Comforting Those Who Mourn – October 2007
Update from Russia, 23. October 8th, 2007
The fear of YHWH – to hate evil (Proverbs 8:13)
9/26/07, Wednesday: In the late afternoon, one of the little-neighbor girls, Madina, came by with some of her friends to escort me to her 10th birthday party! Young Madina was a hostage during the terrorist attack, along with her mother, and it”s a miracle that both of them survived. Madina”s a very sweet little girl, and it was a lot of fun being there at her birthday party” ¦ to God’s praise, most of the kids here relate to me more like a friend rather than just ” ˜an adult,” although i’m already 30. You can see the attached photo, in which they wrapped both Madina and i up like mummies! When we were seated at the table, Madina”s mom asked me to say a toast; in this culture, adults often stand up during celebrations and toast to others” health and so forth, but almost always done over alcohol, and often by invoking ethnic idols and so forth. i personally don”t drink, and of course wouldn”t be toasting using any of the names of the false deities here, and so i said that i”d pray instead. Yah blessed me to pray for Madina, and in The Name of Jesus – thanking Him for how He saved her from the terrorist attack, and asking for His blessing upon her. ” ¦Please pray for a young man here that i know, named Irbek ” “ he looks like he”s around 20 or so, and i think he has some form of cancer or something. He works at the internet club i go to, and though i don”t know him really, really well, he”s just one of those people that comes across like a truly nice person. The Lord enabled me to give him the new CD, and pray that The Lord uses it to touch Irbek”s heart. ” ¦Congratulations to my parents, Rick and Doreen Catizone, who celebrated their 37th wedding anniversary today! Please ask God to bless them richly, and to give them many more years together ” “ in good health, and serving Jesus with all that they are. (Much love to you both!)
9/28/07, Friday: Taught English to young George (a survivor) and his cousins, and gave some copies of the new CD The Lord enabled me to put together. Thanks again for all of your prayers as i was working on the CD; The Lord heard, and to His glory and praise, it’s now being given out to many here in B_sln! The disc clearly speaks of Jesus and His salvation, and some of my friends here helped translate a number of the songs into Russian so the people here (especially the youth and the victims’ families) can know what’s being said and read of how Great our God Is. Glory be to His Most Worthy Name! i hope to be able to freely send out this CD to all of you who are interested as well, once i’m back in the US ” “ which, Lord willing, will be in late November.
9/29/07, Saturday: Taught English to the believers in the nearby city of Vladkavkz, and then went with a friend to visit one of our brothers who lives there in the city. Vova is in his early twenties, and has a pretty tragic story. i don’t know all the details, but his parents separated long ago, and his mom just died i think in February. Please pray that The Lord will continue to strengthen his faith, guide and lead him, and comfort him over the loss of his mom. ” ¦After returning to Bsl_n, i went to little Alan and his brother Marik’s birthday party. (Their family are believers, and Marik was a hostage during the terrorist attack along with his older brother, Artur, and their Mom, Irina. Marik and Irina survived, but Artur did not.) The Lord blessed us all with a really nice time together, and i also attached a photo from the party. This picture itself shows both miracles as well as heartbreak, in that it mainly represents two families of believers who both lost loved ones in the attack. The girl in the left of the photo (in the white shirt) and her sister on the right side (in black) are Fatima and Aza, and they lost two of their younger sisters in the Bsln massacre. Their father is a pastor at the Baptist fellowship down the road where i also attend, and he has heart problems; please pray for him ” “ his name is Sergei. The woman behind me (in the striped shirt and holding her youngest child) is Irina, who survived the attack but lost her oldest son, Artur, there. The little girl with her arm over my shoulder, as well as the little girl in front of me, are Irina’s two daughters ” “ though it’s terrible, I don’t remember their names” ¦ The Lord has blessed me to know just too many kids here! These two girls have lots of energy – the younger one especially (in front of me in the photo) makes me laugh a lot” ¦ she’s just one of those little kids always smiling and just doing silly things. J As you look at this photo, and see the faces of Irina and her two daughters, you are seeing some of the faces of people whom Yah has blessed you to touch. Through prayers, support, and all that many of you have done, you helped bring a lot of joy to that family as we celebrated the two older sons’ birthdays. You didn’t see their faces throughout that evening, but i did. And I assure you that God blessed and used us to bring joy to their hearts. Praise be to His Magnificent Name!
