A Heart Touching Account from a Russian Orphanage
On some of my favorite radio broadcasts, such as Family Talk and Focus on the Family, they are replaying popular broadcasts from the entire year. I’ve decided to share this story from our January 2014 Prayer Letter as our Christmas story of the year. If it doesn’t touch your heart, I suggest you make an appointment on your knees with the Divine Cardiologist, Who is capable of removing spiritual calluses. Even if you remember reading this story before, I believe you will want to read it again and savor every word. Remember! Reflect! Renew! Repent! Re-commit! These are words that come to my mind as I contemplate the impact of this true account.
After the former Soviet Union came apart during the critical years of 1989-1991, some Russian high officials began seriously re-evaluating their philosophy and policies based on Darwinism and Marxism, along with Freudian psychology. Their government, their economy, their society, and their families were in shambles. They had tried to shut God out of their lives to reach the communist utopia, but ended up with a nightmare of crime, corruption, poverty, and pessimism, so they attempted to reverse the process by inviting Christian mission teams to come to preach the Gospel of Christ and hold teaching seminars in government facilities, schools, universities, theaters, orphanages, etc. (We are still benefitting from the ripple effect of that decision. I suspect that is why I can teach on worldview contrasts in colleges, universities, and institutes, as well as in public schools. Also in Ukraine, Zhenya Molodchy is invited to teach on ethics and the Ten Commandments in prisons and police stations – with seminars for police officers.)
In 1994 a mission team was scheduled to share the story of Jesus near Christmas time at an orphanage where they had never heard His story before. The staff workers, as well as the children, were on the edge of their seats and leaning forward as they listened intently to this wonderful presentation of God’s love in giving the indescribable gift of His own Son to be our Savior and Lord. They learned of His humble birth and could relate to such unsanitary and humiliating circumstances for His entry into this world. Amazing! The Prince of Peace and Wonderful Counselor laid aside His glory to come to earth as a humble Servant and Sacrifice for our sins. But death couldn’t hold Him! He arose! He ascended! He’s coming back again – the next time in power and glory to call His children Home, and bring justice and judgment to this wicked world.
Following the presentation of the gospel story, the teacher and her helpers distributed colored paper, crayons, pencils, scissors, etc. for the craft project for the children, who were instructed to make their own manger scene. As the teacher circulated around the room viewing the children’s work, she was surprised to see what little Misha (Michael in English) had used his creative imagination to produce. She asked Misha, who was perhaps six years old, to explain why his manger had not just a baby boy – there was another little boy in the manger with baby Jesus. With sparkling eyes, Misha accurately retold the story of Jesus’ birth as it had been related to him, but then began to adlib. He explained to the teacher about how he greatly desired to give Jesus a gift, but he had nothing to give. He told the teacher that he told Jesus how he had nothing and no one: no mama, no papa, no possessions. He told Jesus he had nothing to give but himself. He asked Jesus, “Can I give you myself? Can I help keep you warm?” Then he assured the teacher that Jesus told him, “That is the best gift anyone could possibly give Me.” Then the tears began flowing and little Misha put his head in his hands sobbing and sobbing. (I have the very strong suspicion that the teacher and her interpreter were sobbing too.)
Insights from Ravi Zacharias
Did you hear the news that Ravi Zacharias and his co-worker, Michael Ramsden, spent five days in Ukraine last month? Following are a few excerpts from the RZIM Update from Kiev:
“A few months ago, we received the invitation from mission leaders in Ukraine asking us to come for a series of meetings and programs in Kiev, recalled Zacharias. This was the only week I had set aside in my calendar to take a vacation with my family after 200 days on the road this year. I asked my wife what she thought, and she said, ‘ How can we talk about a vacation when a nation is struggling to survive?’ Margie was very supportive, and we both understood the urgency of the needs in Ukraine at this time. That is why we are here.
