Next Flight – Next Seat

I ran hard for the flight. We had been an hour late leaving the airport in Minsk, Belarus and although the pilot made up 30 minutes of that time while in the air I still had only 30 minutes and not the originally scheduled hour between flights in Frankfurt, Germany. Three long halls, another security check, and several changes in floors as I went from one terminal to another (I have become an expert at moving faster on the stairs than you can move on the escalators) and I finally found the right gate – they had changed gates, of course. The doors were still open and so I was on board.

The flight was nearly empty. I was thinking – good, that means that maybe the seat next to me would remain empty and then I would have more room to “set up my office” and accomplish 8.5 hours worth of work on this overseas flight. No such luck. All of a sudden there was a hugh rush of people entering the plane – another flight that had been late … then another rush of people from another connecting flight … all late like I had been. Apparently, and we were not told this in Minsk, it had been a problem with weather in Frankfurt and so all connecting flights had arrived late and so this plane was being held so passengers booked on it could actually board and the flight would not leave with 90% of the seats unoccupied as they were when I first boarded.

I ended up with someone sitting next to me. I moved my book, my writing pad and pen, and my Bible. I had already begun to set up my office. He moved in as I moved out of his seat … and I introduced myself. Afterall, we were going to be in close quarters for the next 9+ hours. No response. He was sort-off pleasant and at least acknowledged my existence but he made it very obvious that he was not interested in any conversation whatsoever. I let it go hoping that as the flight progressed he would unwind (he too looked like he had run to get on board) and be a little friendlier. And, I recognized that I was old enough to be his father if not his grandfather – he was probably about 21 or 22 years old.

It turns out that he had seen my Bible and assumed I was a believer and thus totally against his chosen life-style. He was an active homosexual. You could assume this by how he was dressed. I did not make that assumption – never do. He dressed like a combination of ‘metro’ and ‘retro’. His mannenerisms could also have led you to this conclusion – I did not go there as I simply treat people as people. The way he spoke – tone and words – could have led you to that conclusion. Not the case. However, when I met his friend later in the flight and watched them together (as they sat together for a while in another row working together on a computer) it was hard to miss and very obvious to anyone and everyone who saw them and the way they were behaving. Which is fine with me as I am never upset by this and don’t judge. People are people, sin is sin, and everyone regardless of their sin needs a Savior.

I work by the L.A.F. principle – Love everyone unconditionally as the Lord loves me …. Accept everyone as they are just as the Lord accepts me as I am …. Forgive people when they hurt me or speak against me as the Lord did and requires that we do.

So, as I have been thinking about this young man over the past week – and praying for him and his friend – I see the situation I faced on that long overseas flight as a failure on my part and on the part of the Christian Church. I believe his reaction to me as a Bible believer and pastor is a result of past rejection or an assumption that he would be rejected or judged based on previous experience or, at the least, the reputation of the Church in general as a group that does that regularly. I saw the lack of receptivity to even a civil conversation as a natural outcome to the reputation that the Church has earned over the years – one of being judgmental and condemning. And, I am determined to do my part to help reverse this impression that we have left with the world.

I believe the Lord is calling us to be as He was – loving, accepting, forgiving! I believe we must be strong and secure in what we believe and stand for – secure and thus without a need to be defensive – and so not nervous when people disagree with us and challenge what we know to be the truth. We must lovingly welcome disagreements, discussion, and honest dialogue and do so with open and accepting hearts and lives so that people feel the warmth of the love of the Savior and know that they are being accepted as human beings of value and tremendous worth and not judged and condemned. We can disagree with a person’s lifestyle (as I am sure they disagree with the way I have chosen to live my life) and still lovingly accept the person.

I failed that day to communicate this love to the young man sitting next to me. But that will not stop me from trying again and again … because that is what I see the Lord doing as I read through the gospels and observe the way He interacted with people – His love, His acceptance and His forgiveness are obvious for all to see. So, it must be the same in my life….

University Lecture

When you think “university lecture” your thoughts would wander to the picture on the left – at least, after more than 10 years in higher education and three university degrees that is where my thoughts would go. However, when I recently spoke to a university class studying religions the picture on the right is what I faced that day. University classes and facilities in Belarus are different than they are here. But the students are the same. Hungry to learn and very impressionable.