9/30/07, Sunday: i went and visited two families today after the AM fellowship, and gave them photos which we had taken together awhile back, as well as the new CD. While at the second family’s house, the mom (Anzhela) mentioned how so many people showed such great love and compassion to Bsln after the school massacre ” “ and that all of those things helped the community to pull through that terrible time. She said that without all the help and love they received, there’s no way this small town could have absorbed all of that grief and pain. i mentioned how you write and ask about the people here and pray for them, and Anzhela said to really thank you sincerely. She said, ” ˜When you know that you’re needed by others, it gives you a reason to keep going on.’ She recounted one story of how a girl in the US helped raise money for Bsln, and tears filled Anzhela’s eyes as she remembered that. Anzhela is a really genuine and caring mom, and she almost lost her own mother in the attack. The Lord blessed me to share that Jesus Is The Answer for Bsln, and that we need to give people hope. (To simply say, ” ˜Tomorrow will be a better day,’ is to resort to stupid, humanistic philosophy which speaks words that have no substance. We must give hope to people.) We also talked about how the Ossetian culture, like the US’, continues to decline. Anzhela pointed out that such talk is spoken around the dinner table, but that’s it ” “ nothing’s done about it. (Wow ” “ just like in the US!) God enabled me to encourage her to read The Bible with her children, and then they will (in time) change their culture. (Of course it will be The Lord working through them ” “ you know what I mean.)
As you probably are aware of, much happens here that never makes it into these reports, but i try to put some of the highlights and so forth before you so you can see what The Lord is doing through this ministry. Of course some of the unmentioned things are just matters of everyday life here ” “ a laid-back society, daily language struggles, and what-have-you. Not every story gets written about, and sorry to say, you miss out on some funny ones as well. (For example, one grandma i know here smacked me in the face today for not having visited her yet! She didn’t deck me or anything, but is was a bit of a surprise to me!) ” ¦But hopefully you can see week by week the lives that you’re helping to build up, and the labor in which The Lord has blessed us to share. i know i write a lot in the reports, but i don’t apologize for that at all! J i know that we are all busy, and really, i’m not offended if you’d only like to receive updates monthly ” “ i send a few that way already, and that’s fine if you’d just like one update a month or so ” “ just let me know. The reason i try to keep everyone up to date on the labor here is because i think mish’n.air.eez ought to be in regular touch with those who pray for and support them. Why should only those ” ˜on the field’ be able to see and evidence what The Lord is doing through the ministries which He raises up? i myself, in good conscience, don’t think that i can go away for a half of year, then come back – speak and show pictures, give The Lord praise, tell some stories, thank you, and say ” ˜a good time was had by all.’ Know what i mean? This is also why, God willing, i additionally hope to send an updated CD-ROM to all of you who are interested once I’m back in the US ” “ it will have several new photos of the kids and people here, new mp3s, and so forth. May The Lord bless you for all you do on behalf on this labor.
