Finally, Part 2

I just sent my e-letter out, and I'm writing additions to the letter that I didn't have space to fit in!

FINALLY...that word means a lot.

It comes when God finally brings a vision to reality.
It comes when we see the miracle we've waiting so long for.
It comes when we see God's direction, or sense Jesus' presence.
It comes when the Holy Spirit brings a sense of revival to our hearts.

 In my e-letter, I wrote about saying finally as we staked out the building for New Life.  I think back to 5 or 6 years ago, when a team from Oregon and Montana came and whipped up the "temporary" building for Viatsa Noua (New Life church).  We had dreamed for the day when the permanent building could be built.

I had no idea when or if, but got a call a few months ago about a gift that took that dream from Way In The Future to NOW.  Now I'm praying it will be enought to get in done...and finished...and open.  It might now get the entire thing complete, but we are going to get the main structure done!

The other finally's I'm dreaming for:

  • Leova...another of our COHEU Adopt-a-Community homes.  The church had some tough things happen in the past and was really knocked down.  Dan is the pastor of the church, a nice guy, but I'm praying for another church to come alongside him.  I'm dreaming for a church of 200, reaching the kids and youth in that town and going ministry that makes it the most important church in town!
  • University students...I'm dreaming that God helps Viatsa Noua use their building, and that someone with a big vision, starts a Friday night or Saturday night student service there.  I'm dreaming for 400 students each service, from a variety of churches.  A church that is drawing to the 100,000 university students that know NOTHING about Jesus.
  • House of Prayer...a new dream, of only a week.  After a week with IHOP here, using Viatsa Noua's temporary building for a week of prayer and worship.  Around 10 other churches, from all denominations, met together, sharing the load and leading prayer and worship.  Could we dream that it starts a movement of unity and prayer?
  • And now I'm starting to dream for Russia and Belarus.  I'm dreaming that God will raise up scores of workers that are willing to go to the hard places of Russia, the unreached areas that have NO church.  I'm starting to dream for a large number (I'm still holding that number privately!).
  • And I am dreaming for some champions who would help with the start of the Freedom Home Odessa, and someone who will start Freedom Home Russia (could we say multiple homes in Russia?)

What are some things you've been waiting for?  What are some finally's you've been able to say in the last few months? 

 

 


Adjustments

I recently wrote in my latest e-letter about our upcoming change.  Taking the role of area director gives me a lot of mixed feelings.

There is a sense of loss because we love Moldova, the churches, pastors, and fellow missionaries.  We REALLY love the girls and their kids at Freedom Home.

There is a sense of excitement because we know that God confirmed this path.  We are excited because people are people, and there is incredible need and incredible opportunity in Russia and Belarus for ministry. 

We will still be moving to Moldova on Friday (a slight delay of plans due to an embassy holding our passports too long).  We will work to transition all we can the rest of this year.  Then we will take the next six to eight months traveling into Russia, visiting with all the missionaries there, church leaders, etc.  Sometime in 2013, we'll hopefully have figured out where to move, then we'll move to Russia.

Nancy will still stay connected to Freedom Home for a few years, mentoring the staff and assisting when needed.  We're already dreaming and moving toward another home in Odessa, working in partnership with a church and pastor from Russia!

And together with the missionaries on the field, we'll pray and dream for opportunities to raise up teams to go where the Church is not going, reach those they aren't reaching, and do what they aren't doing!

And we really don't know what is ahead.  God promised to be a path in front of us, not high beams shining a mile down the road.  It's time to trust.


Update

I have been getting the question a lot lately--"How is your support?"

As most of you know, our missions organization schedules us to be back in the US one year every 5 or 6 years.  We spend this year reconnecting to churches and supporters, sharing about the value of missions, and raising support for the next few years.  It is valuable both for the personal connection time and for the financial reporting and raising.

But I struggle with the question! 

How is our support?  Great...and with huge voids yet.  We have our pledges to go back, but the work takes a lot more.  We have our tickets purchased, August 28.  We have our clearance to go.

But I know the financial load, mostly with Freedom Home.  We need about $4000 per month yet to operate it.  Praying for 12 churches or individuals to take a month.  Or for 40 churches to add a $100 pledge for monthly support.

BUT...we will go on, and we WILL be continually amazed how God provides.

For with God...we have plenty of support!


Freedom Home Odessa

As a quick update to what's going on....another location for ministry to survivors of trafficking! 