This group of wonderful students are part of a four year degree that will lead them into positions of power within the government structure of their nation. Many will become very powerful within the political and social world of this great nation of Belarus. As part of their education they study “religion” like a scientist would study the eruption of a volcano. So, they have a scientific curosity about “religion” and study various belief structures so that they can understand what is believed by the followers of that ‘faith’ and why they believe it.

This group seldom has a guest speaker – they have not seen a Canadian speak in the university since 1984. I believe this opportunity foe me to address these future leaders was God-orchastrated. They were honored that I was there and listened very intently to everything I had to say. The topic was the spread of “religion” in Canada (historical to present) and I had only an hour ( with interpretation that means 30 minutes of me talking). Then there was a time of questions and answers to fill out the 90 minute time slot.

Before the class time we met in the professor’s office for tea. There we met another professor and had opportunity to get to know each other and get a ‘feel’ for the university and what we were about to be involved in. Then through many hallways and floors of the massive building we were in to the classroom where we immediately jumped in and began talking after a very brief introduction. The talk went well (I was a bit nervous) and I avoided all references to politics (my host in the counry had me registered as non-political and so I could not become involved in or comment on any political situation). The students were quiet and attentive – and the questions they asked were specific, pointed and polite. They was no anamosity. I spoke carefully and had spent a great deal of time in the days leading up to this event thinking through what I would say and how to say it so as to stay within the guidelines and yet make the most of the opportunity. Afterall, I am a guest in a foreign nation and not just a university.

Afterwards – more tea, a great conversation, a tour of a small museum to understand the history of the university and a second tour of a re-creation of a peasant village of the mid-1800’s with actual pottery, linen, a reconstructed house, etc. Amazing and we have some tremendous pictures of this second tour.

The professor who brought us in and whose class I addresed was very gracious and stayed with us the whole time asking questions and helping us to understand the historical significance of the university and what we had just been a part of in his classroom.

It turns out that this professor is the head of a governmental committee that has total control of who gets licensed as a church and who does not. He is the one who decides which churches will be regarded as legal and thus allowed to function openly and publicly and which ones will not be recognized and thus have to remain “underground” and live in fear of persecution. And here’s a coincidence – the last day we were back where we began in Minsk city and in conversation with a pastor there we discussed his decision made that week to begin a new union or network of churches in the nation and seek recognition as a legal group in the nation. I just love what God does. Of course, I am involved in a very limited way but I am involved.

As well, they have invited me to write a scientific “religious” article for a university publication. The purpose of the publication, which comes out three to four times a year, is to help government officials on all levels of government understand “religion” and its role in people’s lives. We were given the requirements for the article (how long, areas to write on, submission dates) in Russian and it is being translated for me by my Eastern Europe administrator. I will need to submit my subject matter by the 15th of May (that places me on a tight schedule due to other commitments and my next trip overseas). Then I can write the article for publication during the summer. I am told that this will open many doors all over the nation for me and this ministry and give to me much more freedom to minister openly that was not available this trip. Of course, I said an immediate “yes” to the offer as I don’t believe in coincidents and believe God has opened this door for us.

Your prayers would be greatly appreciated – much prayer must go into this current opportunity.

This Man’s Life Was Radically Changed By Jesus

As a convicted criminal serving time in the prison system in Belarus Sasha was feared by many and hated by the rest. He was not a nice person and was without hope according to many. He is now a respected businessman and pastors a home church of recovering addicts and assorted others. He was in attendance at our leaders week in Mogilov city, Belarus last week. And, a blessing to all involved.

His attitude is very positive; he is excited about life; he is moving forward in both the business world and his spiritual life; he is willing to serve wherever the Lord opens doors for him to do so; he is always talking about the Lord in a pleasant and powerful way (not a flakey and superspiritual manner) and is a very loving and caring person. He is totally in love with Jesus and you will know that as a fact within 2 to 3 minutes of meeting him. You will have no doubt that Jesus has made a real difference in his life and continues to do so. And, watch those hugs -they could squeeze the very life of Jesus into you.

He has been totally transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ – which, Paul reminds us, “is the power of God unto salvation”. And saved he is! He is a definite “new creature in Christ – behold old things have passed away and all things have become new.” And, he is out to tell everyone “the night-and-day difference Jesus has made in his life” which Peter writes is what we are all about and what the chosen are to do. He is truly an “ambassador of Christ Jesus with a message of reconciliation.”

