A Good Crop

God’s Word is like a seed. If we allow it to grow it multiplies. As it is a good seed it’s harvest is also good. It multiplies through our loving actions, gracious words and active ministry. It also turns us into a stem on which many other new grains begin to grow. This is what an abundant life is all about. It is not simply the abundance of what we have, but the new good life that sprouts around us. I pray that the good seed of God’s Word will make this happen in my life.

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I suppose many of you are watching the live broadcast from the General Conference session. I am glad to see that our world-wide church is growing. It includes people from every race and every continent. It is absolutely inspiring to see how these people work and pray together in this divided and broken world. We’ll continue to pray for the mission of our church in a world where there is so much pain. Christ needs us to bring hope and healing into our local communities.

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The June 22-25 Bible Seminar is just around the corner. Have you invited anyone from your circle of friends to attend these four meetings? Flyers are available in the church lobby.

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This last week has been emotional and stressful to our family as our daughter Barby and another Light of Hope volunteer, Dana, travelled through the war-torn county of Ukraine. Here is just one of the daily reports:

Day 3 Update from Barby:

Early this afternoon we drove to Nizhin, a small town on the outskirts of Chernihiv. Our original plan was to visit an orphanage in Chernihiv itself but the city was under such heavy siege that the kids have all been evacuated to the Western part of the country and Poland. Our contact here, Ruslan was able to get in touch with and set up a meeting with a government funded orphanage for disabled children. We had a meeting with the director and she told us about their most desperate need, which currently is to purchase and install a back up generator because of the frequent power outages. When the power goes out they have no way to cook food and the machines in the wing with very sick children turn off. This is an urgent need and a fairly big project but we are certain that we will be able to raise the money needed to acquire and install the generator.

What can I say about the kids themselves…it’s hard to even type anything to adequately describe the situation. The orphanage houses 108 individuals. There is a portion of the kids who are so sick that they cannot even be helped. They have terminal illnesses and will live there until their little bodies give up. There are those who have serious developmental illnesses and cannot speak or walk. Some of the residents are older in their late teens and 20s but unable to live on their own due to intellectual disabilities. And yet, despite these very sad realities the kids we met were so full of joy. They hugged us and greeted us with smiles. They were happy to hold our hands and receive some small treats.

They make lots of crafts and even gifted us a beautiful doll that they made. One of the girls, Olya, does not have use of her arms but has learned how to sew beautiful handkerchiefs with her teeth! God has given them all their own special talents and is working in all of their lives. It was an emotional day but our hearts are so full. We have no doubts that God led us to this specific place and he has a plan for each of these sweet children.

Unfortunately, we don’t have many photos from here. I have one photo to share but I look forward to receiving updates and letting you all know how they are doing going forward.

We are on the road back to Kyiv now and tomorrow we will visit Bucha. Please, keep praying!

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I hope to see you in church this Sabbath morning.

Hugs,

pastor Peter

Adventures with God.

God’s path is never an easy one. When we follow God He teaches us to trust Him by taking us through some rough terrain of life or ministry. We look for shortcuts; God takes the long route. It is along that long path that we learn to show courage, to be obedient, to rely upon His protection, and to climb high mountains of spiritual adventures with God. “That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;” Colossians 1:10

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It was good to see some of you at the Camp meeting this week. The rain last night started right when I was directing traffic around the main auditorium entrance. I was impressed with the number of people bravely walking through the tropical rain because they didn’t want to miss the message by pastor Richie Halversen. The meetings will continue on Friday night and all day Sabbath. Go and be blessed.

We will have both services at their regular time at our Ooltewah Adventist Church. Potluck will follow the second service.

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We are preparing for the Bible Seminar starting on June 22. Here is the flyer for the meetings:

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The Light of Hope Ministry has sent two young ladies to Ukraine to work out the logistics for bringing orphans needing urgent medical treatment to the USA and European hospitals. My daughter Barby and Dana Ursulenko are already in route to Ukraine. There are no flights to Ukraine, so they will have to make a number of stops, use trains and eventually to cross the border by car. I invite you to continue your prayers for Ukraine and for our missionaries to that war-torn country.

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Our daughter Dasha, who lives with us, came down with a severe form of COVID. I have no symptoms, but I will stay away from church for the next five days. Larry Otto will share the message tomorrow for both services.

Blessed Sabbath day to you.

