Opportunities to Share the Word and Love of God
Following are some excerpts of messages I received from Rick since he arrived in Ukraine.
I had a wonderful trip all the way, and God really opened opportunities to share the word and love of God with traveling companions. My companion next to me from Chicago was a great man from Illinois going back to visit relatives in Greece. He is a committed Christian and appreciates what I I’m doing so much he presented me a 50 Euro bill into my hand. I gave him several of our prayer letters, plus some magazines and “Is the Bible Without Any Errors”. His name is Leftitus (Lefty).
In Frankfurt I handed a French man sitting next to me on the bus from the airport to the jet plane a copy of my testimony flyer. I’m sure he read it on the flight because he told me in Kiev -”Be sure to give my regards to Della.” On the short flight from Kiev to Kharkiv God placed me next to a young man from Iraq who is now a student in Kharkov. I had just finished reading sections on reaching out to Muslims in David Witt’s evangelism book, so I used his suggested approach about God being a loving father to Ishmael. It worked great and he really opened up. We went through “Life Choice” together, and I gave him several other resources. He gave me his contact info and I passed it on to Zhenya and introduced him to Zhenya. His name is Hussein, and he wants to study English and Bible with Zhenya. Please pray for him….. Wow! Look what God is doing already!
This morning Zhenya took me to visit and preach at the Messianic Church where Alexander is lead pastor. The music was very powerful and heart touching. The service started a few minutes after 10:00 a.m., but by the time Alexander invited us to come up to preach, it was already about 12:30 – so I told the congregation that I decided to save my sermon for another day. Instead I commended them for the heart-touching music and prayer service, expressing deep repentance. I told them this is an answer to my prayer for Ukraine – true revival in the churches that will also become deep spiritual awakening. Then I told them about our situation in America and urged them to also earnestly pray for true revival and spiritual awakening for us. When I said, “Amen!” and started for my chair, Alexander called me back up front to pray about this. Zhenya, Alexander and I stood shoulder to shoulder with our arms around each other’s shoulders and listened while several in the congregation prayed earnestly. Then each of us prayed. It was truly a heart-moving service.
This congregation is also providing for refugees from east Ukraine. One of them is a lady named Lena, who told me and Sergey Nikonorov after the service about the devastation in her home town near Lugansk. She and three other members of her family are living with believers in the congregation and do not yet have a home of their own. They came here about a year ago. Some of her extended family went to Poland. She found a job teaching in kindergarten, so at least has some income. I plan to give some funds to Alexander to help these refugees and provide for the families who are serving them.
Tomorrow will be “full steam ahead” because Zhenya has me scheduled to preach for White Stone Church for the 9:00 a.m. service. Then he will take me to New Hope Church to preach for the 12:00 service and teach three lessons in the afternoon for the seminar.
Yesterday when Sergey and I were going towards the money exchange office next to McDonald’s, I briefly saw a young lady with two children walk by – then I heard a woman’s voice say, “Rick Deighton, is that you?” I turned and looked into her face for a couple seconds and then asked, “Lena -is that you?” She nodded, and I asked, “How are you? How is Sergei?” She was surprised that I remembered her name – and her husband’s name. I told her, “I was just asking Zhenya and Natasha about you last evening. I pray for you.” She was still a young, single student when I first came to Kharkiv 12 years ago – and only one of three young ladies in Christian Life Church who could speak to me in English. Now she is an English teacher with a son and daughter. She and Sergei have faced some huge challenges – but she assured me she is doing okay. We had a pleasant conversation for a few minutes before her children got too restless. She needed to go, and I needed to get some money exchanged. I mentioned how amazingly incredible it seemed that we would meet there – that I would hear someone call out my name in a city of over one and a half million people – and on my first full day back in Kharkov after nearly three years. I told her that the city of Kharkov has more people than the whole state of Idaho – yet here we were talking together as long-time friends in this “coincidence” meeting. Do you think perhaps this may have been a divine appointment? I remember the story of a farmer who told his atheist neighbor, “When I pray, the coincidences happen – when I don’t pray, they don’t happen.”
