Gems from Isaiah and Jeremiah
Dear Friends/Prayer Partners,
Since my spring mission trip was the busiest I’ve ever had, since May is a very busy month for many people, and since all of us sometimes struggle with time pressure, I want to start off this prayer letter with these gems from Isaiah and Jeremiah. (All quotations are from NKJV).
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength…..With my soul I have desired You in the night, Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early.” Isaiah 26:3-4 & 9
“For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.’” Isa. 30:15
“The Lord is exalted, for He dwells on high; He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness. Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, and the strength of salvation; The fear of the Lord is His treasure.” Isaiah 33:5-6
“Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.” Jeremiah 32:17
When we get too busy to spend quiet time alone with God in His Word and in prayer, we will soon find ourselves running on empty spiritually – even if we are busy with godly projects. Could it be that we have taken on more business and projects than God ever intended for us to have? One thing that helps me is to walk and pray after reading His Word (and in Ukraine it is very important to watch and pray as I walk and pray). I even have a laminated prayer list for this purpose. Here is a gem of thought from Joan Hardin, which we have saved to share with you.
Take It All to Jesus
“If you’re always in a dither with far too much to do,
If your life’s a constant hassle and just too much for you,
If you’re plagued and vexed with worries and life’s more than you can bear,
Why not take it all to Jesus silently in prayer?
He’ll comfort, rest and soothe you,
He’ll help you to unwind
And as an added bonus
He’ll give you peace of mind.”
I’m glad to report that even though this was a very busy trip, I did not burn out or find myself running on empty because I did make time to be alone with God – and if we never get alone with God, we probably won’t get along with God. Besides, teaching and preaching the indescribable riches of Christ as revealed in His infallible Word invigorates me instead of draining me.
Opportunities in Odessa
As you may remember from my itinerary in our March letter, I arrived in the beautiful port city of Odessa on Friday, March 30th, just before 2:00 p.m. and by 5:00 p.m. my friend Sergey Bezvershenko had taken me and my luggage to Open Christian University to briefly meet with co-workers there and leave my luggage, then delivered me to the meeting hall to teach for the Jews for Jesus outreach meeting.
Saturday, March 31st, was a refreshing day of rest, reading, renewing friendships (plus making some new ones), and going to speak at the Messianic congregation at 5:00 p.m. It was there that I met more new friends, including the lady and her daughter. Here is a review of that encounter, which was in our April letter.
“On Saturday evening I shared ‘Many Infallible Proofs’ about the resurrection, and after the service a middle-aged woman thanked me profusely saying that the message was intended by God for her daughter (college age) who had been struggling with doubt.
Then she introduced me to her daughter, Anastasia, who was also very thankful! I told them that their response was an answer to prayer. It is what makes it all worthwhile for me to make these trips. I also gave her a copy of ‘Ready to Give an Answer’ in Russian, and she asked me to sign it for her, thanked me again and promised to read it. Pray for Anastasia to become a bold witness for Jesus!”
On Sunday morning, April 1st, I was given the opportunity to preach (and share my testimony, plus Della’s) at the congregation meeting in the assembly room at Open Christian University. In the afternoon I preached and shared my testimony again at Kind Road Christian’s Café’ Outreach, with John Murphy interpreting. This is an excellent means of outreach to the lonely, the lost, and the hurting.
At Open Christian University my interpreter for the Sunday morning service was a very sharp, articulate student named Tim Garmashov, but the heartache of his background was also very sharp. Tim’s father was a preacher of the gospel who was threatened several times by those who didn’t like what he was preaching. Ten years ago his dead body was found on a roof with multiple stab wounds. The murderer has never been found, never been brought to justice. Tim’s family is from Russia – a region near the western edge of Siberia, and I had the privilege to also meet his mother, Lena, and his sister, Svetlana, who were in Odessa for a visit with Tim. They asked me how to discern the will of God for them concerning moving to a village near Odessa to be nearer to Tim (who doesn’t want to go back to Russia). Tim loves the city of Odessa, but they prefer village life. Lena shared with me a wonderful testimony about accepting the Father love and husband love of God for her after her husband was murdered – how she learned to rely on Him for protection, for provision, and for comfort in deep grief. Please pray with them for discernment and direction concerning the matter of moving.
Next month I plan to share my thoughts from the study of Scripture on how to discern the will of God. Tim, Lena, and Svetlana have become wonderful new friends as we bonded in sharing, caring and praying together.