PastedGraphic-7Over the last year, Olga has been serving in the home in Moldova.  Her church in Russia sent her to serve the year with us, learning first hand about ministering to survivors of trafficking.  One of the things we quickly realized is that there are VERY FEW people actually doing ministry to survivors of trafficking.

There are loads of organizations that TALK about it, raise AWARENESS (whatever that means), and do sessions and conferences.  Very few have spent years walking through to healing.  Project Rescue is definitely the leader in that arena, though there are a handful of others.

Olga is going to eventually move to Odessa to start a similar ministry under the umbrella of her church.  Pastor Vitale is a fantastic church leader, with a great heart and vision.  He has located an excellent property just outside Odessa.  His church in Russia has already given over $50,000 to buy the property and we've committed to help with another $20,000.

The property has a shell of a house, so there will be future opportunities for funds and construction help.  We are excited for a church and leaders with vision to do the IMPOSSIBLE.  And we are blessed to be a small part of it.

 


Lift Up Your Hands....

I've been thinking about Moses lately, particularly the time when he needed assistance to win the battle.  Really, it wasn't Moses that was winning the battle, but the Lord, but for some strange reason, the victory depended on Moses's hands being raised.

If his hands dropped, the Israelites began to lose.
If he hands were up, the Israelites were winning.

What a strange dependence on human strength.  God must have done that for one reason--a lesson.  Was the lesson for Moses or for his leaders?  Why would God arrange victory based on Moses's energy?

Moses obviously became too tired to hold his arms up constantly.  I imagine he was shaking, aching, and ready to collapse.  But a couple of men came and held up his arms.  They stood next to him and held his arms up so the battle could be won.

That must have been humbling for Moses.  I wonder if he kept saying, "Hey guys, I can do this myself.  You don't have to grab my arms!"  If he was any kind of man, it must have bothered him!  No one wants to admit that he doesn't have the energy or power to do it himself. 

I think I need to admit now that I need some help holding my arms up.

Over the last couple of years, I've fought days of discouragement and depression.  I've had days where I felt judged and rejected.  I've felt the sting of criticism and backstabbing, the pressure from overwhelming needs and hurts, and the weariness from doing it so long...so long. 

I've tried to pray harder, read my Bible more, sleep more, exercise more, eat healthier, et al.  But my arms are still tired.  And it's hard to hold them up.

And it dawned on me that if I feel this way, there must be hundreds and thousands of pastors and church leaders that feel the same way. 

Weary.
Exhausted.
Unsure if they can hold their hands up any longer.

Perhaps I'm being too open here.  But I'd love to admit that I need some people who can pray for me and Nancy the same way we ask you to pray for Moldova and for Freedom Home.  It isn't a prayer for finances, or provision, or for blessing.  It is just a prayer for spiritual energy, a respite from God, for renewedness from Christ. 

Just thinking....


Prayer for Freedom Home

I have felt led for a number of weeks to challenge the women and staff to make this year a time of specific prayer.  God has already done such great things in the lives of each woman and child.  We need to pray that God will continue to do even greater things.

This is the first section of prayer requests.  The staff AND the women at the home are making these their prayer requests as well!

  • Pray for the women that are not yet in Freedom Home.
  • That we may make connections to at least 20 women this year that have yet to find healing.
  • That God will give each of us divine meetings with women who need the home.
  • That God will give us wisdom for opportunities to meet hurting women, whether at the hospital, women’s shelter, psychological hospital, street.
  • Pray that we may find other women in Moldova who have faced trafficking, somehow coming alongside them so they may find freedom.

 


Freedom Summit

Three weeks ago, we led a summit in Istanbul entitled Freedom Summit.  This summit was a long time in the planning, a result of scores of questions, emails, and conversations.  It was for one purpose--to move people to action in developing front-line ministries to survivors of trafficking.

The summit was a smashing success.  We have about 45 people in attendance, with 10-12 nations represented.  We did not want to do a large conference, thus the size.  It was a ground-floor meeting with people who want to do something directly in ministry with survivors of trafficking.

This has been a passion of mine for the last year.  We need people to jump in and DO something.  Yes, there is a role for advocacy and awareness.  But we have a disproportionate amount of people serving in those areas, and only a handful of people who are dealing directly with the women.

Too many people want to fight the ISSUE, and not care for the PEOPLE.

The summit was about how we can work with the people who are still trapped or shattered because of the result.  It was a meeting and discussion for action.

