Not only is this title appropriate for me to say that I am so very thankful to be safely home after six and a half weeks in Ukraine and Germany and so many miles traveled on foot, and in planes, trains, cars and vans. Thank you, Lord! It is also appropriate to express the longing in believers’ hearts to be safely home in the presence of Jesus forever. The picture here on the front page of this prayer letter was created and produced by Voice of the Martyrs to correspond with the publication of Randy Alcorn’s excellent book, Safely Home, describing the gruesome persecution of Christians in China. There are several missions, including VOM, that help keep Christians informed about the persecution of believers worldwide. One of them recently reported that in the last century (1900 – 2000) there were more than 35 million believers in Jesus murdered for their faith. Now we are sixteen years into the twenty first century and the persecution is increasing. We are living in the perilous times that Paul predicted in his final epistle before he was executed for his faith. See 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
What then shall we do? Please pay close attention to these powerful passages:
1. Let’s Not Forget That God Is in Control – Trust Him and Seek His Wisdom
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones. Honor the LORD with your
possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine. My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor detest His correction; for whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:5-12 (NKJV)
2. Let’s Not Submit to Fear of Terrorists
“Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the LORD will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught…Do not envy the oppressor, and choose none of his ways; for the perverse person is an abomination to the LORD, but His secret counsel is with the upright.” Proverbs 3:25-26, 31-32 (NKJV)
3. Let’s Wait on the Lord! Be of Good Courage
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?… Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!”Psalm 27:1, 14 (NKJV)
“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him.” Psalm 28:7 (NKJV)
4. Let’s Focus Our Attention on Jesus
‘’Give unto the LORD, O you mighty ones, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders; the LORD is over many waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.” Psalm 29:1-4, 10-11 (NKJV)
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” Hebrews 12:1-3 (NKJV)
“Soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There’s light for a look at the Savior, And life more abundant and free! Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace. His Word shall not fail you – He promised; Believe Him, and all will be well: Then go to a world that is dying, His perfect salvation to tell!” – Helen H. Lemmel, 1922.
5. Let’s Rejoice in What God Is Doing Through These Trials
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”James 1:2-8 (NKJV)
Real men have the courage to speak up for Jesus. We should realize that we are likely to pay the consequences of conflict and persecution, but also remember that Jesus said: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:10-12. One day we will be safely home and see Him face to face. Do you remember the song, “Oh, that will be glory! Glory for me!”? Amen and amen!
6. Let’s Sanctify the Lord God and Share His Light
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” I Peter 3:15-17 (NKJV)
Fruit That Remains
Today as I’m writing this I am at the table in the kitchen of the guest rooms of Glieder in Christus Gemeinde (Members in Christ Fellowship) in Eningen, Germany (by Reutlingen) on Sunday a.m., October 23. Yesterday morning was a glorious October day with blue sky and sunshine accentuating the brilliant fall colors and nostalgic memories were flooding my mind – especially when I heard the church bell ringing out the time – 9:00 a.m.
In response to God’s leading through very specific prayers and much help from Dick and Maxine James as our forwarding agents, Della and I had founded Alpine Christian Mission and arrived in southern Germany in September of 1970 – when Randy was almost three and Sandy almost 1 year old.
In the summer of 1971, after ten months of German lessons with our tutor, Frau Meier, I enrolled with the Goethe Institute for language studies with an immersion course in German for two months in the famous ancient city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. My means of transportation to the Institute was by train, and I only came back home occasionally for weekends.
I think it was my third trip to Rothenburg that I noticed that it was a much nicer train than the others, but I was so naïve that I didn’t realize I was in the first class section of the same train as before. There was only one man in the nice cabin I stepped into, so with my broken German I started getting acquainted. During the trip, I learned that his name was Helmut Sonntag, that he was from Kirkheim, and that he did indeed seem interested in having a spiritual discussion. To avoid being too obvious I simply wrote his name and Kirkheim on the palm of my hand. After the two month saturation course in German, and after Frau Meier helped us finish translating the five booklets of the Visualized Bible Studies series, I decided to try to contact Helmut Sonntag. My purpose was to invite him to consider having us come to share an overview of the entire Bible with him and his family in their home. It was truly a long shot because I only had his name and the name of his town and I did not realize that there was more than one Kirkheim in Germany. I did not have his street address or his zip code – but wonder of wonders – the letter got to him and he replied “yes”! That is how Della and I got acquainted with both Helmut and Rosie Sonntag and their two boys, Gunter and Heiko. They had already been studying with some Jehovah’s Witnesses, but were not convinced that those teachers were bringing them the truth. When I showed them the truth from the Word of God about Who Jesus really is – God Almighty manifested in human flesh – they got rid of the Watchtower book and literature, cut off the J.W. teachers from their home, and continued to study with us. They were truly open to the truth of the Gospel and longing for the joy, peace and forgiveness only Jesus can give. It was not long until I had the privilege to baptize them into Christ.
