Behind Enemy Lines

Two years ago, I shared extensively on my blog about our new friends from The Persecuted Church who were arrested, interrogated and eventually deported from Uzbekistan for telling others about Jesus and planting secret churches. Many of my long-time readers, donated money, clothes and household items to help them set up their lives in Texas.

Reluctantly, they have made a home in America, but their hearts beat daily for their homeland. Our dear friends bare the burden of the secret church that still meets behind enemy lines.

They are currently teaching leaders and pastors in Ukraine for the next several weeks. Just 200 miles from the town they were deported from and where their parents and siblings still live, a violent outbreak of ethnic cleansing is killing thousands.

From our friends, “As many as 2000 people have been killed in the last several days, up to 400,000 displaced from their homes with 100,000 who have fled to Uzbekistan out of fear for their lives. Many are sheltering in camps or hiding in their homes in fear with thousands trying to cross the border in hope of saving their lives and their families.

There is death everywhere, arson, looting, rapings, threats from police and other officials raising the level of distrust and fear.”

For this we ask you to join us in prayer and our heavy, sad hearts over this at this time. It has brought tears and deep heaviness in us.  These are our people for who we feel a very big part of in our lives and for which we ache at this time.

“We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against other powers that control…”

Would you join with me and pray for peace and protection of The Persecuted Church?


This is Love

*Updated List of Needs*
I asked my Russian friends from The Persecuted Church to give me an updated list of some items they need. They live entirely on the support of Christian families, while they lead and teach leaders still in Uzbekistan and other Russian countries via Skype.

If you’d like to donate money, that’s always needed. But here are some items you can send (They don’t have to be new). With the holidays approaching, this is a great way to teach children about giving.

1. Bath Towels
2. warm blankets for children
3. Big Plastic bowls(for mixing)
4. Salad bowls (or anythings for kitchen will make me happy)

5. Sizes of clothes:
Husband
L
pants-34*30
shoes-9
Wife
XS or S
pants-4 medium
shoes-6,5-7

5 yr daughter
4T-5T
shoes-9-10

3 yr son
3T
shoes-8-9
If you can donate any of these items, please email me (kristenwrites@yahoo.com)
Also, when my friend lived in Uzbekistan, she made their clothes and was very good at sewing. I’d love to buy her a sewing machine. If you want to help me, let me know!

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Many of you have emailed and tweeted and left comments asking about my Russian friends from The Persecuted Church.
First, thank you for caring, secondly, if you are new to their story, please follow the link above. It might just change your life.
I know watching their story unfold has changed mine.
Our dear friends had an amazing three month trip to the Ukraine, the nearest place they were safely allowed to enter. Even twelve hours and hundreds of miles from their former home, caused their families left behind in Uzbekistan a visit and interrogation from the police.
While they were there, they traveled thousands of miles within the country teaching and encouraging pastors and Christian workers. They shared the gifts you sent.
Their story is still unfolding. But I will tell you of one miraculous event. They wished to see their parents, whom they hadn’t seen face-t0-face in the three years since they were forcefully deported from their county. It was a prayer whispered a thousand times, but it would take a miracle for these precious parents to travel across unsafe borders with papers and funds.
The day before they were to meet, our sweet brother called my hubby via Skype. He was very discouraged and said that everyone had received their travel documents to visit them in the Ukraine, except for his mother. She would have to stay behind.
Her heart was broken. I remembered ‘meeting’ her on Skype a few months before, this jovial woman whose children had been ripped from her life, thanking me, for caring for her children. 
My heart was broken for her. My hubby and I prayed for a miracle. Our friends prayed for a miracle.
Just hours before they were to depart to see their children, the documents arrived. We rejoiced with them. And I cried as if it was my own mother.
Our Russian friends returned to the United States a few weeks ago. They returned home. They do not have a physical home, and are believing for yet another miracle. A local pastor has been kind enough to let them stay in his unsold home in another city, over an hour from us. They remind me and teach me daily that home is not a place, it is people.
We traveled to the home that is not theirs on Labor Day to fellowship with them. Our families are starved for each other. We laughed and talked and ate. It felt like home.
I watched my dear heart-sister create a meal from nothing. She lovingly rolled dough thin and taught me as she worked. I marveled at her skill and asked so many questions. She told me of the special steaming pans her mother passed down to her from Uzbekistan. 
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“When we were forced to leave, we filled our suitcases with our special pots and books in our language, not clothes and unimportant things,” she explained as she rolled the dough thinner and thinner.
I asked several questions about the unusual pans that allow you to stack the unique dumpling-type dish 4 or 5 deep and she explained that America did not have anything like it.
She turned and looked at me with so much love, I couldn’t bare it, “Would you like my steaming pots? I would like to give them to you.”
Just like that, she offered me one of her most valuable possessions, one of her only links to her home and her mother. 
“No. No, please, I do not want them or need them. I just think they are unique.”
She turned and carried on her act of love, rolling dough, as if it were nothing.
This is love.
I am a student. 
Oh, how they teach me.