Pastor Peter

Bringing People to Jesus

It’s one thing to teach people about Jesus, but it is not the same as bringing someone to Jesus. People will want to come Jesus if my attitude, my life and my actions are saturated with the love and grace of Christ. They will want to have the same life changing experience as they see in my life. This is not a Bible study or theology class. This is changing everything in the way I relate to every human being around me. Christ was not dealing with perfect people. Most of the time He was in the company of broken, sinful souls. They wanted to be around Jesus because He was accepting them the way they were. He was treating them with love and respect. We are called to bring others to Christ.

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On May 15 our church ladies had a great time together. Summer Bradford shared with me that it was “a beautiful day with beautiful flowers and fellowship.” Here are a few photos from their breakfast.

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On Monday and Tuesday OAKS had two graduations. I was absolutely impressed with both programs. We have a wonderful school and great teachers. Here are a couple of photos from the graduation events:

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I hope you remember camp meeting is starting next Wednesday on the campus of Southern Adventist University. Both of your pastors will be there the whole week. If you click on this link you can open the camp meeting website with the full schedule of presentations and seminars:

https://www.gccsda.com/collegedale-camp-meeting/home

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Next Sabbath, June 5, we’ll have both services at the regular times. There will be potluck after the second service. Everyone is invited.

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Help for Ukraine continues to flow through the Light of Hope Ministry. I am so glad that we can help so many suffering people seeking food and safety. Last week we added one more region to the list of the refugee support areas. Hundreds of packets with food and hygiene items were distributed among the relocating families.

With your support we helped one of the orphanages with over 350 refugee children to acquire a commercial washing machine.

Next week my daughter Barby and one other Light of Hope ministry volunteer, Dana Ursulenko, will travel to Ukraine to work out the logistics for helping the orphans needing urgent medical treatment. Please remember Barby and Dana in your prayers. I’ll keep you posted as they travel through the war torn regions of Ukraine.

This Sabbath afternoon, May 28, you are invited to attend a musical concert prepared by Nataliya, who is from Ukraine herself. All donations received after the concert will be sent to the Dnepro region. If you write a check please make it payable to Ooltewah Church with a note “Light of Hope”.

Here is a link to the latest Light of Hope Newsletter.

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Our June Bible seminar is starting on June 22 @ 6:30 PM. Here is the flyer

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Happy Sabbath. See you in the morning.

pastor Peter

Learning to Trust God

My three year old granddaughter Mila loves to jump into my arms, especially when it seems risky. She does that with with laughs and giggles. The height does not terrify her because she trusts me. That trust is in her heart because she knows me. She knows how much I love her and care about her. As we grow we also need to learn how to take some risky leaps of faith. Learn to trust your Heavenly Father by spending time with Him. Get to know Him by talking to Him. Plan some spiritual adventures with Him. Your trust is not complete without taking a breath, looking straight into God’s eyes and jumping into His arms. That leap may be about embarking on some new ministry involvement, allocating more time for your Bible study, moving to a new area of mission work, or something else … something that you felt terrified to do because you didn’t know Him well enough.

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Last Sabbath I experienced great joy baptizing Jesse Cruz. Below are a few photos taken by Michael Haughee:

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That same morning we welcomed several other new members. Rachel Thomas, on the profession of faith,

Debbie Bee after her baptism at Cohutta Springs,

Elizabeth and John Belensky

Miriam May

Laura, Craig, Grace and (Abigail missing in the photo) Perez

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David Reynolds and Matt Geraghty shared the following photos with me from the recent Pathfinder Investiture service.

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From Shelly Caswell: “On Wednesday, May 11 the OAKS students spent an hour participating in their annual “Walk-a-thon” to raise money for a new playground. Students ranging in age from 6-14 years old spent an hour walking or running around the church and school, with sponsors pledging donations for each lap. Some students ran up to 5 miles during the hour. The day provided perfect weather and the students laughed and raced each other as they literally “stepped up”  to the challenge of raising the most money, or completing the most laps. 

Students have until May 20 to collect their donations. Prizes for the highest earners and the class with the most participation will be given on May 24.

We want to thank our parents and community for supporting our fundraising efforts. The students are excited to soon have an upgraded playground.

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From Summer Bradford:

“Hi Pastor, here are some pictures from our widow’s brunch this morning! We had 14 attend and everything went wonderful!! A huge thank you to all those who helped make this a beautiful spread!! It was nice to serve these wonderful ladies.”