Tribute to Rostislav Kryzhanovsky, Director of Open Christian University
Last month when I wrote the tribute to John and Ira Murphy, I mentioned Rostislav because he is the one who introduced me to John Murphy on the steps of Open Christian University.
One of the most outstanding characteristics I notice about this man of God is his broad smile and warm hospitality. He always greets me like his long lost brother in spite of his very busy schedule. However, the very fact that he can still smile is a strong testimony to his deep faith that “with God all things are possible”, because he has weathered one legal battle after another from powerful forces of sharks and vultures who want to kill this Christian university and pick its bones. (It is similar to the battles of the other Christian institutions I work with – Commonwealth International University and Tavrisky Christian Institute). However, behind and under those smiling eyes is a backbone of steel like a Daniel, a patient persistence like Job, and a heart of compassion for his students like Jesus. Please pray for God to preserve all of these Christian institutions and cause them to both survive and thrive to His glory.
Perhaps what helped me bond quickly with Rostislav is that we both speak German, so that is how we can converse with each other without an interpreter. Last year during a special assembly he presented me and several other volunteer teachers and professors with a certificate and a lapel pin in appreciation for our years of service. Rostislav is like a great coach who motivates his co-laborers with appreciation!
I also want to pay tribute to his excellent staff, especially in the English Department. About ten years ago I met Vlad Osadchiy at the “Man and the Christian Worldview” symposium. At that time Vlad was head of the English Department, and he invited me to come to visit Open Christian University, which I did on a subsequent trip. Vlad helped me a great deal when I came to Odessa by introducing me to Rostislav and other co-workers, and along with his assistant, Sasha, showing me some of the most beautiful sites in the city. Vlad left OCU years ago, but gracious ladies in the English Department have continued to be very helpful and appreciative, especially Oksana Fesenko and Natalia Kalinina. (Natalia even told me that her students love my lectures – what a gracious lady!)
Rostislav and team – it is an honor to serve Jesus together with you!
Advancing the Kingdom in Kiev
At the creation conference in Kiev the three best presentations for the plenary sessions (in my opinion) were by Richard Carhart, concerning the powerful evidence for design in DNA, Sergei Golovin, concerning the progress of the vital, yet massive, project to produce high quality, truly scientific textbooks for children in Russian for parents to use at home to counteract the pseudo-science of evolution, and Bruce Malone, concerning astronomy and the age of the universe from a Biblical perspective. Even though Bruce had to cut down his presentation because of the time limits, it turned out to be the keynote speech for the entire conference (from my perspective).
I taught two workshop lessons and had very good responses, especially from the one on “Biblical Child Training Principles”. Almost everyone in the class wanted printed copies of the lessons.
My literature and book display was also highly effective – as was the one offered by Christian Center for Science and Apologetics. Hundreds upon hundreds of copies of books and booklets are now in the hands of those preparing to be bold witnesses for Jesus. I’m very thankful that Elena Shparuk Shakotko finished the translating of my small book, “Is the Bible Without Any Errors?” into Russian by the end of March so I could get copies made at the print shop of Open Christian University to share in Odessa, Kiev, and throughout the rest of my trip.
For an added bonus, I had opportunity for fellowship with Stas, who was coordinator for the conference, and with Fatma, who was interpreting for me what the Russian speakers were saying, and with Sveta, Roman and their daughter Elizabeth, who came for a visit at the closing session of the conference.
On Sunday I once again had opportunity to share a message at Christian Hope Church, the large congregation which hosted the creation conference last year and again this year.
After I spoke on “Many Infallible Proofs”, Tatiana came to me after the service, with her brother, Anatoly, as her interpreter. She said, “Last year you gave me a copy of your book – remember? I read part of it, but didn’t get to finish because I gave it to a philosophy student at the university. May I have another copy?” I told her she was an answer to prayer.
Her son is a student at the university, so she was doing a prayer walk one evening with a friend – seven times around the university – like Joshua at Jericho. Three students noticed them and came to ask, “Why did you walk around the university seven times?” This sparked a discussion with lots of questions. She was so glad she had read the first chapters of my book so she had answers about evolutionism. She gave her copy of the book to the most inquisitive of the three.
Yours & His,
1. Please pray for Anastasia – and all my students – to become bold witnesses for Jesus.
2. Please pray for wisdom for Lena and Sveta about moving from Russia to Ukraine (Odessa region).
3. Please pray for God to protect Christian institutions from the sharks, wolves, and vultures which want to destroy them.
4. The Schalbyetski family demolished part of their old dilapidated house and are living in half a house with 17 people while building a new house. Please pray for funds, strength and patience.