10/2/07, Tuesday: Went to the Bsl_n Mom’s Committee, and they gave me the new book which was written about the people who were killed in the attack here. i chatted with one of the grandmas there (Svyeta), and she said her granddaughter Zarina is doing okay in school. (Zarina survived the massacre, but her younger sister was killed.) Elderly Zaurbek stopped by the Committee; Zaurbek is in his 80’s, and was also among the hostages during the terrorist attack. He recounted part of his story from the time of the massacre. On the first day of the three-day siege, Zaurbek told the terrorists of how he used to be a teacher in the republic that many of the terrorists came from (Ingushet_ya). One of the terrorists responded by slamming elderly Zaurbek in his ribs with the butt of his gun, and in doing so, broke some of Zaurbek’s ribs. Zaurbek sat among the more than 1,000 hostages for another two days in that condition. ” ¦Went and visited with Olya, a grandma that i know here who is both hospitable as well as quite feisty & outspoken. The Lord blessed me to give Olya one of my CDs which is in Ossetian (the main ethnic language spoken here), as well as the book “More Than A Carpenter” translated in Russian. Olya is a professed atheist, but I’ve seen with my own eyes that she also has a soft spot, and is not the staunch and unshakeable atheist which she may claim to be. (Never be fooled by people’s words; their confession of faith, or the lack thereof, is not necessarily the truth that dwells deep inside them. The Lord reached Paul, & transformed him beautifully for His work and glory” ¦ & The Lord can do the same thing with the ” ˜unreachable’ whom we know. Remember Ephesians 3 ” “ He’s Able to do far more than we can ask or even think!)
10/3/07, Wednesday: AM Fellowship; really good message about wanting to be strong, but not wanting to pay the price. I.e., we want to be like Paul, but who wants to pay the cost he did in his life and ministry? Suffering and hardship ” “ in those times, we are strong through God’s strength. ” ¦Plumbing leaks here at the house! i called my brother and friend here, Batik, who came and helped. ” ¦Tried to visit a family who lost their older son in the massacre, but they now live in the city. However, YHWH my God gave perfect timing in going there ” “ the dad, named Mairbek, had just arrived, apparently to check on their house here in Bsln. i introduced myself to him; he didn’t remember me from the letter i had sent them months ago, but he said his wife had mentioned something about my letter. Anyway, we chatted briefly, and The Lord blessed me to share that many people still remember and pray for them. I gave them two of my CDs, as well as some chocolates and some small things for their little girl, Dana. Mairbek thanked me as well as the people who remember them (that means you), and he invited me to have a drink with him. i told him that i don’t drink, and we chatted a little more. He asked if i was Ossetian, since I spoke with him a little in that language! (Here is their story, and the info is gathered from the new book about Bsln, written by Mura_t Kaboe_v.) Mairbek’s wife, Zifa, was among the hostages along with all three of their children: 2 year old Dana, 8 year old Soslan, and 10 year old Vova. When Aushe_v came on the second day to negotiate the release of some of the hostages, around 25 people were released ” “ moms with little babies. Zifa left with their little girl, Dana; the older son, 10 year old Vova, was killed in the terrorist attack, but Soslan survived. ” ¦I went to visit the little girl’s family whom you may remember from last week’s photo, Madina, who was also wrapped up as a mummy in that photo. Man, did Yah ever give me favor this night, and in their family’s eyes in general! I drew some with Madina, and she read several pages from her illustrated Children’s Bible. Turns out that, to The Only God’s glory, they really like the new CD Yah blessed me to finish, and which many of you prayed for, especially Aslan (Madina’s older bro, around 24) as well as Madina herself. They wanted me to sing some from it through their karaoke system while the first track played; i did, and we also sang some karaoke songs. Aslan asked me what his two favorite songs from the CD were about, and Yah blessed me to tell of Jesus, and how God loves us and – like a parent – wants the best for us even though many times we want the opposite. Talked a good bit with their mom, Elvira, too, and was able to share that the root problem here now is spiritual, that only Jesus Is The Answer, and that we need to give people hope and reason to live. Twice Aslan called the main radio station in the nearby big city that apparently all the young people listen to, and he and his family said hi to me over the radio! God has given me enormous favor with their family, and Aslan really seems to like and respect me as well. He’s not yet a believer, but he also has a soft spot in his heart. Aslan told me several times, ” ˜drop by anytime, even every day, and I say that from my heart and soul.’ This was, all to God’s glory, one of those visits which really remind you of why you’re here, and encourage you to keep trying to reach these people. There are indeed other kinds of visits, which afterwards leave you with discouragement and the question, ” ˜What in the world am I even doing here?’ Tonight’s visit was a breath of fresh air to me as well because it was evidence of how the music is indeed touching people, and it was encouragement to keep putting the truth of Jesus to music.