Did I remember to tell you that Andrew of Grace Church told me that there are 170,000 refugees in the city of Kharkov alone? Thank God many churches here are reaching out to them and trusting God to provide. Many of the refugees are coming to hear the Word of God, not because they feel forced to, but because they are now experiencing their spiritual needs.
Zhenya Molodchy is in the process of planting a new house church with the English Book Club members as the nucleus. He has the blessing of the leaders of Christian Life Church to launch this new congregation. I’m encouraging Paul Sudhakar and Sergey and Katya Nikonorov to help Zhenya plant this new church.
I had good visits with Zhenya & Katya Ustinovich and Sergei Korienka in Lviv. Both families seem to be doing very well – at least as well as possible after leaving their homes under stress and pressure.
Another Amazing Testimony of God’s Grace and Power
Last month we shared two testimonies of men who were transformed by God’s grace and power. This month we want to share one more – Roy Meyer’s story. Roy is one of the younger men whom Rick has been mentoring.
“I was one of those guys who told people I would never believe in God. Being able to do what I wanted without feeling guilty for it seemed just fine for me then. Well, that’s what I told myself anyway. If someone would have told me that I would be where I am now, I would have checked his or her forehead for a fever. The need for a god never presented itself, but then again, I denied any rational thought while in the midst of the foulness that consumed me. It is not like I had a reason to hate God; nothing traumatic ever happened to me growing up. Sin can be compared to a snake bite; the instant pain at first, followed by the poison slowly attacking the vital parts of a life. My testimony begins with this concept in mind.
What was your life like before you became a Christian?
Growing up, my siblings and I were not exposed to a lot of things. We came from a small town – Burley, Idaho, and were raised by loving parents. Mom and dad were Mormons, but the kind that didn’t attend services often. I recall being baptized as a “family tradition” into that religion, never knowing why. In very distant memories I know I heard the name Jesus. However, I never tied Him to anything spiritual. Prayer only accompanied Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, and it was very strange. I observed immorality early in my life. Nobody ever told me it was wrong, just keep things to yourself and no one would care. Altogether, Christ was never a part of my growing up.
Life began to move fast after graduation. College and studying were the last thing I wanted to think about once those school doors closed behind me. I had not yet said God didn’t exist then, but He was far from my focus. I figured I would work the rest of my life and save up for the fun things. I got a job pushing carts at a store, and thanks to my parents instilling a good work ethic in me, promotions came fast. It was there that I befriended my first love (infatuation really). I wanted so much to impress her that I began to like the things she did, including atheism. I never really thought about what I was saying to appease her, but after repeating the same thing over and over again, it starts to stick. Things were always focused on selfish motives and instant gratification. Needless to say, that relationship was bound to fail. After being cheated on, I called it quits. I felt so deceived by that act. It was something I thought was unforgiveable. I was so heartbroken that I ran to the only comfort I knew, which was immorality.
Life eventually brought me to Boise, Idaho. Soon after starting work in an office, there I sought the affection of a co-worker. She was married and that usually stopped any daydream I had about her. Then she started to take notice of my crush and began divulging information about her rough marriage. We grew in friendship fast over the course of a few weeks. Once I got to know her more and the situation taking place at her home, I felt like I could be her knight in shining armor. In my heart I justified my passion for her and revealed my feelings. As an atheist, there was nobody to answer to, so why not? It was not long after that we committed adultery. At that point I knew in my heart that I had committed the unforgiveable. Consumed with guilt, I moved her and her kids into a rental with me and fed them for about a year. Again, a relationship grounded on such a foundation was bound to fail. I broke it off and sank into a hole of shame and guilt that was darker than any place I had been before. From an atheist perspective, I had no reason to feel that guilt, but I did. It was obvious it was affecting me.
How did you discover the need for Christ as your Lord?
