Years ago A. W. Tozer wrote: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Wow! That is powerful. We want our new letterhead for our prayer letters to remind us, as well as each of you, how awesome, amazing, majestic and mighty is our Father in Heaven – yet He loves us unconditionally and is committed to providing for each of us exactly what he or she needs at the right time and in the right way. Those of us who are in Christ can rest and relax in His loving care in spite of the fact that our country is in turbulence you hear or see daily on news reports. Psalm 33:8-9 quoted above in this new letterhead reminds us of Who our Awesome God is. Satan is a fly speck compared to our God! “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. for whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:28-29 (NKJV). Let’s keep focused on our Awesome God, rather than the turbulent turmoil!
The passage quoted in Russian in the horse picture below is Psalm 118:165 in the Russian Bible, but is Psalm 119:165 in our English Bible. It says: “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.” (NKJV). The King James Version says, “Great peace have they which love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” Wow! If we keep focused on our Awesome God and keep loving His law, His Word, His truth, we will not be touchy and easily offended, and we will not trip and fall over our “bad” circumstances. Here is cause for rejoicing!
The Hebrew word for peace, “Shalom” is not just the absence of hostilities, but the calm confidence of being sheltered under the Rock in the storms of life.
If you have a nagging suspicion in your heart that you have lost your first love for Jesus (or never really had it), and especially if you realize that you do not love His law, pay close attention to this message Jesus gave to the church at Ephesus: “And you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent.” Rev. 2:3-5
We are living in exciting times! We are nearly 2,000 years closer to the fulfillment of Jesus’ final recorded words: “Surely I am coming quickly.” So, let’s say with John: “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you all. Amen.” Revelation 22:20-21 (NKJV).
Now, rather than making more New Year’s resolutions that you are likely to forget within weeks, why not ask our loving, awesome, all powerful Father to fill you with His Holy Spirit to empower you to follow His instructions. (See Col. 3:12-17).
Encouragement from Other Ministries
We had already chosen our new letterhead before receiving this message from Chip Ingram’s “Living on the Edge” Ministry.
“There is HOPE for America and the world, but the path is NARROW and it is NOT where most people are looking. Deliverance will not come from a new President, a new Senate, a new Congress, a new economic plan, or new laws that align more with biblical values. America’s massive debt, racial conflict, disintegrating families, sexual confusion, declining education, overcrowded prisons, and disregard for the lives of the unborn and the aged are merely the FRUIT of a nation that has lost its moral compass. The ROOT of America’s decline is not a political or social problem, but a spiritual one. God’s Church is the steward of His TRUTH and the agent of His LOVE and COMPASSION in a fallen world.
“Who would have imagined 40 years ago that evangelical churches would question the authority of God’s Word, condone same-sex relationships, experience the same rates of divorce and abortion as the culture, and lost 70% of their young people who long for far more than a self-help Jesus and a prosperity gospel. Our churches are filled with Christians who unwittingly and often unintentionally are not living like Christians. As a result of our faulty and distorted view of God, we have created a god of our own making and a church that has lost its salt and light for the world. How did we get here, and where is our HOPE? Everything rises and falls with people having a high and accurate view of God.
“Our only HOPE is to regain a high and accurate view of the REAL GOD. When you correct your misperceptions about God and start to try to know and experience Him, it changes every aspect of your life. It impacts your relationships, your view of yourself, your decisions, your sense of purpose, and how you deal with adversity. You receive a gift from Him – a lasting hope about all things. And, when you know Him in a way He longs for you to know Him, it brings intimacy into your relationships and you can move toward what He created you to be and do.”
The reason I find this so encouraging is that I read and hear a lot from conservatives who are very astute about understanding the grave danger our country is in because of the infiltration of Marxism – but some of them are clueless about our only hope. Jesus, Who is “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6) IS OUR ONLY HOPE! A couple of those conservative voices seem to think that they will save America, and the only solution is for us to send them more money. Chip Ingram’s ministry outreach is huge and growing all the time, both nationally and internationally. The fact that he is focusing on the One Who is our Hope is very encouraging to me! How about to you? I’m praying for those popular conservatives to come to know and love the One who is our only hope. Will you join me? Years ago, I heard Carl Ketcherside say that the evidence of a great message is not when we hear people say, “Oh what a speaker!”- but rather when they say, “Oh, what a Saviour!”
The Light of the Living Word is Shining in the Darkness
Now I want to share six items of good news from Spirit of Martyrdom:
1. In 1800, 75% of the world’s population had never heard the gospel message. Today, that number has decreased to 28%.
2. A witness of Christ has been established in every political nation on earth, and is quickly spreading to unreached people groups.
