Tag Archives: Ukraine

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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A Mother Knows

Ukraine

Her hands were clenched tight enough to cause fingernail impressions, but even those had been chewed to the quick.  Her facial expressions were hard, depressed, and did not reflect that of a 30-year-old young woman.  I could see the pain in her dark eyes as she shuffled closer to me.  Her first words brought meaning to her small frame and short, very thin, black hair. “Ten years ago I was diagnosed with a nerve disorder. I used to have long, thick, black hair, but I’ve pulled it all out. Over the years, this disorder has caused other sicknesses in my body such as stomach ulcers and heart problems.  Will you pray for me that God will heal me and make me whole again?” Nadia said.  

That was the purpose of my visit to this Ukrainian church, located in a small town three hours from Kiev.  Fadey, my interpreter, had never interpreted for a teacher before, and let’s just say we were both stepping out in faith that day. 

Continue reading A Mother Knows

Crossing Denominational Lines

Ukraine

The paint was chipping on the weathered concrete structure as we entered the Ukrainian church.  You would never guess this was where 100 people gathered every week, as it looked very different from most Western churches.  I imagine in the nearly 70 years of Communist rule, building church sanctuaries was not on their list of priorities.  The lack of Western luster didn’t offend God either because he showed up and showed out this particular day.  After teaching one hour about God’s desire to heal the sick and perform miracles, through my interpreter, I asked if anyone needed prayer for healing.    

The first couple in line pastored a local Ukrainian church that teaches, “Healing is not for people today. Healing was something that Jesus and the disciples did in Bible times, but it was not meant for us to experience today. The wife said, “I’ve had severe back pain for five months. I realized during your teaching today that I had sin in my life. I repented of the sin while you were teaching and my back started to feel a little better, but the pain is still there. Can you pray for my back that God would completely heal me?” 

My heart nearly skipped a beat as I listened to her next few words. I’ve heard these words many times. I have lived my life by these words until God revealed His truth to me. She said, “I think God is punishing me for my sin, that’s why I am in pain.”

WoW! Even now as I write down her words, I can feel her pain. Soon compassion for her overwhelmed me. “That is not true! That is a lie from the enemy, satan. God does not make people sick! God does not punish people with sickness,” I said.

Take a look a the scriptures below. Do you see a theme?

  • “He forgives all our sins and heals all our diseases.”  Psalms 103:3 
  • “Jesus spoke and the demons left them, and he healed all the sick.”  Matthew 8:16
  • “Jesus went everywhere in Galilee….preaching the good news….healing all the people’s diseases and sicknesses.”  Matthew 4:23

It’s a three letter word that we should repeat over and over as it pertains to healing. It’s the word ALL.   “ALL” means “every, wholly, entirely, completely, everything.”   It doesn’t mean some people or just specific sicknesses, but ALL people and ALL sickness.  

In Psalms 103:3, it says “He[God] forgives ALL your sins, and heals ALL your diseases.”  So, the same faith that it takes for you to believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins and receive him as your Savior, is the same faith it takes to believe He can heal you.  There is no magic method, formula, words, or actions that should be followed to receive healing from God. You only need to believe in faith.  If you are a child of God, then you already have that faith. The enemy will immediately try to come in and create doubt by telling you lies. We have a choice to believe him and make his lies our truth or resist him and choose to believe God.

What if you don’t believe in the bible?  Let’s take a look at these lies from a logical standpoint. God doesn’t make people sick! Why? Because He’s not sick. You can’t give what you don’t have.

  •  If sickness is from God and in some way this brings Him glory, why would it not bring Him more glory if we were even sicker?  
  • Why would hospitals not be places of revival where people are giving their lives to Christ? 
  • Do you have children of your own, nieces, nephews, etc.?   If they were disobeying you, would you give them pneumonia, cancer, or some other disease until they did what you told them to do?  NO, of course not. You would be arrested for child abuse and your children taken away from you.  You love your children and would do anything to protect them and keep them safe.  Often times sparing no expense to ensure their health and safety.  If you have received the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you are considered a child of God.  Why would he make you sick to teach you something? That’s just stinking thinking!!!

I could see the look of astonishment and hope on her face. Could it be true? Could God really heal her?

She went on to explain her pain was so severe that she could only bend over at a ten-degree angle, which made it hard to pick up things, properly bend to sit in a chair and do everyday tasks.  So, with her permission, I laid my hands on her back and prayed that God’s healing power would flow through her body and all muscles, tissue, ligaments, and bones would be restored to their normal length and strength. 

Nothing happened.

I prayed again. Still nothing happened.

Continue reading Crossing Denominational Lines