One day after all of this took place, a co-worker said “hi” to me. He was a tech and rarely came into the office, so I did not know him very well, but our friendship grew quickly. There was something different about this guy that I couldn’t put my finger on. He had shared about things that happened in his life that I could relate to and brought up Christ in a couple of conversations. As time went by, I began to start asking myself questions that I would usually shut out: “What if there is a God?” “What if there is something beyond this world?” “If so, have I done the unforgiveable?” I started asking my co-worker questions about Jesus, over a long period of time, that is. Forgiveness sounded nice, but I couldn’t see past the years of disbelief or guilt. It would take more than my friend to open my eyes.
How did you become a Christian?
Eventually, I approached my sister-in-law with similar questions about Jesus, and she referred me to the book, “The Case for Christ”. It sounded intriguing, but I hated reading, so I blew that off. Then another person mentioned it, and then another, and another. This kind of freaked me out, so I told my friend about it. He said I should pray about it. That brought out my sarcasm instantly, but I took his words to heart. I would be lying if I said I was not skeptical about it. However, that night I kneeled for the first time in my life (kneeling just seemed proper) and prayed to God as bluntly and full heartedly as I could. I asked God for a sledgehammer because I couldn’t take subtle hints. I had no idea what was coming next.
About two days after this prayer, I was working the front counter in my office when an upset elderly man came in. We had double billed him and pulled money out of his account twice. There was reason to be upset, but this was a simple fix. He was soon laughing at my jokes as I reimbursed his account and we said our goodbyes. On his way out I noticed he had stopped with his hand on the door. Confused, I asked him, “Did I miss something?” He walked back towards me and asked, “Have you ever heard of the book, “The Case for Christ?” Then he strongly recommended that I read it. I couldn’t believe what I heard. Frozen, I sat back and nodded yes. We chatted about it a little and parted ways. After this I told my friend about it and could barely hold in my excitement. I did not read the book. However, I watched the movie instead. This presented the author, Lee Strobel, describing the highlights of the book. It answered so many questions and doubts. The big answer was if Christ existed historically, then there is a possibility He existed as God. Meaning forgiveness!
It was then that I realized my hands were dirty and needed washing. My friend invited me to church, and I thought I was going to be shunned. In reality the complete opposite happened. I do not recall the sermon, but something else stood out. I had never felt so welcomed and loved by strangers before. There was no judging, and that spoke to me about how these people followed Christ. I wanted in! I got baptized into Christ on April 1, 2012. That is reminiscent of John 3:19-21. I was concealed in darkness, hidden away in the evil I was doing. Then, the truth of Christ shined light into my life.
How has your life changed since you became a Christian?
My life has not been the same since Christ sought me. The process of sanctification is a rough one. There are so many things I wanted to hold onto. Old habits attacked early in my walk, but Christ is greater than anything that Satan could throw at me. I have given my life to ministry. One way I know that this change was legitimate is that I am now attending college – Boise Bible College. The Lord has opened doors for me to attend, and I am seeking to earn my Bachelor of Arts in Preaching. By His grace, I hope to finish and set out to plant churches internationally. My focus now is to proclaim the gospel of Christ and tell of His forgiveness. My story is now found in Him, for He sought me and showed me that there is no soul so lost that He cannot change him or her. Praise our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!”
From Our Mailbox
On the 28th of August 2015 a student of Tavriski Christian Institute, Alexander Cherkashin, died of injuries received on the area of military conflict with Russia that takes place in the East part of Ukraine. He was a wonderful young man, very dedicated to God. At the end of September he would have been 33 years old.
Alexander was deeply involved into the public life of Byelorussia, where he came from. He tried to establish there a socio-political organization that could bring Christian values into society. Because of the lack of freedom and democracy in Byelorussia,a few times he was put into jail for his civic stand. Besides that, he collected the money on his own for the Missions trips to Uzbekistan, where he served in the camps for children from the most remote Muslim villages.
