Wonderful Counselor – Awesome Comforter
Dear Friends & Prayer Partners,
Greetings in the Name of our Wonderful Counselor, Jesus Christ, Who is also Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
It is my supposition that by now many of you are feeling stressed by the Christmas crunch, frustrated by the Christmas commercialism, and angered by the Christmas controversies. We must all face up to the stark reality that in spite of the “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” Christmas music and the oft-repeated popular lyrics, “‘Tis the Season to be Jolly”, this is the season that brings the deepest depression for multitudes, resulting in higher suicide rates than at any other time of year. Why? For many it is because they are without God and without hope, and their high expectations for “the season to be jolly” are mocked by the hollow emptiness of their lives. Lights and tinsel, parties and pretty packages, even when augmented with “wine, women, and song”, are so shallow, so empty when it comes to satisfying the deepest yearning of the human heart. “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man that only Jesus Christ can fill.” – Pascal. “You have made us for Yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.” – Augustine.
But most of you reading this prayer letter have already come to Jesus Christ to find your rest in Him, yet at this season you still hurt inside. You feel something missing – or someone. Some of you have lost a loved one, some of you have lost a marriage, some of you have lost a career opportunity or a job. At this holiday season, those losses float to the surface of your emotions, and the joy of others around you only accentuates the pain of your loss. If at this point you are finding it hard to read through the blur of tears, please wipe your eyes and keep reading. Our Wonderful Counselor is also the Awesome Comforter. When He says, “I feel your pain”, He has wounded hands, a wounded back, a wounded side, and wounded feet to back up His words. Please let Him wrap you in His loving arms and wipe the tears from your lonely eyes. “Oh yes, He cares – I know He cares.”
If you ever feel envious of the wicked who are laughing and prospering while you are struggling and hurting, please pray and ponder over Psalm 73, for the Psalmist, Asaph, felt the same way. His feet almost slipped – until he came into the sanctuary (remember, a sanctuary is a place of refuge). What changed his perspective? First, he stopped looking around and started looking up. Remember, our task is to keep “looking unto Jesus”! Second, he remembered their destiny – when he remembered his own destiny….what a contrast! Actually, we should pity the wicked because what they get here in this life is all they get. They have no promise of the eternal joy that is waiting for those who place their trust in Jesus. We need to be reminded often of the words to the chorus: “This world is not my home – I’m just a passin’ through.” Asaph got a fresh lease on life – on joy – on peace when he looked up and remembered. Consider his powerful words:
“I was so foolish and ignorant’
I was like a beast before You.
Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You hold me by my right hand.
You will guide me with Your counsel,
And afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail’
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Psalm 73:22-26 (NKJV)
“Touched by an Angel”
Recently a guest on Kevin Miller’s radio program shared a heart-warming story about a little 4-year-old girl who noticed an elderly man nearby who looked terribly sad, so she decided to cheer him up. Her tender touch on his hand and her warm manner in her sincere effort to encourage him brought a smile to his lips and a spark of joy to his despairing heart. He explained to her (and her mother) that his wife recently died, and he had been feeling so depressed that he doubted he could smile again – and just wanted to die. Now his new little friend had given him reason to smile again. With her mother’s permission, his little helper will now have her mother bring her to visit him once a week to help him smile.
Since the word “angel” literally means “messenger”, and since this little friend is a messenger of joy, could it not accurately be said that a sad old man has been “touched by an angel”? Shouldn’t each of us ask ourselves, “How can I be a messenger of joy (angel of mercy) to some sad heart today?”
“You have a unique message to deliver, a unique song to sing, a unique act of love to bestow. This message, this song, and this act of love have been entrusted exclusively to the one and only you.”
– John Powell, S.J.
Ukraine – Still Torn and Ravaged by War
We recently received a letter from Bob Provost, president of Slavic Gospel Association, which clearly describes the situation our brothers and sisters in Christ are facing. Following is the first part of his letter.
“Tanks and armored vehicles had been cutting through their small farm for two weeks – mortars exploding closer and closer to the house. It was then Anton knew it’d be more dangerous for his family to stay than risk crossing an active battle zone in an attempt for his wife and seven children to flee to safety.
But with God’s help, they did make it out. Even with no money and few possessions. They joined more than 1.8 million other refugees who’ve fled their homes inside a war zone. Others stayed back, not having the ability or resources to flee – the elderly, sick, and poor.