Well, I spoke a lengthy prophetic word over him one night during the service. At the end of the word I mentioned that the Lord saw his financial issues and would be quickly bringing financial blessings and release to him so that his ministry could be free of monetary concerns and he could focus better. The next night he returns and his face can hardly contain the grin. He asks to give a brief testimony. I let him. He had not been home an hour from the previous night’s service when he called someone that he needed to talk to and in the conversation reminded them of the money that they still owed him. He had written this loan off long before as uncollectable and thus a loss but he felt led to simply mention it. The lady he was speaking to then told him that she had wired the total amount ($3000.00+) to his bank account several days before. He was a little excited! Already God was fulfilling the prophetic word over his life. To him this was a miacle – that this woman would do that after so many years… We all rejoiced with him.

In contrast … I was immediately bombarded by a young man with numerous requests that I pray over him and his finances. My team members talked with him several times over the next few days and relayed what was happening to me after each meeting. He was really aiming to corner me and have me pray for financial blessings over his life so that God could supernaturally remove all his accumulated debt. Well, finally on the last day in that location I spoke to him. He does not have a job and is not looking for one. He spends money he does not have with no possible way of paying back what he borrows. As a believer he goes from conference to conference without a place to stay or food to eat or the means to purchase it. The hosts of each conference end up feeling sorry for him and feed and house him (and this was the case for the two weeks he had spent with us at both the youth conference and then the leaders week). He had no money, no job, no budget and was “living by faith” as he said to me. I refused to pray for him for a financial blessing or even to prophesy over him. I prayed that, as a healthy young man, he would find a job and become a responible young man and start to behave like a true believer “doing all things unto the Lord.”

The contrast between this young man – Oleg – and Sasha who had a good work ethic and was doing all he could to be responsible with his life was so evident. One life radically transformed the other being wasted.

Please pray for Oleg – this young man (not pictured above so as to protect his privacy … there are many Olegs in the former Soviet Union) – that he would bring his life into line with the scriptures and become a living example of a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ who Himself held down a job working with his hands from a very early age.

Pictured above – Sasha (Alexander) with the prophetic tattoo he had done while in prison (it is all about Jesus and he was not saved when he had it illegally done while in prison) and the second picture is with his wonderful wife who works in their business and ministry with them.

Stark Contrast – Severe Disconnect

My last Sunday in Belarus I ministered in an “old pentecostal” church in the city of Minsk. The first Sunday evening two weeks before I had ministered in a different “old pentecostal” church in the same city. The Sunday between I had ministered in an “old pentecostal” church in Mogilov city where I was ministering for two weeks.

Now, I am no expert on “old pentecostal” churches that belong to the same union (network, denomination). I have heard a little of their history and how they continued to worship during the many years of communism and all that they suffered to do so (thus the name “old”). I listened in amazement as they told me some of their wonderful spiritual history and all that the Spirit of God has done time and time again in years gone by (thus the name “pentecostal”). Great people, tremendous hearts for the Lord, and sincerely love God. But, I must admit worshipping with them was an experience and a bit of a shock for me personally.

The women all wear coverings on their heads (scarfs); the “song service” was okay but was definitely not ‘worship’ in the sense of taking us into or even near the presence of God; those leading, for the most case, yelled the whole time they spoke; the decor was all very old and astere; the congregations were mostly old in age; and they apparently had a complete disconnect from the world around them. Hear me – I’m not judging their hearts, just the way the service is “managed” and “presented”.

The contast between what we were experiencing and the world outside became evident after the morning service on the last Sunday I was there. I had been given a limited time frame to speak because it was an evangelistic service where everyone was suppose to invite unsaved friends and family. Everything was designed, I was told, to encourage people to answer the altar call at the end. So, I agreed to give a short version of my testimony and not minister prophetically (we decided that the prophetic would be the basis of the evening service). Good to go.

There was nothing in the morning service that a non-Christian could relate to yet it was an evangelistic service. Format, music picked, the choir, the prayers and the way they were prayed (crying and wailing), the worship, the Sunday School presentation…. nothing! I know because I work a lot with people on the streets and those who are non-believers back home and speak to my team over here a lot about their world, likes and dislikes, their age group, their culture and their desires. I am no expert but I spend a lot of time in analysis of services in many nations and how they are connecting to both God and the culture or world around them. I am even researching and writing a presentation on the disconnect in Canada between what we do and what people today are needing and looking for.

