The cool Hungarian night made me even more sleepy than the 1:00 am hour. Myself and three friends were celebrating while we walked to the car. The excitement was in awe of all we had just seen God perform in the church service.
The service began with 30 minutes of sharing stories of God healing others , then we spent the next four hours praying for people who needed healing. Seeing God heal people never gets old and it’s worth every ounce of exhaustion we were feeling in that moment.
Between the four of us, we had separately hosted healing services in over 30 countries. Jokingly, one of my friends asked me if I had ever seen a blind person healed? This particular friend was far more travelled than me and had not only seen a blind person healed, but also seen three dead people raised to life. Radical….I know, right? LOL!! That still happens today.
I had seen God heal eyes many times so people wouldn’t have to wear their prescription glasses anymore, but never a blind person healed. Perhaps if God would send a blind person, I would have the opportunity.
The following day, we returned to the church rested and ready for the second service. Two hours passed as people approached us one–by-one for healing prayer. Never did I think that a joking conversation would turn into reality this quick.
Not unlike most Ukrainian homes, the brick and concrete walls showed it’s age through decades of communist rule and hard living conditions. We were greeted at the door of this humble home by it’s owners, Andriy and Natalia, along with their four children. They led us into their home with great honor where chairs and sheets of wood formed a table. On the table was the traditional food items you would see on any Ukrainian table, potato, cucumber, bread, and egg salad. None of the plastic plates, silverware, or cups matched. Pictures from old calendars had been cut out and placed neatly on the table for decoration under the food bowls.
It didn’t look like much, but you could tell this table was set for a king in a humble manner that their culture and means allowed. Looking at the table, you would think the food was enough for about five people, but this evening, there would be fifteen in attendance. When dinner started, chicken and potatoes were served and we all ate until we were full. The food was more than delicious because it was served with love and grace. When we thought the meal was finished, Natalia brought out a Ukrainian specialty dessert, along with a large sheet cake and a large platter of fruit (bananas, apples, oranges). All homemade. Everything on this table was grown and/or raised by this family.
I noticed something different as I watched this family. A joy that illuminated the faces of the children and peace, accompanied by a strength that rested on Andriy and Natalia. Then as they began to explain their heart for God, I soon understood.
Andriy was once addicted to drugs. His veins were unrecognizable from the years of drug abuse. A local pastor found Andriy with a rope in his hand on his way to commit suicide. After his wife left him, Andriy was convinced that no one loved him, not even this God that this pastor spoke about. Through God’s love, Andriy not only gave his life to Jesus but was immediately delivered from the drugs and demons that controlled his life. God called him to be a church planter in a nation where most believe as he once did that there is no God.
In six years, Pastor Andriy has pioneered and planted three churches. He had been ministering in this small village for the last six months and already fifteen people had given their lives to Jesus. All who were born atheist and lived in communism all their lives. When we asked him, “How do you present the gospel to these people who don’t believe there is a God?”
His words rang loud in my ears, “These people watch us work and raise our children. They notice at school that our children are different than the other children because they are well behaved and peaceful. We work hard in our garden as a family and invite neighbors into our home for meals. Many have given their lives to Jesus in our garden and around this table.”
I’ve heard sermons and stories of how to share the gospel. Go out into the streets, knock on doors, and proclaim the gospel to everyone you meet. What if it was so much easier than that? What if instead of doing, we just started living… Living life with others, off our phones, out of our houses, and into the lives of others?
What if like Andriy & Natalia’s life and Jesus’ example…. “We go preach the gospel and if necessary, speak.”
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“The feelings of depression, hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts have consumed me for over two months. Each day gets worse and worse. I know that the devil is trying to push me to give up on life, give in to him, and let go of what God has planned for me. It takes everything I have to make it through each day without tears, fear, anger, and disappointment. I hate myself and I hate my life. I cared about nothing. There is no joy, no smiles and no fulfillment in anything.