Dear Friends & Prayer Partners,
I arrived home exhausted, but joyful, on the evening of May 23rd from the most exciting mission trip yet, and I’m looking forward to sharing more highlights with you. However, I want to first share with you a very important announcement.
Northwest Science Museum Opens This Month!!!
After nearly three years of praying and planning in our Board of Directors meetings, we are launching NWSM this second week of June at Zion Christian School (next to McDonalds on 12th Avenue Road South in Nampa). We will only have room to show a few amazing displays – such as the largest mastodon skull ever discovered and the astounding Ica Stones from Peru, which demonstrate clearly that man and dinosaurs were contemporaries (contrary to evolutionary dogma). The purpose of NWSM is to bring glory to God instead of to Darwin, by exposing the jaw-dropping wonders of creation and the mind-boggling frauds of evolutionism (“science falsely so-called”). Please pray for these few amazing displays we start with to impact hearts and lives with the truth, and pray for the funds to get our own building before August 14th, when we have to move from the school.
Fall Mission Trip?
I’m asking God for wisdom, and I would very much appreciate your prayers also, concerning whether or not I should go on a mission trip this fall. There are open invitations to return – but many responsibilities here at home. Launching NWSM is a huge one for all of us on the Board of Directors. Also, Della and I have taken on a sideline business because Idaho Power is shrinking the rebates, and our lighting business is diminishing. Please pray!
Our regular readers have read before my daily prayer: “Lord, please fill me with your Spirit and put me in the right place at the right time with the right words to honor you.” My question for you is – are you praying it for yourself? Are you looking for the ways that He is answering? It is so exciting to walk with the King of the Universe! How can life be boring with the creativity of the Creator conducting the symphony of circumstances in our lives? (By the way, some days I forget to pray this way – but He is so gracious He keeps on orchestrating the events.) Sometimes I catch glimpses of what He is doing, take a deep breath, and say, “Wow!” That was wonderful! Thank You, Lord.”
For example, when I was in Odessa the first time this trip (in April), I “happened” to walk in the door of the big First Baptist Church at the same time as a tall younger man named Leonid. As we greeted one another, I learned that he is the pastor of a new Messianic Jewish congregation and that he was coming in that weekday morning for his English lesson. This “chance” meeting opened the opportunity for me to preach at two assemblies on Saturday, May 7th, after I returned to Odessa from Crimea. My interpreter for both of those meetings, Igor, is the leader of Jews for Jesus in Ukraine. Leonid knows my friend, Yuri Korshun, pastor of a Messianic church in Nikolaev, where God opened the door for me to preach nearly two years ago.
Another of these divine appointments occurred in Nikolaev on the Resurrection Sunday, April 24th, afternoon when I was on the way to a Messianic congregation’s celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, along with Oksana Yaner, who was interpreting for me. I noticed a young lady get on the bus with her two beautiful children and a very stressed look on her face. I thought, “She needs help! She looks worried and strained.” I think I even remembered to pray, “Lord, please help this poor lady.” To make contact I began talking to her cute little six-year-old daughter, Rita. I don’t speak much Russian, but I can ask, “What is your name?” (If you lack contacts, look for the children. They are open and easy to talk to – and are often the key to their parents’ hearts.) After a few moments, Oksana helped me understand her answers, and it opened the chance to meet Tanya, Rita’s mother and Vova, Rita’s nine-year-old brother. Oksana discovered that Tanya was taking her children to the same celebration we were going to. She also learned that Tanya was frustrated with Vova for buying a two-liter bottle of water instead of a small one-half liter bottle when she sent him to the store. (That was probably just the tip of the iceberg on her frustrations.) I figured that was an easy problem to solve, because I had a small bottle of water with me, so I traded with them and paid Tanya for the difference in size. That seemed to relieve some pressure and build a bond. We also complimented Tanya on her fine, well-behaved children and invited her to bring them to our church the next day for the Easter Monday service where I would be preaching. They came the next day, and when Vova saw me, he ran up and threw his arms around me! (I must have relieved more pressure for him that I realized!) A few weeks later I called Oksana from Kharkov to ask about Tanya, Vova, and Rita – and learned that they have been coming to church ever since. The Church of Reconciliation in Nikolaev reached out to them with kindness, love, and acceptance and drew them in to the love of Christ. Please pray for their salvation – and for her husband. I asked Oksana if Tanya’s husband is an unbeliever who won’t come with her or if he abandoned them – or what. Oksana says she doesn’t talk much about him and just tells the children that he is away. Please pray for reconciliation, salvation, sanctification, and glorification – and for more “chance” meetings. Are you praying yet for divine appointments? Why is the Lord tarrying in His return? Why are we still here on this earth? To bring the rest of His children home!!! “Lord, please fill me with your Spirit and put me in the right place at the right time with the right words to honor you.” Why don’t you write down this prayer and put it in your daily prayer list? Then watch what He does!
