This past weekend we were able to take 32 guys to Ivankiv, Ukraine. Here are some pictures from the weekend. The Lord blessed our time by providing Andrei, a Ukrainian Christian businessman who shared on practical work ethic, integrity and other lacking characteristics in this country. I’m confident it was for some of these guys the first time they’ve ever heard such concepts. Andrei was very like-able, humble but confident, and had the group eating from his hand. He represents a very rare breed in this country, young, ‘successful’ but walking without compromise spiritually and in business.
Usually when money is involved here, people are very pragmatic and do whatever it takes. Andrei challenged everyone to stand their ground, uphold integrity and trust God. He also encouraged the group with some business ideas, and tried to provide practical advice for different industries they might want to pursue as many are about to finish college.
Having Andrei share Saturday morning was great because it wasn’t too ‘preachy’ and allowed us to gain some trust while we spent the rest of the day playing games and paintball. I skipped out on the paintball, there were exactly 30 guys that played, exactly the amount of equipment. They came back completely wiped and ready to eat. This was great because I could then share to an audience that wanted nothing more than to sit and rest:)
After Sergei led some songs (great job by the way Sergei!), I shared on the road that leads to destruction, and the narrow gate that few find. I encouraged them from several scriptures about the nature of the wide path, how we’ve all been on it at some point. By grace, God has sent Jesus to make another way,a way off the path to destruction and restoring us back to the road to eternal life.
I drew this all out on a large white board and ended with the invitation that God has been making through men for 2000 yrs, ‘be reconciled to God!” It was a sober time, and the guys were listening, the Holy Spirit was moving on hearts. We had 7-8 guys raise their hand who understood they were on that wrong path, and wanted to respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit to make some changes.
I was filled with joy obviously to see such a response. It’s amazing how God uses His Word to convict hearts, very cool God! The next morning I shared on renewing your mind with God’s word, old patterns and new patterns. We invited anyone that had made a decision to follow God to go immediately to Cabin #2 to talk with Dan.
We had most of the guys show up, another visible step toward a commitment to God, this time it was in front of others. Then last night, Dan met at his house with 5-6 of them to start talking about their new faith. Several of them already have a change in their demeanor, while a few are still wrestling and sincerely counting the costs. For a lot of these guys, they have strong opposition at home to such a step, they need our prayers.
This week the new believers are meeting with Kolya and Dan. In the coming week or so, I want to get with them as well and review some basic Christian topics like faith and forgiveness. The most important thing right now is to get them into fellowship with other believers and encourage them, and obviously pray. Many are about to return home for the summer in a few weeks. May God establish them in their new faith, and protect the seeds of eternal life that have been sown!
Anyway, our hope for this retreat was to build unity among our brothers, and provide opportunity for salvation among some of the students that could come. God accomplished more than I personally expected, and I thank Him for it along with the rest of us missionaries here in RZ. Thank you God for allowing us the privilege of working in your Kingdom with You!
Will be updating again soon. We’ve had some very interesting things happening around our house in the past two weeks, including 1 stolen bike, stolen ipod and Ninendo DS. Each with different stories, some still unfolding. We have an amazing amount of kids at our house daily right now, as I type there are about 8 kids (none ours) around the trampoline and sitting around our porch. Yesterday we had 18-20 kids, God is allowing us the opportunity to get to know them all more, ages 6-15 mostly. We need prayer to show them God’s love, and when necessary God’s justice/honesty as well, some of these kids come from pretty rough backgrounds, and have little to no conscience left, professional liars. Pray for our kids, that their own hearts don’t become bitter, so far they’ve had godly attitudes and sort of trusting us I think that by showing grace and love (when taken advantage of) gives the most joy to God, and keeps peace in our own hearts as well. Thank you Otto Koning for those wonderful Pineapple Stories!
Thanks for checking in –
Bruce & Deb