By His wounds we"ve been healed!(1 Peter 2:24)
I recently sent a detailed letter to the Russian Embassy in New York, asking them to explain why I was denied entrance to Russia last month. When I was at Domodedovo Airport in Moscow, the agent there had claimed that she couldn"t explain exactly why I was being refused, and that I"d have to contact the Embassy here in the US for them to explain it to me. And so, that"s what I did, sending them a letter so as to find out why they denied my entrance. In the letter I pointed out the fact that the document I had been given in Moscow was to have been signed by both them and me, but that in fact, there were no signatures whatsoever on that document. I asked the Russian Embassy in New York to explain why I was not permitted to enter the country, and shared about how I"ve been helping the people of Beslan. Well, last week I received the Embassy"s "answer," if that"s what you want to call it. Ã‚ In the classic Russian style of "let"s ignore the facts because they really make no difference to us whatsoever," they ignored basically everything in my letter, only responding by saying that I was refused in accordance with law 27. The reason their "reply" was so hilarious was that the document which was given to me in Moscow (and which I photocopied and sent to the NY Embassy) already stated that! Well, at least I know they can read. But I was asking them to explain why they used that law to deny me entrance, for the agent in Moscow had assured me that the Embassy in the US would be able to do so. I"m obviously going to send them another letter, but I waited to do so because in all honesty, I really felt like writing one of those "you big dumb idiots!" kind of letter. Practical wisdom said to wait, since one"s immediate response is usually not always the best one to send. JÃ‚
Don"t follow the masses in doing what"s evil(Exodus 23:2)
The popular belief that bad things are okay because "everybody"s doing them" is a lie that the adversary often uses in order to coax us to give in and just go with the flow. After all, why try to swim upstream, right? Wrong! Walking
in truth, righteousness, godliness, and holiness will often mean that we"ll have few companions along the way, but be that as it may, God's Word instructs us to not follow the crowd in doing what"s evil. Popularity does not justify sin. We are called to follow Jesus, and to pursue His ways, be they "popular" or not. Let"s resolve in our hearts once again just to follow Jesus Christ; no turning back!
How blessed is the man who trusts in The Lord of Warriors!(Psalm 84:12)
Those who trust in the Lord are blessed indeed " “ for they trust not in themselves, nor in their own power, nor in their own accomplishments. Their trust is in The Lord. May we trust in Him, having faith & confidence in His Character, & living in the knowledge of His great love for us. He Is more than worthy of all of our trust!
Give thanks to the Lord, for He Is Good " “ His lovingkindness is everlasting!Ã‚ Ã‚ Psalm 136
Shalom, brothers and sisters in Christ, our Rock and Redeemer!
Lord willing i fly out of Pittsburgh tomorrow (Tuesday) evening to return to B.e.s.l.a.n, R.u.s.s.i.a. where God has opened the door to again serve Him there for three months. i"m obviously very excited about returning there, and seeing what all Jesus will do in and through us as we enter this new chapter of reaching out to this broken-hearted community.
Warm greetings from Jerusalem, the city of God!
I just wanted to write and send a short update on the labor here, and also to thank you for your prayers and support in sharing in this work. It"s been a great blessing getting to see old friends again, make new ones, and spend time in Jerusalem"s Old City " “ by far, my favorite place here. You can check out this link to see photos and info on the Old City section if you"re interested: http://www.bibleplaces.com/oldcitygates.htm
Update from Russia, 25
October 23rd, 2007
YHWH has done great things for us, and we are glad! (Psalm 126:3)
10/16/07, Tuesday: The Lord blessed me with an opportunity to witness to Lyuda, the lady who runs the internet club. She showed me some card with one of their Russian icons on it, and i asked why we should pray to the saints. God enabled me to give her an example, showing her that going straight to The Lord in prayer is the way to go " “ God has the most power, so why not go straight to Him? Lyuda, like many here, believe that there"s power in praying to " ˜God's helpers." i mentioned that the saints may have been holy people, but they"re dead now. Lyuda interjected by saying, " ˜Jesus died too." i looked at her in sort of a wide-eyed eyebrows-raised way and nodded my head to signify " ˜yes," and said, " ˜Yeahhhhh, but He rose from the dead, didn't He?" She agreed in sort of an " ˜oh-yeah, I forgot about that" way.
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.
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!)
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.