“There is a sense of uncertainty and deep concern among Ukrainian citizens as they ponder the future of their country and wrestle with how best to respond, corporately and individually. Preaching at the Central Baptist Church in Kiev on Sunday morning, Zacharias reminded the congregation that even in these dark days for Ukraine, we must not lose heart or give up hope. ‘When we respond with faith during challenging times, we will see things happen that God will assure us can only be possible by His power’, he said. ‘God changes history and He uses individuals. We must pray fervently and be instruments for His glory.’
“There is also a sense of openness and interest in spiritual matters among the young people and academic communities, and God opened the door for Zacharias and Ramsden to speak at National Pedagogical Dragomanov University in Kiev on Monday. The topic was ‘God and the Problem of Violence,’ and Zacharias and Ramsden took every opportunity to point the audience to the truth of the Scriptures and the reality that only God can bring about lasting peace. ‘God is the one who gives you dignity, not the state and not the culture,’ said Zacharias. ‘You are created by an infinitely worthy God, you and I are made with essential worth, and therefore I have no right to violate you and you have no right to violate me.’
“Something significant is happening among the young people of Ukraine, and it has been heartening to see such an overwhelming response from the students, many of whom brought their friends and traveled a long distance to attend our events. ‘Thank you very much for coming to my country and my university! The things you said so needed to be heard,’ remarked Lyudmila Statkevich, a student who attended the open forum. ‘Thank you for words of hope. Thank you for feeling what our country is going through.’ I pray that all non-believers who were there left knowing the truth.
“Throughout our time here, our local host team has reminded us that we are encountering a nation in crisis – a country that is vulnerable yet hungry for the messages of hope. ‘We are coming into a country that in the East is facing war; lives have been destroyed and there are many refugees,’ said Blair Carlson, International Advisor of GoodWORD Partnership, who is organizing RZIM’s visit. ‘We must be energetic in proclaiming the gospel, but also sensitive that a portion of the country is literally being torn apart. We must not focus on the war, but at the same time we must not ignore it,’ he told our team.
“Zacharias and Ramsden have also had the unique opportunity to meet with an unprecedented gathering of various denominational leaders in an effort to mobilize the church and respond to the vision God has given them to reach Ukraine at this time. ‘In times of great trouble and turmoil, it is amazing how God seems to burden the hearts of some people to leverage their position for the glory of God,’ Zacharias told the group of influential leaders from diverse backgrounds. ‘You are honoring us by coming together. We have one thing in common: we love the Lord Jesus, and we have one burden in common: to help salvage this beautiful country.'”
Now here are some powerful excerpts from Ravi’s report following the meetings. (Note: This is not a personal letter – although I wish it were! Everyone who supports his ministry or orders his books and DVDs is privileged to get these reports.)
“Just a few hours ago I stood at the square in Kiev where one year ago over a million people gathered to protest Russia’s ruthless attempt at breaking Ukraine. The pictures, the flowers, the memory of the many dead scream in the silence. Ukrainian youth and others paid with their lives, and the pictures reveal the savagery of the oppressors. It was a biting cold sixteen degrees as I recorded a message there while passersby stopped to listen.
“As I now fly back, I see another scene, a burning building and the threatening destruction in Ferguson, MO, the aftermath of the tragic death of a young man there. There are huge differences between these stories, but the cries are similar. Sadly, speechmakers often exploit such scenarios, provoking our baser instincts…..All over the world we hear more talk about brotherhood, and yet in reality we see more hoods than brothers.
“But, thank God, there is a law above our laws. There must be a law above our laws that gets to the innermost being of a person and breaks the pursuit of autocracy within. That happens when we admit that the heart must humble itself before God, and this brings change. That surrender of the heart to God disarms the individual and engenders a love from God and for His will……We are producing a generation of young people that are ready to cry ‘justice’ when wronged, but seldom think of what is right in personal responsibility. They know everything about outer space and very little about inner space. They know how to hate, they simply don’t know how or why to love. As Ferguson is being torn apart, what is the answer?…..
