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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.

Alcoholics, here we come

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Pavel and Marina have arrived. I’d like to introduce them to you because I’m hoping that a few people from outside Ukraine will support them in their ministry.

They are in their early 30’s. Pavel became a Christian eight year ago after a number of years of what he describes as self-indulgent living. His education was in politics and he used it for a few years in the agrarian sector in Ukraine. He worked in Europe and at one stage was selling luxury cars he had bought there. He is an intelligent and confident leader who has a passion for restoring the broken lives of men and training them for ministry in the church. He also loves God’s Word and it’s been encouraging to talk with him about the doctrines of scripture and note his belief in the ability of God’s Living Word to change lives. I’ve been impressed with his willingness to sacrifice much and move ahead with what he believes God has prepared him to do.

Rehab centre

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This is Pavel (left) and Denis.  Pavel is a former “businessman”.  He has a fascinating story.  His mother became a Christian a number of years ago, and then, after several years of being involved in the dark world of politics and money, he also became a Christian.  He was a part of a group of men who discipled him well and got him into ministry to addicts.  He ended up serving in a rehab centre and he has been doing that for the last three years. 

We got to know him about three years ago when he came down to visit his mother for a few months.  We enjoyed each others’ company and kept in touch even after he left to go to the rehab centre to work.

Several months ago, he married a nice girl and they are expecting a baby in four or five months.  We’ve been talking about opening a rehab centre in or near Rzhyshchiv and we both feel like the time has come to make the move down here and set something up.  It’s a bit scary, but we’ll be trusting God for strength and wisdom and everything necessary for these broken men to be helped and discipled. 

Denis, (36 years old), is a builder who became a Christian a little over a year ago.  He wants to work part time and minister part time with the guys who we take on in the centre.  Being an alcoholic himself and having benefitted from the ministry of the church to alcoholics, he’s keen to give back.  I liked his enthusiasm.

A Funeral

A Funeral – the ultimate reminder to us that the devil won a battle. 

There is a big difference between theology and philosophy.  You don’t want philosophy at a funeral.  You do want theology.  People benefit greatly from hearing truth about God’s Word and His wonderful character at a funeral – the ultimate reminder that the devil won a battle.

Q.  Who is God?

Answer:  Loving, kind, wise, patient, comforter, all-knowing, all-powerful, creator, sustainer, our Father… the one who lovingly allowed the Fall to occur, resulting in funerals – the ultimate reminder to us that the devil won a battle.

Q.  What does God’s Word reveal for us that is pertinent at funerals?

Answer:

1.  God is loving, kind… etc.

2.  The man who trusts in the Lord will never be put to shame.  The man who seeks the Lord finds Him.

3.  God knows what He is doing and doesn’t see the death of His children as a tragedy.

4.  Our security isn’t in the life we live here or even in the love we share with others.

5.  In the light of eternity, the length of our lives here, (be it 10 years or 80 years), is as a drop in the ocean.

6.  In eternity, God won’t be judging the Christian based on how many years he racked up, but on what he did with those years – who he was.

7.  We are not as those who have no hope.  We have the most wonderful hope available to man – that of being at peace in God’s presence with “pleasure forevermore”.