And it was encouraging!  So many people want to get involved, not just talk about the problem. 

DSC_5673For two days, we went from testimonies, to practical sessions; sharing about what we learned and sessions about the Beattitude model of counseling.  Kyle Miller brought so much to the table with his counseling sessions, leading the discussion on personal healing as well.

Be praying for the aftermath of this summit.  (Yes, I chose the word "aftermath" because I think that Satan's world WILL face an aftermath of destruction to his kingdom due to the Church getting involved).  Pray for the work to be established Kosovo, with the team there meeting right now.  Pray for Vienna, and for the women dreaming about launching.  Pray for the work in Istanbul, and the daily work they are facing.  Pray for Tajikistan, and Greece, and the UK.  Pray for Odessa, Ukraine, and for Russia. 

And pray for a united front by all involved, that the Church will begin to build homes and ministries like Freedom Home across Eurasia, building a bullwark right on the gates of hell. 


Good Day

As we spend this year in the US, my life is one of constant motion.  My responsibilities are predominantly speaking, traveling from church to church, group to group, lunch to lunch.  I'm here to

REPORT on what God has been doing, sharing about the past 9 years. 
I am here to RAISE funds for the future, both the $4500 we need each month to support Freedom Home plus the variety of church projects we are working on. 
And I am also trying to RECONNECT with all my friends and family.  We feel the relational stretch from being gone from so many activities: weddings, birthdays, reunions. 

So services are wonderful.  Some are just OK.

But yesterday was a special day.  Not because of the location, though I thoroughly enjoyed the church in Austin.  Dave Simerson and the crew there have a wonderful church, and I enjoyed both services as well as lunch with friends. 

But it was special because Natalie came with me!  Every once in awhile, one of the girls sacrifices their chance for youth group and "their" church to come with me, listening to my stories for the 1000 time.  We had a great time...talking about salaries, vets, working at Coldstone (after we stopped for our afternoon treat), friends, Moldova, and music. 

I am not a missionary with a family.  We are five missionaries, each knowing that Moldova is where God has us for this moment of time.  We love the work, love the churches, and especially love the girls at Freedom Home. 

Thanks, Natalie, for being such a great daughter.

 


Pursuit

"Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness."

I read this verse this morning while traveling. That verb "pursue" seemed to leap off the page at me.  It is an intense word, full of a myriad of connections.

Years ago, I “pursued” my wife, interested in getting to know her more.  For years, my Novembers were filled with hours of pursuit for antlers and furs.  I've pursued a good sale, a good investment, and an old book.

But Paul admonished us to pursue a godly character.  I think he knew what was truly important.

If I gain all the money, all the fame, or all the knowledge, but not know Christ, I have pursued the wrong thing.

My prayer this morning has been simply for strength to make sure my greatest pursuit with be God, knowing the Father, Son, and Spirit more today than yesterday. 

Today, I will chase after Him.


Faith Based Mission

In AG World Missions, we do not operate with a predetermined salary, given budget, or central organization.  We are a faith-based missions organization, dependent on individuals and churches.  We raise our support and pledges, and out of that, the organization gives us a salary, with the rest going to the work.

Before we leave, we ask people if they would be willing to make a faith pledge to support the work in Moldova for the next term (or longer).  There is never a bill sent, thus the element of trust and faith.  No one is under no obligation to fulfill their pledge, and no debt collector will show up at one's door! 

This is the concept behind itineration, our travel schedule during our year in the U.S.  We travel back to supporters and churches, reporting about the work and raising for the years ahead.  We preach, speak, meet, drink coffee, have dinner, and in a myriad of other ways, toss out our vision for ministry and missions in Moldova.

We are totally dependent on churches and individuals to support Freedom Home each month.
We are dependent on them to finish a church building or purchase a new church.
We are dependent on them for the gas money to run our vehicle for outreaches.

The list could go on.  Outreaches, translation projects, education for Freedom Home kids and women, even the Summit we are organizing next month to start other ministries to survivors of trafficking.  All dependent each month.

Yes, we are a faith-mission, but we don't just leave the U.S. without a backing.  We budget and plan on the pledges that are sent in.  We work to find enough pledges to estimate the support.  If I raised a million dollars worth of support, I don't benefit personally.  It just gives us more work money to put into ministry and churches.

So that is the reason and method of our life.  And for that reason, we want to say thanks...to all those that have supported and pledged to build God's Church in Moldova.  Without you, none of this would be possible.  Thanks for your support.

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