“On a hill. A hill called Calvary. A place least expected. A place where blood was shed and we are covered. The Son cries out to the Father to forgive the murderers. He cries out to those closest to Him to comfort and take care of His mother. He tells all of us that the price has been paid for our isolated selves, isolated from God and from each other. What a story! May we hear the story afresh. It is our only hope. ‘For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ He opened the door to heaven.'”
Ravi’s words reminded me of these classic words:
“I heard the bells on Christmas Day, their old, familiar carols play. And wild and sweet the words repeat of peace on earth, good will to men.” – Henry W. Longfellow
Spring Mission Trip
Recently we received this reply from Valery Savelyev, the new President of Christian Open University:
“Dear Brother in Christ, Rick
Thank you very much for your letter and of course for your whole-hearted support towards the Christian Open University. It really means a lot to us.
Sergey informed us that this gift is intended as a memorial in Rostislav’s honor. Thank you very much again. He was truly a wonderful man, who devoted his life to serving God. We still go through his loss and miss him greatly. The Lord takes the best by his own will and I’m sure that Rostislav is rejoicing now in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. I also knew Vladimir Parfinenko, he was a pastor of my church and I also miss him greatly.
We are looking forward to meeting you this spring. You are always welcome to teach at Christian Open University and you are free to come when it is convenient to you.
May God richly bless you,
I long to be back in touch person to person with our friends and co-workers in Ukraine for fellowship, training believers and outreach to seekers, doubters, and skeptics, especially on the campuses in Ukraine. I have written to many of our other co-workers about working together again, so please pray with us for God’s guidance in planning and fulfilling this possibility if it is His will and timing.
Book Offer Extended and Enlarged
Last month I told you about Charles Crane’s new book, “The Bible: The True and Reliable Word of God” and offered it for a donation of any amount to Overseas Outreach. Here is a copy of an email we received from Charles:
“Thanks so much for giving publicity to my latest book. As I look through it I realize that every Christian needs to read it. It could revitalize the faith of many and give them information to respond to the many attacks on our Bible. My problem is how to give it a wider readership. I am beginning to get orders for multiple copies and pray this will expand. I have about recovered my original investment and will be more able to give some copies away. BBC will feature it in the Outreach. I hope to request the same thing from Lincoln Christian Seminary and University as well as of Luther-Rice Seminary. Both from time to time feature books written by graduates. You are a highly esteemed brother Rick, as is your wonderful wife Della!!!
Your fellow worker and brother; Charles, servant, ECC.”
I want to extend the offer we made last month for Charles’ book and add our books, plus one.
“Is the Bible Without Any Errors?” – $3.95
“Ready to Give An Answer” – $9.95
“More Than Conquerors in Cultural Clashes” – $13.95
As you can clearly see, our books come in small, medium and large. As the author, I get huge discounts off the retail prices, and my passion is to get the truth into the hands and minds of as many believers and non-believers as possible, so if you want the books and can’t afford regular pricing, just send what you can as a donation to Overseas Outreach. The common theme in each of them is to challenge skeptics to really think and carefully examine the evidences, and especially to equip believers to become bold witnesses for Jesus.
Plus: A classic color edition of “The Prayer of Jabez”, which is an excellent testimony to the power of prayer. The retail on this edition was probably close to $20.00, but I bought a bunch of them on a
sell-out at $2.99 each. If you are a last minute shopper (or even if you aren’t), these are some great gift ideas! You can even designate your offering to Overseas Outreach for our Orphan Fund, Molodchy Car Fund, Book Fund for replacing books, or my Spring Mission Trip. Some have already sent for Charles Crane’s book, and we hope many more will respond this time. Please consider it.
1. Stan Lutz, our Northwest Science Museum curator, had a heart attack three months ago and is getting better, but the stress of over $56,000 in medical expenses is heavy for him and his wife, Bonnie. He has also had previous heart attacks, as well as a broken back, so please pray with us that he can get full disability, which could take care of these medical bills.
2. Brent Carter, director of Foundation in Genesis of Idaho, and Northwest Science Museum board member, recently learned that he has cancer, and his wife, Bev, is experiencing a flare-up of her Parkinson’s disease.
