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I like Zoom

The leftovers after Sunday church during the COVID-19 blessing:IMG-1212

As we well know and often forget, there are many times in life when we suffer loss and end up being blessed. The story of Abraham and his nephew on the mountain just before they separated affected me a lot when I was a child. For some reason, the lesson really drove home to me that not all that looked good was beneficial and not all that felt difficult would result in loss. As per Romans 8:28, God blesses His children - no matter what things look like or how we feel about the blessings. And so, taking these “things” into consideration, I’m happy referring to COVID-19 as a blessing.

Zoom. I like Zoom. Admittedly, we are only three weeks “in”… but I think most people have enjoyed the novelty, the randomness of the breakout groups, and at least being together like this. Ukraine seems to be lagging behind much of the world in terms of numbers of infected. I’m guessing we have at least another month of no church meetings… maybe more. The COVID-19 stats on Ukraine are very “vanilla”.

Max prayed a prayer of repentance this week and it looks like he put his faith in Jesus. He’s taken longer than most to get to this point, but hey! He’s there! Mitya was saying that it seems as if he has a peace now that wasn’t there before. May God continue to have mercy on him as he grows in faith.

I just printed off a number of different Bible verses for the lads to memorize. I’ve seen lot of people read and even memorize God’s Word resulting in no discernable spiritual development. Their souls have not been purchased by IMG-1192God. However, I know that to the one who loves God and continues walking in submission to Him, hiding God’s Word in our hearts can only result in blessing. One aspect of our men’s home that I love is that the men get soaked in God’s Word daily. It’s so good!

Dima is doing well. He’s spent just about all of his adult life in prison, (26 years out of 47), which leaves some deep scars on a man’s soul… but he is now pursuing God… and cooking for the guys. I went there a few days ago to find him home alone, cooking and listening to a sermon, (a healthy choice). The other men were down the street cleaning up and cutting firewood. I asked him where he’d rather be... and he answered, “Well, someone has to cook, and I guess it’s nice when the guys say that the food tastes nice… but I’d much rather be outside working.” It’s a good sign when these guys voice their desire to work.

Pris is enjoying the discipling times with the ladies. Of recent days, they have been looking at the connection between worry and lack of faith/trust in God. I was encouraged as I read some of their testimonies last night. God is at work in their hearts!

Every now and again, I remember the millions and millions of people around the world whom God is leading “back towards Eden”. We will never reach the perfection that Adam and Eve experienced, but our praise-worthy God is surely changing us into the likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Am I growing in Christ? Am I giving God more glory than, say, 5 years ago? To Him alone be glory, yes! And an enormous group of people all around the world is being changed, just as those ladies are being changed. To me, that’s impressive.

IMG-1105I’ll sign off wishing you many moments of being impressed by our God!

Strike a Light

IMG-1162It’s Monday the 30th.

I’ll dispense with all the hackneyed words we’ve all been using to describe the times and use my good old-fashioned go-to phrase: “Strike a light!”

Hasn’t God allowed something fascinating in our lives!!! No doubt, some of us will experience loss on a different scale than others… but we are all experiencing it. And we have all entered a phase of uncertainty.

Might I suggest that uncertainty concerning the pleasantness of our near-term future is such a healthy thing for us to experience. A “compare” for you: Taking omega-3 capsules. The burps can be vicious. The swallowing can be a challenge. Forking out the money to buy them is “ugh”. But the good they do is impressive.

In His Word, we see God pulling the rug out from under the feet of His people time and time again so that they sensed their need of Him… and in so doing, He recalibrated them so that they worshipped Him. He humbled them. Sometimes, He even had mercy on those who were not His people by sending major problems into their lives so that they turned to Him.

I don’t care if the truth about this virus is that it is man-made or that it came about by what are called “natural causes”. I do care to keep in mind that this is in God’s plan… and I hope that two of the billions of reasons for it are 1. to call His people out of our contented slumber and 2. To call the lost to Himself. We have heard about localized revivals over the years, but wouldn’t it be incredible if during the next year, God would be glorified by introducing 1,000 million souls to the Lord Jesus Christ in a life-changing way! May God take away our sense of security through these strike-a-light times… and call men and women to Himself!

