Monday, 10/30/06 " “ Had breakfast with Nahzee, and we talked. (Nahzee is the grandma i stay with " “ she lost her granddaughter, Sophia, in the attack.) Nahzee shared how Sophia, Dzera, and Annushka (two of Pastor Sergei's girls) had gone a little late to the school that morning... and had they only gone a tiny bit later, they would have been saved. Nahzee's daughter, Fatima " “ whom Nahzee said was a Christian - was in the Baptist fellowship those 3 days on her knees and fasting and praying, as Nahzee and others did (also in Nahzee's house). Nahzee said that Fatima asks why God saved pagan children, but didn't save her daughter who was already working for Him (Sophia was a teenager who loved Jesus). Nahzee told me that Sophia was her everything, and something like she (Sophia) loved her (Nahzee) so much that even her (Sophia's) dad was jealous about that. Nahzee said, 'She's singing in Heaven... waiting for me.' Amen. Afterwards, i was in my room playing some worship songs, and Nahzee told me to come and play in the kitchen so she could hear. She was washing and cleaning grapes from the grapevines outside her house, and The Lord blessed me to both worship Him and minister to her. I played some of the Ossetian songs He's enabled me to write, and she even sang along to a bit of 'We Raigas' " “ a song in Ossetian declaring that He has risen, and that He Is The Resurrection and The Life. Altogether, it was a moving time!
Later in the day i saw Byella and Alina outside their apartments (two young teenage girls who survived the massacre), and they wanted me to sit with them, so i did for a bit. Alina told me that she likes my CD, and i told Byella that i'd bring her one.
Yah blessed me to visit with Valiko, Svyetka, and Arsen. (Svyetka was in the gym with her only child/ daughter, Elvira. Tragically, only Svyetka survived.) Little Arsen, a young boy close to 3 whom Valiko and Svyetka have since adopted, has lots of energy and is very giving. We watched 'Zhdi Menya' ("Wait for Me'), a Russian TV program where relatives try to find and/or are re-united with their family members that they've been separated from. Several times Svyetka had tears in her eyes, and the thought struck me... i wonder (and indeed, suppose) that as she watches these stories, she's both sad over the death of her little girl, as well as holding the hope that perhaps Elvira is still alive somewhere. And maybe, just maybe, she might one day see her on such a show and again be reunited with her. Before leaving, i asked if it would be alright to pray for them, and God blessed me to be able to do so. My friend Madina sent me a text message this evening and explained that her mom (who's a Jehovah's Witness) doesn't want her to go to the Christian fellowship. I explained that the most important thing is to do what He wants, to which she agreed.
Then went and visited with Mairbek and his family. (Little Mairbek survived the attack, but lost his mom there.) I stayed the night at Mairbek's, and we slept in the same room. He told me in the morning that he had woken up around 4 AM thinking i might have left. When i left in the morning, he said, 'The Lord loves you,' and i said that Jesus loves him.
Tuesday, 11/1/06 " “ In the evening, went and taught Madina (a different one; she's a teenage believer, who lost all four of her siblings in the massacre) and her friend Madina. The Lord blessed us to have a good lesson. Had tea and ate with Taimuraz (her dad) and Byella (her aunt, who lost two of her kids in the tragedy). Byella spoke of how our life is in Heaven " “ our mind needs to be fixed there, and not in thinking that our real life is here. Apparently, both of their families had the chance to move to the US about 20 years ago " “ and they talked some about that. Byella showed some letters she'd received, and said, 'They still write to this day,' for which we praise/d God. Offered to help translate/answer letters for her.