This stark contrast come into greater focus after lunch as I went for a walk. Right behind this converted kindergarten school building now the home of this church were several large buildings that were vacant and had been for many years. Just the brick and stone work was left standing with all windows and doors long removed for their value as wood (see picture). Sitting in the windows on the second floor facing the church building was a group of young men (ages 14 to 18) drinking beer and smoking (what I do not know). Across the lane from that, in what looked like some type of dormitory, there was some fairly loud and “young” music blaring from a window or two on the third floor and the noise of still more youth laughing and talking. It was such a stark contrast and showed me how severe the disconnect is that existed between what we had just been a part of and the actual world surrounding the building and parking lot of this local church.

This is not a problem unique to Belarus or this local church – as it exists in many churches in most nations. I’m not talking about watering things down to be “relevant”. I’m taking about presenting worship and the Word in such a way that people in the surrounding culture can relate to it and understand what the faith is really all about. I’m talking about “connecting” to the world around us as the Good News of salvation is only good news if others can hear it in a way that they can understand and can receive it. There is, right now a stark contrast and a severe disconnect.

Catching Up

I have arrived home after almost two full days traveling. Again, we were coming in from Toronto this morning and could not land due to problems at the Regina airport. Running low on fuel we flew to Winnipeg to wait for the Regina technical problems to be solved and to put more fuel in the plane as we had circled Regina numerous times hoping the problem on the ground would be short lived. It wasn’t. Shades of coming in from Calgary on my last trip and having to fly back again and spend the night. Welcome to the ministry.

My apologies for the silence of the last week and the lack of reports of our work in Belarus. However, my computer operating systems crashed over a week ago and in spite of hard work on the part of two different people in Belarus we were unable to get it to function properly. However, I do have a lot of penciled notes and will continue to write about Belarus and the Church there (as well as my experiences) over the coming week to ten days. Today my computer guy came as soon as I arrived home and spent several hours restoring the operating system and getting my mobile office functional once again. Thanks Ryan.

So, starting tomorrow I will be posting a daily blog once again. Thanks for your patience and for all your prayers for me, the team and the trip. It was truly amazing but not without its troubles and glitches as well as a lot of hard work and long hours. And, much was accomplished.

As I reflect a little on the trip (on a rainy and windy night – sitting in my own home once again … I have been thinking of how to summarize everything I do on these trips, How would I communicate with someone who I am and what I do without sounding like I am bragging or giving myself a title or position (neither of which I am interested in). Here is what I came up with…”I am a nobody that’s trying to tell everybody about Somebody that can save anybody.”

Really that is what we are all called to be.

Paul states that God does not call the wise, wealthy or good looking but the foolish and the weak. He does not call the ‘somebodies’ of our world but the “nobody” who is open and available to be used by God. (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)

Our task as a nobody is to tell everybody the good news (Gospel) that Jesus saves. The Gospel is “the power of God unto salvation” and it can literally blow people from the domain of darkness into the Kingdom of Light (Colossians 1:13). However, it is only good news if people hear it which is okay as we are called to “go into all the world…” (Matthew 28:18-20) and be “God’s chosen instruments to tell others the night-and-day difference He has made” (1 Peter 2:9).

The ‘Somebody’ is Jesus who is the only way to the Father as well as “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” He is God born as a man who came to live among us and reveal the heart of the Father to the people. He died for us and shed His blood paying the penalty for our sins (spiritual death and separation from God) so we can have life – His life flowing in and through us. By doing so and by us responding we have eternal life (Romans 6:23) which is a “relationship with God the Father…” (John 17:3).

And anyone can call on the Name of the Lord and be saved (Acts 4:12). The message is that “God so loved the world” (John 3:16) and so you can be saved and have the assurance that when you die you will go to Heaven to spend eternity with Him.

Everywhere I go this is really all I am doing. I dress it up in different clothes – using different topics – but I always have one theme … Jesus. And, I am discipling, training, equipping and mentoring the saints so that they can go out and be the Church in their world and move supernaturally as Jesus did (John 14:12).

This is what I did for 16 days in Belarus. Nothing less – nothing more!

An Amazing Oppurtunity! Please Pray!

Ralph Teaching in Russia

Please pray! I has just been invited to give a lecture at the University in Mogilev in Mogilev city, Belarus this coming Friday afternoon (early morning Saskatchewan time – 9 hours behind Belarus). This is to be on a ‘religious’ topic of my choice. We are told that this will be an historical event in the history of this university founded by the dictator and of the nation.