5. Please pray for healing for Roman, Sveta, and their little daughter, Elizabeth (5 months old). In answer to our prayers God has healed Sveta of the thyroid problem and Elizabeth of the bad rash, but Elizabeth still has a dislocated hip, Sveta still has Hepatitis B, and Roman has Hepatitis C. We know God can heal without surgery or expensive medications. Let’s ask Him to do so for this struggling young couple.
From Our Mailbox
“….You are right in standing firm! You are right about too many Christians misunderstanding Matthew 7 and missing completely John 7:24. (Once, I was confronted by my supervisor in the CPE program at St. Luke’s when I insisted that Christians are OBLIGATED to judge with righteous judgment! When I showed him John 4:24, he replied that his friend on the ‘Jesus Seminar’ panel claimed that Jesus never said those words recorded in John 7. How did he know that? Well, that just didn’t fit Jesus’ character!) For too long, Christians have been using Matthew 7 as a ‘cop-out’ for not having the courage to ‘speak the truth in love.’ When I read Revelation 21:8…the ‘cowardly’ have their place in the lake of fire that burns forever, I am motivated to pray for boldness! Paul asks the Ephesians to pray that he might have boldness. (Eph. 6:19).
Brother, Rick, God has given you the wisdom and the boldness to be one of the Christians with the courage to stand in the gap! I will continue to pray that God will give you the courage to holler ‘TRIPE’ when tripe is being served.
If he sounds like a Marxist and does Marxist things, he just might be a Marxist.
Love in Christ, Rich Schell, Professor/Director, Christian Services”
“My beloved brother in Christ, I want you to know how much I appreciate your strategically important ministry of training, equipping, supporting and encouraging national servants of the Lord for the most effective ministry in Ukraine for the sake of the Kingdom. May the Lord bless you as abundantly as you are blessing for many!”
“We are and will be praying without ceasing for you both during this next month. We can’t wait to hear about the amazing things that God does while you are in the Ukraine. We will be praying for God’s protection as well as His provision and that the Holy Spirit would rein in every conversation and every encounter you have with the precious people over there.
We feel so privileged to be able to pray along with you and support you as you reach the world for Christ!
Love and Hugs,
Greg and Andria Fisher (and Brett and Mickayla)”
Thank you, Greg, Andria, Brett, and Mickayla, and everyone else who was for praying for me while I was on the mission trip! I know that without your prayers and the guidance and protection of our Lord and Savior, I would be able to do nothing. In deep appreciation, Rick
God sees it – there are no words in my scanty vocabulary to describe the joy and happiness I have in God while knowing you. You can see, even now it’s getting worster and worster))) I am just being funny now, But it is true. From the very first time we met I praise God for knowing you and for being honorable to serve you by what I am able with.
Obviously I will keep you in touch of all of my news and updates – because your prayers are important to me. I hope sometime I would be able to serve you more then I have ever done before, because it is a hugest blessing to serve …
May God keep you and save you and all of your household. I will be praying for you and the requests you have mentioned in our talk the other night at TCI.
God’s servant and your brother,
Alex W. Lychack” (Graduate of TCI, who is preparing to become a Bible translator and missionary to a middle Asian nation.)
“Thank you, Rick,
It means a lot to hear from you. The enemy would always have me believe my life was too bad to serve the Lord again. But God’s grace is strong in my heart. Encouragement from my brothers helps reaffirm God’s grace. I often tell others about your ministry to Ukraine. I’m proud that you were one of my professors, that you saw something in me to pass on the prison ministry to me, and that you are tearing down the strongholds against God’s Word.
We truly love you and Della and you are continually in our prayers. I prayed just now for our brothers there in Ukraine.
Steve Bragg” (Steve is now serving as a missionary and church planter in the Philippines.)
“We certainly love to hear about your Russian ministry, as well as value your opinions politically. We need so many more voices like yours that sensibly view how we need to uphold Biblical Principles in our government….”
Berna & Burton Brown
I praise God for letting you accomplish this truly self-denying ministry for His glory and return safely home.
If I ever learn how to be thankful to our Lord for His mercy and grace, that will be in the great part thanks to your personal example. I hope God will prepare me to be of a better help to you. Meanwhile, I am trying to find out what His plans concerning my life are.
Yours in Christ,
Sergey” (Nikonorov) – Translator of “Life Choice” and proofreader for “Is the Bible Without Any Errors?”
The world’s greatest wireless connection.”