Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Day in Georgia

If your a Georgia peach, I had to disappoint but that is not where I was.  There is a country just to the east of Turkey that is called Georgia and a boarder city called Batum.  One of our new friends was born across the boarder and so we took her home for her birthday.  There was a two fold plan.  1) Show her a good time for her birthday while showing her the love of Christ.  2) Go and see this beautiful country while getting another stamp in my passport :).  It only took us about 45 minutes to get there and maybe 20 minutes to get through the border.  Those of you that travel will know that is an amazing time to get through the border.

This place was amazing.  Everything was lush and plush.  I thought to myself, someone has been pumping some money into this place, and then I saw all the American company names.  Sure enough, it us.  We, USA, have turned this place into a tourist attraction to say the least.  It was truly beautiful.  So we enjoyed the coastline for a bit and then went and ate some authentic Georgian food.  "Wonderful!"

Now, this is the good part.  We were driving around looking at the bay and then we saw a Church.  We couldn't tell if it was a catholic or Orthodox church, but nevertheless we wanted to see inside.  The front doors were locked so we went around to the back and found a man to let us in.  My Armenian brother asked the man through the Russian interpreter, if he knew of any baptist Churches in the area.  The man said, "Yes, we have a Protestant Church that meets in our basement every Sunday Night."  So we gave the pastor a call and before you know it we are over at his house sitting in his living room.  The reason why this is important is because he also has a heart to reach the Turkish people, and we happened to have one with us that was of the same tribe.  Now we are freaking out as we're watching the Holy Spirit put this thing together.  Then the Ukrainian asked if the Pastor would share his testimony and as luck would have it he had it on video on the computer.  He was a former Muslim and drug addict and Jesus Christ.  As our new friend sat and watch the video and heard the testimony she began to weep and at this point there are tears all over the room.  After the video we shared the love of Christ with her and she said that she was not quite ready.  I'm sure there are family issues that need to be worked out.  (God will do his thing.) 

This was a huge connection for the Armenians and a huge blessing for us as we were able to share our faith with no fear.  As we took our new friend home conversation continued in the car and then she invited us in.  Her husband and kids were waiting for her, because we had kept her out all day.  We ate cake and had fruit, shared pictures and the kids played with my tablet.  The husband told us that there was no need to stay in a hotel the next time we come, because they wanted us to stay with them.  This is a big step, especially since we just let the cat out of the bag. 

I stand amazed in the presence of the all knowing God that is at work around us all the time.  If you could have just seen the look on the Georgian Pastors face when he had a surprise visit from other pastors with the same heart and vision.  It was like we dropped out of the sky for him and he for us.  This is our God: faithful, mighty, all knowing, all seeing, supernatural, great adventure God.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

How Majestic is Your Name

The weekend was an amazing time to see the Lord at work. I must be honest with you.  I had some of the greatest adventures of my life on Saturday.  Some I can't share with you know but I will in time.  The mountains that surround us just die into the Black Sea, so there are many beautiful rivers that filter into sea.  So we headed west a bit and began going up into the mountains to find a family that we had met on a previous trip, and on the way we found many village people that were willing to talk with us and we were able to give them the amazing book.  We were stopping all the time so that the tourist, that's me, could take pictures of this wonder place.  I must say this is one of the most majestic places I have seen thus far.  We did find the family we were looking for in a little village closer to the top of the mountain.  They're restaurant had burned down and they were in the process of rebuilding it.  We had a great time talking and sharing stories with them and others that were coming by on the street.  There was an older gentleman that came up to us with a younger man with him.  He stated that he was a Christian and that he came from Armenia.  This was very exciting to us because we know of know Christians in the area at all.  Upon further investigation, he was referring to his nationality not his beliefs, which is very common over here.  We were able to take these two men to the top of the mountain and share with them our hope.  This was truly a blessing to me as the team let me take the lead in the conversation.  The old man then took us to his old Turkish house that was build about 180 years ago.  I wish I had the time an space to describe this place, but you will just have to wait until I get back to the Church.  It was a life changing experience and memory that I will never forget to say the least.

