I am writing again from Delaware where the winds are howling and the waves are crashing on the beach. We have had a series of northeast storms which actually do more damage here than hurricanes. I am often reminded of the "foolish man who built his house upon the sand" as I watch the awesome power of these storms. But, I am always thankful for the many blessings I continually receive from our loving Lord.
As usual, I receive more news than I can report and it is hard to decide what to include each month. I know that many are waiting with me to hear about Yura's visit to America. I don't have any new news to report concerning the visas. I know that Yura and Andrey have received their Letters of Invitation but they haven't gone to the American Consulate in Vladivostok to apply for their visas yet. I will let you know as soon as I hear from them concerning this important step. Please continue to keep them in your prayers.
Pastor Yura's ministry to the homeless of the city continues. Jack Stevenson reported in his February newsletter that the church is now taking 100 meals each week to the people living at the city garbage heap.
Pastor Tom Tarver, the team leader of the missionaries in Khabarovsk wrote about this ministry. He attends Pastor Yura's church and on the way home one Sunday, he and his wife, Ellen discussed a profound statement that Yura made concerning the food ministry. Here's the story:
"A group from the church went to the garbage dump to provide bread for those who searched among the garbage heaps. While they gave out food, some of the people who received it spoke harshly toward them. 'Hey, you don't understand Russian? I said that I needed three portions! Are you a stupid fool? Can't you understand?'
The response of some to whom ministry and food was extended was far from grateful. It was downright rude! Pastor Yura said simply, 'We do not minister to these people based on their character. We do it in response to God's character.'"
Tom continues: "We all receive God's blessing. All of us! The real question is not one of blessing but of response. How will I respond to God's blessings today? I'm just glad that God gives to me based on His character and not mine."
We can all relate to Tom's response. I know I take so many blessings for granted. I thank God for the reminders which continue to come from the ministry of this little Russian Church concerning God's love.
My friend Joyce also received a letter from Yura in February in which he thanked her and her church for prayers and support. Yura writes, "In our church we have no agreements or commitments with anyone concerning financial issues. Nevertheless, the Lord miraculously uses Christian Believers from the whole world to bless us. In turn we always use the gifts not only for the needs of our church, be we also send donations throughout all the world in spite of national barriers. We just sow and a part of our money may die this way for us, but more and more often I hear how God uses our donations. Many pastors from the around the world experience the love of Christ with tears in their eyes. What could be better?
The rest of the gifts are spend for our main and secondary needs. The main needs are the service of mercy - feeding people; the work in the hospital for abandoned babies; ministry to the Ninian people in their village. We also must pay rent on two apartments (one for church) and an office and take care of our sick people, care for the vehicle (fuel and repairs). We use some to go to conferences and for the personal needs of full-time servants.
Joyce, I will never forget something you once said - that people will know about our ministry. Many times these words encouraged me to complete everything God is directing me to do. I will always remember the confidence mixed with God's peace in the expression of your face when you told me these words. Today, I know for sure that it will be so. We will experience amazing things in this life and after that we will go Home. Soon we will meet one way or another, but one day we will be together in Heaven."
Please continue to pray for Yura's ministry and that all will be accomplished for his visit to America.
I have also heard from the team and from Lena concerning the babies in the infant orphanage. Lena's health hasn't been good and she asks for prayers as she continues to work with the orphans and those coming to Khabarovsk to adopt the children. She told me a sad story about an adoption that did not go as planned. I'm sure this story could be told time and again in many parts of the world.
Lena writes: "I am going to buy some special items for Orphanage #8. Do you remember that school? We worked there together when you were in Khabarovsk. The children need socks nd shoes, bandages, plaster, and vitamins. There are 97 children there and I don't know how we can supply all the needs.
The sad story of a little girl brought me again to this orphanage. Her name is Katerina and she was going to be adopted by an American couple. The mother's name is Janette. The adoption failed because Katya's father was found. He is in prison for a crime but he is not deprived of his parental rights. Katya's grandmother doesn't want her to be adopted and so the procedure is ended. She must stay in the orphanage."
Please pray for Katya who was all prepared to be adopted by people who loved her. She was learning English in preparation for her new life in America. The parents had prepared her room and were ready to fly to Khabarovsk to take her home with them. There is so much hurt in this story. I have contacted Janette and she asks for your continued prayer for her family and for little Katya. Please pray that God will guide their decisions concerning what is best for Katya and for their lives.
I continue to hear about the babies in the infant orphanage from team members.
Ari writes: "A second infant's orphanage was opened in the South and it is in bad shape. Lena and some of us are going out to visit it and we'll let you know more details. We told Lena that she could use the money you sent in to help buy what is needed."
Sue writes: "Pray for the children in the orphanages whose physical needs are so great and overwhelming and yet have an even deeper need to know their heavenly Father. We have been spending time each week with the babies and loving it. This last week we had a mission to give as many baths as we could. The babies loved it and we just loved being able to give them some extra time and attention. The orphanage workers do the best they can but they are under staffed and under paid. Not a good combination."
Elizabeth writes: "At the babies hospital I went from baby to baby, holding and changing each in turn. Once around the room and it's time to start again! There are certainly not enough people to keep these poor babies dry and comfortable, much less hold them and love them. I was nervous before I went - it had been decades since I'd held or cared for babe in arms. But God's love covers a lot of things, and it certainly provided the needed knowledge and touch at this time. As I walked around the room, babies smiled and giggled at me, opening their mouths like little fledglings seeking a morsel from a returning parent. Feeding time came around and I could only hold one baby at a time. The others simply received their bottles gratefully, if only propped up beside them so they could suckle.
So one must pick one baby...and the others? Next week I must be sure to pick a different one! So many dirty bottoms, so many hungry mouths, so many aching hearts reaching for a bit of love that passes only too quickly by. And I have so little of me, only two hands and not enough time. But I give them what little I have and they and I are grateful. It causes me to think that God's arms are big enough for us all. I also am taught how to be vulnerable before my caretaker, reaching for Him and opening my heart, soul and mind for feeding from above.
The babies appeared to be well cared for--as the small staff would allow. As we exited the hospital, one of the doctors called after us, 'Come again! You are welcome here!' I am grateful."
Elizabeth asks for prayers as she moves to work with Fyoder to develop and implement a new Christian Resource and Training Center for all who labor for Christ in the Khabarovsk region. She reminds us that, "The purpose of the Center is to equip, empower and enable the very young and very poor Russian National Churches to reach out to their communities with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and in aid of the poor, the homeless, the orphaned and the widowed."
As always, I am privileged to tell the story of God's work in Khabarovsk. Please pray about Yura's ministry and his visit to America. Continue to pray for the helpless and homeless in Russia. Some of you may be moved to send a gift to be used in the orphanages or for Yura's vision to the homeless and orphaned of the city. If so, please make your checks payable to Fishburn UMC and tell us how God is directing the gift to be used.
In His Love,
Fishburn United Methodist Church
1215 Fishburn Road
Hershey, PA 17033
Andrey's web page in English: http://get.to/faith