Comforting Those Who Mourn – October 2007 – Part 2
Update from Russia, 24. October 15th, 2007
May those who love YHWH be like the sun”s rising in its might! (Judges 5:31)
10/9/07, Tuesday: Visited w/ Gyerman, a man whose wife and two young children were among the hostages during the school massacre. The children survived, but his wife did not. It was good talking with Gyerman, a calm-natured man who comes across as just one of those really nice people whom we seldom meet in life. He shared how it”s so hard for him, now that he”s raising two young kids alone. Gyerman told me that he keeps going on for the sake of his children; he mentioned that if he didn’t have his children, well” ¦ he didn’t exactly say what, but his meaning was clearly understood. He mentioned how he, like many here, has both good and bad neighbors. Tragically, this community has been living in not only sorrow and grief since the terrorist attack, but also in jealousy and envy; those who lost loved ones in the attack were given a large amount of money from the government, and many people around them have become very jealous that the victim”s families now live “better” than they do. It”s terrible what greed does to people” ¦ i mean, to envy families who lost loved ones in such a horrific way because they received money and you didn’t ” “ that is appalling. The precious families whom The Lord has blessed me to know here who lost children and other family members would give every cent they had if that would bring about the return of their loved ones. ” ¦Later went and visited with Khetag and his mom and dad. (Khetag managed to escape when the terrorist attack began, but his younger and only brother did not and he was killed in that tragedy.) Khetag is about 17 or so, and today he gave me the shirt off his back ” “ pretty literally! A while back I saw him wearing a red t-shirt with ” ˜Alania” written on it ” “ Alania is another name for North Ossetia, the county in which Bsl_n is located ” “ and i asked him where he got it. He told me i”d have to go the nearby city of Vladkavkz – but today, he saved me the trip and the money! Khetag gave me his shirt.
10/10/07, Wednesday: Nahzee, the grandma i stay with here, turned 69 today! i had earlier asked one of her/our friends to make Nahzee the traditional Ossetian birthday meal, which consists of three big “pizzas.” (They’re not actually pizzas, but i’m not sure how to describe them. They’re circular in shape like pizzas are, but they are more like scaled-down calzones.) Anyways, our friend Vaneera made them and we had a nice and small celebration; though it wasn’t some huge birthday bash, Nahzee was blessed and genuinely happy. Actually, Nahzee herself didn’t even remember that today was her birthday until i reminded her of it! And don’t worry, our friend Vaneera was very happy to make the food” ¦ in Ossetian culture, the moms and grandmas are the predominant ones who make these “pizzas.” Vaneera herself is a cook, and she even refused my wanting to pay her for the food and time costs in preparing the meal. ” ¦Nahzee told me, ” ˜I didn’t want to live anymore after losing Sofia (her granddaughter who was killed in the school massacre), but now that Anastasya is here, I want to live again.’ (Nahzee’s daughter, Fatima, gave birth to a baby girl, Anastasya, after she lost Sofia in the attack.) Today was a good day for Nahzee” ¦ thank You, Yah!
10/11/07, Thursday: i saw Svyeta, a mom i know here who was one of the hostages along with her only daughter/child, Elvira. (Svyeta survived, but Elvira did not.) Svyeta was on her way to the hospital to visit Valiko, her husband, who has severe heart problems. Please pray for Valiko; i don’t know if he had heart problems before the terrorist attack, but losing his only child in the school massacre has definitely not helped him, to say the least.