Anton himself stayed for several more weeks, hoping the fighting would stop, and to care for their farm animals. But then a rocket hit just outside, sending shrapnel flying through the kitchen where he was standing just behind the refrigerator. The fridge was completely destroyed, but saved Anton’s life. The hand of his faithful God protected him once again!
Anton left to join his family now living in a 900 square foot apartment with a host family of six, arranged by Slavic Gospel Association and its Crisis Evangelism Fund.
And though many of the churches and homes are now destroyed, most evangelical pastors have also stayed behind just to minister to those suffering. And they’ve never been so needed!
God miraculously protects His people, just as He protected Anton. Like one godly young man who was outside working in his garden. A bird flew down out of nowhere and attacked him. And as many times as he’d shoo it away, it’d come back, pecking at him incessantly. He felt like it was a bird ‘from hell,’ and fed up, he ran inside. Just then a mortar round hit where he was working, killing his neighbor who had been in his garden, but hadn’t been bothered by the bird.
You see, as God protects his servants, those who don’t know Christ are more eager than ever to open their hearts to the Good News of Jesus. And so these pastors and church workers put on body armor, and even go into ‘no man’s land’ to provide not only spiritual, but also humanitarian aid to the destitute souls remaining.
You see, as devastating as this ongoing war is, there is now unprecedented opportunity for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to take root in the hearts of suffering people who would have never had the opportunity nor paid any attention to the Gospel.
And as many as 10,000 have been killed in the fighting, many of whom are innocent civilians. Grief and suffering abound no matter where you turn in Ukraine, or even in the border areas of Russia where many have also fled.
It is truly amazing how God’s people have stepped forward in both Ukraine and Russia, reaching out to those who’ve been devastated by this very brutal conflict – a war Western media ignores.
At the peak of the crisis, one church was ministering to 250 refugees a day! Finding long-term housing and work opportunities continues to be an almost insurmountable problem. So they need your help!
In addition to churches providing shelter outside the war zone, pastors and other workers – even in the war zone – regularly give out evangelistic literature, Bibles, clothing, coats, food, medicine, bags of coal used for cooking and heating, mattresses, blankets, personal hygiene products, and other items.”
Proud of our Brethren
Perhaps now you can better understand why I am so proud of our brethren in Ukraine, who have opened their hearts, their homes, and their church buildings to the multitudes of displaced persons. They are also sharing their own resources – but they do need our help. Please pray! And please share from your resources if you can.
Pray for Masha (Maria), a new Christian young lady I met in Odessa at Love of Christ Church. She had fled from Lugansk in the war zone and had found love, acceptance and forgiveness in the family of God. The Sunday I was there in October the church was honoring her on her 19th birthday (as well as celebrating her recent conversion to Christ), but also grieving with her upcoming departure. She was planning to leave in a couple of days to return to Lugansk (a devastated danger zone). Why? To help her mother. Please pray for Masha for safety, to be a compassionate and bold witness, to connect with a Biblical church – and for her mother and others to come to Christ. Following the service, after I had preached “My Awesome God”, I commended Masha for her commitment and compassion for her mother, told her “Happy Birthday” and assured her that I will be praying for her. She squeezed my hands and thanked me sincerely as the tears streamed down her face. Please pray for her – and many others like her. Do you want to touch someone’s life for Jesus? Your prayers and offerings will do just that!
From our Mailbox
“Thank you very much, brother! Sorry I did not listen to you well, so the Lord found another way to tell me I should slow down some. 🙂 Recovery goes slow, but steady. Today is just the 4th day after my 3rd surgery. They used local anesthesia, afraid that I would not stand general anymore. Too tired. But Olga allowed the computer for an hour. 🙂
Highly appreciate your prayers! Blessings to you as well!
Just a quick note and the update on Larisa and Anatoly. The biopsy confirmed the malignant cancer, but the good news is that it’s stage #1. The doctor insisted on chemotherapy and made an appointment for Larisa for her to see him last Friday to get the prescription. But right on the day of the appointment, Anatoly felt so bad that he was hospitalized with hypertensive crisis. Now he is in the hospital, the therapy has not been very effective so far, the blood pressure steadily raises to 170 despite the numerous IV infusions. Needless to say, this experience was a heavy blow. They requested to pass on their greetings and gratitude for the prayers. Anatoly mentioned that he misses you especially and what an inspiration you have been for their family.