Now the problem was that the house church that we helped plant in Gechingen was a long way from their home – about an hour to an hour and a half drive (depending on traffic and road conditions). They did come a few times, but soon discovered that there was an independent, Christ-centered Freikirche (Free Church) only two blocks from their house. They became active members there and Helmut eventually became an elder in that congregation. Their sons also came to Christ, and their family loves Jesus and remains faithful to Him in spite of the perilous times in which we live. In fact, Helmut and Rosie drove to Eningen from Kirkheim on Friday to treat me to lunch at a truly German Café. Helmut remembered that I love German spetzle, so he recommended either of two dishes. I ordered the schnitzel with spetzle and mushroom gravy. The food and the visit with them was wonderful!
At 2:30 p.m. I was scheduled to meet with Gertrude and Niko Souitsmes at their apartment in Unterhausen – where I first met with them about forty four years ago (1972) to also have home Bible studies using the Visualized Bible Study series. I had first come to their village to meet Gertrude’s father, Ludwig Reiff, who had written to Ed Fausz for more information in response to Ed’s gospel radio broadcast. Ludwig and his wife, Klara, as well as Gertrude, came to Christ fairly quickly – but it took much longer and lots of earnest prayer before Niko came home to Him. Now their daughter, son, son-in-law, and grandsons also love Jesus and serve Him. How rewarding to see and experience fruit that lasts and grows after all of these years! “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58
After a great visit and more food, plus a heart-warming prayer time with Gertrude and Niko, Filipp Peschut picked me up from their home to take me to his home a few kilometers up the hills of the Swabian Alb for dinner with him and Karin. That was another grand time of fellowship, prayer and eating. However, Karin had wisely prepared a light supper of soup and salad, because she knew that I had spent the afternoon with Gertrude and Niko (and Niko loves to cook). I got to know Filipp and Karin and their really neat kids through the Glieder in Christus Gemeinde, and Gertrude and Niko introduced us to this wonderful Christ-centered, Biblically-grounded church. Arie de Keizer is the bi-vocational pastor of this small but dynamic congregation, and Arie and Krista treated me and several others to lunch Sunday afternoon after church.
This trip I shared a two part seminar (Wednesday evening and Saturday evening) on “How to Handle Conflicts” with the Glieder in Christus Gemeinde, then on Sunday evening preached “My Awesome God” for the International Church in Tübingen, where Jim and Naomi Kautt have worked faithfully for many years. The responses in both churches were so rewarding.
I mentioned in the first paragraph of this section, Fruit That Remains, about the nostalgia I felt in hearing the church bells ringing – probably because we got used to hearing them when we lived in Germany forty years ago – and it also reminded me that there was a time when church was the heart and center of nearly every community. We may never see that again, but when Christ is the heart and center of each of our lives, we will see fruit that remains! Let your light shine for Jesus!
Patrick (known better as St. Patrick) had a powerful influence on the entire corrupt pagan culture of the Druids in Ireland. Patrick lived in the third century A.D. and was the most effective missionary since the apostle Paul. He was a zealous evangelist, church planter, and trainer of church planters. With their zeal and cooperation he planted hundreds of vital churches in Ireland and forever changed the destinies of hundreds of thousands (if not millions), plus elevating the culture from the atrocities of Druid paganism (including human sacrifices) to the Christian standards of courtesy, courage and kindness (such as love your neighbor as yourself). How did Patrick do this? He clarified his philosophy and perspective this way: “Christ beneath me (foundation); Christ above me; Christ before me; Christ behind me; Christ on my right side; Christ on my left side; Christ all around me; Christ within me!” Powerful! But note that Patrick wasn’t the power. Jesus Christ was – and is! Let’s adopt Patrick’s perspective and principles, win multitudes of souls to Christ, plant hundreds – thousands of new churches, and witness the changing and conquering of our corrupt culture by Christ!