Wednesday, 11/2/06 " “ Went to Baptist fellowship in morning. Had Stas (who i think is 27 or 28) over for lunch, and we had a good time of fellowship. (Stas is a newer believer, and he lost his younger/only sister in the school massacre.) He shared that he doesn't feel as on fire in his faith as he used to, and The Lord blessed me to encourage him. The change of feelings is natural, just as one's feelings change after they been dating someone for a while " “ you still really may love them, but often gone are those first feelings when everything was new. (And as C.S. Lewis wrote, who would really want to stay in those early feelings of love all their lives? The nervousness, the butterflies in the stomach when around that special someone, and so forth.) Indeed, when you know a person well, and still love them " “ that is love. Love, as we know, is a choice of the will " “ not a tingly feeling. Of course, love does bring emotions and feelings into the picture at times, but we cannot hang on those experiences as the proof of whether we really love or not... that proof comes when we examine our life, actions, and choices. Yah also enabled me to stress the importance of staying in His Word... that, i believe, is the absolute best way to keep the flames of love for Jesus burning. Also shared Jim Argue's story; when i was in a missionary training program about 9 years ago, one of the teachers we had was Mr. Argue " “ and what he shared with us, i will never forget. He was very busy in the ministry, holding youth retreats and such, and scores of young people were giving their hearts to The Lord. He was really busy in his ministry, until one day God severely rebuked him. Jim said that God told him, 'You don't love Me " “ you love ministry.' Mr. Argue realized that as terrible as that revelation was, it was the truth; in his business, he had pushed aside his own time with The Lord in order to be busier 'serving Him.' Jim repented, and said that now, he doesn't care about anything compared with his personal walk with God; he's still involved in the ministry, but now The Lord is first " “ and the work is second. Please pray for Stas, to continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, and that God will give him continued passionate love for Jesus. Stas asked if i always preached about Jesus when i visited (victims') families, and i talked about doing so when God gives the opportunity. Many victims' families are on guard (after the attack scores of cults and charlatans came to Bsln to profit off these grieving people), and some are angry at The Lord. I don't know that the right approach to visiting a family who lost their little boy to bomb explosions and/or the collapse of a burning ceiling is to hammer them with The Gospel each time you drop by. Of course The Gospel is the answer for them, and for all men, but i share as He opens the doors " “ and He does indeed do so. Stas told me how even days after the massacre ended, while many were still searching for their loved ones, some people in Bsln held koovds " “ a 'koovd' is when people hold a big celebration to thank god/God (which one, i suppose, depends on the family) for something really great. In this case, in the same small town where so many were having funerals and burying their dead, many others still searching for their lost " “ others were holding big feasts of celebration. This obviously greatly hurt Stas (who lost his younger/only sister in the attack) and many more. He also told me how he was witnessing to some guy recently, and they talked about Jorgoobal " “ the month of November which is a holiday to praise and honor wasterjee, the Ossetians' dead saint/patron angel/ethnic god (even the Ossetians themselves have different ideas about who wasterjee is). Some people literally sacrifice animals to 'honor' that idol, and Stas had the chance to share that bringing such sacrifices to The True God isn't necessary now " “ Jesus Himself Is The Sacrifice Who has brought has acceptance and peace with God. Amen!