3. Since the year 2000, more Muslims have declared faith in Jesus Christ than in all the rest of their history.
4. The Bible has been fully or partially translated into 2,932 languages.
5. Christianity is growing globally. (Persecution is on the rise because of the growth.)
6. Thank you for partnering with Spirit of Martyrdom ministries to stand with our brothers and sisters to proclaim the Good News and to shine the Light of Christ around the world.
Crazy Circumstances? Life Out of Control?
Does the above heading describe how you are feeling about your life? If so, are you willing to stop and re-evaluate? Are you willing and ready to ask, “Whose control?” Are you willing to “be still and know that He is God”? (Psalm 46:10). Are you willing to ask, “Lord, what do You want me to learn from this? Are You trying to teach me something? To bring me into contact with someone? Are You wanting to expand my vision to see a much bigger picture of my life and circumstances than I now have with my limited perspective? Are you wanting to expand my understanding of the Biblical doctrine of ‘the sovereignty of God’? ” Hang on! Please read this!
My Incredible Journey
Heaps of Trouble – Heaps of Grace
In 1965 when Della and I were students at Ozark Bible College after I graduated from Boise Bible College, we both had a writing class from Don DeWelt. I wrote the story of our trip from Boise to Joplin and entitled it “Heaps of Trouble – Heaps of Grace.” Now it seems appropriate to use this as the subtitle for my incredible journey from Amsterdam, Holland to Bremen, Germany on the evening of October 15 and early morning of October 16, 2016.
My flight from Kiev, Ukraine, flew over Germany and landed on time (even a few minutes early) in Amsterdam, but even at that I had only about an hour to catch my connecting flight back to Bremen. The airport in Amsterdam is huge and my connecting flight must have gone out from the opposite side of the entire complex. The waiting lines for security check and passport control were long and slow, so even though I was moving as fast as possible with both my heavy carry-on pieces, I arrived panting and sweating a few moments too late for the bus that would have taken me to the departure plane. I tried to convince the two lady agents that they could still get me on that plane, but they told me it’s over – too late – and sent me back (a long way back) to the customer service booth for KLM. I had to wait a while for my turn to talk to an agent, so I tried calling Vlad Devakov with both of my small cell phones to tell him I would not be arriving on that flight. No connection. Then at the pay phone station I learned that my international prepaid calling card was only good if I were calling internationally from USA. A kind Dutch couple tried to help me with their smart phone, but still no connection.
When I did get to talk to a customer service agent he informed me that the evening flight at 9:00 was fully booked, and so was standby. When he looked further he also told me that the first available flight was Tuesday a.m.! What? This was pretty disturbing to me because I was scheduled for speaking appointments at the International Church in Bremen for Sunday afternoon, 4:00 and Monday evening, 7:00. So I told him “No! Don’t book me for a flight on Tuesday morning – I will try to get train connection for this evening.” (It was between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and Vlad was supposed to meet me at the Bremen airport at 5:45 p.m.) The agent told me two more important things:
1. My checked suitcase had already been unloaded from the plane instead of transferred to the connecting flight, and if I would hurry I may be able to pick it up from the baggage department before it would be taken to a security room for the weekend.
2. That he doubted I would be able to catch a train to Bremen this late on Saturday afternoon. (Oktoberfest had begun in Germany, and Bremen had a huge carnival functioning to help lighten the heavy cash from the pockets of the revelers.)
Was I a bit disturbed? Frustrated? Yes, of course! But the Holy Spirit reminded me of what James wrote about troubles. By the way, to clarify further, I had only €100 in cash, which I had hoped would get me my train tickets from Bremen to Reutlingen and then back again to the Frankfurt airport for my departure home. There are so many needs in Ukraine that I had already given the rest of the money away. But now, here is what James wrote: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” James 1:2-3 He also reminded me of my message on the Triangle of Triumph: “Rejoice evermore! Pray without ceasing! In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Hold it! Stop running around. This is prayer time – not panic time. “Lord, what do You want me to learn? Please, help me get my suitcase in time. Lord, thank You for all that You are planning for me. Is there someone You want me to meet that I would not have met had I made the connecting flight? Someone You want me to witness to?”