Our church is on holiday for the rest of the year. (Somehow I don’t think too many churches could made that decision!) In truth, like the majority of churches, I guess, we have moved to having online teaching and gathering in small groups and family groups. I’m actually even excited at this opportunity. For the majority of our members, we will have a renewed appreciation of worshipping together going on into the future. We also see fathers gathering and leading their families in worship – something that can only be healthy. Despite some expectations reaching into next year for an end to quarantine, I’m bunting for a Summer closure for this thing. That means that for a bare minimum of three months, we’ll be in some sort of quarantine… hindering us from worshipping the Lord in one building all together. Great! But if it stretches out to more than six months… I think I will look upon it as a burden to bear rather than a blessing to celebrate. As I type, church members are joining “Zoom” so that we can meet online in a group meeting. I’m interested to see if that is practical.

IMG-1180Today is the first day of me implementing more restrictions for our family. (I understand that we are setting an example for others and we need to do that.) While it’s likely still early for this step to be extremely practical here in Ukraine, we are no longer entering people’s homes. Actually, I stopped shaking hands with people today, as well. I feel very responsible and very pedantic… ugh.

Just about everyone is wearing masks right now. The proliferation of fancy homemade masks has been notable. At a guess, one in 20 people are mask-less when out and about. Mitya and I went to a city that still had a bulk buy warehouse open late last week and it was as if we had entered another country. People seemed excited at the change.  (Weird lines though!)

While we were there, we visited Kostya who is a guy who came to rehab whom we ended up sending off to a TB hospital.  He’s been there for about 6 months now… and has real itchy feet.  He desperately wants to come back to us… which is a real good sign.  He’s still reading his Bible and praying… another good sign. :)  He no longer seems like a shell of a man… one more good sign!  May God continue to lead Him and protect him from temptation.

IMG-1183Talking about being excited at the change… rehab still goes on, with change occurring in the lives of the men. We’ve not taken any more ladies into the ladies rehab due to a lack of volunteers. Marie is still in Australia busily earning so that she can come back. The men’s rehab has been going real well. Several men have graduated and encourage me so much! We have five still living in the rehab home and I see real good changes in them, too. Today, I was amazed to see Max, who lived in a daze for a month after first arriving, digging in the hothouse and working up a sweat as he helped. Maybe God will heal his right arm!

One nice blessing we have is that we’ve been selling some of the things we brought back from Europe. Theoretically, we could truck freight to Europe and back right now and it looks as if it would be profitable. There are serious questions though about the driver getting stuck in Germany or Poland or at the border for some reason… so we aren’t pushing that green button.  Last we checked, the lines at the border were expected to take at least 5 days to get through. 

Pris and Elle are fine. Elle has just brought in several loads of firewood in the little cart. Pris has been cooking.

Oh! We expect the Lord to admit Pris’ Grandma into the eternal state this week. Because God has allowed her mind and body to degenerate quite severely, we expect to experience a little sadness but more thankfulness when this actually occurs. She has worshipped the Lord with her life for a lot of years and will be delighted to look into the face of Jesus and understand completely Who her Savior Is.

Pris has been experiencing some lessening of the pain she’s been experiencing the last few months on her right side.  She has tried some new exercises which seem to be helping and is going to be the fittest one of us in the house by far!  We are thankful.

 

May God bless you. May you enjoy being salt and light during this strike-a-light period.IMG-1197IMG-1194

Max and His Lomka Part 2

pashaaHere’s something for you to think about:  Right now, we have four people “on staff” for the rehab ministry.  Pavel and Mitya are the main leaders.  Without their time, love and gifting, we would have a very different looking ministry!  Olya has been doing incredibly, looking after the ladies centre part-time while Marie has been in Australia.  Olya and her one-armed husband practically have an open house policy and the lads are often over there eating or just hanging out.  It’s lovely to see.  Tolic also serves part-time at the men’s centre as well as encouraging the guys who have come out of rehab and are working.  He’s a teacher by gifting, who understands the hearts of people… I’ve noticed he has a heart full of grace.  olya and Igor

Pavel is being now supported by three couples - AUD$158 per month.

Mitya is being supported by two couples - AUD$250.

I heard last week that an average bloke in Rzhyshchiv expects to earn about AUD$500 a month.  Minimum wage is about AUD$320 a mityaamonth.  Pris and I have been lifting the support of these guys to about AUD$350 a month each.  (For Pavel, needing to pay for gas/electricity and feed his family, it’s been real hard.)  We have also been supporting Olya and Tolic.

Olya receives $200 a month and Tolic receives $120 a month.