As well, I has agreed to meet with the dean of the university beforehand for an opportunity to share whatever is on my heart.

The government has also asked me during April and May to write a religious article on the born again faith for a ‘scientific journal’ and then to return in May of 2011 to attend and speak at a forum being sponsored by the government.

Please pray and thank you for your financial support that makes all of this possible!

Youth Conference Begins

It is morning and I am about to go down for coffee and breakfast … and the kids are all up and very active. I am tired as the room was very hot and there was no way I could see to cool it off so my sleep was not a good one. And, the room has smoke smells coming in through the floor in one corner of the room and so has a considerable smoke inhalation issue.

Today we drive to our next city – keep moving Ralph so they don’t catch up to you – and in Mogilev (the name of the city) we begin working with the youth at 5:00p as the conference begins. Some youth have backed out at the last moment (very disappointing to the youth organizer who has been travelling with us – we prayed for her late last night) but we will go with those who are there. Numbers are not important to me – impacting those who take the time to attend is. So, we are praying that all the youth attending will be seriously impacted by the presence of God.

It is interesting how much more of a role prayer plays in the life of believers here…. they pray and pray fervently. They know the government is against them, that they are being watched and listened to (police tune in the signals for wireless microphones during services), that they could be shut down at any time, buildings can be confiscated, and pastors shut out from preaching (as our host pastor last night in whose house I am staying was recently). So, they pray – and they don’t play with praying – they pray …focused, powerful, crying out to Heaven prayers. And they worship with enthusiasm, excitement, and anticipation – putting their whole being into the event. It was humbling to be a part of and to see.

After breakfast this morning we spent 40 minutes prophesying over the pastor and his wife. Good ministries ahead of them and some powerful things the Lord is asking them to become involved in. God is so good to His kids. They have a tremendous opportunity open before them and the Lord was simply explaining some of the details and the process for the next ten to twenty years to them. This is a country that has received little if any prophetic ministry and so everyone is somewhat leery of it and actually does not know what to do after receiving one. This couple had at least received several words before when visiting family in the United States. Hopefully, they will work with the Word and fulfill all the conditions. Powerful time in the Lord’s presence.

Interesting drive to the city – an opportunity to continue talking to our host pastor in whose home we stayed. He is a man who speaks English well as he received some of his education in England and the rest in Kiev (Russian speaking). Just listened to what he has been doing and what his hopes and dreams are. We had just given him his prophetic Word and, in my opinion, the hopes and dreams interconnect very well with the word we gave to him this morning.

Upon arrival we found that where we were staying had changed – we are now in a “hotel” if you can call it that. By North American standards it is not – but standards here it is average. But it is clean even if it has a somewhat cold atmosphere. Just the basics and nothing more. That’s okay – we won’t be spending a lot of time here. We went for a walk, found a store we can buy Diet Coke and fresh fruit in, found a restaurant where we had salad and soup and then rested for a few short minutes before heading out to the 5:00p youth session – #1 session of many over the next three and a half days.

Lots of problems with how things are set up and organized – actually not done well. I had to switch what I had planned to do and do something totally different without any warning. The congregation was not just the youth but a lot of adults from the main church riding along as if this were a service open to everyone. It is a youth conference. It had a set time frame and I finished within 1 minute of the stated time. Only to be told publicly that I could go as long as I wanted and to keep ministering. Sure! No warning, no preparation, just do it. I must make what I do look simple so that they think I can just do it any time, any where, without any preparation. Not the case. But, I honoured their request and ministered (taught and prophesied) for another two hours before handing it back to the leadership.

We tried talking about this with the leaders over a late supper. It did not go well. We will try in the morning to patch things up a bit (hurt feelings) and express what this kind of unplanned last minute change does to the guest speaker – me! However, if you were in the service you would have thought it flowed smoothly with great preparation and thought behind it. This is the professional side of the ministry – covering up the flaws and blessing the people regardless of what is really happening behind the scenes.

We now have internet in this new city – so posted Sunday’s blog tonight (Tuesday) and will be a day or so behind from this point onwards posting them.

Keep praying…. we would like to see the youth seriously impacted.

