A Postcard from Romania

Well, I’m in the middle of a grand tour. Over a week ago I left Estonia, driving south for three days to Montenegro. My time there was excellent and full of life. I spoke at the Word of God Evangelical Church in Podgorica and had great fellowship with family, friends and ministry partners. It would have been nice to have more time and hopefully Olga, Val and I will visit next year.

Then I drove to visit friends in Serbia and a few days ago arrived in Sighișoara, Romania (in the heart of Transylvania, above). Yesterday was a full and joyful day. I spoke at three churches (one Romanian and two gypsy/Hungarian) and felt that the Lord encouraged and comforted many people. It’s gratifying to return to minister in fellowships, to see familiar faces. Last year I was here with a team that prayed for many people. Last night a man told me how much that blessed him and prepared him for the year.

Here is my view at one of the village churches last night, just before I spoke:

This week I’ll have other meetings and on Friday or Saturday I will drive to Odessa, Ukraine in preparation for our Stoneworks conference next week, where we will welcome over 30 adults and about 20 children.

One lesson that continues to resonate with me: if anyone wants to be fit for service in the Kingdom of God, they can not put their hand to the plow and look back.

Val’s 11th!

Each year near to her birthday we take a picture of Valerie in the same dress, one of Olga’s. I got this idea from Life magazine years ago. It’s fun to watch her grow up:

 

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4th Birthday:

Val - Birthday - Dress

4th Birthday

5th Birthday:

Val-5th Continue reading

What a Surprise

My jaw dropped when I saw this.

The worldwide human population in the year AD 1 was just 170 million people. That’s less than half the current population of the USA!

  • 1000 AD: 250 million
  • 1400 AD: 343 million
  • 1600 AD: 538 million
  • 1800 AD: 1 billion
  • 1900 AD: 1.6 billion
  • 2000 AD: 6.1 billion (!)

Worth watching:

Uganda Conference

Three pastors from DR Congo are visiting Sam’s church, teaching and preaching. These men are all dear friends, and I’m very glad that I can play a small role in helping them do what God is calling them to do.

Above are pastors Maskote, Bethuel, Jeremy, Sam and Damiri. Here is a quick report from Damiri:

We’ve had a great time today at the conférence. Pastor Bethuel is Teaching about Discipleship, Pastor Jeremy is teaching on Discernment, Pastor Maskote is teaching on Fellowship and I am doing Leadership. The attendance increased today and mostly pastors and church leaders. We love it.

This is a blessing for us, to be given an opportunity like this, builds us in our faith, and we come to understand that we have something very much needed elsewhere that we can share. May God bless each one that contributed to make this possible. We are very grateful.

UPDATE: Damiri sent this after the conference was over:

We are very very grateful for giving us an opportunity to minister. We had a great time ministering and fellowshipping with brothers and sisters in Fortportal. I have a sense that this door is not only open to Spring of Life church but to the surrounding areas as well.

The number of ministers increased, and testimonies from the attendants were powerful. Like one old man called his wife up front and asked for forgiveness to his wife and his whole family for mistreating them. He learned from the teachings that he must have a good relationship with his family. There were healings and some youth accepted Jesus as their Lord and savior.

The need for teachings is still highly needed.

I think God opened this door not only for Pastor Sam, many more ministers have benefited.

Glory be to God. Each and every one in the team says Thank you and may God bless you more for the finances and prayers for this work to be done.

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A Postcard from Russia

As you can see, Val and Miki are having a good time. We’re all doing well, having enjoyed the early part of summer (we’re getting a lot of work done at dacha) and just now entering the busiest time for us. We have friends from the USA visiting, and it’s been good to welcome them and show them the city, which is full of life because of the World Cup. We’ve never seen so many different nationalities on the streets. The city is festive.

Soon we’ll go to Estonia; Val will attend a children’s camp and then we’ll meet a team from the USA that will run an English camp. Then I head south for a ministry trip. I’m still praying to discern where I should go, but I know I’ll end up in Romania for a week and then go to Odessa, Ukraine for our Stoneworks conference. I may also visit Bosnia, Montenegro and Serbia. Prayers are appreciated as we discern how and where we’re to spend our time.

Testing and Tempting

I’ve been pondering this from James:

. . . the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone. . .

There is a difference between testing and tempting. The Lord allows our faith to be tested. He wants us to pass the test; He will give us the grace to pass the test. He never tempts us toward evil.

A Tempter wants us to fail. A Tester wants us to succeed.

Our trials, our battles against sin, are allowed so that we’ll be complete, mature. The important point is that we need to let perseverance have it’s full effect, allowing hardships to do their work in us, considering them as discipline from a loving Father so that we’ll share in His nature (see Hebrews 12).

When hard situations arise, I often pray, ‘Lord, let this difficulty do it’s work in me so that I’ll be a better disciple and love you more.’ Rather than avoid the hardship, I submit and allow perseverance do its work — this is my goal.

So, press on and let these difficult situations, these pressures and hardships, form the image of Christ more deeply in your heart.