I went downstairs to the baggage claim area, but did not find my bag, so I went to another customer service counter. The agent there was very kind and helpful, and told me to go to belt 15, and she pointed the way for me. I had one of my flyers in English left, so I offered it to her “just in case you ever have to deal with stress.” I told her there are seven questions to ask yourself, and that God gives me peace. This is the reason I was not in panic mode over my situation. She smiled and took it graciously. Please pray that she comes to know Jesus. At belt 15 I found my suitcase. Great! Praise God. Thank you Jesus!
She also told me that after I got my suitcase, I could go upstairs to another KLM Customer Service area to try to use the phone there. At that Customer Service area there were six stations, a large waiting area and a “Take a Number” distributor. My number was 802 and I sat down to wait. (Lord, I need patience – and I need it now!) After a few minutes #802 came up and I was to go to station #3. However, there was a problem. The man at #3 was fully occupied helping a Muslim family (the burka she was wearing tipped me off – I’m getting pretty smart ). So I waited – and waited – and waited (they must have had a complicated problem). While I was waiting, their boy (about five years old) came over to me and his three-year-old sister followed him. These two cute kids just stood there staring at me, so I asked him his name and how old he was, but couldn’t understand his answer. So I held up my left hand for a high five. He caught on quickly and slapped my hand. Then I held out my right hand to his little sister, and she jumped to reach it and slapped my hand. Then again and again left – right, left – right. We were having a high five party going with lots of smiles and giggles. (Waiting can be fun while we are learning patience!)
When I finally got to talk to the KLM agent at station #3, he must have been feeling guilty for keeping me waiting so long (I had already seen #’s 813 and 814 come up on the board). He used his phone for the long distance calls. Although we still couldn’t get Vlad, we did reach Olga Krachun in Ukraine, and I asked her to email Vlad to notify him I would not be coming to the airport and would try to get a train. She did it promptly. Praise God!
I thanked God for getting a message through to Olga and then asked Him to enable me to get a train ticket. I am very thankful that there is a train station right inside the huge airport complex. I could not get any good connecting route with the train, but I could get through to Bremen by early the next morning (at 5:54 a.m.) Praise God! I had two choices, but one would cost €116 (Euros) and I didn’t have that much, so I bought the package for €78. I now had left almost €22 – and next to my departure area was a Burger King. It was 8:00 p.m. and I felt a twinge of hunger, so I splurged €5 and indulged in eating a Whopper before departure.
I had to change trains twice to make the connections. The first one was only about a forty minute wait, but the second was almost four hours – from 12:30 till about 4:30 a.m. I had asked God if He had someone He wanted me to meet on this extended, uncomfortable trip. He did – and each of them spoke to me first. At the first wait for changing trains it was a woman named Vivian – a Christian believer from Indonesia, married to an unbelieving German man named Burkhart. While we waited at another Burger King for our next train (and for a while on that train) she shared with me her concern about her family and asked me to pray for their son Timotheus, who is twenty three years old, and about to give up his faith in Jesus because he’s been getting so much flack and mocking from the unbelievers around him. Vivian spoke fluently in both English and German, so I gave her Christian literature in both languages to encourage her. Also I asked if Timotheus likes to read, so I recommended that she show him the Acts & Facts from Institute for Creation Research to strengthen his faith. We prayed for him.
During the long wait for the next train at Münster, two Middle Eastern looking guys walked into the small shelter where I was sitting, and one of them looked directly at me and said, “Hi.” (Perhaps I look like an American.) Then he asked me something else, and I easily got into a conversation with him. God even gave me a good opportunity to share my testimony with Abdulah. He is a translator from Afghanistan who knows seven languages and is fluent in four or five. His big problem now is that his visa is expired and Germany plans to return him to Afghanistan where the Taliban is intent on killing him. Why? Because he likes Americans and has worked for them as an interpreter. He tapped on his left leg above the knee (which sounded like tapping on wood) as he was telling me about a car bomb attack in Afghanistan that killed six Americans and cost him his left leg. Shall I state the obvious? Okay. He doesn’t want to be sent back to Afghanistan, but feels caught in a bind and doesn’t know what to do or where to turn. I asked if I could pray with him and for him. He agreed. Please pray for his protection and that he will turn to Jesus.
When I arrived in Bremen shortly before 6:00 a.m. Sunday morning, October 16, Vlad Devakov was there for me as he promised. Oh yes, I forgot to tell you that I gave Olga my number for the phone with the German sim card to pass on to Vlad. He had called me just as my train was coming into the station in Amsterdam. Not only that, but also Vlad did not need to get up so early on Sunday morning just for me – his nineteen year old daughter, Maria, and her friend, Ming arrived on the same train from an outing. Wow!