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Your support for the people of Ukraine is absolutely overwhelming. In the last two months the Light of Hope ministry has already sent about $100,000 US. The contributions are also coming from donors across the Unites States. In the last two weeks we were able to provide food for the hundreds of orphans in various camps across Ukraine. Some of those orphanages are really close to the active war zones. Additional support was provided to the refugees in the Eastern Ukrainian conference. Bread delivery continues for the regions with limited food access. Just a couple of days ago we were able to buy a commercial washer and dryer for an orphanage camp with over 300 children. God bless you for your caring hearts and gifts.

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Mark you calendars, the June Bible seminar dates are June 22-25.

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This week I’d like to express my special appreciation to Bonnie Hicks, our Head Deaconess. She is always willing to go the extra mile in her service to our church. Thank you, Bonnie! We see your hard work and we all appreciate you very much.

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Additional helpful resources and the church weekly bulletin are available here:

www.ooltewahchurch.org

Both services this Sabbath will be led by our Youth and Earliteen. Exciting!

See you in the morning.

Hugs,

Pastor Peter

Set Your Hope on His Grace

1 Peter 1:13 “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” (1 Peter 1:13). We may hope to be saved, but this is not the kind of hope Peter talks about in the passage above. He invites us to set our hope on God’s grace. In God’s grace there is room for me. I am not perfect. I am a sinner. I deserve to be condemned and to die. God’s grace assures my salvation. I don’t deserve it, but I can have it because of Christ’s grace extended to me. This is the kind of hope that gives me peace.

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The Ooltewah Pathfinders had a wonderful time at Cohutta Springs last weekend. They were there for the spring camporee. On Sabbath one of our Pathfinders, Debbie Bee, was baptized by David Reynolds. Congratulations, Debbie!

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The Cancer Support Group had their first meeting on April 4. Seven people attended the session and had a nice time sharing their personal experiences. They hope to grow and get more participants from the community. They all believe it’s an important ministry. Everything said in the group is confidential. Heidy Pino is thankful for her husband Ed’s leadership in making this a healing environment for cancer patients, survivors and family members to process their emotions.

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The Light of Hope continues to actively support the suffering people in Ukraine. Every dollar contributed goes to feed and to provide shelter to thousands of displaced families. In the last few days I was contacted by two orphanages in Ukraine. They are overwhelmed with the number of children moved from the war zones to their facilities. I am so glad that we could help them buy food, fuel for the water heaters, basic hygiene items, and clothes.

Many students from Bucha Adventist seminary, who had to evacuate from the Russian invasion, are now helping these orphans in the newly established camps. They do their best to remain positive and to share hope with the children. Watch this short video sent to me by the director of the camp for the orphans.

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Don’t forget about the Vespers program at our church tonight. Students from Great Lakes Academy will lead at the Vespers program. Tomorrow the students will lead at both services. I am looking forward to a great spiritual feast.

PLEASE DO NOT FORGET ABOUT THE POTLUCK TOMORROW. BRING AN EXTRA DISH TO SHARE WITH THE STUDENTS. THANK YOU.

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Hugs and blessings,

Pastor Peter

Meeting God

Moses had courage to ask God for something that was unimaginable … to see God’s glory. Moses wasn’t rude or arrogant. His request was the result of his close relationship with God. They talked all the time. They shared the same mission. Moses knew God’s voice and His character, but he wanted more. If we grow in our relationship with God we will always want more and more of Him. When I go to visit my little grandchildren I always laugh when I hear them say, “I want you, Grandpa!” They know that I have a job and many other responsibilities, but they eagerly pull me into their play area… Come, be with me, play with me. I want you. That’s how Moses felt about God. Do you feel the same way about your God?

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The worship service last Sabbath was absolutely perfect. I feel sorry for all of you who went somewhere else and missed the uplifting music of the orchestra and the choir. Not many churches are as blessed as the Ooltewah Adventist Church. Thank you, Mary Wilcox. Thank you, Larry.

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The Pathfinders had a great time during their pool party last Sunday. David shared a few photos and a brief report below.

“The Pathfinders went last Sunday to the pool at SAU and completed swimming honors started earlier in the year at Fort Mountain Lake during one of our campouts. They also enjoyed just mingling and diving in the pool and snacks.”

This weekend the Pathfinders are down at Cohutta Springs for Camporee.

Are your children members of the Pathfinder Club at our church? If not, talk to David Reynolds.