Sunday we got up and went down to the sea shore to spend some time with the Master.  There are no Churches, no fellowship, no place to come together in this area, so we just chose a pic-nic table and began to break spiritual bread together.  It was first international Church of H. yesterday.  We thought we would just relax a bit in the afternoon but the Boss had other plans.  We made a brand new friend at the mall and spent about an hour talking with this man.  We had met his wife earlier and she had brought him to us.  I have no idea how she knew we would be there.  (So cool)  We also had a good strategy session for the future.

O Lord our Lord how Majestic is your Name!!!!!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

He Opens Doors No Man Can Shut

As I recap in my mind the work of the Spirit yesterday I am amazed at the strides that were made for the cause.  We were talking to several people about spiritual things and everything had a positive response.  Obviously I will give much more detail in person, but I am not able to share in this forum.  God has so knit my heart together with my new brother and his wife.  I believe this will be a lasting relationship with many opportunities in the future.  We were able to sit in a businessman's office for about an hour and share with him the blessedness of our hope and salvation.  He was very receptive and listened intently to every word.  Pray for this man.  I believe he will make a decision very soon, maybe even before we leave.  There was another man that was listening in our another conversation we were having and when we passed out a book he said to his friend, "What did they give you."  Yuri said I have on for you as well and he gave him a copy of 'The Love of God'  He took the book sat down on a bench and read about 5 pages while we were standing there.  I would like to go and talk to him again in a day or so and see it there is a seedling sprining up.  We must be earnest in our prayers.  These are real situations that are happening as most of you sleep at night.  Pray for laborers in this place.  Those that will be hear to reap the harvest.  We are the sowers.  We need Laborers.

Last evening we were sitting talking on the balcony of our hotel and I could tell that the sun set was going to be amazing.  So I crossed the road and went to the sea shore of the Black Sea and sat on the rocks praising God and praying as I watch the sun go down.  This is a very pretty place.  I am blessed to be here.  Many of you are praying that I would be refreshed on this trip and I must say that the most refreshing thing for me is to serve my Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  We are rounding the corner of the trip and I am looking forward to being with you all again.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Freedom of Mind

Yesterday was a wonderful day in th Lord.  We were able to travel to a nearby villiage where a person had repented a year ago and see how he or she was growing in the Lord.  We were pleasantly surprised to find this person truly repentant and following the Lord.  The biggest problem that we have encountered here both for the lost and for the saved is the overwhelming fear of the people.  They are not afraid of God, or the Bible.  They are afraid of what the community will do to them if they are caught practicing such things.  It sounds so much like the book of Acts when Peter and John were persecuted for their faith.  And as they stood before the Sanhedrin for judgment they responded; "Is it better for us to obey God or obey men."  And they rejoiced when they were beaten for the name of Christ.  The hardest thing for people to realize is the power that comes in the times of persecution.  I do believe these are lessons we will all learn as we approach the coming of Christ. 

I believe one of the greatest commodities we have in the US is our freedom of thought and expression.  We can openly talk, share, and feel without worry of ridicule, imprisionment, or even death. This is the way  of life over here.  If you go against the grain of society, you are sqaushed like a bug.  The community in some ways polices itself lest the government step in and do it for them.  So it is a very fearful and closed minded place, not only to the gospel, but to any kind of new thought or idea.  I believe this is one of the reasons that Americans are misjudged as being arrigant and loud when we go to other countries.  We don't understand the lack of expression, or even the lack of thought that the rest of the world just is not allowed to have.  To ask someone to bold in their faith is this part of the world is synonomus with taking a beating or going to prision.  I know this first hand now as I lay in my bed at night know that at any moment the door could be smashed in and we all be arrested for our faith.  Even then it is somewhat different for me as I would begin to yell out "American! American!"  This could be an advantage or disadvantage depending on the arresting party.  But I would still feel like I had recourse to take and people would begin looking for me.  No one would look for these people.  No one would come to their aide.  They would just simply become another martre for the cause of Christ.  The sad thing is, I beleive that is exactly what needs to happen for the enterance of the good news in this place.  It is a high price to pay.  But someone will have to pay it. Praise God that Jesus was willing to pay this high price to bring the gospel to this lost and dieing world.    