Had an English lesson at Nahzee's house, and it went really well; gave both Suzanna and Ilona my CD. We talked about music and things, and The Lord blessed me to state how being real and not selling out is what i think is the most important of all. Ilona wanted some help translating lyrics from a Tupac song " “ some things i didn't translate 'cos of how dirty they were, but shared his idea in general. (For the life of me, it's amazing how girls of all people can like such 'artists' who speak so openly about just wanting to use women for sex. Would such 'artists' simply walk down the street and speak such things, they would be disdained and rightly viewed as extremely messed up; yet they can glorify the same ideas behind the mask of music, and it strangely becomes "acceptable," "descriptions of reality," and worst of all - "art." )
Thursday, 11/02/06 " “ Saw Zipha (a mother who was in the massacre with her two sons and lost one of them there) in the store today, and she was really happy to see me. Praise be to You, O Yah! Her son who survived is studying in Moscow now; Zipha told me to visit. Went to teach Madina (who lost her brother in the attack), ate and had tea with her and talked. Madina asked me, 'If your parents were to move here, would you decide to stay here forever?' i said i didn't know, and about living difficulties here " “ you're always a foreigner; but also, some days i'm really encouraged when i see how happy people are when you visit them. She asked, 'Like how happy Alanka (her little sister) is when you come?' Exactly. Taught Madina, and shared some about there needing to be a reason to live rightly and so forth... not simply, 'live like this' and that's all. Without faith, i don't think a person can change and have hope. On the way home, saw and spoke with Olga " “ an older babushka who usually chews me out for not having visited.!Ã‚ We talked as i went with her to the store to buy bread, and shared that faith in Jesus is necessary. Olga said she didn't believe, and i asked her if there was a reason why not. She talked about all the lawlessness around and things, and then told me about some guy from Estonia who had been here and told her that she needed to believe in God and so forth... she told him she didn't. In time, he mailed some kind of booklet to her " “ and she said that guy had been a really good person. (Olga claims to be an athiest, but i believe still has a soft spot for God. I remember how last year my frined Elly and i visited her, and we prayed for her - Olga had tears in her eyes, not the trademark of a hardened athiest.) i need to visit her again! Also saw and talked with a sister in The Lord some about why i'm here, and she said i came for the right reason.... not simply to give things (money and gifts), but to share Jesus and help hold up/support the families. Indeed, now more than 2 years after the attack, there remains a great open door in visiting the victims' families, who feel the world has basically forgotten them. Loads and loads of people and groups came right after the massacre, but as time goes on, so few come and help now " “ at least to my knowledge. After prayer, i believe the absolute best way to continue to support these grieving families is to visit them; check out the last verse of James 1. I know that isn't possible for everyone, but i do believe it is for some. (Lord willing, when i'm back in the US , i hope to recruit another servant or more to share in the labor here.) Another great way to bless them would be simply to write them a note of sympathy and encouragement " “ speak of Jesus and His intense love for them, and include a few photos of you/your family and of your city. People in general seem to very rarely get mail here, which would make your letter all the more special. i have friends in the US who can translate them into Russian, and we can send them to specific families whom i already know. if you are interested in doing so, please let me know " “ with God's help i can tell you about the family, help get your letter translated, and pass on their address to you. Your letter would mean very, very much to them.
Went and had a very nice visit with Byella and her mom. (Byella is 14, and survived the school massacre along with her younger brother, Vova.) We talked some about Muslims, and they told me quite a bit about their (Ossetian) history. Byella wants to be a doctor when she's older, and The Lord blessed me to remind her what a miracle she is in having survived that nightmare.
Friday, 11/3/06 " “ Shabbat day. i've been reading through Dave Hunt's "Judgment Day!" book, written about the true face of Islam and about Israel and the nations. I haven't finished it yet, but there's lots of great and very revealing information in it. Dave Hunt is not afraid to call things as they are, so if you're into political correctness, you probably won't enjoy this book very much. But for those who love the truth, i would recommend reading "Judgment Day!" - it's rather thought-provoking, to say the least.
In the evening, i went and visited Ruslan, a 16-year-old boy who survived the Bsln school massacre along with his older sister and brother. Ruslan (Rusik) was shot in his right elbow during that nightmare, and still bears a large scar as well as has restricted usage of that arm. Please keep them in prayer " “ they will be traveling to Moscow again to see about getting approval to possibly travel to Israel for surgery. His mom's been quite frustrated with things, because it seems like they can never get a straight answer about whether or not an operation is needed. Apparently one doctor said to wait until he's 18... which would be four years after the terrorist attack. (i don't claim to be extremely knowledgeable in the medical field, but what kind of assessment is that? To tell a teenage boy who to this day still can't fully straighten his right arm that even though he was wounded over two years ago, he should wait another two years to have his arm fully repaired? What in the world is that docor thinking?) Another doctor says surgery isn't necessary " “ while another says it is. Please pray for them to receive godly wisdom and a proper diagnosis as well as for The Lord's provision for the operation and related costs. We had a very nice visit, and Rusik's grandma was also there " “ she as well as Rusik's mom served Rusik and i a great meal. Afterwards, they listened to my CD i brought to give them, and i had the chance to share about the words behind the last song. That in visiting many families who've lost loved ones, i'm lost for words at times. But all the same, i wanted to remind them that Jesus loves them, and hasn't forgotten about them. I also reminded their family how blessed they are since all three children made it out alive, and i told Rusik again that he was a miracle. To God's glory, they liked the disc. When i left, his mom gave me some homemade rasberry jam (super yummy!), some sort of salad, and lots of candy. The Bigaev's represent Bsln quite well... people who live simply and on probably a much, much tighter budget than western families do " “ and yet, shower you with food while you're there as well as you leave. I used to think i was a generous person, but these humble and simple people put me to shame.