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The Cornerstone Building fund is constantly growing. Thank you for your wonderful support. The elders recommended to set a new goal of reaching 1.5 million by September 1, 2022. Please pray about your participation in this ministry growth.

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The war in Ukraine is bringing horrible devastation to millions of people. Thank you for your loving and generous support. Your donations are being sent daily to various regions of Ukraine. You are helping them with food, shelter, refugee camps, text books for the children, etc. Pastor Lev, the East Conference president shared the following video with me from Mariupol. It is a very short video. At the very end of it you’ll see our SDA church building (on the right side of the road) completely destroyed. It was in that building that I preached just 3 years ago. Great pain … the darkness of the evil in this world.

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Your donations helped refugee children buy text books and school supplies. Bread is being distributed in the capital city. The war has engulfed the whole country.

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I hope to see you in church tomorrow.

Hugs and prayers for each one of you.

pastor Peter

The Hope of Resurrection.

Jesus came to Bethany when His friend Lazarus was in the grave. Martha and Mary were grieving. Jesus spoke to Martha before bringing Lazarus back to life. He told her that the Resurrection is not just an event. It is the person of Jesus Christ . His words are filled with power, assurance and hope. He spoke about the future, but also about the present. He is THE LIFE. That life can be ours when we allow Christ to enter our “Bethany.” Our home, our community or our church can be resurrected to a new life which is in Christ the Victor.

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As I am typing this blog post I am praying about the first night of the evangelistic meetings starting in Eastern Europe. People living in that part of the world need hope like never before. These meetings are being broadcasted on cable networks, social media outlets and YouTube channels. They cover the many time zones all the way to the Far East. Let the power of God be revealed in a mighty way!

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Men’s ministry update: “Aubri’s deck is completed. Special thank you to all the guys who helped on this large project. And to the ladies who helped Aubri cleanup the yard as well. Word is she loved all the help and fellowship of the project. …  Had another quick little cleanup for Ms. Adele Dahlberg as well. Just a few small branches and and sticks on the roof and one larger branch that had come down and lodged in the tree trunk. I am glad we could assist her!”

Just a note. It is the Men’s Ministry project, but we have ladies working side by side with the men. Thank you, ladies 🙂

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Ooltewah Prayer Warriors had their quarterly lunch at Sondra’s house. They come together to coordinate their lists and schedules, to pray together, and to fellowship around the table. Sondra was happy that 17 people were able to attend this event. Here are a few photos from that lunch.

Sondra, Thank you for your leadership in this ministry. We all feel the blessings of many prayers offered daily for our church, our families and our community.

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Early morning last Saturday a group of our church members prepared breakfast for a large group of people in the Chattanooga Community kitchen. This is such a great way to show that we care! Thank you, everyone, who came to help with the breakfast, to meet these dear people and to pray with them. I received many photos from that event, and here are just a few of them:

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Last Monday the Connect committee brought together our church ministries leaders. It was an excellent way to help them know about various resources offered by the church. More than that it was a good time for the ministry leaders to get to know one another, and to see how their ministry can join hands with other church ministries in achieving the same goal of service and support. Thank you, Mike Haughee, for coordinating the program!

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This Sabbath morning both worship services will take place in the Fellowship Hall. All the musicians and singers participating in the worship service cannot fit on the sanctuary platform. I am looking forward to a great worship experience tomorrow. We will celebrate Christ’s victory over sin and death! He is our Risen Savior.

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Your support for Ukraine brings help and hope to thousands of people in the war zones. Just this morning I talked to pastor Krupsky. He is the Hope Channel Ukraine Director. Their studios in Bucha were vandalized… Their staff had to flee to a safer place in the Western side of the country. Many of them are young families with small children. They left everything behind, but they keep broadcasting from mobile devices. They are not losing heart. Some of your funds were used to provide food and clothing for the Hope Channel Ukraine families. They used the funds also to buy school supplies for the children.

Pastor Vertylo sent us a message a few days ago from the eastern region of Ukraine. Him and his team of pastors keep moving families from the areas of active war to safer locations. They use your funds to provide food and shelter for the children and the elderly. He asked me to share with you his words of appreciation and his hugs of love.

Here is a link to a video recorder by our SDA pastor in Mariupol who stayed there as long as possible. The narration is in Russian, but it help us see the pain through the eyes of a child.