Alexander’s dedication and uncompromising were proved by his decision to volunteer for the front to the east of Ukraine, as chaplain. His fellow soldiers shared that he was the one who encouraged them, read the Scripture to them, prayed together with them before battles, sang the songs about God, accompanying himself with the guitar.
Alexander didn’t take up the arms but he took a first-aid course and thus saved the lives of more than one of his fellow-soldiers. He also drove the car and took out the wounded from the battlefield. Alexander wanted to be side by side with those who stand at the front line, so that they would respect him and those words about God that he shared with them.
During one of the battle the shell shot off his arm. But as his fellow soldiers shared, even being in the hospital he remained as optimistic and strong in His faith as he always was.
Alexander’s education at TCI has been completed, he just had to take his diploma that is still in TCI Educational Department. He wasn’t able to do that. But his main exam of faithfulness – Alexander has passed…. and now is at his Father’s home. Please, pray about his family. His father, mother and two brothers aren’t born again Christians and we are sure that Alexander would appreciate our prayers about them.
“Rick, I enjoyed the testimonies you printed in the letter. They were a great encouragement. How delightful it is when we begin to understand what the Lord is doing with us.
I noted you’re going to see the Golovins, so I would ask you to say “Hello” from us at LATM. We’re talking about a crowdfunding campaign for the God’s Design for Science series in Ukrainian, so Sergei and Olga are on my mind these days.
May God bless your trip with more pleasant surprises than you can imagine (Eph 3.20).
“Thank you so much for copies of your books – they look great! Would love to see about getting multiple copies for our resource table.
Congratulations on the Northwest Science Museum! That’s exciting! Next trip out to Idaho will be a for sure stop to see you all and the museum. We would be honored to speak at a FIGI meeting sometime.
Brother, thank you so much for your encouraging words. I so hope we get to meet you, your family, and see the great work you are doing.
The following is from the Fall 2015 issue of Good News Productions International. Sergei Golovin is the representative of GNPI in Ukraine.
“Sergei Golovin has been busy encouraging people of all ages. Sergei says they still miss the peaceful times in eastern Europe, but rejoice in exciting opportunities to advance the Kingdom. Sergei reports, ‘We shipped 1,000 pounds of books from Crimea to Russia for the homeschooling conference at St. Petersburg! There were no customs inspections, hectic paperwork, international shipment expenses, or customs fees!’
“Sergei recently presented his newest book, The Bible and Politics, at one of the top (and oldest) universities in eastern Europe at a conference in Ostroh. The Lord has opened another door as well. A brother in Christ, with a contact in parliament, has arranged to give the book to several parliament members!
“Sergei shares about the Creation Exploration Teen Club in eastern Russia. He says, ‘This club teaches kids science with our textbooks, videos, and other resources.’ In addition, Sergei’s family and coworkers just held another Creator Camp for youth in the southern part of Russia.”
In Memory of Leona M. Kirk
Received from Liberty University
Just a thought……
It is so easy to take our loved ones for granted! Since Rick has been gone, I have been very aware of how empty my life would be without him. Six and a half weeks is a long time! I miss having him come home each evening and share about his day – or even just being in the same room, each of us doing our own thing. I’m resolving to be ever more grateful for this husband of mine.
So hold your loved ones close today, whisper in their ear,
Tell them how much you love them and that you’ll always hold them dear.
• Rick was able to deliver gifts designated for the Molodchy’s car fund. More is still needed, so if you would like to help with this project, checks should be made to Overseas Outreach and designated for “Molodchy Car Fund”.
• Rick has also been able to share some funds with the churches that are helping the refugees.
We are very grateful to all who have sent donations to make it possible to share with these who need it so much!
Please pray for:
• Comfort for Alexander Cherkashin’s family and friends
• Comfort for Leona Kirk’s family and friends
• Refugees and those who are helping them
• Rick – for wisdom and safety during the rest of his time in Ukraine and Germany, and that he will be a blessing in some way to all those with whom he comes in contact.