Saturday, 11/4/06 " “ Nahzee called this morning from Brut (a nearby village where her daughter's family lives), and i had a chance to encourage her in The Lord. Saw Rita (who lost her only daughter/child in the massacre) " “ asked her how her health was, and she said that health doesn't matter. Went and visited with Madina; checked email there. Pastor Kevin had written, saying there's a stirring/excitement there (at CCPgh) for service here. Praise be to The Lord!
Went and visited Rita and her daughter Zalina (whose younger sister, Kristina, was killed in the attack). The Lord blessed me to give them my CD. Rita told me that she doesn't listen to music now... Kristina turned off the stereo before going and dying at School No.1, and so Rita has left it off. Zalina said she'd listen to it tonight; told them that i wrote the last song for families like theirs. Rita said she sometimes looks into the sky and asks, 'God, how is my daughter?' Rita " “ though often joking, extremely forward in things she says, and usually quite fiesty - had tears in her eyes. You can see it here in even the most 'hardened' people (from man's perspective)... no matter who they are, the tears still come and the tears still remain. The Lord opened the door to talk about Heaven, and i showed her some from Revelation. God helped me share how there, there aren't any tears, or sorrow, or sicknesses. Our conversation went on to different subjects, and i later asked if they were doing anything for New Years; Rita said they used to do things when Kristina was alive " “ as tears again filled her eyes.
I later dropped by and visited with Rozita (who lost her teenage daughter, Dzera, in the massacre), and gave her my CD as well. When i asked about how her son's doing in his military studies in Vladikavkaz, she said she didn't really know, and " “ perhaps this is just my opinion " “ seemed maybe like she just doesn't concern herself with such details since Dzera was killed.
Went and visited with Mairbek and his family; he and i played ball together. When i left later, Vova (his uncle) payed for the taxi. Mairbek himself again initiated saying, 'God loves you,' and i told him that Jesus loved him also.
Sunday, 11/5/06 " “ Went with Taimuraz, Raya, and Madina to the Vladikavkaz fellowship Taimuraz pastors. One of the Sunday School teachers, who speaks some English, told me there's a greatÃ‚ opportunity with their church in teaching English for the nonbelievers she could gather. One young brother who also spoke some during the fellowship asked me to write the words for 'Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus' " “ a rad tune indeed! The church's building was built i believe about 1911, overtaken by the Communists during their rule - who also added a big part to it (i think it was used as a theater during that period) - and then the believers got it back later. Afterwards tried to use the ATM on Kirova St. , but it was not working. Arrrggghhhh! We then went and had Fittjins (sort of like a meat-stuffed pizza), and Taimuraz treated " “ good stuff!. In the car, Madina or Raya said something about me as an American (i think in that i probably prefer hamburgers to fittjins) " “ Taimuraz responded, 'What American? He's already Ossetian!' Still having difficulty in remembering my name correctly ('Jason' for some reason is very difficult for many people here to say correctly and remember), Raya said that she'll just call me Alan (my middle name) from now on. (i myself have told people to just call me so if that's easier, and it even gives me more weight with the Ossetians, whose ancient ancestors were the Alans. In attempting 'jason,' people here at times say, ' Jackson ,' 'Jensen,' 'John,' and/or 'Jonathan.' Alan is much easier for them!) Taimuraz then took us to Gezyell (a village area), to show me what they're building there (new fellowship, with rooms for missionaries); the church's current toilet is an outhouse! Someone had broken one of the windows recently. Taimuraz told me that a Catholic pastor in Moscow who deals with victims' families invited Taimuraz to speak to his congregation about how he (Taimuraz) teaches and so forth. God blessed me to warn him about Catholic teachings and ecumenicalism; Taimuraz freely said that he knows very little