MESSAGE. This year on the 4th of July I was preaching in Eastern Europe where religious liberty is fading away under the pressure of civil authorities yielding to the powers of state churches. On this Independence Day I was on my knees thanking God for all He has given us. The United States is a country in which everyone has an equal opportunity. Let us treasure and protect our freedom to worship and to follow our conscience.
“Our government was founded on the essential religious idea of integrity of the individual. It was this religious sense which inspired the authors of the Declaration of Independence: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.’” (JFK)
MINISTRY. Today is my first day back home after a three week mission trip to Ukraine. What an awesome feeling it is to wake up at home! Thank you, church, for your prayers!
After I align my body clock with Eastern Standard Time, and stop craving for Ukrainian pirogies I’ll find time to write a detailed report on this mission. As for now I’ll say that God has been with us on every step of this journey. He’s been with us on planes, trains, and automobiles. Believe me, we wouldn’t make it otherwise in that war-torn and poverty-stricken part of the world. Surrounded by military convoys, tanks rolling through the city streets, and hotel rooms packed with military personnel, we felt safe in the arms of the Almighty.
The local church in Severodonetsk had only 85 active members. During the meetings over 350 souls were were eagerly searching for the Bread of Life. Twice a day, every day they were filling up the auditorium on the third floor of the city palace of culture. Despite no elevators or AC with 95F heat they were unstoppable. A hundred and forty five of them are now in the baptism preparation class. The local pastor Alexei initially reserved a room for 20 people for the baptism class. Imagine his excitement when a hundred and fifty showed up! God is at work in Severodonetsk. The local church is adapting to this tripling in size miracle. I assured them that the Ooltewah church will be praying for them daily.
While preaching in the afternoons and evenings Barby and I were visiting a local city market every morning buying shoes, clothing items, fruits, and sweets for the children in the local orphanage. Delivering these items to the orphanage was always a highlight of the day. They were waiting for the bananas and apples, trying new shoes and T-shirt’s. Every time we came they would have short concerts prepared with songs and poem recitations. Thank you, church, for proving the funding for these precious children. Below are just a few photos. I’ll share more details tomorrow during the worship service.
STEWARDSHIP – What does God entrust to us with which we can be good stewards? Time, Opportunities, Relationships, Gifts, Employment, Family, Money, Resources, Environment, Networks, and more …
The goal of stewardship is to act in a way that is consistent with how God would act were He the one who was in possession of the same items.
Thank you for your wonderful support of the local church budget in June.
VBS is starting this Sunday morning. Please pray for the VBS leadership team.
See you tomorrow morning.