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See you tomorrow! Happy Sabbath to you.

pastor Peter

The Righteousness of God

“What is it that constitutes the wretchedness, the nakedness, of those who feel rich and increased with goods? It is the want of the righteousness of Christ. In their own righteousness they are represented as clothed with filthy rags, and yet in this condition they flatter themselves that they are clothed upon with Christ’s righteousness…. They may be crying, “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are we,” while their hearts are filled with unholy traffic and unrighteous barter. The courts of the soul temple may be the haunt of envy, pride, passion, evil surmising, bitterness, and hollow formalism. Christ looks mournfully upon His professed people who feel rich and increased in the knowledge of the truth, and who are yet destitute of the truth in life and character.” The Review and Herald, August 7, 1894 EGW

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Last Sunday our church Health Ministry team offered help to the people in our community. It was a thoroughly prepared event. Ann Weeden and her crew brought a Mammogram Van from Memorial hospital, pitched a tent on the parking lot of the Samaritan Center and organized consultation stations inside the Samaritan Center. I felt so blessed to see that our church cares about the needs of the people in our area. Those who attended the Health Expo also received delicious healthy cookies and spiritual literature. Thank you, EVERYONE, who came to help last Sunday.

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Our Sabbath worship services last Sabbath were enriched with music from the CA band!

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These last few days I was in the Hope Channel studio at the General Conference recording a new series of messages in Russian for Eastern Europe. I pray that these messages bring hope and encouragement to those who are struggling today in the war-torn zones. Thank you for your prayerful support. I felt honored that our Ooltewah Church is behind this important outreach ministry.

Your financial gifts for the people of Ukraine keep providing food and shelter to hundreds of struggling families. Last night and this morning I was on the phone with the Conference leaders and pastors in various parts of Ukraine. They all shared with me a picture of horrific devastation. They are sincerely thankful that your help allows them to move families from Mariupol and Kharkiv to safer locations on the western side of Ukraine. They are grateful for the bread they can bake. They offer that bread to hundreds of hungry people in Kyev, Kharkiv and other cities. God bless you, my caring friends.

Here is just one photo of the help you provide. This photo is from pastor Yuri, the Union Health Center Director.

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See you tomorrow.

pastor Peter

Come to the Lord’s Table

I invite you to join the communion service at our church tonight, March 25, at 6:30 PM. Twice a year our Communion is celebrated as the Agape Feast. We come together, share food, music, and testimonies. I hope to see you at the Lord’s table tonight.

This Sunday our church is presenting a major health event for the people in our community. The Health Expo will take place on the parking lot of the Samaritan center. The Expo starts at 1 PM. The tent is already up. Memorial hospital is bringing their mammogram van. There will be many booth/stations where people will find many helpful tests, consultations, and resources. Come and support our Health Ministry team. This is what our mission is all about.

Talking about our mission I m happy to share with you a few photos sent to me by Laura. This is our Love is Action ministry team helping a local family.

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Heartfelt Thank You to everyone who contributed to the Light of Hope ministry. You’ve raised over $40,000 for the families in Ukraine. Because of your donations, food is being provided for the starving people in Kharkov, Kiev, Chernigov, and many other locations in Ukraine. East Ukrainian conference pastors and administration are grateful for your financial support as they continue to move families from the active war zones. Here are a few fresh photos from the conference president.

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Come soon, O Lord Jesus!

Your friend and pastor Peter

The Lord is My Rock

When I feel overwhelmed with the evil in this world I open Psalm 18 and find comfort and assurance in the following words of the Psalmist:

I will love You, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my [a]strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the [b]horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.

This is the fourth week of the conflict in Ukraine. Millions are displaced. Thousands have been killed. Big cities are in ruins. It may seem that there is no hope, but when I talk to the pastors there I feel a different kind of spirit. They remain in the war zone. They help move families to safety. They deliver food to the starving people. They remain strong in their faith that the Lord is their Rock. What a great spiritual lesson for all of us.

In the last 10 days the Light of Hope Ministry has received $19,083 for the suffering families and food delivery ministry in Ukraine. The funds keep coming. Here is a short video showing our pastors from the East Ukraine conference moving refugees from the active war zones and helping them with food and shelter inside the church and school buildings. They are still smiling!!!

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I am absolutely thrilled to let you know that we are very very close to our first $1,000,000 in the Cornerstone Fund. We are all praying about reaching this amount by April 1. God is making miracles through you! We are only $25,000 short. Exciting, right?

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Please do not forget to schedule your photo for the new church directory. You can also do that online at www.ooltewahchurch.org

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Have a blessed Sabbath day.