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How important is safety

This morning, I reluctantly admitted to myself that in my thinking, I’ve tripped into the territory of now expecting a major invasion of Russian troops into Ukraine.  There are just too many unique signs in place to continue to treat the events as purely a show of strength by Putin.  Astoundingly, it looks as if he has elected to throw the dice on being able to take and hold what he takes with justifiable losses.  (I say that and pause, again scarcely able to believe that I’ve said it!)

If this does happen, then it will naturally present great opportunities for us to give God glory.  But it will also cause a lot of darkness, upheaval, and suffering.  We are willing to have some temporary darkness in our lives so that others can “see a great light”.  It would be wonderful if many here got a glimpse of the glory and holiness of God because of these painful events and worshipped Him.

We are planning to continue to minister to the men in rehab, the kids from the crisis families, the general church family, and our community.  Depending on what exactly Putin has in mind… we will open up the church building to displaced people, (as we did nearly 8 years ago when the conflict started).  It could be a fascinating opportunity to love.

If Putin takes the crazy step of moving on Kiev, there is also the likelihood of basic supply lines being cut and infrastructure failing in our area.  If this happens, things will get very interesting.  The likely breakdown in law and order will affect us all.  And it is possible that foreigners will be especially targeted by the new authorities and by the lawless.  I don’t expect fighting in the streets of our little town… but I am considering sending Pris and Elle west when Shane and Jemi and Cheryl leave.  (Prayers for wisdom would be appreciated about this – it’s not a simple decision!)

The experts predict that Russian forces could be in Kiev within 48 hours of the initial attack.  (I draw a blank on what to expect in terms of a return to normal life if this occurs.)  “The biggest mobilization of troops in Europe since WW2,” (repeated by numerous analysts), sounds ominous.  And if war does break out, a whole lot of human suffering will likely occur before we return to normality.

We’ve been asked by a few people so far how they could help.

Please pray that your brothers and sisters in Ukraine, and especially in Rzhyshchiv, would trust in the Lord and look to love and sacrifice for Him so that His Name is lifted up.  It would be so easy to only look out for our own interests.

Pray too for wisdom for us as we make decisions and live as examples to our spiritual family here.  (I’ve learned that strong trust in God during times of suffering and loss is often like a trumpet blast.)

If you would like to know how else you could help, send a reply to this address: danieljgollan@gmail.com  I’ll plan to get back to you by Sunday evening.  We have some hopes and plans for Monday and Tuesday that you may be interested in hearing.

IMG-2098I married a uniquely special girl and have one precious daughter still at home.  They, like millions of women throughout history, definitely don’t warm to the thought of war in our backyard.  Here are some thoughts from Pris…

Priscilla hereHow many, many times over the years that we have been serving God here, (as an extension of you), have I thanked Him for your care and prayers, (especially)!  I’ve also thanked Him for your trust in us with your finances that have enabled us to stay here and serve so many people.

As you pray now, pray for me and others in our church family who, from time to time, feel the adrenaline of uncertainty regarding the impending invasion.  Jesus says: “Come to Me… and I will give you rest;  Take my yoke upon you… and you will find rest for your souls.”  Pray that we, (that definitely includes me), would not be afraid but that we would act with strength and wisdom and courage.  I would rather stay here to hopefully be a useful instrument for the LORD, but if He asks that I leave Daniel, then pray that He will help with all those decisions, too!

 

The most important thing?  To give God glory!

Elle and the Day Care Centre

imageHello dear friends!

This is Ellie.

What a month we have had with our day center kids! It has been encouraging, discouraging, and such a privilege to be an influence in the kids lives.

A couple weeks back one of the parents in the church noticed that Masha, who is four,  (ice skating girl in the photo below), had a head full of lice. Upon later inspection we found that three of the kids in total have or had lice. It was a huge deal for the parents in the church who have girls with long hair and finally it was decided that we would have a few lice treatment days at the day center. Those were busy, but fun days. We ended up washing all of the kids' hair.  They all felt like getting a hair wash was super special, so we did them all. (I love how much they appreciate the simple things in life.)