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

First Day on the Job

Here I am sitting on a balcony over looking the Black Sea.  I was surprised to find that this place is a subtropical region.  The Black Sea butts into some beautiful mountains that are full of tea leaves.  These tea leaves are what keep this place alive.  The are harvested about 5 times a year and that is what brings life to the region.  It's pretty foggy this morning and we have heard it is supposed to rain all day.  This could be to our advantage as it will cause many not to be working.

Yesterday, our first day on the job, we started out the morning get ourselves organized and mapped out for the week.  This is easy to do when you are planning on being led around by the Spirit.  We went to the market place here looking for some old connections that some of the team had made over a year ago, but we were told that they were no longer interested in our endeavor.  Fear is a major driving force in this place.  It is not fear of God but fear of rocking the boat.  The one thing no one wants is trouble.  I am reminded of the scripture in which Jesus said, "I bring not peace but a sword."  There are times we must get out of our comfort zones for the greater good of mankind even if they don't understand it or want it.  We are determined that the Holy Spirit of God is already at work in this place and that eyes will be opened to the truth; not because we force open a door, but because he will open one for us.  As we were walking around the market, we were cased for the first time in my life.  This guy would make a horrible spy or FBI agent, but I think he just wanted us to know that he was watching.  Interesting to say the least.

We did have a chance to meet up with an old friend that we were able to find in a near by town.  This was a good meeting and we will meet with this person again later in the week.  About this time I am really feeling the jet lag.  I was struggling to keep my eyes open mid sentence while people were talking to me.  It wasn't good.  I knew what the problem was.  I hadn't had any food since breakfast and my body thought it was night time.  I can make it through if I have a constant energy source.  So we went and ate dinner at a market not far and I recovered nicely with some wonderful rice and chicken soup.  I also had a bowl of the same soup that Jacob sold to Esaw for his birthright.  It was good but it wasn't birthright good.  We met a man in the Restaurant that wants us to come back tonight and speak with him some more. Pray for this meeting.

As you pray, pray that the Lord will speak to someone in a miraculous way.  In Luke 10 Jesus told the disciples that as they went to a new town that they would pray that God would send forth laborers in the harvest.  We are praying for those laborers here.  Those that will stand the test of time and opposition. I will explain more of what God is teaching me when I get back.  

I can't believe it is Thursday already.  Let's see what the day brings.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Up Up and Away

One of the most interesting, and sometimes scary, things about any flight is who God will put you next to on the plane.  This really comes into play when you are going to be sitting next to this person for a solid 10 hours.  As an American I'm spoiled to pick my seat before I fly, but that is not always the case when you fly a non-American airline.  That was the case on my flight to  Frankfurt.  When I got my seat assignment, I realized it was the very last row on the plane.  Not something I would choose in a million years.  And, if you can imagine, the plane is completely packed (there is no changing seats).  So, I gave it to the Lord and boarded the plane.  as I got to the back of the plane I realized there was no wall behind me so the seat would still recline and because it was the last row there were only two seats with extra room.  I had won the lottery and I didn't even know it.

So, who's it going to be.  I watch the faces as people board.  Will we talk of spiritual things.  Will I make a new friend.  Maybe a ministry connection.  I was blessed when a Swedish lady named Monica sat down beside me.  I could tell she lived in the States but she had a strong accent that I couldn't place.  When I think Swedish I stereotype blond hair and blue eyes, but she was dark haired with brown eyes.  We talked a bit about professions which I always use to my advantage to talk about the Lord.  The rest of the trip was pleasant as I mostly tried to get some sleep in lue of the coming jet lag. 

As I'm writing this (offline) in the Frankfurt Airport, I'm sitting in a nice little dinner trying to keep food on my stomach for energy because I still have a whole days worth of travel before I get to my destination.  I'm hoping the hotel has internet so I can post, but that is another 12 hours from now.  I do love the fact that I have entered the real coffee zone.  A normal cup of coffee over here is gourmet at home.

I called my Dad before I left the country and had a serious heart felt discussion of what it means to give our lives for he cause of the good news.  I'm sure that will be better when I make the return call on the 10th.  It is nice to know that people are praying and concerned and excited about this wonderful opportunity that God has placed before me.  I will try and post every day if possible.

God bless.

PS: We made it to the hotel with no problems.