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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? 

I’ve just come home from the rehab centre.  Angel contacted me on my way home to let me know that she’d just had her phone stolen from her pocket.  “… count it all joy.”  She’s over the initial shock and has a beautiful trust in God, so this experience, while unpleasant, is also beneficial. 

IMG_6858 (1)As of today, six guys are living out at the centre now.  Each of them has a fascinating history.  Some of are so broken and humbled.  It’s actually a beautiful thing to witness.

Vanya – third from the left – is a former drug addict.  He speaks like a gangster, loves the Lord deeply and has a real heart for helping the blokes who come.  He is the one responsible at the centre when we aren’t there.  Sasha, on the far right, drove the bloke who looks cold down from Kiev today.  Sasha seems to be a man who loves serving wherever he can and will no doubt bring more people to us over the years. 

Last week, we met with a pastor in Kiev who has lots of experience with rehab centres.  He said that the four centres his church runs have about a 20% success rate of men becoming christians and not returning to drink or drugs after rehab.  Call me naive, foolish, arrogant, brash, inexperienced, whatever… I simply can’t and won’t be happy with that sort of statistic.  I’ll be praising the Lord for every life He saves and changes, but that 20% stat… 

We have a van for the centre.  Thanks to a few generous people who gave towards purchasing a vehicle, we picked up a Ford Transit Van, 20 years old, but big and practical for the 8-10 guys who will be here with us.  Pavel is so happy to have it… which is nicely ironic considering the ritzy vehicles he used to own before he became a Christian. 

For those who pray:  one of the little boys in the children’s home has a severe outbreak of herpes covering his body.  He is in hospital and has been for over a week now.  His name is Dima and he’s a cute kid, but has been in so much discomfort and pain from this virus.