Vision & Invitation
I want to share with you our Vision and Invitation Letter, which we have already sent to individuals and churches separately from our Prayer Letter. Now we are including it and ask you to please pray with us for the future of Overseas Outreach, according to the will of God.
First the vision:
I believe God has put in my heart and has been preparing us to use Overseas Outreach as a highly effective international training team, preparing bold witnesses for Jesus both in America and eastern Europe. I am 73 years old now, and my dream is to have a team in place, functioning effectively and continuing on effectively, when our Lord calls me home.
Now the invitation:
I invite you to participate with us in fulfilling this goal through:
• Financial support
• In some cases “hands on” involvement and participation.
Our Overseas Outreach mission work has grown a great deal in the past 19 years since Reggie Thomas invited me to become a White Fields ministry co-worker in Estonia 1997.
We help raise support for effective creation evangelism and Biblical worldview ministries in Ukraine, plus compassion ministries for orphans and Internally Displaced Persons (refugees) from the war zone in Ukraine.
We now have 3 couples as Overseas Outreach representatives in Ukraine who are willing and ready to work with us. They are deeply dedicated to our Lord, brilliant, and effective personal evangelists and communicators. Also, the invitation to serve with us was not presented with promises delivered on a velvet pillow. The last two paragraphs in my letter of invitation to them says:
“As with Winston Churchill, ‘I have nothing to offer, but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.’ At least, extrinsically, I have nothing other than these negatives – but intrinsically, I have a great challenge to offer you for the greatest cause on earth – the advancement of the Kingdom of God on earth. The victory is absolutely certain, for our Captain is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Satan is the accuser of the brethren and the deceiver of the whole world. He is deeply entrenched and the battle will be long and hard. However, let us never forget – in Christ victory is certain! We can’t change the world, but Christ can – one heart and soul at a time!
If you decide, after prayer and careful consideration, that you want to be considered to become a representative for Overseas Outreach, please send us a brief statement of your interest and intent.”
I believe that God is preparing the former Soviet Union nations for another great awakening, especially Ukraine. Ukraine is strategically located as a bridge between east and west. I do not believe that God brought Ukraine to the world stage for nothing, when He allowed Russia to invade Crimea and eastern Ukraine 2 1/2 years ago. The suffering has been, and still is, terrible – but Almighty God is the One who turns scars into stars! Remember, the darker the night, the brighter the stars shine to penetrate the darkness.
I’ve been serving as a bi-vocational missionary all the while God has been growing this mission. Deighton Lighting has paid Sandy as its secretary and office manager, but a huge portion of her time is spent with mission projects. We need your help! There are always more needs than funds!
Please answer this invitation as soon as possible. Let us know of your interest – and especially your prayer support. Then we will send you more information about how we plan to move forward.
And, please consider who else you can share this letter with, someone who might want to be a prayer partner or financial partner – or both.
Since we sincerely believe that prayer is the most vital form of support, please let us know of your prayer support even if you cannot support Overseas Outreach financially. If you do want to help financially, but cannot do much, that’s all right. God can and will bless and multiply it. Remember what Jesus did with five loaves and two fish!
If you cannot make any more financial commitments, we certainly understand, but please do let us know if you are willing and available to partner with us in prayer. Prayer should always be our first resource – not our last resort! Also, if you are interested in any kind of “hands on” involvement in helping broaden the base or to help increase the effectiveness of Overseas Outreach, please let us know.
Here is our wish for you: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13.
Hopefully looking for your reply,
Shoe Box Christmas Project
Stephen and Iryna Yagilnicky are the founders of Love Cradle Mission to reach and rescue orphans in Ukraine from devastation, destruction and death. Orphans now in the orphanages will be out and on their own at age 16, which results in 90 to 100 percent involvement in drugs, alcohol, gangs, crime and prostitution. By age 18 about 10 per cent of them commit suicide. We are partnering with Stephen and Iryna in their ministry to rescue them from such a destiny, and they are partnering with us as official representatives of Overseas Outreach. Stephen and Iryna have initiated a Shoe Box Christmas Project, and their co-worker, Nicholas Ciccone is heading up the project. His contact information is: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone number 610-838-1636.
If you are interested in looking into more information about Love Cradle (and their most recent report is really interesting and inspiring), here is the contact information:
Love Cradle Int.
