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God keeps on saving souls


sergei Fed baptism“Some of the most distinguished theologians of the last 200 years served in small churches and never saw a lot of fruit for their labour.” This was something that was said during the sermon today. We know that a big church is not necessarily a healthy church. But it is also worth noting that God delights in using the weak things of this world to confound the wise. When He uses the weak to achieve impressive things, it brings Him even more glory. Easy, eh? Good logic. Scriptural. Visible. And it gives us normal people who like to see fruit, (and who recognize that we aren’t particularly gifted), more hope.

Last week, we had a couple of baptisms – a special Sunday. Two guys, who are both nice and easy to love, have for several months now been enjoying the freedom in Christ that comes from true belief. I’ve written about Zheka before. He’s in his late 30’s and was born into a violent family. As a pre-teen, he was so glad to go into government care. He’s felt all his life as if God had His hand on him and was calling him. He’s been over 18 months without drugs or alcohol now… and is unique in that he’s continually thanking and praising God. I like it… and love upbeat Zhenya!

Sergei’s father is a Pentecostal pastor. Sergei never really clicked into the faith of His parents. He rejected Jesus and never really cottoned on to speaking in tongues and the prophecy that went on. He found drugs though and in his mind, they became a worthy god for him to serve for many years. He came to us a couple of years ago and in the first week of being in the adaptation stage, went back to drugs. We decided to take him back at his bequest, and this time we noticed a fascinating change in him. He had a reverence for God and over time, developed a unique love for people. God gave him the gift of realizing that he’s wasted far too many years of his life in self-indulgent living. I found myself tearing up as he shared his testimony. May God use this nigh-on-toothless 35 year-old for His glory.

Elle is loving serving in the ministry to kids from troubled families. Here’s a bit from her:

Hey, everybody! Ellie here. Wow, the last month has been so much fun. As you may have heard we have started what we call the ‘Day Center’ for kids from unhappy homes. We eat lunch together, wash all our dishes from lunch (the kids really love that), play outside, and imagehelp them with their homework or tutor them in the subjects that they struggle with. There are five kids that attend, and it has come to feel like we are a little family. I especially work with Natasha, who is ten years old. Each day we write or draw in a notebook about her favorite part of the day. When we came to this moment in the day, the last three times she has said that it was when we read the Bible all together. There are so many moments like that where I just wish each of you could see their progress in learning or love of being in an environment where God’s love is so freely shared.

I woke up at about 1:00 a couple of mornings ago to a strange noise coming from outside. Not being able to understand what it was bothered me enough that I got up to look out the window… a dark night. I put on my dressing gown and tried another window in the house… nothing there. Something was nagging at my mind though, and I had to go outside and stood there for a few confusing seconds before it hit me. Fire! I ran back inside and grabbed the car keys and took off up the hill.  I found the source and stopped the car. A neighbour on a parallel street had already futilely thrown a few buckets of water on his flaming sheds near his house. There was no stopping this beastie though. The plastic siding on the house was melting like ice, but the wood underneath hadn’t caught fire yet. I yelled out, asking him if there was anything of value in the sheds. He exclaimed and took off into the house for the car keys… and managed to get the car out pretty much unscathed. I proceeded to make a number of runs into the sheds dragging out his tools and other things of value. The neighbour was in his underpants, but I wasn’t much better off. I was barefoot and in my dressing gown, (not a view of me that the neighbours have ever seen before)! On one of the runs, I managed to kick my toe on something and opened it up right properly. Unsurprisingly, the adrenalin looked after that… and we kept on going until the firetruck arrived. By the time the fire was out, roughly 10 neighbours had come out to check what was happening – including, (to my surprise), Ellie, who had heard the commotion. Sleep proved elusive after the excitement and I’ll be limping around for a couple of weeks, but as neighbours, we know each other better than ever before! I’m also interested to see if God will use this moment in saving the soul of anyone… or will I discover that it simply brings Him glory somehow in eternity.

Often when we go through an unusual experience, (especially one involving “loss”), the question gets asked, “What is God’s reason for this?” I put to you that it should really be rephrased thus: “Does God have a reason which requires a sacrifice from me?” When anything happens on earth or in heaven, God has a myriad of reasons for its occurrence. It’s very human to think that He only has one reason - perhaps even naive. I am confident that He is so mighty, this God of ours, who “works all things according to the counsel of his will,” that He has millions of reasons for the different things that occur. But my question, when I encounter an unusual experience should be, “What does God want from me?”

imageThis last Wednesday, we got a call early in the morning from Irina, a dear friend in the church, to let us know that her mother, a lady who loved the Lord beautifully, had just died. We whipped on our clothes and went over, walking in on two policemen – one filling out documents while the other cradled his French-manufactured machine gun on his lap, (a discordant sight, considering an 85-year old grandma had just died). We had the funeral after lunch and all in all, it was a day in which God was glorified. I was definitely encouraged by Irina’s faith and trust in God and His promises. And Pris and I have been blessed to be loved by dear Nadia Petrovna over the past six years.  (She won my heart before she started complimenting me on my eyebrows… but that’s something I’ll remember forever.)

Our ladies are getting excited about the ladies-retreat they have organized for mid-October. At last count, about 40 ladies will be attending and will be having a good look at our Father’s heart on the subject of “love”. How well do we love? I reckon I stand with the group in the “pretty average” category far too often. Climbing out of that group is a life-long challenge that I’d love to achieve… may God give grace, eh? I’m sure our ladies will benefit from the retreat.

imageWe finally have a van for the rehab center. A few generous “fellow-ministers” contributed to its purchase and we are so thankful to have it. It’s an older model (2004) but was restored by the former owner in hopes that he would be able to make good money for all the times public transport closed down during quarantine periods. That restriction only really bit us hard back in the early days when panic regarding Covid was still flowing in the synapses. So we get to use a nicely restored LT Volkswagen van for ministry purposes – mainly rehab. “Lovely, Lord! Thanks.”

Care to celebrate with us?  The lads found water!  Smile  They dug a well at the house eight of them are living in during adaptation.  First time to dig for all of them and God blessed them with water at the 20m mark.  Thankful lads!

And there we have it. An end to a long post! May God bless you.