Tag Archives: God

If Necessary, Speak

Ukraine

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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Suicide to Saving Grace

USA

“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.

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Staying in Step

Philippines

Shock and awe showed on our faces as my friends and I watched her enter the market.  It appeared her bones were not able to support her crippled body. Her crooked legs shifted to the right then to the left to walk towards her companion.  Her posture was bent in a 90-degree angle and excruciating pain was painted on her face.  

Immediately my friends saw this as an opportunity to pray for this Filipina woman who obviously needed healing.  We all talked amongst ourselves sharing our compassion for this woman.  They boldly asked me to approach her to ask for prayer and why not? God says He is our healer and she looks like she needs healing, so let’s go for it.  We boldly walked towards her, our hearts ready to see a miracle and mustard seed sized faith believing for the impossible.  

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Alternate Identity

Hungary

I watched as the line of people in front of me grew longer and longer until it wrapped around the inside of these ancient church walls built in the 1800s.  They weren’t waiting to see me, but to experience healing from the Ancient of Days.  One by one, myself and a team of three Hungarian church members prayed for each person as God healed them of headaches, vision impairment, back pain, and other illnesses.  An hour had past when I looked up to see Marian.  She leaned heavily on a cane as she slowly walked towards us.

The interpreter explained how the pain was originating in the center of her left leg and went all the way up to her lower back. I asked if she would raise her slacks up so I could see for myself what she was sharing.  She agreed and what I saw before me was something I had never laid eyes on in my life.  From the center of her leg branched out multiple, deep, dark blue veins showing through her pantyhose. It looked like a New York subway mapped out on her pale skin. In complete awe of what my eyes beheld, I starred at her leg.  I had never seen veins protruding like they were forming an identity of their own.  

So I waited…not to allow more time for me to take in this site or to commit this moment to memory.  Not to think about what I would say next or contemplate whether God was big enough to heal this woman.  

I waited on the Lord.  

She waited.  

My interpreter waited.  

Fifty people waited in line behind her for prayer.  

We all stood awaiting the Lord’s instructions.  

Then….

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The Day I Walked Away from Religion

United States

As a child, I was taught that when I give my heart to Jesus, He will come and live inside of me.  First of all, that’s kinda weird.  I don’t want someone living inside me.  My mom said that my brother was living inside of her, so does that mean Jesus is going to be a baby inside me?   Does that also mean He will come out in 9 months? Wait….that’s what happened to Mary in the story they tell me at Christmas time.

To clarify, He is not going to live in my belly. He’s going to live in my heart. I was also taught that in order for Him to stay in my heart, there was a list of rules I had to follow.  If you chose not to follow the rules, then “you were not a Christian anymore.”  

  • I couldn’t go to the movies, 
  • I couldn’t drink wine (Jesus turned water into wine, why can’t I drink it?), 
  • I could only listen to Christian music, 
  • I had to be at church every time the doors were open, which meant I had to go to church even when I was sick and vacations with my family were out of the question,
  • I had to read three chapters of the Bible every day,
  • I had to pray every day for one hour, 
  • I had to go to the altar every church service to ask for forgiveness for my sins,
  • I could only wear certain types of clothes,
  • Every person I met, I had to tell them about Jesus,
  • and the list goes on and on.  

I’m sure you could add several more rules yourself.  

If I didn’t follow every rule, all the time, then I couldn’t be a Christian or go to heaven.  I think we can agree that reading your bible, attending church, and other actions listed above are all good things to do. However, it was the unrealistic expectations of how these actions were lived out that made them rules to follow, instead of opportunities to live out a life of worship.

All these rules had me so bound up that after 20 years (I can’t believe I lasted that long), I was ready to walk away from God not towards Him.  I was told that if I stopped attending church, I would be walking away from God and I didn’t want to do that. I had seen so many people walk away for the same reason.  Just like those people, I love God and wanted to know Him more, but didn’t want to live under the constant pressure and unrealistic expectations anymore.

Then one day, God showed me the difference between religion and relationship.

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