Pictured above – building we are holding conference in – still very much under construction (no toilets and only one room really finished)

We Are On the Move Again

Monday – a quieter day with a few hours of “office” work (the trouble with laptop computers and wireless connections) so I was able to keep up on some current emails although did not manage any of the substantial backlog that exists. Also managed to record some thoughts and feelings about the trip and ministry so far although it is definitely early into the trip here. A walk with my administrator to just get outside and away from things and people and to see this subdivision of Minsk that we have been staying in for two days and then lunch and a time of prophetic ministry over the pastor’s daughter … then headed to Pastor Vladimir’s for a time of fellowship and prayer. He lives and pastors in Minsk and I had met him for a minute at yesterday moning’s service. Again prayer and prophetic ministry over his wife and over him and his business and church.

Evening service in the city of Berezino ministering for and staying with (for the night) a Pastor Dima. This church had been planted by our previous host before he handed it off to this pastor 5 years ago … a young man with three young children.

Late night: It has been an interesting day praying for healings … the lady , who since last August, has been unable to walk and the doctors cannot find out what the problem is. Then, after supper we drive very fast (145 Km an hour) to Berezino arriving late for the service. Good worship, small group (maybe 30) and mostly older people. Again, after teaching and then prophesying over 4 people the service ended and the line-up began. We prayed for a little girl with cerebral palsy, a deaf teenager, a young schizophrenic, a severe diabetic, and several others … Wow! Everywhere we are going on this trip we are praying for healings… and there was one opportunity to work with someone that needs deliverance that we passed up due to the time schedules they have us on.

Here in Berezino I preached without a microphone as the police monitor this church’s “airwaves”. This way they heard only my interpreter who would be speaking Russian and they would not raid us should they be listening. The pastor was accepted very well here until he registered ‘too many’ Americans during the course of a year (all visitors must register in the city they are visiting as I will be doing this afternoon) and so they became concerned. They monitored his actions including a trip to bless kids in an orphanage and then clamped down on his visitors and on him. They interrogated him for four hours (like the KGB) and, in the end, he was forbidden to preach for a period of three months and now has to obtain a permit to preach (6 months in length) or simply stop. He is being very careful at the moment as he does not want to cause any more ripples as he could be expelled to his home nation.

Fellowship over a fish supper (frequent meal here – fish caught locally on the many lakes and rivers) and plain rice followed by a fruit tea. Good way to end the day and head for bed. The smell of wood burning was very prevalent throughout our time here as almost all houses are heated by wood. The city has just had natural gas reach it but it has yet to create the system to distribute it and, as the pastor lives down a road outside the main part of the city it may be decades before the natural gas is available on his “street” … the mud path that passes as a street – I actually feared that the van we were in would not make it to the house due to the mud and the very large holes (craters) in the road.

It has been a long day… but, I believe a good one.

Palm Sunday in Belarus

Sunday was Palm Sunday – the day Jesus road into Jerusalem in preparation to die for our sins on Good Friday and be raised from the dead that first Easter Sunday. It may not be “first” anymore but this whole next ten days are foundational to the Christian faith – especially His resurrection from the dead. This is THE message of the early Church. I had the privilege of ministering at both a morning and then an evening service in two different locations (churches). It was a good way to come to know the people of this nation and to sense the role it will be playing in the next move of the Holy Spirit.

Our first service was in a rented facility that the church uses all week so it has set itself up fairly permanently in the facility – lighting, sound system, and backdrop for the camera. The Church is Church of God of Prophecy in Minsk. The pastor is Henadzi Kernazhytski and it is a great work he is doing with university and college students from a number of campuses in this capital city of 2 million. It was a great service with tremendous worship (pictured above is the worship team for the morning service).

I gave my testimony and it was well received and God really touched the hearts of the people. I prophesied over several people scattered throughout the congregation including one young man from Sweden. Could God be opening doors to another nation? I don’t know – but I do trust Him and will follow Him wherever He will take me. Also prophesied over a young lady who only recently joined the local church and the pastor commented it was a good word and a needed word for her. God is so good. A word over the local church which also turned into a word over the pastor followed. Of course, we went at least an hour overtime.

