A large group attended the Celebration of Prayer

PRAISE A large group attended the Celebration of Prayer and found it refreshing and uplifting. Many of them took home the resources so that they could use fresh prayer ideas in various groups and meetings, and possibly share them with other leaders. Always a joy to have people pass on what they have learned and experienced. We have just finished doing a huge print order which includes prayer walking booklets, some discipleship materials and many other resources so that we are prepared for the whole year. And Ivanka, our faithful coworker, through her diligence managed to save us $2,000 in costs by finding other printers who would maintain a high quality but do it for less!!! A blessing on two counts!! Daniel, Priscilla and Ellie arrived safe and sound in Australia and are enjoying the warmth of being in the southern hemisphere. A well-deserved break ahead for them! After the hiccups before the journey with Priscilla’s passport, the Lord blessed their travels with peace. PRAYER We may be coming to a time of discernment with the Centers of Hope. Our main focus will always be on bringing people into the family of God and building His Kingdom with Christ followers. But people quickly move to “secondary” ministries with children’s programs or sports programs. All good. But if no one is coming to Christ… This is not a criticism. It’s a matter of where God has called us to invest. Pray for understanding among the leaders that they need to be committed to talking to people personally and presenting the Gospel to them and bringing them to a decision. And that must be the first priority of their ministry—and then they can add the other things. But, first you need to have a foundation of people being born again, discipling them, and, actually, then letting them minister in the other areas. Otherwise it is a busy ministry with one couple doing it all, and losing the tangible focus on souls. Does that make sense? There is a harvest to be reaped. Pray that every leader will be impressed by the Holy Spirit with the need to seek out people who are spiritually ready, and bring them to Christ—our Hope. And yes, much of the prayer time last week was focused on the harvest. Pray for me (Diane) as I study and review a multitude of materials on counseling. We want to be able to put tools into the hands of the leaders to help people to deal with the trauma of war. We want to have a counseling approach that is based on prayer and helping people to find in Christ their ultimate Counselor/Comfort/Refuge/Immanuel. And it needs to use basic principles that a layman can use. It is an area of high interest for me having always been interested in psychology, but a lot of discernment is needed. Pray that the Lord will guide me, give me His wisdom, and help me not to get bogged down in dead ends. And yes, the trauma of war continues.   This billboard near our home is a prayer: “Lord, heal the physical and spiritual wounds of Ukrainians!”   The above is a memorial to about 100 men that was put up on our city square on the 1-year anniversary of the war. And those are men just from our area. And something else came poignantly to my attention a few days ago. I was talking to a friend whose brother is listed as “missing in action”. And what does that mean? Is he a prisoner? Does he live? Will his body be found? He’s a godly man with a family of several children, a couple who are already in university. But Kostya said the hardest thing for the family is not knowing. Not knowing. And then the soldier I saw yesterday—without a leg. The hospital here that is being renovated to provide rehabilitation for men like him. And yet, life continues. A couple got married in our church. A widower. A soldier, who will again go back to battle on Thursday. Yes, people must go on with life. Even in uncertainty. And so all of us continue to pray that the war will end—and sooner rather than later. That people can pick up the pieces of their lives and again look to the future. And we pray mostly that thousands and thousands will come to understand the truth of Psalm 62:6 “{God} alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.”(NLT)   In Him we have a secure future, whatever this world may throw at us, however we may be disappointed or betrayed or suffer. I have often clung to this rock, have sheltered in this fortress. A couple verses later it says “Trust Him at all times”. Even when the world goes crazy. We are safe in His hands. Even if the boat sinks. He knows. He is there. His love surrounds us even in the midst of evil. Live in that assurance, that comfort, that peace, that joy.

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Priscilla received her passport

PRAISE GOD! Priscilla received her passport yesterday—after spending 6 hours at the border and caught a bus back that evening and is back home again! Two days that were meant for other things, but…she has her passport and can now travel with Dan and Ellie and not have to go through other issues with travel arrangements. They travel early Tuesday morning to Moldova and fly out in the evening, traveling for – well, a very long time. I think the first month in Australia she will just have to rest!!! But God protected and provided. Interestingly enough Thursday and Friday passed with NO air raid sirens at all! God’s mercy when people were prepared for the worst. Some people even fled the country in anticipation of major bombings. We have had two air raid warnings today (for all Ukraine), but very short ones and as far as I know, no missiles actually were fired. The eastern front of course is a different story. We joined our brothers and sisters here yesterday with fasting and praying. Only our Father in Heaven has the answer for this earthly mess of destruction. May He deliver! Abe is calling the “workshop” next week a “Celebration of Prayer”. That was a call of faith with all the fear going on here. But I think those who come will really be able to enter in with a spirit of celebration, even in the midst of war. I’m attaching a note of thanks from the Baptist Union.  

