating again – not the worst problem a church can have. Actually, on the subject of “worst problems a church can have”, today we took the final step in an extremely painful process of calling a brother and sister to leave sin and come back to God. Sadness was so heavy on my heart… it surprised me with its pressure. Platitudes like, “God hasn’t finished with them yet,” and “if they are God’s children, then He will draw them back to himself,” don’t do much for me. These poor foolish people are sowing the wind, hurting 100’s of people, dishonoring the Name of Jesus, and ultimately disdaining something holy. God will always be glorified, but I sure feel the tragic nature of the deliberate steps of His children towards evil darkness.

We are still expecting “our refugees” to come in a week or two. If we end up getting the 50 that we were asked to take in, it will change the dynamics of our church quite a bit. May God give us wisdom.

We had a baptism Sunday a week ago and it looks like we shall have another on in early November.  It will be cold, but celebratory none the less.  Taras, (in Ukrainian colors) and “Big Sergei” have both come through rehab and are ready for the next step.

I am back to posting in YouTube again should you choose to have a listen. Do a search for “Dan Gollan”.

Thanks for your prayers for us during this unique time. Christians all over Ukraine are sharing the hope of the gospel message with people. Pray more than anything else, that God will have mercy on the souls of those whose sense of security has been taken away and imagewhose hearts are open.

Uncertain Future

Hey everybody! Ellie here. I am currently in America with Dad’s blog computer. So I will be posting the blog for you, but not writing it, excepting this little segment. Being in America with my Uncle Matt’s family is really special, but at the same time I miss Ukraine so much. I have come to realize that I am no more American than I am Ukrainian, I may even be more Ukrainian than American. It has been a blessing to be here and to gain a more expanded worldview. Seeing how another family, culture, and American churches function is fascinating. May God use this time that I have here to bring glory to himself. 

Have a blessed day.

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Ellie with one of Matt’s kids.

 

Six months

Six months of war…

Six months of killing…

Six months of separated families…

Six months of anxiety…I

Six months of confusion…

But six months of feeling closer to God.

To be frank, I feel more unsure about the future than at any time in my life - and this despite a renewed desire for God’s presence or perhaps “comfort” or strength.  I have a lot of questions.

My father taught me to play chess when I was 7 years old in his study in Tasmania.  (I still take pleasure from playing the greatest strategy game of all time and involve myself in battles through my phone.)  Something decent chess players must do is look several moves ahead in order to determine the best move now.  Ultimately, our ability to do so determines whether we win or lose.  We look for the most likely moves of our opponent and then attack or defend.

Russia invaded on Feb. 24, making a major push for Kiev.  I only started believing it might happen a few days before the 24th.   We went through a month of not knowing, (but half expecting), Russia to break through and occupy our town; and so we prepared for this while evacuating people from Kiev and a few other towns.  Our Christian community was strong during this time, and it was really our great privilege to love a lot of different people in different ways.

Russian troops retreated from Kiev approximately a month after attacking.  A few weeks later, a team from our church was able to make our first trip north to some villages that had seen intense battles.  For the last four months, we have made weekly trips up there, excepting for during the kids camps and a wedding trip down south to Dnipro.

So… the questions…

1. When do we return to “life as normal”?

2. How long will this war continue at this level of intensity?

3. Will nuclear weapons be used, or nuclear power stations blow up?

4. Will we have electricity and gas during the cold winter, or will these services be targeted?

5. Do we keep on focusing a lot of effort on helping people rebuild and on evangelism?

6. Do we continue in Noviy Bikiv or go closer to the northern border and work there?

7. What sort of prep. do we need to make for the winter?  How difficult is it going to get?

8. Should we plan to take in more refugees into the church building?

9. Do we offer the church building as a warm place for study/learning for children?

10. Should we go ahead and run the conference for parents we were planning to do before the war broke out?

11. Should we actively work on expanding the rehab ministry now?

These questions are my pieces on the chessboard… and to continue the analogy; “it’s hard knowing how to proceed because I can’t see all the pieces of my opponent”.

It’s likely not a life and death game… but my choices will affect the lives of a lot of people so that they suffer more or suffer less/experience salvation or not/ and grow in their faith more or grow in their faith less.

I’d appreciate your prayers.

The Ukrainian summer is drawing to a close.  It’s been a superb season for apples and pears this year and trees all over the town are laden with them.  We expect perfect weather for repairing roofs and working on houses over the next couple of weeks as we see out August.  But as is the case every year, I have a dread in the back of my conscious mind of the approaching months of deadly cold.

As I type, I hear the rolling thunder of some new big guns from the range nearby.  It’s a comforting noise.  Our lads are training and will use their learning to defend us.

Occasionally, someone asks me how the war is going.  I smile and, depending on who is asking, normally give a non-committal answer.  People here generally expect it to go on for at least another year though.  Maybe…???  Can we hold out?  Probably…???  Which way is the victory needle leaning right now?  I have no bankable opinion… and yet hope says “maybe in Ukraine’s favour”???