276 W. Cherry Lane
Souderton, PA, USA 18964
What about our partnership with Anatoly and Larisa Schalbyetski with their ministry to orphans? Have we abandoned them? No! We send help to them at every opportunity when we can safely do so, but I am no longer traveling into Crimea since the war started nearly three years ago. Please pray with us for God to totally heal Larisa, as she recently had cancer surgery.
1. Please pray for rescue, restoration and redemption for orphans in Ukraine, and for the success of the Shoe Box Project.
2. Please pray for Larisa, for the Schalbyetski family – and for all believers in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
3. Praise God for His protection, leading, provision and appointments in this amazing mission trip.
4. Let’s praise God for all that He is planning for us during these perilous times and persistent troubles. Let’s praise Him for how He gives us beauty for ashes.
5. Please pray with us for new churches to be planted in the orphanages of Ukraine.
6. Please pray for healthy babies and good deliveries, as well as quick healing and protection from infection for the new mothers. Here are the expecting and anticipating couples who are co-workers in sharing the gospel: Sergey & Vera Yurevich, “Bo” & Anna Kukharskyy, Alex & Katya Lychak, Vlad & Tanya Devakov. Note: After writing this we got the sad news that due to a miscarriage, Sergey and Vera lost their baby. Please pray for God’s comfort for their hurting hearts, and earnestly pray that it doesn’t happen again for any of the other couples. I’m so thankful for the amazing promise in Romans 8:28 that God causes all things to work together for good to them who love God and are called according to His purpose. This does not mean that all things are good – but it does mean that God causes all things to work in our favor. He is the One who gives beauty for ashes.
7. Pray for Ready to Give an Answer to be translated into Arabic and Turkish for co-workers in Odessa, Ukraine, at Love of Christ Church to distribute to the multitudes of Middle Eastern refugees coming into Ukraine through the port city of Odessa.
8. Eighteen year old Nathan Nunes is now in the first phase of mission training at Youth With a Mission in British Columbia with his future mission location yet to be determined. His parents, Bryan and Jonelle Nunes are the owners of International Minute Press and printers of our prayer letters (and have become our personal friends). Please pray for Nathan.
9. Please pray for Katie Hartrampf, who is also in training with YWAM – she is in Montana. Her father, Alan Hartrampf, is one of our faithful Overseas Outreach supporters and our good friend.
10. Praise God that He provided for all of my expenses in Germany for nine days, even though I only had a little over €17 in my pocket when I left the train station in Amsterdam. How?
A. I was a guest for three days in Bremen with Vlad and Tanya Devakov. Vlad loaned me the money for train tickets to Reutlingen and back to Frankfurt airport, plus €50 emergency money.
B. Members of the church in Eningen (near Reutlingen) donated €170 to Overseas Outreach because they have adopted me as their missionary to Ukraine. So that €170 plus some of the €50 is set aside for the next mission trip. To God be the glory!
11. Pray for Americans (especially Christians) to exercise wisdom in voting – not only for the office of President, but also for all other offices.
12. Please pray that the Week of Repentance will be a powerful and effective influence on millions of Americans, and spark true revival in churches all across this nation and the world.
Jesus is Coming Again!
by Della Deighton
As I was reading my Bible recently, I was in 2 Thessalonians, and the following verses stood out to me:
“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” (2 Thess. 2:1-4, NKJV).
Then verses 15-17 go on to say: “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.”
Thinking about our culture and how far from God we are as a nation, I have wondered how much longer before our Lord comes again to take us home to be with Him. For that reason, I was encouraged by the words, “for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first.” The falling away has certainly come, don’t you think?!
The words of an old hymn came to mind next. Below are the words of verses 1 and 3 and the Chorus of “Jesus Is Coming Again” by John W. Peterson.
Verse 1: “Marvelous message we bring, Glorious carol we sing, Wonderful word of the King –
Jesus is coming again!
Chorus: “Coming again, Coming again; Maybe morning, maybe noon, Maybe evening and maybe soon!
Coming again, Coming again; O what a wonderful day it will be – Jesus is coming again!”
Verse 3: Standing before Him at last, Trial and trouble all past,
Crowns at His feet we will cast – Jesus is coming again!”
The picture “Safely Home” – which is hanging in our living room – reminds us how wonderful it will be when we kneel before Jesus, our Savior, Who will welcome us to the place where trial and trouble are past!
Jesus IS Coming Again! Take heart!
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 15:57-58 (NKJV).
Serving an Awesome God,
Rick & Della