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Frustration and joy

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I just got a call from Mitya. Zhenya is bucking his authority again. The consequence is that he will be sent away. This is the third time it has happened and the other two times he was convinced to apologize, repent and knuckle down. It’s frustrating that he is choosing this course, but more than that – incredibly sad. Zhenya has been with us for over six months now. He hasn’t drunk a drop in that time. The likelihood of him returning to old habits is nigh on 100%. He’s been one of two in this bunch of eight guys who we have felt hasn’t bowed the knee to the Lord Jesus Christ . Our hope now is that he will realize what he has given up and truly repent before His Father.

IMG_8356 (1)The exciting news is that Igor has “graduated”. We felt confident that he was growing in his faith, showing responsibility and had an earnest desire to live for the glory of God. It was a nice moment when we told him.  (He’s been in rehab before, but never made it this far.)  He will continue living at Armageddon for a time, but has been given freedom to come and go… and he carries a mobile phone now!  He has put out feelers about work… but hasn’t found anything yet. Perhaps in the spring, he will return home – perhaps he will stay here. He says he would like to do that, but work may be an issue. We’ll see. Anyway, we’re greatly encouraged by our brother Igor.

Several days have passed since I wrote the above.  Zhenya returned home but hasn’t been in contact with Christians there that we know of.  May God gift him with an emptiness in his heart that he realizes could only be filled with fellowship with Christ and His people.

I’ve been thinking about the fellowship we have with Christ during the last few days as I’ve listened to teaching by the godly theologian, Dr. James White, (podcast – Alpha and Omega), about the old lie about transubstantiation.  We have fellowship with Christ through believing in Him – not through drinking his blood.  That unity with Him is something that gives us life and brings peace and joy now.  May Zhenya be given understanding!

IMG_8817Tonight should reach –16.  I’m glad for a warm fireplace and furnace that stays alight most of the time.  The last few days have been real chilly.  On Saturday, we took the lads who often stay with us on a week-end out to the island for a bbq.  (The photos document it better than these words will.)  It was a cheek-freezing walk out there on the ice, but doing a bbq in –10 is certainly something that is unique. 

The sauna at Armageddon is great – particularly on those really cold days.  It has actually been good for getting the guys in the church out at Armageddon relaxing with the blokes out there - good for us all.  A quick trek through the snow brings you to a creek which we dip in for the adrenalin rush.  I’m basically over the youthful need for an adrenalin rush, so what get’s me down there with the young guys is… I can hardly back out after encouraging them to “live life” rather than just “letting it happen”. 

We’ve been enjoying the larger numbers at church over the last few weeks.  God’s Name will be glorified, no matter what.  And having a large group is not necessarily a sign of health.  In fact, as I heard someone say this last week, “Jesus was the founder of the church-shrinkage movement.”  I get that, but still, it somehow feels better when we keep growing. 

Bogdan has twice stated this past 10 days that He has accepted Jesus as Christ for his life.  Bogdan is a friend of Artyom who also bowed his knee to Jesus not long ago.  Pray for these two 15 year-old lads who come from non-Christian homes.

We’ve also seen an old friend/acquaintance come back to church the last two weeks after a four or five year absence.  Actually, I’ve wondered before whether Lena is an informer for the police or secret service or something, (and that is no joke).  I don’t think she is, but she sure is “different” somehow.  I would love it if she were able to understand life with the same humility that many of the guys at Armageddon have. 

IMG_8824We finished our two week “liver-cleansing diet” today.  We’ve all been off meat, sugar, milk, wheat and… it would be easier to list what we HAVE been eating, actually.  It’s been a veggie diet, I guess.  I think I might have lost 10 kg… but that may be my sense of suffering that is talking.  To tell the truth, I most definitely feel healthier and, a la Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, I might even look a little “fairer and fatter of flesh”.  (Who said fatter was unhealthy??)  Pris was pretty creative in rotating and putting together nice meals and while we greatly enjoyed our celebratory banana split today, there were numerous meals that were delicious which we shared during the last two weeks.

Angel is doing fair in spirit, but not real fair in body.  Tonight, the skin on her face kind of just cracked open around her chin and mouth.  She has a beautiful and God-glorifying attitude about it, but it is extremely painful, so if you pray, please pray about this.  We would greatly appreciate it.

I’ll close this blog with a word about the youth who are a focus of our ministry here.  Each Friday night as I take them home, I drop about 10 of them off at one spot and return home with an empty car and literally - feelings of a full heart of love.  Nearly every week, they hear the gospel.  I watch their faces and see some that are obviously rebelling against God’s call to them, while others seem to have hearts and faces that are open and even eager to receive the truth.  Most of the students haven’t come back from holidays yet… or if they have, they went back home over the week-end.  Here’s the small group that gathered Friday night – mostly locals.  Please pray for these kids.  Some of them have already given their hearts to Christ.  Most are from non-Christian homes and are like the Athenians… having the attitude that they would like to hear more about these things… and so keep coming back.  May God have mercy on them.

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