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One-Year Anniversary of the War

Tension is running very high in Ukraine with the approach of the one-year anniversary of the war. It has been expected for a long time that Russia will do something dramatic at this time. It seems like the bombing in the east is relentless. But obviously the whole country is considered under threat on the 23rd and 24th. The schools in our city will be closed for these two days and they will do distance learning as air raid warnings are expected to increase. This morning we had a warning on for two hours. It is expected that Russia will inflict whatever damage possible before Ukraine receives the advanced weaponry promised by many countries. I came across some interesting verses in Joel 2 today, but verse 13 especially caught my attention: Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. (ESV) That is our hope—our gracious and merciful God who abounds in love, a theme repeated often in the Old Testament. Ukraine is undoubtedly the most spiritual land in all of Europe, but that is not a basis for prayer. It is that people all across this country are praying, and people around the world are praying for peace in Ukraine. Pray that God would divert disaster from Ukraine especially on these two days. A side note: Priscilla received word yesterday that her new passport is now in Poland. Pray that it will arrive safely in Kyiv, and that the embassy will be open! When sirens go off everything closes down! And continue to pray for the Celebration of Prayer planned for next week on Tuesday and Wednesday. It will be a celebration regardless of what happens in Ukraine this week, because, we can always celebrate our Sovereign and Mighty God! He is our God of Hope. Immanuel, God with us—always.   02/23/2023 - Further Prayer update Priscilla did not receive her passport and is now on the way to Poland to pick it up! That means something like an 18-hour bus ride! One way! Please pray that she will make it to the embassy before it closes tomorrow at 4 PM (Polish time). The bus is scheduled to arrive at 1 PM, but that is not certain because of border crossing—and her bus left late tonight. If she does not make that, she will have to stay in Poland until Monday and then get a bus back here so that very early Tuesday morning they can start traveling to Moldova to get a plane at 9 PM to start an “endless” journey to Australia. She was in Kyiv when the embassy called her that the passport would not make it—until Tuesday morning (not early of course!). So she quickly found a bus and is traveling as is. Ah missionary life. The joys and sorrows. Also, there is a call to prayer and fasting all day tomorrow in Ukraine across all denominations in view of the imminent threat from Russia. What terrible things it takes sometimes to unite us. But I invite you to join in in prayer, and even fasting if you will. They are praying for victory and for peace. And we have the God of Victory, and of Peace. Yes, Lord!      

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Yes, another successful workshop

PRAISE Yes, another successful workshop as people were taught, and practiced how to hold a Discovery Bible study with seekers and new born Christians. Many of them thanked Abe for giving them such an excellent tool, although Abe did not do the actual teaching. He had a man lead it who has already quite a few experiences with Abe’s training and with starting a church and leading these Bible studies. Delegate, delegate! Pass it on! Pass it on!! Praise for regular reports of people finding salvation through the Centers of Hope—which are only starting to function. Praise for the many people who are supporting this ministry. We see names cycling through and feel helpless to be acknowledge all these gifts. But we praise God often for you! We are so very grateful. We are not “campaigners”. At some point I hope we can give each person a personal acknowledgement. But please know that the Lord sees those gifts and honors you as you share His resources in this way. Practicing Discovery Bible method of Bible study. Not just listening!!!   PRAYER Abe is going over the details of the next “workshop” which will be a Celebration of Prayer—Feb 28-Mar 1. People all over the country will be invited to attend—superintendents, pastors, evangelists, as well as our “established” people. This will be an actual prayer time for a day and a half. Dynamic prayer. Interacting with God and His Word. Abe will lead it hour by hour. Pray for him to be sensitive to the Lord’s leading as he prepares the schedule, power points, pass outs, etc. that it would come together in a beautiful and inspirational way as people focus on our Powerful God Who DOES want to answer our prayers as we honor Him. Pray that people would respond as invitations go out. The whole Baptist leadership is behind it and is helping to spread the word. Praise God! Pray that the Holy Spirit would move mightily in the hearts of each one. A more personal prayer request. Priscilla (our daughter) discovered that her passport will expire in 4 months. Unfortunately some airlines require that your passport be valid at least for 6 months, and they are flying to Australia with one of those airlines. She submitted her application in the American embassy in Kyiv last week, but that has to be processed in Poland, and it can take a month! There are no guarantees of when it will come in. but they did give her hope in that they said the last time they sent applications out, the passports came back in 10 days. All of the travel arrangements will become very awkward if Priscilla cannot travel with the family. We cannot fly in and out of Ukraine so you have long hours of travel to another country, as well as the fact it will take them more than two days to get to Australia just with the flying and layovers! It would be so gracious of the Lord to answer with her passport being processed rapidly so she can be with Dan and Ellie on this long journey. Dan and Priscilla have received more refugees again. Only 6. More were scheduled but despite the fact that the battle front is only 25 miles away people are reluctant to leave, for fear that their homes/apartments will be destroyed by theft or army forces. If you are there—the thought is you can protect your place. So, so difficult. And it is thought that come spring there will be a new offensive thrust from Russia on the frontlines where Ukraine has managed to hold them at bay, sometimes reclaiming territory. Pray for these new people. None of them are believers so they don’t know the comfort of Christ in the midst of this chaos. Pray that the Lord would draw them. That the church there would open their hearts to them and show the love of Christ. There were missile strikes during last night. More infrastructure hits across Ukraine. And now they are using weapons that Ukraine cannot detect. 36 were launched and 16 shot down. But 20 getting to their targets is 20 too many. And they expect a much larger missile attack Feb 23-24. That is the anniversary of the start of the war. And so we pray on. A year is a long time to be at war. To live in uncertainty. To see thousands of people killed. It’s a long time for the world to stay tuned into the evil that is happening. We live in a time of short attention spans. A time of compromise. But there is no compromising with Russia. Whatever promises they might make, they will never keep if they don’t feel like it. And so we come before our mighty Warrior God and pray that He will fight for Ukraine, that He will unleash His mighty hosts in defense of Ukraine, even that He will pour out His wrath on Russia. But our greatest desire is that through all of this suffering and destruction He would receive glory and honor, that His Church would embrace His love and share it with their communities, and that His Kingdom would grow. Amen and amen  

