Update from Russia, 20. September 18th, 2007
"Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise You." (Psalm 63:3, NASB)
9/12/07, Wednesday: In the evening, my neighbor Madina stopped by for help with her English homework. Madina is around 15, and is a really great girl. She smiles easily and often, and one would never be able to guess she herself was one of the more than 1,000 hostages who were held for three days in the gym during the terrorist attack. Madina was a hostage, along with all (four) of her siblings; she is the only one who survived. She is a believer, as are her parents, and they are amazing testimonies of trusting in Jesus even in the darkest of times. I helped Madina some with her homework, and i"m constantly amazed at what they try and teach these youth " “ texts which are way too hard for the levels they"re at. The result is that many students don"t really understand anything, and finish high school not being able to communicate hardly at all, although they studied English for 7 years.
Update from Russia
September 11th, 2007
"In the world you have tribulation, but take courage: I have overcome the world." (John 16:33, NASB)
9/5/07, Wednesday: AM fellowship; after the service, one of the grandmas came up to talk with me. She had brought her granddaughter (Galina) to last week"s English lesson, and she said how Galina liked the lesson. She told me that as a result of the terrorist attack, Galina has had severe problems with her nerves; Galina herself was not a hostage, but " “ like other youth in the region " “ she was greatly frightened by all that took place here. To God's praise, her grandma said that Galina was calmer than usual after having come to the English lesson.
Update from Russia, 18. September 5th, 2007
YHWH Is a Shield to all those who take refuge in Him! (2 Samuel 22:31)
8/27/07, Monday: As part of the new CD I"m working on, I recorded Nahzee (the grandma I stay with) speaking, and will integrate her voice with music and put into song. She is such an amazing woman of God! I earnestly hope The Lord sends someone here someday to put her life story into book format " “ it would be a most interesting read. Nahzee was orphaned at a young age, later lost her husband and raised their four children by herself, lost her youngest son in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict, and then lost her beloved granddaughter in the Bsln terrorist attack. Despite such a life of hardship, Nahzee is a smiling and laughing woman of God who clings tightly to her Savior. As she often says: on this earth, there"s nothing but deceit " “ but she hopes in her God and in Him Alone. She is the opposite of the self-focused Christianity we in the west are so subject to" ¦ you know what I mean, the "Oh, my life is so bad" pity party we often hold for ourselves. Nahzee of course isn"t perfect, but I"m amazed at the strength of her faith: that after all she"s been through, she still loves Jesus, and puts none of the blame upon Him.
Know God, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing soul. For YHWH searches every heart, and He understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He"ll let you find Him. But if you forsake Him, He"ll reject you forever. (1 Chronicles 28:9)
August 20th, 2007
YHWH Is my Shepherd; I shall not lack.Ã‚ Ã‚ (Psalm 23)
My cousin Jodi passed on an interesting quote, and I in turn want to pass it on to you: "To the world you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world." We may never know how much we touch people"s lives here on earth, but take heart to remember that The Lord may be using you in " ˜hidden" ways to truly bless others. And because of our problems with pride, it is probably better that we don"t fully see how much He"s using us! I"m reminded of Ray Boltz"s song, " ˜Thank You For Giving To The Lord." Think about it: through your prayers and support and love, you are touching many, many lives here " “ and it wouldn"t surprise me in the least that in eternity to come, you may have one who comes up to you to thank you, saying perhaps something like this: " ˜Thank you so much for praying for me! I lost my mom in the terrorist attack, though I myself survived; thank you for all the times you prayed for me, and wrote to me and reminded me I wasn"t forgotten! Jesus used those things to draw me nearer to Him, and that"s why I"m here today."Ã‚ Ã‚
Update from Russia
August 6th, 2007
Is anything too difficult for YHWH?Ã‚ Ã‚ (Genesis 18:14)
7/30/07, Monday: For the kids" English lesson today, only Mairbek came " “ and that was actually a great blessing, as The Lord opened up a few times to share about Him personally with Mairbek (an 11 year old survivor of the school massacre, who lost his mom there). God gave me an opportunity to tell how Jesus has changed me, and also to tell about the Exodus story. In our English lesson, we are reading through John 6, and we read about how God provided Manna for His people in The Old Testament " “ we also read in Russian so the kids can understand what they"re reading" ¦ but even in Russian, Mairbek asked me what " ˜Manna" was. And so The Lord gave the opportunity to share how God delivered His people, and provided for them even in the desert. I was shocked that he really had no clue about this story " “ but then again, we"re seeing the same thing even in the US now with so many kids growing up without even knowing of Moses, Daniel, and the other Biblical heroes so well known. As we walked together after the lesson, I was also shocked at another thing, though perhaps quite small. One time in the recent past, we were walking together when we came to a point where there"s this overhead pole leaning against another " “ sort of like an upside-down "V." Anyways, the last time Mairbek was surprised that I didn't leave the path to walk around it, but instead I walked under it" ¦ he, as many here do, believed that doing so would bring bad luck, like walking under a ladder or what have you. So, to illustrate how nonsensical that was, I repeatedly hopped forward and backward under the pole a few times and told him that that superstition was nonsense. Today, when we came to that same point, he walked with me under the leaning pole. Perhaps a small victory, but I hope The Lord is helping Mairbek to break free from the many stupid and shackling superstitions so widely embraced here.