Actually, Olya’s husband also serves out at the rehab centre just as much as she does, (3 days a week)… when his work schedule allows.  (He doesn’t get support for that though – he is thankful to just volunteer.)  Olya is six months pregnant and will take a break for a few months from the end of March.  She will see how things go with a newborn… but right now is thinking she will be able to again serve later this year.  Pasha’s wife, Marina, also goes out to the ladies centre one day a week while Pasha looks after the kids.

I’m pretty sure that there are some other couples/individuals out there who could help with this, and so put the question:  Would you like to sacrifice for the Lord’s glory by helping to support these special people who do what they do in order to love and serve the Lord?  We would sure appreciate it.  And I believe that these four servants of God are worth investing in.

You can contact me on danieljgollan@gmail.com if you would like to love in this way.

 

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Max and His Lomka Part 1

MaxMax has just come out the other side of “Lomka”, (withdrawal).  He’s had it worse than just about anyone who has come.  He was so close to giving in on Monday, and probably would have… if he’d felt better.  Thankfully, he didn’t die and is also still with us!

I’ve talked with him several times since he came.  I like this guy.  He’s 36 and been doing drugs since aged 14.  He had a stroke a few years ago, (certain drugs raise your blood pressure – “meth” being one of them), and he can’t feel the right hand side of his body.  He has also been struggling to read and comprehend what he is reading – a result of the stroke.  Last night, he told me that he had noticed that during yesterday’s morning devotions, he was able to read and understand.  He was excited and wanted to know if God could fix his right side as well.

I happen to believe that God could heal him, and so told him this.  But I added that I didn’t think that God would heal him.  It seems to me that nowadays, it is a rare thing when God miraculously heals.  This is often a very testy subject for some people - I know.  I’ve talked with a quite a few young people who wanted to believe that God’s power and favor was behind them getting healed and they label it a miracle.  And if I doubt that a miracle occurred… then they feel as if I am “casting shade” upon God.

Normally when it “behooves” me to talk about this subject, I tell the person that I know that the God I serve is absolutely incredible, holy, loving and all-powerful.  He has done and continues to do wonderful and amazing things in our world – including suspending the power of the “laws of nature”.  I like precision of words though and react to people wanting to sensationalize things – this isn’t “walking in the light” and usually results in self-centered thinking.  In a world in which God is greatly glorified all around me in 100’s of incidents each week, I struggle to recall more than 5 miraculous answers to prayer in the last 20 years.  Am I in the wrong church?  :)  Or is it that we aren’t desperately looking for God to do miraculous things on our behalf?  I’m in the right church…

When talking with Max, I chose not to say all this, of course.  (He is not claiming to be a Christian, nor claiming to have had any miracle occur.)  Instead, I told him that God probably wouldn’t heal him of paralysis of his right side, but that he could certainly ask… and there is a possibility we might be surprised.  I said that I expected our Father likely has plans for him to glorify Himself THROUGH the handicap that he has.  (I reminded him that God says, “My power is perfected in weakness.”  And so Paul says, “So I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses.”  It’s a good attitude.)

When I ask anything from God, I want for my will to be totally submitted to His – joyfully submitted to His.  And if I can pass on this principle of trusting God to the lads, it will likely be the best thing I can give them.

Soli Deo Gloria!rzh 2_thumb[2]

 

It’s now Friday and I went out to the village this morning for an hour or so.  Max is smiling with wonderful freedom!  May God have mercy on His soul over the next few weeks as, with a clear mind, he considers the most important subjects in the world.  I’m praying for him regularly.

Before I drove out there, I went to our local market. (For some reason, after hours of trying, this post won’t publish with the photos I had, so I give you this one!  It’s as old as our new church building from the days when the town had a population of about 9000 Jewish people and 11,000 Ukrainians.)  Anyway, I had a list of things to get for Pris.  (She has a migraine that has put her flat on her back.)  We normally buy bulk flour and sugar… and so picked up some small sacks.  After 17 years in this town, I normally go through the market shaking hands with the blokes and exchanging “pleasantries” with the ladies… I expect to spend at least 10 extra minutes talking with people. 

The flower sellers are out in force, expecting a good return for International Women’s Day this Sunday.  It’s a big thing here in Ukraine and we will acknowledge the gift of our ladies in our church service this week by giving each one some potted flowers.  I’m not sure how “appreciated” they will feel, but we will express our appreciation in this simple way.

This is part 1.  For some reason, the second part of this blog will not publish when connected to this part.