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May08 Ellie
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Today I remember that I don’t like saying goodbye to my girls… especially when it is goodbye for months.  This is the third time I’ve had to do it and I really don’t like it.  I guess I’m not that different to most of the fathers in the world.

After a delightful two months, Marie left us to go back to Oz.  She will work with Josh for the next six months, saving for her next step in life. 

Jesse is enjoying studying at Brisbane School of Theology and working in the church and community with some quality people.  He feels busy, which is perfectly fitting for a student.   IMG_7473

Monday nights are usually “family nights” at our home.  This last Monday, we went out to the cliff-top at Grebeni, which overlooks the Dnepr River.  It was a beautiful evening for a bbq picnic and we loved the quietness and beauty from this lookout spot.  God has given Ukraine some really beautiful places.

Camp 120 2016

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106 people.

Tenting on an island for five days.

Being challenged by the examples of people who obviously love the Lord and His people.

Being challenged by the teaching of God’s Word.

Enjoying relaxing together and, at times, enjoying watching the young people do crazy stuff.

There was a beautiful attitude of willing and spontaneous serving that was in evidence.

There was an atmosphere of God-focussed-ness that filled our night-time campfires.

It was maybe the best camp yet in the last 11 years.

We are thankful to God for the safety He gave and for the lives that were changed by the week!

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First Day of Summer

IMG_6934Today is a public holiday in Ukraine.  Trinity.  Our church isn’t big into celebrating all the second tier holidays like Pentecost or Ascension or Trinity.  But we don’t turn our noses up at public holidays! 

Pris and the girls and I got up early today and had breakfast on one of our islands.  It was windy, but still pleasant.  We headed back home at 10:30ish and found our jet-lagged guest still sleeping soundly.

This weekend is wedding number two for our church this summer.  Our Tonia married Sergei at the perfect wedding venue in the village where the reb centre. (Rehabilitation Centre), is located.  And now Larissa will marry an American who came to Ukraine a couple of years ago for a visit.  (He just woke up and realized he was late for a ring buying appointment!  Agh!  Jetlag!!!)

The church is doing well.  I’m humbled as people who are obviously shining with the love of Christ express appreciation for my simple Bible teaching.  I know that my preaching is simple, full of grammatical mistakes in Russian, and western, but if people are hungry for God’s voice, I’ve learned that they will hear Him through the distractions as His Word is taught. 

Acts 4

On Sundays since I got back from Australia, we’ve been going through the book of Acts .  This week, we  read about the first persecution of the church - Peter and John locked up by the Jewish religious leaders. 

I looked at a lot of stats on the subject of persecution of Christians.  Some state that about 10,000 Christians die every year because of their faith.  These are the very conservative studies.  Break that down and we get someone dying for their faith every hour.  What I consider to be the “non-conservative” statistics put that number at more than 10 every hour!  Either way, it’s pretty shocking.

How you accurately measure the number of times Christians are beaten or imprisoned, (North Korea purportedly has over 70,000 Christians imprisoned in camps)… or count those who are somehow persecuted because they are Christians?  It must be basically impossible.  Suffice to say that it’s a sure thing that many, many Christians are suffering persecution around the world right now.

We suffer.  And truthfully, we should probably declare it a shame how little we pray for our brothers and sisters who are suffering persecution.  Agreed? 

I’ve always been moved by the stories of the persecuted church.  In fact, that’s something God used to get me here in the former Soviet Union. 

Will we see more persecution of Christians  in the near future?  Or will we see a lot more persecution of Christians in the near future?  I see those as the two possibilities.  Another interesting thought is:  will you and I get the privilege to suffer persecution for the sake of our crucified and risen Saviour?