YHWH Is a Refuge for His people, and He"s a Stronghold to the sons of Israel !Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ (Joel 3:16)
7/22/07, Sunday: Went to the AM fellowship, and was so happy to see Alla there! (Alla lost her younger son in the terrorist attack; her older son, Khetag, survived the attack.) That was the first time I"ve seen Alla in a church service" ¦ may it not be the last! After the service ended, I talked some with her and gave her an Ossetian New Testament.Ã‚ Ã‚
Extract what is precious from what is worthless. Ã‚ Ã‚ (Jeremiah 15:19)
I"m currently reading through The Book of Jeremiah, and the verse above is one which really seemed to " ˜jump out" at me. YHWH was speaking with Jeremiah, and He shared His desire for him to extract what was precious from what was worthless. May The Lord God so bless and help us, that in our own lives, we too may extract the things that are precious from the things which are worthless!
If you"re in Christ, you are a new creature!
2 Corinthians 5:17
7/4/07, Wednesday: AM fellowship; saw Raiya and chatted w/ her. (Raiya lost four of her five children in the school massacre, and is an amazing woman of faith and trust in The Lord.)Ã‚ To God's glory, her ankle is better and she"s able to walk now (she had broken it and had to stay off it for a month or so). Hung out and talked w/ Sasha, a brother in The Lord who"s the same age as I am. He told me how he had met Vova (Khodov) a few times, who later became one of the main terrorists in the school massacre here. Sasha told me that Vova was a drug addict. " ¦Sasha and I talked about several different things, one of which was about the difference between " ˜killing" and " ˜murdering" in the Hebrew language. So far as I know, Russians use the same word for " ˜kill" as they do for " ˜murder," and The Russian Bible translates one of The 10 Commandments as saying not to " ˜kill;" some English translations translate it that way as well, but the Hebrew actually commands us not to murder. Hebrew has words for both " ˜kill" and " ˜murder," but makes a clear distinction in The 10 Commandments, which prohibit us from murdering. Not that I"m trying to say we ought to go around freely killing " “ you know what I mean! Just that people sometimes create enormous movements (such as pacifism) and try to back them up with a Scripture which they incorrectly interpreted.
Today, choose whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve The Lord.Ã‚ Ã‚ (Joshua 24:15)
6/3/07, Sunday: Went to AM fellowship. Afterwards, did lesson planning for tomorrow"s English classes. Went to visit Mairbek (who survived the attack, but lost his mom in it). We played ping pong at the park, and then hung out some at his house. Later, I visited with Madina and her family (who lost 10-year-old Marat in the massacre). The Lord gave an absolutely amazing time of sharing with Madina"s mom (Zalina), all praise be to His Name! I had prayed for an opportunity to share Jesus, and He answered. Among other things, was able to share that none of us are " ˜good," and that we all have a debt which we can"t pay. But, we can accept Jesus" payment for us. The Lord gave great opportunities to share truth and His Word, and so all the glory be to Him! I played with and helped occupy Alanchik and Alanka (Madina"s baby brother, and her little sister) while Madina studied for her very important algebra exam/final tomorrow.