The evening service was help at Light of Truth Pentecostal Church in Minsk. A totally different situation. The oldest and thus first Pentecostal church ever built 1977 and the one from which many others have been planted. Much older congregation with a lot of traditional ways and thinking … as was opbvious simply from watching and being part of their evening service. I had never met the leaders of this church before (Pastor Zhibrika) so we chatted briefly before the service. Worship was good and God ministered. Young people led the worship part. Then an offering and I preached. It was a simply sermon but one that I hope touched lives. It was hard to judge by the faces of the people. Very stoic. Then, I asked if it was alright to prophesy and, with permission, called the young people up … over 40 lined up and we prayed and prophesied over every one of them (with no team). Then it seemed the line was still growing but the age of the people was getting older… as others were taking advantage of the opportunity to be prayed for. We eventually closed the 5:00 p.m. service at 11:00 p.m. Then we had supper in the church basement and headed home.

We did prophesy over four young people – in the long line of young people that kept growing – two apostles, a prophet and a five-fold evangelist. They will need a lot of teaching, discipling and mentoring as their situation does not appear to understand anything about the ministry of apostle and prophet. We held a brief time together between the end of the service and the late night supper to offer them our help.

Due to some emails that had been received in my Eastern European office I then held a meeting until 2:00 a.m. with my administrator and sorted through feelings, issues, actions and reactions so that on Monday morning we could simply do some “office work” and accomplish some emails…before heading to have lunch with a man here in Minsk where we will also pray for his wife who has been in bed for years with spinal injuries. Some of the young people want us to work with a lady who is, from the sound of it, seriously demon possessed. However, those situations often absorb a lot of time and it is time that we don’t have a lot of. We will see how the Lord leads.

We head 100 Km down the road today into another town to preach and minister and stay the night….

First Impressions

Nothing like diving right in. After a major hassle in the airport security system, custom officials and consular officers I made it through to those on the other side of the wall who had been waiting for almost 2 hours for me. It was the worse time I have ever had working at entering a country. But God had warned me that this was not going to be an easy two weeks and that I should be prepared to persevere and see it through.

During the 22 hours of flying and airports I had several times, I must admit, when I felt a little panic fluttering around in the pit of my stomach. However, I run my life as best I can according to the Word and remembered that I have the “peace of God that passes all understanding”. Every time the panic feeling would enter my heart and spirit I would meditate on the words Jesus spoke and feel the flood simply restored. Afterall, He is the Prince Of Peace.

I was met at the Minsk airport – after a very rough last third of the trip – by the local pastor I will be ministering for tomorrow morning (Henadzi Kernazhytski) … and my interpreter and administrator Miroslav as well as the youth leader who invited me this nation in the first place. After a trip into the city and a great lunch we then made some travel arrangements regarding return trains for Miroslav and my flights returning on a Monday. I noticed on my way through the city doing the things that needed to be done that it is a very clean city and well kept – there is some pride in who they are and what people think. Good pride in their city and it shows. Also there is a lot of construction going on – great new buildings – very modern and advanced. I have not seen such modern construction in many of the other former Soviet Union nations where I have ministered.

We then headed to the pastor’s home where we will be staying tonight and tomorrow night and I am currently sitting in his office (where I will be sleeping) typing this blog. They have sorted out the internet for us in the locations where we will be living and so I should manage a blog entry a day if time permits.

We have had a four way and then a three way meeting (one university student had a class to go to) here for several hours regarding the coming two weeks and where we will be ministering, for whom, how long are the services, what is happening between the services (meetings, deliverances…) and so on. Very boring stuff but absolutely essential if the ministry is to flow smoothly. This was the leadership team’s first opportunity to meet as a whole and face-to-face to make sure we were all on the same page (and reading the same book) and sort out the details. We accomplished a lot – ending in prayer for every event during the next 15 or 16 days.

Emails are caught up – I did today’s… still 325+ behind… but I am only one person and doing the best I can. God and people first and ministry to the people with (not just for) God… Time to have some supper as it is 8:30 here and tonight they put the clocks forward an hour so it is 9:30 here (body time 1:30 in the afternoon) and I have not slept since Friday morning at 6:00 so I am finding my brain fading now in the conversations we are holding. Time to call it a night.

Tomorrow will be a busy day meeting lots of people from many nations. There will be some YWAM (Youth With A Mission) youth in the service, a former British pastor and his wife now working with kids here in Belarus (BelaRussia) will also be in the service, not to mention a number of other visitors. I won’t really get a good look at the local church as there will be a considerable number of visitors there. I have yet to meet the pastor we will be ministering with in the evening…

Please remember to pray as we have many obstacles to overcome and we want maximum impact for these wonderful people here in this nation. There is a sense of spiritual breakthrough in the air and they have been praying for just that! I am, of course, open to do whatever the Lord asks us to do.