about Catholic teachings, and i shared a little bit. (Many of you reading this know me well, and that i'm not some 'Catholic basher' or anything like that - that is one extreme that i want to avoid. But the other extreme i want to steer clear of as well " “ namely, when Christians try to gloss over and/or willfully overlook the many false teachings of the Catholic church for the sake of 'not wanting to offend people.' i myself was raised Catholic " “ i love Catholics, and to this day the majority of my family are still Catholic. i indeed did leave Catholicism; in reading The Bible for oneself, one will find many, many incompatibilites between what The Bible says and what Catholicism teaches. That is a simple fact, though i know that even saying so may offend some people. Oh for the day when people, including myself, or not so offended simply because others question or challenge our beliefs! In truth, if eternity is indeed a real thing, shouldn't we be more adamant to discuss such things?) i shared how they and other groups try to 'assimilate' believers in ecumenicalism, and Taimuraz told me, 'These are the last times, and we're called to defend/hold on to the faith.' Amen! On the way home, Taimuraz stopped to talk with a brother for probably a good half hour or so, and Yah blessed me to have a great, great talk with Raya. She told me how before she didn't know how believers could go through such terrible trials when she used to read stories of believers suffering " “ but now she does: God helps you carry the cross. She said how she has absolutely no idea how nonbelievers have dealt with the loss of the loved ones in the school massacre " “ yes, she lost four of her five children, and that's incredibly painful for her, but she has Hope. (His Name Is Jesus.) Amen! Raya shared how nothing on earth has any interest for her anymore; she hears people talking about things such as wanting to buy a certain dress, and she just realizes how empty and meaningless that is. She told me how her mom was really desperate to find God when she (Raya) was still a child; she (her mom) prayed, and had a dream about a church in Vladikavkaz " “ to which she herself had never been to or seen before. She went to Vladikavkaz one day, and just got off at a certain point, having no idea how to find the place she'd seen in her dream. She cried and wondered how she'd find the place, and i think she prayed to The Lord, and she miraculously met several babushkas (grandmas) on their way to church. She was so desperate to go with them, and she told them about her dream. When they got closer to the building, her mom began to recognize where they were from her dream. She (her mom) pointed out which building was the church, though it apparently wasn't outwardly noticeable as being one! Her mom could only go perhaps once every two months (it was expensive to travel to the city). When she was there " “ she was so focused on the preacher, and would write down what he said, and study and learn those things at home. In time, her mom's own family came to her and said, 'You can either choose us or your God' " “ her mom replied that she would never leave her God. Her family stopped visiting, and basically cut her off. Raya also told me that during Communism, some believers sat for a long time in jail - 15 years... 25 years. Oh what freedom we have in the west!
- The saints in South Ossetia (now located in Georgia's borders) whom Nahzee knows and told me about... only the leader has The New Testament in the Ossetian language " “ ask God to strengthen and bless His church there;
- The peace of Jerusalem , and His blessing upon and salvation for His chosen people the Jews;
- The Lord to continue comforting all the hearts filled with such great sorrow here;
- me... pray that He helps me finish all He has set before me - and that if He is willing for me to return here in the spring, He will bless me to find/recruit faithful believers also willing and wanting to serve in Bsln (there's much work, but few laborers)!
To The Gracious and Holy God be all the glory and praise and thanks!
And thank you for your prayers, love, support, & share in this service!
Reminding you that He Is Worthy,
You need faith to please Him. Believe that He Is, and that He rewards those who seek Him.