10/12/07, Friday: Taught little George and cousins, and it was a fun time there. (George is about 7, and survived the massacre although he lost his whole family there ” “ mom, dad, only brother/sibling, and grandma.) Some sisters in The Lord that i know just happened to be there visiting the family, and they shared with George and his relatives about The Bible. While the two sisters (Tamara and Alla) shared with the adult women, i hung out with George and the other kids, who wanted me to sing along to a few of the songs on my new CD. It was a real blessing to me personally to be sitting among those kids, who have been through so much, and be able to rap/sing about giving glory to The Lord and about Psalm 23! ” ¦In the evening, i went to my friend Karina’s birthday party. Yah blessed me with an amazing time of talking with Karina’s friend, Alina, who is about 21. (*See attached photo, and please pray for her.) Alina is Russian Orthodox, which for all-intensive purposes is just about the same thing as Roman Catholicism. The Lord blessed me to share with her that praying to Mary/the saints/the dead, candles, etc. ” “ they’re all unnecessary. i gave a few examples to illustrate the point, and mentioned how offended President Puti_n would feel if he had given her the opportunity to contact him for anything, but when she needed something she just contacted the local mayor. Or, if i were a father and found out that my son had gone to a neighbor for help instead of asking me. Or, if i had a girlfriend but didn’t talk with her about something, but instead just opened up my heart to a girl whom i barely knew. Alina understood, but said in a nice way, ” ˜But that’s how you see things ” “ we (Russian Orthodox) see things differently.’ i told her how God gives us the opportunity to go straight to Him through Jesus Christ, and that it’s not that i’m right and others are wrong – it’s just that Jesus Is Right, and we should do as He says. To His glory, it was one of those good and serious talks, but not heated like they can often get. i said to Alina that if she would read The New Testament, she won’t find anything there about praying to Mary, the saints, candles” ¦ they’re not there. i mentioned how God said there shouldn’t be contact between the living and the dead; i don’t know why, but God said it, and that’s all. i told Alina, ” ˜If i can give you an assignment, read The New Testament,’ and mentioned in particular 1 John, which is kind of like The Bible in a nutshell. Please pray for Alina; i don’t know where she’s at exactly spiritually, but i really sensed openness and honesty during our talk ” “ she wasn’t one of those people asking questions just to flip the table on you. Alina seems like a girl who, though in ignorance about different things, does seem to really love God and want to honor Him. Perhaps she is someone like i was, who grew up surrounded by religious tradition, and just needed to hear someone preaching The Gospel to them as if It really were The Truth, and something applicable to those of us who live here and now. As we all know, if Alina will take up the challenge and read through The New Testament, there is no doubt that she will be shown many great and amazing truths. Christian music, books, tracts, films, & the like all have their proper place, but The Bible Itself Is The Best Evangelical “Tool” that there is. Period.
10/14/07, Sunday: The AM fellowship was very good and quite interesting his morning. There was a visiting believer who ethnically is Gypsy, and that was the first time the local fellowship ever had a Gypsy in one of their services, and so they wanted him to speak a little. Before the service began, i went up and introduced myself to two other guests who were there ” “ Dan and Evanna, from Lancaster, PA. You may recall that in last week’s report i had asked you to pray for God’s help in case they would be needing me to help translate for them. If you prayed, thank you SOOOOO much! What happened was that my Ossetian friend, Tamara, was to be doing the translation, and i’d just be there to help out in case she didn’t know how to translate something Dan said. But, after the service had already started, i was informed that something had happened and Tamara wouldn’t be translating ” “ I would be translating the entire message! (GULP!) Of course i knew this would be a great challenge, and a wave of emotions rushed over me. But The Lord comforted me through Dan and Evanna’s guide; this brother was the one who informed me that i’d be doing the translation, and after a small pause, he whispered to me, ” ˜And we prayed for you, too.’ Of course that was no big statement of revelation or something, but it really encouraged my heart and ministered to me. i took a look through Dan’s notes so i could get a feel for what he’d be speaking on, and of course i prayed as well as i sat there in the service waiting for what was to come! i can tell you that, all to the praise and glory and honor of our Great God, Dan’s message and the translation went very well. Dan spoke on Psalm 8 and Philippians 4, giving the basic message of: we can praise God when things are good and beautiful (like a Psalm 8 sort of situation), but are we willing and able to – as Philippians 4 says – rejoice always in The Lord, and praise Him even when things are dark and not turning out the way we wanted them to? It was a very powerful message to begin with, but also taking in the fact of where this message was being preached” ¦ it was even closer to the hearts of the dear believers here in Bsl_n. As Dan shared, ” ˜Security is not being free from danger. Security is when, no matter what dangers are around us, God Is there with us.’ It was a truth that ministered to the hearts of these people who have suffered through so much loss and sorrow, and it was a truth that ministered to my soul as well. It was an exceptionally special blessing for me to have been able to translate today in Bsl_n; this was my first experience of translating a sermon before a large Sunday service. (i just want to mention this to all of you who are reading this ” “ not as some sort of flaunt, but as an encouragement to you all: when i look back at some of the times The Lord has given me in ministry, they are memories that i treasure and am amazed at. He blessed me to give my first ” ˜real’ sermon while i was in Jerusalem, He blessed me with a time of being in Jordan on Mount Nebo and looking at Israel from afar as we spent the night in a Bedouin tent, and He blessed me to first translate a Sunday morning message before a church who lost so many loved ones in the 2004 terrorist attack. This is not to my praise, but to His; and this is not to make you envious, but to spur you on in your service to Him. i mention this to all of you, but especially to those who are praying about where The Lord wants you, how you can be used by Him, and so forth. i can assure you that as you step out in serving Jesus, He will bless you with such amazing and precious times ” “ and you will not only hear and admire the stories and times of others in ministry” ¦ God will give you your very own.) ” ¦In the afternoon, three of the teenage girls i helped tutor in English over the summer stopped by to visit. (*See attached photo.) i had prayed for an opportunity to share Jesus, and Yah greatly heard and answered. The Lord blessed me to share that – as someone older than them – and having been in different places, i’ve seen and can tell them that without The Lord – everything’s pointless. Some people focus on a great education, which they get, and then they land a great job. That’s good, but it doesn’t give happiness. God also blessed me to be able to address several of the wrong beliefs people here have (and which these girls themselves may hold to at least somewhat), but The Lord so orchestrated it in a way that it wasn’t some big confrontation or anything like that. i just shared that a person can’t claim to be two different things at the same time. So many here claim they are Christian, or muslim, but in all reality they put their ethnic pagan customs on a higher level than the faith which they claim to belong to. If someone claims to be a Christian or a muslim or whatever, then they ought to live according to that faith; a person cannot be both a pagan and a Christian anymore than a person can be both a man and a woman. And Yah enabled me to share that we can’t just cop out by saying, ” ˜My ancestors/forefathers lived and died this way, so i’m going to live and die this way as well.’ (So many people here cling to that kind of philosophy.) We need to use our brain, and think about things ” “ whether they’re right, or whether they’re wrong. And the general illustration i used was: What, should i say that since my ancestors had slaves, i’m going to hold slaves as well because ” ˜that’s what my forefathers did?’ (i have no idea whether my own family in times long ago had any connection with slavery ” “ i was just making a general point.) The girls, Karina, Dzera, and Albina all understood what Yah blessed me to share, and i think that they agreed as well. Pray for them: their friend, Sofia, used to share about Jesus, but Sofia was killed in the terrorist attack. (Sofia was Nahzee’s granddaughter.) Pray that they will surrender to Jesus, and walk according to His ways.
10/15/07, Monday: In the evening, i went to the local pastor’s house for dinner and helped translate for Dan and his wife, Evanna. The Lord blessed us with a very wonderful time of fellowship, and it was a great blessing for us all.
Please pray for:
- Alina (see photo), to open her heart to Jesus;
- Karina, Dzera, and Albina (in other photo), that they too would surrender to Christ;
- Vitalik, a younger believer who’s going through a time of trial in his faith;
- God to heal Natasha, and/or to bless her with the rehabilitation support she needs, and to touch her heart through reading Joni’s two books;
- The Lord to raise up His Word in the Ossetian language;
- Valiko, who has heart trouble;
- my cousins Dave and Jody, that The Lord would continue to provide for them and have them working where He would have them to
- me – this Friday The Lord has blessed me with the opportunity to play a few songs at a Christian outreach event here.
For all of you praying for and supporting this ministry in the various ways which you do ” “ thank you so very much for being a part of this team! Great will be your reward for making yourself available for The Lord to work in and through you, and all the glory be unto Him!
Holy Is The Lord our God, The Only Living God!
May those who love YHWH be like the sun’s rising in its might! (Judges 5:31)