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Last night was our first “post-summer” mid-week gathering.  We had a few newcomers who no doubt were a bit surprised at the non-formality of the atmosphere.  Our Sunday gatherings could hardly be termed “formal”, but by Ukrainian standards…  well, the word “relaxed” fits us to a ‘T’.  We valiantly waded into Revelation chapter 2 and 3 with the goal of applying to our church the encouragement to grow and warnings given to the churches in Asia Minor.  We will meet as a large group for the next several weeks and only at the end of October break up into a few different groups. 

foodOne of the newcomers was a young drug addict who grew up in New York (smiling in the photo).  He was sent to us from a town in Western Ukraine on Monday and is a fascinating study.  He met some Christians here in Ukraine who realized that God may choose to save him through rehab.  Our initial impression is that he’s very open and eager to be accepted… and He’s eating up a storm at the moment, (four days in).  He’s probably already put on 5kg in weight.  The next two weeks will be the first big hurdle for him as his body cries out for drugs.  If he stays, and I think he will, the next big hurdle after that will be at some period in the next few months dealing with his pride and submitting himself to the authorities in his life.  If you pray for him, his name is Zhenya.

The ladies rehab is doing well.  Marie has more wisdom at 20 than I had at 30.    God is receiving much glory through her life.  Marina, Pasha’s wife has been spending a day or two out there each week for the last few weeks, and Marie has appreciated the break to come home for a bit or go to Kiev.  The three ladies out there are really doing well.  We are about to move Vika along into the next stage.  The temptation we have is for these people who have been with us several months to only be moved on when we are confident of their spiritual health and direction.  I’m learning that some people don’t fit the mold and need to be moved on despite some obvious weaknesses.  It’s a tricky question though.

The last year, so many of the conversations in our home have been on the subject of rehab.  Incredible, really, from the perspective of three years ago, that world barely got a mention.  I was sitting with a couple of guys on Saturday talking with them about their childish yet sincere attempts to reach out to God while they were addicted.  They both look back on those days and see their pride and self-centeredness which stopped them from responding properly to God – and come to Him on His terms, (complete surrender), rather than their terms, (limited surrender).  I felt kolyaprivileged to sit with men who recognize the deceitfulness that is, to an extent, still liable to rear its head in their hearts.  These guys bless me in many ways, one of which is that of reminding me that, despite the Holy Spirit’s presence,  I’m not above doing that in my own life.  IMG_0813

One of the guys who shared is Kolya.  He’s a joy-ball of a fellow – the middle one in the photo.  Surprisingly he put on a serious face for the photo!  The first time I laid eyes on him was in our sauna… and I understood then that his young twisted body held a heart that, despite his venture into drugs and gaming, still looked out at the world with joyful expectation.  He’s assumed the role of cook at the center this week… and his attitude is a stark contrast to that of the former cook who was entering the stage of dealing with his desires to head back into the “real world”.  (If you pray about this ministry, pray for Oleg, in the red cap, who wants God’s will, but is feeling the pull back into the world.)

Our first European trip went well with the new van.  The profit on the quick trip was $200 – hopefully that will number amongst our less profitable trips. We’ve done a couple of Ukrainian trips which have also been good.  And tomorrow we again go tripping – this time to Slovakia and Poland and back.  The profit from this trip assuming everything goes well should be about $400-500.  If God IMG_0790continues to bless this venture, if will relieve a lot of the pressures we’ve faced over the last year.  Naturally, there will be other pressures likely on a more relational level with the drivers, as we continue to teach and challenge them.  I’m sure God’s mercy will be something we often request from Him.  The other van is nearly finished, except for the tray and tarp.  We are at a stand-still with that for now… tolic

Yesterday, we learned that Pasha’s wife, Marina, has thyroid cancer.  As far as cancers go, if you have to have one, this is a fairly easy one to deal with.  It will still require an operation and medication, (expenses), and fuss.  If you would like to encourage them with a financial gift to help them through it, please ask for more info and my bank details and let me know you are praying.  It’s been a bit of a surprise, but they both love and trust God more than most and will give Him glory throughout the process of dealing with it.

Tolik has the shepherd’s duties now that Ruslan has progressed to the next stage.  We now have 28 sheep and should probably butcher several before winter.  Tolik amazes me every time I see him with some more knowledge about the reformers or some Christian author he has read.  He has an amazing memory and I believe he will one day be a great blessing to the church as a teacher and counselor. 

And the last pic is me with one of the lads from the kids camp we ran a few weeks ago.  On the last day, I was sent around the back of the hall to find out what the boys were doing and was able to cheerfully confiscate a box of matches that they attempting to blow Rzhyshchiv up with… or something akin to that.  I got him to take a picture with me so that I could remember to give him back a box of matches next year at kids camp. 

Update over.  Thanks for your interest.  Soli Deo gloria.