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A few special days with our daughter Priscilla

PRAISE A few special days with our daughter Priscilla here last week, joined by Daniel and Ellie on Thursday to Saturday morning. God is so good to us. Few missionaries have family nearby. It was a joy to be together, to play board games, laugh, talk, fellowship. A break from the stresses of war and ministry, although those thoughts are never far away. I am now joyfully 75 years old! (yes, that is a cake in the foreground made by a very talented friend! She “happens” to know my fondness for redbirds/cardinals.) Thank you, Lord, for these special times of joy! From the last workshop we have 15 Centers of Hope with 6 or 7 people still working on it—some deciding if they want to and some deciding how they will do it. They are learning how to present a budget, how to plan activities, how to reach out to non-Christians in more relational ways. It is exciting to see that many Centers being established in what is still a huge level of chaos in Ukraine. When God laid this on our heart, we thought the war would be over by the time Centers started opening. And so, God’s people press forward! For the salvation of many!   PRAYER   Tomorrow and Wednesday (Feb 7-8) Abe is holding a workshop focused on discipleship. Pray for the opening of understanding for those who attend. How critical that babes in Christ are nurtured, fed, strengthened, drawn into the body of Christ and into a dynamic relationship with the Lord. Pray that people would not be hindered from attending through illness or car troubles or other reasons. Pray especially that it would be a time of encouragement, even as it is training and accountability. It is a difficult work to snatch people from the kingdom of darkness and bring them into the Kingdom of Light! Abe hopes to begin a whole new cycle of training in March, with a new group of people. The established group will then most likely meet only monthly while the new training will again be bi-weekly. Pray that many new contacts would be made and many more people would come on board. Workers for the harvest, dear Lord. Everyone expects intense attacks from Russia in February and March. Men daily are giving their lives for the sake of freedom. A group from our church went to the front to take supplies to soldiers from our area and to share the Gospel. They asked one soldier if he was afraid to die. He said no, he had peace with God and knew where he was going. He was prepared to give his life for the sake of his country, so there would be a future for everyone. Pray for God’s presence to be tangible with these men as they stand against evil. Pray for the many soldiers who desperately need to find a relationship with Jesus Christ and commit themselves to Him. And yes, pray for the war to end.   The Father loves to hear our prayers for His glory, His kingdom, and His will. He delights to answer such prayers. He has the ability to do what we ask. There is no way that the almighty sovereign God of the universe will ever let history come to an end without glorifying His name, establishing His glorious kingdom, and accomplishing His will fully and completely. In fact He is already doing these things, and the day will come when they will all be done on earth as perfectly as they are done in heaven. So pray them in faith; pray them with absolute confidence. You are contributing to the realization of His purposes! That’s an exciting way to pray.   Almighty Sovereign God, the hour is urgent, and the need is great! I plead with You to hallow Your name, advance Your kingdom and do Your will on this earth! Establish Your glorious kingdom as You move in power! Do it, Lord! With a voice of confidence, I ask You to rule and to reign! The enemy’s defeat is sure because You have already spoken His future! The above is quoted from Harvest Prayer Ministries    

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