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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? 

Misha is Baptized

IMG_6769Misha is now… baptized.  The day was beautiful.  The air felt crisp and the sun was shining.  The water was cold, but not unbearably.  The wind was blowing, but not uncomfortably so.  The beach was deserted, (my preference for baptisms), and the church gathered.  Misha loved it.

As of today, he’s become the senior bloke at the rehab centre.  Igor, an alcoholic, has joined him and it’s been good recognizing Misha’s willingness to help him. 

Pavel, (pictured), has found five guys to come on down to the RC so far.  Two of them decided that they couldn’t handle the conditions and left.  The other one was put on a bus in Kiev and didn’t make it outside the city limits before getting the ticket price back from the driver and probably heading for the nearest bar.  There are quite a few Rehab Centres in Ukraine where the addicts pay for the services and have beautiful facilities in which to dry out.  Ours is possibly the least fancy and least developed RC in Ukraine and so it will be a real test of the genuineness of the desire of the guys who come. 

I had an amusing conversation as we drank tea by the well with a drug addict who came on Friday. 

Addict: “Where’s the toilet?” 

Misha i Butilka

IMG_6558It’s 11:00, Sunday night.  I just got back from a trip out to the rehab centre.  This one was a fairly unusual trip.  We made it because of a concern that perhaps Misha was looking to do drugs.  The concern was needless, but I’m glad we went out.  We talked, read the Scriptures and prayed together – it was good.

Things are going along nicely.  Misha is putting his heart into getting the centre ready for other men who come.  He’s showing a real sense of responsibility and is a good encouragement.  He is writing verses on the walls of the centre to remind him of God’s presence… I like seeing that.  He found this big bottle of homemade alcohol in the attic hidden away…  we had to take a picture.

Today a lady from Australia informed us that she would like to give some money towards the rehab centre.  She gets the honour of being the first to give and it was a great relief for us all.  In fact, I shouted out a loud “hooray” when I read the letter!  IMG_0265 (1)

And the Lord takes

IMG_6501Yep. The van is a goner.

I can’t say that I love every experience God provides to give Him glory, but I learned when I was young that He is worthy of glory no less when it feels like we’ve suffered loss.  And on top of that, I’ve seen so many times how God blesses those who trust in Him.  He is no man’s debtor. 

I’ve just got home from one of the more interesting trips I’ve made out to Ulyaniki (where we are setting up the rehab centre). I got a call from Pavel, who’s been using the van for stuff connected with setting up the centre telling me to call the fire department because the van’s on fire. I did so and then called Shane asking him come pick me up, knowing that there probably wouldn’t be much left when we arrived.

We could see the smoke as soon as we turned up the main street through the village, so there were no real surprises when we drove up. Yet I was still impressed with the flames and (pretty much) total destruction that was happening throughout the van.

Pavel had been backing the trailer into the yard to load it up with the bricks and mud from the wall we’ve been taking out to create one large room in the house. He heard a bang from under the bonnet and then saw flames spew out. He leapt out and looked for something to put the flames out but couldn’t even open the bonnet to get to them. And so the van burned.