Would you consider calling these a string of divine appointments – or what? What an adventure to be walking with the King of the Universe and serving Him in the greatest work in the world!
From Our Mailbox
“Faithfully following Christ is not easy. It requires a righteousness that exceeds those most recognized as righteous ones in Jesus’ day. Following Jesus requires us to love God with our entire being and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Everything else God expects of us is bound in this twin command. Let’s do it, and let’s help each other do it. ‘It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.’ Let the first candle you (let God) light be you!'” – Georges Carillet
“Thank you for your kind wishes and greetings on the occasion of Christmas in Ukraine! We really had great outreach in Mospanovo. Had over 100 kids with parents. God blessed our trip and we returned home safe right before the blizzard. Now it is hard to get out of home because we have so much snow outside.
I would like to establish having communion each week. However, at this point we take it only monthly.
I am praying about the growth and the commitment of the attendees through their baptism. Also I pray for the team workers. We need a team of leaders who will share our vision for the church…..
God bless you, Zhenya and family” (Molodchy)
Dear Della & Rick…greetings in hope, grace and love of our Savoir.
Iryna and I continue in prayer for you and your family and the work He has assigned you to.
We have just returned to Ukraine and the LCI Ministry Center/Transition Home.
Oleg and Oksana are doing very well and are His blessing to the orphan children as well as us.
By His grace LCI will be reaching more children in 2017 as we prepare and pray to enter through the
the doors He has opened.
Thank you so much for remembering us in prayer…especially our children, Alex, Mikey and Elaine.
As I close this note to you there are two requests I have.
1. In the prayer letter the address you have down for us (Love Cradle Int.) needs to be changed to 276 West Cherry Lane.
2. We see moving forward that we need a passenger van for the LCI Ministry Center /Transition Home
in Mala Vyska (Rick you may have had that thought when you were visiting with Sam this September as
we travelled to the orphanages.) Rick, I know you have friends in Germany or may know of Christians that have brought VW/Mercedes vans from Germany. Help with this would be greatly appreciated. I believe we will need to raise funds of approx. $12,000 to $15,000 to purchase a fair quality van.
Christmas Greetings From Ukraine, Stephen & Iryna (Yagilnicky)
I have 2 “M” prayer requests – Two different Mashas. (Masha is a very popular name in Ukraine and is equivalent to Maria or Mary in English.)
1. Masha from Lugansk. I actually met her when I preached in the Love of Christ Church in Odessa (the major port city of Ukraine). The congregation was honoring her on her 19th birthday and as a new Christian and member of their congregation, but sad to be also having to say good-bye, because she had decided to return to Lugansk. Lugansk is a large industrial city on the far eastern side of Ukraine – in the midst of the war zone. The devastation and casualties are much greater than have been reported by most media sources (if the eye witnesses I’ve heard and read are accurate). Why would Masha choose to return? Not because she wanted to, but because her mother was still there and asked for her help. After the service I congratulated Masha on her birthday, but even more on her courage and compassion for her mother. I also assured her of my prayers for her – and her mother – especially that she could win her mother and others to Jesus. As she thanked me and squeezed my hand, the tears were rolling down her face.
By the way, at a Messianic Jewish church in Odessa where I preached, an interpreter named Oksana recognized me and asked me if I had ever been to Lugansk. I thought she looked familiar, so when I said “yes,” it hit me. She was the Oksana who interpreted for me a couple of times about 10 or 12 years ago in Lugansk. She introduced me to her husband and children. I’m glad she and her family are now in a safer area.
2. Masha from Kherson. When I preached at Kherson Christian Churc, a teenage girl came forward for prayer. My interpreter, Sergey Kavetsky, is an elder in that congregation. Later when I asked him how I should be praying for her, he told me she came forward to commit her life to Christ and to ask for God to bring her alcoholic father to repentance and to grant healing to her mother, who has cancer. What a heavy load! Please pray for this family.
3. Please pray for God’s wonderful comfort for Trudy Morris as a very recent widow, and for Cowboy Church, which meets on her ranch just outside Midvale, Idaho. Her late husband, Johnny, was the founding pastor of that vital congregation. I enjoyed wonderful fellowship with Johnny & Trudy at lunchtime after giving a mission report on “My Incredible Journey” just four weeks ago today (as I write this). That was Sunday, December 11. David Bishop wrote an inspiring tribute to Johnny, which we will send to you at your request.
A good New Year’s thought:
“Only one life; It will soon be past.
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Asking God to bless each of you richly
Rick & Della