Grace and peace,
“Thank you so much for the prayer letter. Praise the Lord for your safe trip home. Thank you for sharing your vision. We have been praying for you, your family and your ministry. We would like to answer your invitation to participation in the ministry. It’s hard to say we can do much, when we don’t know what to do. So, please, send more information about it. We will be happy to help as much as we can.
With love in Christ,
Volodya and Maryana Vakula (from Kharkov)”
“In spite of all political turmoil in our countries we should live with a bigger context of life. This context is the one of John the Baptist and Jesus. This is the context of the Kingdom of God. When we live within this context we will see God’s glory in our daily walk.
By the way this is the context of Isaiah, the year of jubilee and the whole Bible. This is the message of God to us. Repent and be baptized for the Kingdom of God is near.
Thank you brother,
Let us continue to walk in the Spirit.
Grateful for our bond,
David is in India right now and asked me to reply to your questions. Praying you are having a blessed week of Thanksgiving to our Lord. He is so good to us. We would love to ship you the 10 children’s books (Colombian Adventures) as a thanks to you for the books you gave to us. We actually had orders for about 31 of the books “Ready to Give an Answer”. They are a big hit as some of our the people who requested the book had never donated before!! So thank you so much for your generosity in donating these books to us.
I am not sure about getting the book in other languages. That would be a question for David after he returns and would also depend on our funds. God bless you and have a very blessed Thanksgiving. I hope I answered your questions. I’ll be sending the books you requested this week.
Spirit of Martyrdom”
Stirring DVDs and Graphic Novels
Recently we have added to our book/DVD display at speaking appointments these dynamic resources:
• Two beautifully illustrated graphic novels:
1. “The Apostle” – (The Life of Paul) – summarized by Randy Alcorn
2. “The Book of God” – (How We Got the Bible) – by Ben Avery and Javier Saltares
• Two powerfully probing DVDs:
1. “The Atheist Delusion” by Ray Comfort
2. “Agenda 2” (Exposing Marxism) by Curtis Bowers
• Two beautifully illustrated and scientifically stimulating books by chemist, Bruce Malone:
1. “Censored Science”
Any of these – or all of them – are available to you for an offering of any amount to Overseas Outreach.
Shoe Box Christmas
Love Cradle’s Shoe Box Christmas project for orphans in Ukraine is a successful means of touching lives and hearts for Jesus. The shoe boxes that came in to the Pennsylvania office were sent to Ukraine late in November, so they can be delivered by Christmas. However, if you wanted to prepare and send a shoe box, but didn’t get it sent in the flurry of too much to do and too little time – take heart. You can still take part in helping the orphans by sending a donation to: Love Cradle, Int., 276 W. Cherry Lane, Souderton, PA 18964.
1. Please pray for God to heal Anatoly Schalbyetski completely after his recent heart attack, and his wife, Larisa, from cancer. Please pray for their big family of former orphans and for their two grown daughters as they carry much more responsibility in caring for the children while both parents struggle with poor health.
2. Pray for complete healing also for Sergei Golovin.
3. Pray for believers in Ukraine, Russia, Bulgaria, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Nigeria and other nations devastated by war and famine.
4. Pray for Masha.
5. Please pray for Love Cradle and all ministries reaching out to orphans, widows and displaced persons in Ukraine. Especially now during the bitterly cold winter months, there is greater danger of freezing to death for street kids and homeless people, as well as livestock in the rural areas. There is also much greater danger of death from fires that get out of hand.
6. Don’t forget to pray for Christians in Russia, who are praying for devastated brothers and sisters in Christ in Ukraine – and are not in favor of their government’s policies and actions. Can you relate?
7. Please pray for Bulgaria. Reggie Thomas, founder of White Fields Overseas Evangelism, (our parent ministry), published the following prayer request from Elena:
“…..We had election in Bulgaria for President, and we have the worst communist who won the election. Now we don’t have parliament because they give up, and we will have again elections. We have become poor and poorer every day. They want us back to Russia, and it is a big battle for freedom. Most of the young people are going out of the country, as they don’t see any sense in staying here. Most of the people who stay here become drunkards and live in deep depression. So often my children ask me why these people don’t smile and why they look so bad. They just need God. Please pray for us in Bulgaria. And many thanks for your support from White Fields to help us spread the gospel.”
“Each day is a treasure box of gifts from God. You will find forgiveness attached to ribbons of joy. You will find love wrapped in sparkling gems.” – Joan Clayton
O Come, Let Us Adore Him,
Rick & Della