Christians Only! No Creed But Christ!
I believe my heritage from the Restoration Movement churches is a great advantage to have opportunities to speak in a variety of denominational churches in Ukraine, because I come simply as a Christian with no denominational program to push. At a school where I was asked, “What confession are you?” (meaning “what denomination do you belong to?”) I answered, “Jesus is Lord! That is my confession. I don’t belong to a denomination – I belong to Jesus Christ, my Lord.” They had a hard time grasping this, but I told them I want to be just a Christian – nothing more, nothing less.
Yes, friends, I believe the Biblical principles of the American and Russian Restoration Movements are still valid – and are a great heritage! These principles are easier to understand than to practice, but let’s remember: “We are not the only Christians – but we are Christians only!” Let’s remember and practice:
“In essentials – unity
In opinions – liberty
In all things – charity”
Let’s also remember that when God opens the doors, He expects us to walk through!
During this spring trip I had open doors to preach, share my testimony and Della’s, and distribute our books in Russian at two very large congregations, First Baptist Church in Odessa and Christian Hope Church (Pentecostal) in Kiev. In both of these and other congregations the messages were received enthusiastically and invitations were extended for me to return. Let’s boldly walk through the doors God opens to us and clearly “speak the truth in love.”
This spring Victor Knowles wrote an excellent article entitled, “Is the Restoration Plea Still Valid?” As I reflect on that question, I ask myself, “How could it be invalid?” I understand the essence of the Restoration Movement to be the restoration of faith in God and His absolute truth. The Bible is His revelation – and therefore, it is the inerrant Word of Almighty God! “Forever, O Lord, thy Word is settled in heaven.” Psalm 119:89. Our part is to restore people’s trust in Him Who has already told us the truth – not to make up our own “truth” about the foundational truths of creation, the fall of man, the worldwide flood, or marriage or salvation or the church, etc. If we don’t believe what He said, then let’s be honest enough to stop pretending to be Christians. That is the essence of hypocrisy!
When I recognize that I have sinned, and I repent – “He restores my soul.”
When I am frustrated and troubled – He restores my peace!
When I am heartbroken over rebellion and sin – He restores my joy!
When I am bone tired and weary of “contending earnestly for the faith” – He restores my strength so that I can “mount up with wings as eagles, run and not be weary, walk and not faint.”
Do I believe the restoration plea is still valid? Absolutely! I hope to restore your trust too. Let’s restore people’s absolute trust in Christ and in doing things His way instead of our way!
In closing we want to share with you this foundational truth: If you are in Christ, you inherit this promise God gave Israel:
“The Lord your God is with you;
He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you.
He will quiet you with His love.
He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
When we gather, we rejoice over Him with singing – but even when we scatter, He continues to rejoice over us with singing, as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride. (If that doesn’t recharge your battery – it must be dead!)
If you are not yet a repentant, baptized believer in Christ, we have wonderful news for you! He has paid the penalty for your sin, and His arms are open to you if you will repent and come to Him.
Finally, here is our wish for you:
“Now may the God of hope fill you with great peace and joy as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
Thank you for praying! We thank God for you.
Yours & His,
Rick & Della
“O Zion, haste, thy mission high fulfilling, To tell to all the world that God is Light;
That He who made all nations is not willing
One soul should perish, lost in shades of night.
Publish glad tidings, Tidings of peace; Tidings of Jesus, Redemption and release.”
~ Mary A. Thomson