3. Mike Smith, founder and director of Creation Summit, had a mild heart attack on December 3rd, during our conference call prayer meeting. (Stan and Bonnie and I are also on the Board of Directors for Creation Summit.) Mike has had two previous heart attacks, and when he mentioned his symptoms, Sharon Brown Sivertson said, “I think you should go the ER now – right away!” He did, and we prayed for him. They found a blood clot, which they dissolved, and he is at home recovering now.
4. Della’s foot pains (neuropathy, we think) have gotten worse. Also, about two months ago, I experienced sharp back pains very early on a Saturday morning. Later that morning I got a chiropractic adjustment from Dr. Wendell Nelson, a kind and conscientious man of God. The sharp pain in my back went away, but the tingling in my right leg and foot, plus the flop-foot syndrome remained, even after several more treatments. I decided to try physical therapy, and I am gradually improving. Brett Homstad, my physical therapist, told me he thinks we can avoid back surgery. I sure hope so! He is also testing Della to see if he can help relieve her pains.
5. Gilda Roberts is our newest board member for Northwest Science Museum, and is our finance expert with lots of contacts. However, her responsibilities on her job have become so pressing and overwhelming since late summer that she has not been to a board meeting or had any opportunity to contribute any input to the well-being and ongoing of Northwest Science Museum. Please pray for her.
Do you suppose there is something deeper than physical problems here – like spiritual warfare? Please pray! “God is still on the throne, and prayer changes things!” – Noah Hutchings
It’s Now or Never!
For years I warned my students of this song because it has a hauntingly beautiful melody with a dangerous message. I told them that this is not a song about love – it’s a song about lust! With the lyrics that Elvis made popular, that was the case, but our friend, Rick Rodriguez, changed that outlook for me. Rick was a master musician who started his own Christian band, Double-Edged Sword, and he learned from another Christian band, A Band of Brothers, how to take a popular melody and “convert” it with Christian lyrics. Rick converted “It’s Now or Never” into a strong evangelistic appeal. Consider these words:
“It’s now or never – come hold Him tight.
Reach out to Jesus – reach out tonight.
Tomorrow may be too late;
God’s waiting for you –
When your soul is aching,
And your heart is breaking,
And you feel like crying,
Even feel like dying –
Just call to the Father;
It won’t be a bother.
He’s there for you
To see you through – tonight.
It’s now or never – come hold Him tight.
Reach out to heaven – reach out tonight.
Tomorrow may be too late;
God’s waiting for you –
Rick Rodriguez was born the same year I was – just a few months ahead of me – and I recently attended his memorial service in Nampa. What a powerful testimony of a changed life! One person after another testified to Rick’s positive impact on his or her life. The fact that Rick Rodriguez was only months older than I am reminded me how fleeting life on this earth is – and I want to make my life count day by day and moment by moment. How about you? What are you doing today to touch someone else with the truth and love of Jesus? Are you ready to stand before Him as your Judge? He died to be your Savior. Have you reached out to Him? Tomorrow may be too late!!!
“…Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38 (NKJV).
“…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:31 (NKJV).
Christmas 1st Corinthians 13 Style
“If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another decorator.
If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another cook.
If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.
If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.
Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.
Love is kind, though harried and tired.
Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.
Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way.
Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust. But giving the gift of love will endure.” – Author unknown.
“God grant you the light in Christmas, which is faith; the warmth of Christmas, which is love; the radiance of Christmas, which is purity; the righteousness of Christmas, which is justice; the belief in Christmas, which is truth; the all of Christmas, which is Christ.” ~ Wilda English
“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree are the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.”
~ Burton Hillis
Another of the best gifts of Christmas and all year around are each of you, our brothers and sisters in Christ, who pray for us and who are faithful supporters of Overseas Outreach. We thank God for you and pray that God will give you His special blessings of peace and joy this Christmas.
Yours & His,
Rick & Della Deighton