10/4/07, Thursday: Went and visited the Satsayev family. The mom, Natasha, was a hostage along with all three of her children: Tamik, Dana, and Adelina. Miraculously, they all survived ” “ but not without a price; Natasha, who is only in her early 30’s, now cannot walk. (See the attached photo. Though I reduced the photo so the file size would be smaller to email, you can still see scars on Natasha’s face.) The Lord blessed me to have such a wonderful and amazing visit with them ” “ more evidence of God hearing your prayers and answering in very real ways! Natasha said she is worse now (it’s been more than three years since that nightmare), and said she feels like she’s going crazy at times. Imagine being a young mom when suddenly one day, you’re paralyzed. You have three young children, but you now can do very little for them, and you yourself are confined to your own home 99% of the time. Natasha told me that the local Red Cross has closed up, and that no one stops by to visit. Even during the recent third year anniversary of the attack, no one came by. Natasha is hoping to go to another city here in Russia, or perhaps to Israel, to receive rehabilitation. The doctor said she may walk again one day if she gets rehabilitation, but there’s no one here who comes to their house to work with her toward that goal. The Lord blessed me to be able to pass on two of Joni’s books in Russian which she sent me to give to Natasha, and i was able to encourage Natasha by telling her some of Joni’s story. Please pray that Jesus uses those books to minister to Natasha. Also passed along gifts one of the prayer warriors in this ministry had sent (thanks Peggy!), and the kids played happily with one of the games. Was able to tell of how people pray for them, and Natasha wanted me to pass on her sincere and heartfelt thanks to you. Before leaving, God blessed me to pray with Natasha.
10/5/07, Friday: After teaching an English lesson to little George and his cousins (George is a survivor), i stopped by a local print shop and picked up the CD inserts i had ordered for the new CD. God gave an opportunity to meet and talk with the husband of the lady who works there. His name is Marat, and i was able to share about Nahzee’s (the grandma i stay with) faith in Jesus; she’s seen so much suffering, but she still has faith in God.
10/6/07, Saturday: Went to Vladkavkz to teach English; as part of our lesson, we read some about Gideon’s story (when The Lord reduced the number of soldiers) in Judges 7. It was a good reminder for us of some very important truths” ¦ 1. God can do all things and He doesn’t need any man’s “help.” And 2. He wants to receive the glory. The sister there that helps me in teaching the class, Tamara, later asked if I may be able to help her in some translation ” “ apparently, there are some mis_sionarie_s from the US coming very soon, and she asked if i could help if needed. If they wind up needing extra help, this would be both challenging and fun, and definitely something you can pray about! i would be more of a “side-translator,” meaning that more-or-less i’d be there to help Tamara out when something spoken in English isn’t completely clear for her. ” ¦After coming back to Bsl_n, Nahzee told me that young Mairbek had stopped by to visit along with his grandma. (Mairbek survived the attack, but lost his mom there.) The Lord gave Nahzee opportunity to tell them that life without God is very difficult, and she encouraged them to come to the morning service tomorrow. Way to go, Nahzee!
Please pray for:
- Jesus to work in little Madina’s heart, as well as in her brother Aslan’s and in all their family’s;
- 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;
- YHWH to heal little Paulina in South Africa – she has an infected bone in her leg;
- The Lord to raise up His Word in the Ossetian language;
- God’s wisdom and help if i’m needed to help translate for the coming mis_sionari_es;
- Grandma Olya, that The Lord would convict her and bring her to faith in His Son, Jesus;
- Israel and those who love her. For what it’s worth, Iran’s government’s spokesman has threatened those who love Israel ” “ that they will receive some sort of ” ˜answer’ on October 12th. Please pray for my brother and friend, David, and the other saints who are there in Israel at this time.
Thanks so much for being part of this team! All the honor, glory, thanks, & praise be to our Worthy Lord Jesus!
Iesus, tanto nomini nullum par elogium (Latin to English – “Jesus: for so Great a Name, no praise is adequate” ),