Since I last wrote, Pris and Elle went to a family reunion in the States for a couple of weeks.  Elle stayed on with Priscilla’s brother, Matthew, and his family.  She will leave the US at the end of September and work on finishing off her last year of schooling here at home.  That goal has taken a bit of a hit this year.  She’ll get there eventually, though.

I wanted to use this blog to give praise to God for His blessings on our children.  We’ve been greatly encouraged by the improvement in health of Jesse and Angie, (both in Australia), over the last few months.  For both of them, it has been a long haul.  God has given grace and had mercy on them, allowing them to give Him glory during their suffering and now giving them healing from the illnesses that “inflicted” them.  Our Father is wise, loving, merciful and worthy of praise.  

Awesome and Tragic

Over 100 days of full-scale war… both awesome and tragic.

God has decreed that Ukraine stand against this evil for over 100 days. Considering the strength behind the evil, that’s pretty impressive. After living for more than 30 years in Ukraine, I have 100’s of friends and acquaintances spread out over the country. Some have lost homes. Some have fled. 10 have picked up weapons to defend us. Some are behind enemy lines. I’m grateful to God, (who has given skill), and to the men, (who are risking their lives), for the 100+ days of holding out against the might of invading Russia. It’s truly awesome.

It has also been awesome because of the effect this has had on our hearts. Formidable fear is something we all dealt with, and many people continue to deal with, (especially those closer to the fighting than we are now). This fear is interesting because it settles over your heart like a wet blanket and doesn’t lift. It isn’t mentally incapacitating, like some fears… but it is immensely sobering. For many of us, the desire to play games, joke, watch movies, or indulge in any form of entertainment was totally in abeyance. (In fact, the thought was repulsive.) Instead, sober-mindedness and God-awareness filled our lives. I must have talked about the Lord to over 100 people who don’t yet know God’s forgiveness in the last 100 days. Just about everyone had very open hearts. This sort of fear is something God uses to bring good into our lives.

And “tragic”? How much evil has been committed by men who have been morally unchained? How much suffering is occurring in the lives of those attacked? It’s way beyond sad. All of us are incapable of perfection and prone to sin. We get that. But deliberate destruction on a terrible scale by the Russians against the soldiers and civilians of Ukraine is beyond the pale… and simply tragic.

Quite obviously, the Russian army is concentrating its power on the central-east battles right now. From all reports, they are paying a high price for what they gain. But the gain is still theirs. They are taking some serious hits in the south, along the Black Sea, as well. The big question remains, “When will Putin call it a day?”

I talked with a quite intelligent man today who refuses to take his family back to Kiev. “It’s not safe yet and it’s not over yet.” Will Kiev again see Russian soldiers on her outskirts before this is over? I don’t think so… buuuut.

We continue to take teams of people up north. We’ve made 8 trips so far, (of three days each), and worked on over 20 houses or buildings. It has been a beautiful way of loving and sharing about relationship with God.  He has already been glorified.  We would love it if He would be glorified through the salvation of souls, as well!

clip_image004This last visit, I worked with these four incredible girls cleaning up everything that had fallen inwards when this house was bombed. The guys were off doing roofs and windows. The girls were veritable champions!

clip_image005The young father who lost this house seemed pretty matter of fact about his loss. I landed the easy task of picking up glass shards and brick pieces from his garden plot with him and he shared that he reckoned they would be ok. He would keep working and would rebuild slowly. (Good on him.) We will be inviting him to the first Bible study we will hold in a couple of weeks.

I also had the privilege of helping Ded Kolya put his ceiling back together again after the front of his house was pierced by shards of at least one bomb. This old gentleman went through a lot during the occupation. Tears come easy still… but even though he refers to the Russian soldiers as “orcs”, he doesn’t seem to hate them.

We are looking towards the east and south as potential “next-focus-areas”… but it wouldn’t be wise to take teams down there at this stage. Work parties that will fix roofs and walls and tidy up are definitely my passion. But for now, it seems wiser to limit our involvement to taking humanitarian aid into these areas.

Last week, we received good news regarding extensions on our visas. We ran into a hiccup because of some bad information we were innocently given and ultimately had to pay a fine due to late submission of our documents. It looks like it will all be fine though, and we will not have to leave. A big relief.

God continues to delight. It is our privilege to serve and love Him.

Please pray for victory for Ukraine.  It’s a simple prayer for a country that has been attacked by a “Hitler”.  May God have mercy on us.

Pray for the salvation of souls who are hearing and understanding the gospel for the first time!  If reports are true, thousands are visiting churches and coming to Christ at this time.

Pray for us as we make decisions going forward regarding where we choose to love.

Pray for those who have been displaced – millions and millions.  God will have mercy on many of them and adopt them into His family.  Pray for this.

May God help you and us give Him glory!clip_image007