On another note, we share a meal with the kids each day of the day center, and before we eat we always pray. These precious kids are really talking to God. About a year ago when the day center had just started we would take turns praying and often we would try to pray simple prayers such as, “Dear God, thank you for this day. Thank you that all seven of the kids have come. Please bless this food to our bodies. Amen.” When it came to Vika’s turn she would take a few nervous breaths and then start, “God, thank you for these children. Amen!” As time has passed each of the kids has grown in their prayer life. Now when we pray several of us pray before the meal and they all consider it such an honor to get to pray for something. I also noticed that some of them actually seem to understand that they are speaking to ALMIGHTY God.

imageThank you so much for your prayers. If you want to pray for certain kids here are some names -

Kristina is 12 and extremely smart.

Vika is 11 and we especially pray that she would be able to learn to read.

Vlad is 11 and a bright light, he has a very kind heart.

Natasha is 11 and always has a sweet smile to share, she really struggles with math.

Illya is 7, and is a ball of energy.

Masha is 4, and is very shy.

May each of you have a blessed month.

Ellieimageimageimage

Ukraine Putin Russia

0-02-05-e689821699e5624ac5932b60711b02de5b267ebd3c91170e7b147026f86fecc1_133f5d5b5e26cd2cA lot of people have been wondering how we feel about the potential of the coming invasion….

“Russia is going to invade Ukraine. This is a certainty.” (At least, that’s what is repeated by numerous people who have been given good “air-time” by the media.)

What are our thoughts?

Well… not wanting to make this a boring geo-political dissertation by forcing you to wade through all my hack reasoning; I’ll just say that I think it highly unlikely that Russia will come all the way to our small town… and I lean in the direction of them not invading at all.

We all see a lot of flags pointing to some sort of military action by Russia… the obvious conclusion is that either Russia is threatening the western world or Ukraine is going to come under the hammer.

At this point in time, Pris and I have peace from God about staying. We haven’t started stocking up on supplies and don’t feel the need to at this point. (I guess this is also a sign that we are decently confident that a major invasion won’t take place.) We understand that the American and Australian Embassies have pulled their staff from Ukraine and have recommended that their citizens leave the country asap... but we are banking on this likely being simple geopolitical theatre. The next couple of weeks should be telling.0-02-05-766e9e2ee8da92279219461187457d1f68c4aef45813013949c31eeb1c0cbbcc_71d18d2afce493e4

So, we pray for peace in Ukraine while being confident that God always has absolutely perfect reasons for everything which occurs in His wonderful but fallen world. Meanwhile, we will continue to do what we are called to do and love, disciple and enjoy “the redeemed” of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We’ve had a wonderful time with our family over the Christmas holidays going into January. Our two eldest daughters have gone back to Australia and Jesse, Daniella and Quintus are staying on here with Pris and Elle and myself. We had fun and special times together and we will miss our two girlies.

We have two full rehab homes right now. We are just about to move two more men into the adaptation stage where they will do repairs on the aging adaptation house and go back for visits to the rehab homes for a couple of days a week. Then after a month or so, they are expected to look for work in the community. May God give them mercy and keep them faithful.

Last week at church, I looked over the smaller-than-normal group that had gathered, (a lot were home sick), and realized that over half of us were former drug addicts. How would you feel if you were to go to church next Sunday to that? I dare say you would be intrigued by what God was doing! I feel as if despite the occasional disappointments, I am blessed to be given the opportunity to love and be loved by these guys.0-02-05-f00705e69c668f043627b5398b76419fc53556b1ceacdcc2bb89d6e754b86c5b_632239a384a8fd1d

I don’t normally make lists like this… but we would be thankful if you prayed for these four things:

1. Wisdom as I oversee the work many special people are involved in here and, (along with these people), love and disciple those connected with our church

2. The health of Jesse, our son, who is staying with us and who is fighting a 3-years-long battle with a pretty serious health issue

3. The continued work on the church building, (which is already being used 6 days a week)

4. Wisdom as we talk with people about the major issues we continue to face here, (in particular, Russian troops at the borders)

May God bless you!0-02-05-4506c21401ab7f405973799c00473f0dc741f362f92fbc3b181e2f059dd952ef_e3cb0775f512fa8c

Pause

IMG-1674Happy New Year?

I was talking with someone yesterday who said that the older they got, the more complex life seemed to get and the more painful situations they were forced to face. I read this morning Psalm 84 and encountered again God’s heart: “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

I read verses like this and even though my trust and faith in God is total and absolute, I pause.

“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

“He fulfills the desire of those who fear him”

“…if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”

I’ve been labeled “Charismatic” more than once in my life. (There aren’t too many Charismatics who are cessationists, but I always let the intended insult go undefended.) I’m most definitely not in the camp which seems to want to force God to “honor His promises” – as if He was a “tame lion”. What these verses do, (when the pressures and sadnesses in life come), is push me in the direction of calling out to the Holy God, “Father, have mercy!” That, and nothing more. He is loving and holy. God is powerful and all-wise. Trust-able!

So back to the pause… I quickly flit through the worn logic again – coming to the same conclusion as always: “I am your contented worshipper, God.” Sadness and trials of differing potency are a guarantee in this life. But as a worshipper of God, all is well – no matter the heartache, no matter the lack of understanding; for God is all-powerful and loves His children.

Coming off that subject: We are so happy to have all of our children here with us! (A grandchild is plainly “bonus”.) It has been pure joy! God has shown both us and our children great grace in giving them the same strong desire as we have to glorify Him with our lives. I’ll forever be so thankful for that!

Another “joy”:  Yesterday, I met with a man who wants to marry one of the ladies who went through rehab with us. Vika has hoped for something like this for a couple of years… and it looks as if God is blessing her with this godly man from Dnipro, a city in the south. Vika has faithfully been working in a carton factory for the past couple of years and serving in a ladies rehab centre we have close ties with in Kiev once or twice a week. God has done beautiful things for Vika – things she could never have imagined 4 years ago!  May His perfect will be done!

Some of the men and women who have left us after finishing rehab have gone back to drugs and alcohol. To God be the glory, many, (if not most), are in churches around the country and, (to one degree or another), “operating” as God’s servants in this world.  I met with three former drug addicts this morning who I probably won’t get to see in heaven… for they will be given positions way up close to Jesus while I’ll be way in the back of everyone.  Their love and humility and faith is just so encouraging.

pigs and sheepThe rehab centres acquired a few new heads last month.  One lamb and a couple of young pigs.  The church got to revel in the taste of last year’s sllooow cooked pig on New Years Eve.  It was possibly up there amongst the most delicious tasting meat I’ve ever tasted! 

The lads gleaned the corn fields and gathered enough corn to keep the piglets pretty well fed all year, we think.  They are voracious eaters though, (about 5% of their body weight is consumed in a day), so if we run out of corn… we may have to have an Easter pig.  Surely every church should have a church pig or lamb!! 

If you prayed about the hard situation I wrote about in our last blog, thank you. God, for perfect reasons, has allowed this man to believe and spread abroad that we have bad doctrine in our church, bad preaching, and to top it off, he and his wife have not grown spiritually during their last five years with us.  I genuinely feel sadness for this young family. A few of the leading men here have talked with this brother with the same outcome each time. Following a firm rebuke where we removed him from official ministry roles for a period of time, his heart has been hard and his mind seemingly intent on washing his hands of us. If we correctly understand the character of God, putting this behind them without resolving relationships and submitting to authorities and God’s Word is way easier said than done.

If there has been an encouraging thing about this sad situation, it has been that several people have come to us with concerns for this couple, (after they tried to tell them about the bad doctrine/bad preaching), and these people shared with us that they felt the opposite. I am reminded of Satan firing off fiery darts at the Christian only for them to hit a “shield of faith” and fall to the ground, spent and useless. “Good.”

IMG-1729Covid quarantine bumped our planned parenting mini-conference… as well as a youth conference our youth were keen to attend. (Musing: does all this quarantining and cancelling benefit the church so that she is more or less mature and godly? I sincerely wonder…?  It might be good!!!) We are aiming now for March for the parenting conference and the youth will hold their own two-day affair next week.

And lastly, (for this blog), the floor of the church building is tiled. It is incredible how much difference it makes to the cleanliness of the place… not to mention the heat this big slab gives off when hot water is pumped through the pipes underneath! We are grateful!  This photo is of the revelers who chose to join us for our New Years Eve celebration.  I’m thankful God has given us a close and precious spiritual family… even if they are a little bit too much like me - slightly weird - for comfort sometimes.

 

 

Quintus