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From Russia with Love

I never thought I’d meet a family from The Persecuted Church.
I never thought my life would become so intertwined with theirs that it would be impossible to untangle our heartstrings.
And I never thought a piece of me would go to Russia.
Our dear friends are in The Ukraine for the next three months.
When they asked us in January to pray and believe with them to raise $33,000 for their missions trip, I doubted. How could they possibly raise so much money in such a short time in this economy? 
God provided every dime through unbelievable means, just because they asked and believed.
They will be traveling to ten cities during this pilgrimage, training thousands of leaders in Sport’s ministry. They will face uncertainty and possible danger as they stay from house-to-house in this impoverished, hungry land.
They packed their belongings in two small carry-ons for their family of four. The other eight large suitcases are stuffed with items you sent, along with others. These bags will stay behind.
The lease on their rental home ended right before they left and so they moved all of their possessions into the garage of a friend. They didn’t want to waste money. When they return in July, they will be homeless. 
“Where will you live? What will you do?” I worried.
“God will provide. He is never late. He is always on time,” they said with confidence.
In their home country of Uzbekistan, African Violets grow wild. My sweet friend loves caring for these delicate plants and when she was forced to leave her home, she left behind her beloved flowers.
Before she left for Russia, she brought over four African Violet plants for me to watch over. I put the precious plants in my kitchen window sill and bookmarked “Caring for African Violets” for reference.
She left a piece of Uzbekistan with me, and she took a piece of my heart with her.
Would you please pray for them? 
  • Travel mercies
  • Safety from persecution
  • Provision
  • The children will adjust to their homeland and then again to America
  • Favor in seeing their mothers who will attempt to travel more than 20 hours out of Uzbekistan.
  • A home when they return
  • Beautiful African Violets
I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know who I will meet or what will happen and it how it will impact my life.  But I cannot thank God enough for stepping into my life that day.
I hope He does it again.
Because He is always on time.
If you haven’t read the whole story, you can catch up here:



Every Little Girl Needs a Pretty Dress

My life changed the day God stepped in. I knew the day The Persecuted Church entered my backdoor last summer, I would never be the same.
I cannot convey how deeply I love these people from Uzbekistan who have become my family.
And they cannot convey to me how much they love the people and family members they were brutally forced to leave behind the day they were expelled from their country less than two years ago. 
My friends will be returning to an area of Russia about 10 hours from their homeland. (They are not allowed to travel back to their country. They do not have travel documents and would face certain death). 
They will be conducting dozens of training seminars for the leaders of the underground church and Christian leaders from impoverished areas. Most of these pastors and leaders will travel days with little money and at great risk to attend the meetings.
The other day over coffee, my friend and I talked about their trip. She spoke of the workers, her friends, and of her deep longing to take them each something. The economy in these countries is very weak. Unemployment is high. It makes America’s situation look good. 
My friend looked into my eyes and said, “I want to take something for these workers. It would just be a token gift because their needs are so great. I would like every little girl (daughters of the workers) to have a pretty dress. Something so little, would mean so much.”
I grabbed her by the hand and said, “We will do this. I know some people who will help.”
And I was talking about you.
Will you help me? 
Most of the clothes worn in this area of the world have been passed down many times (6-7), so a new dress you find on sale or a lightly used Easter dress that your daughter wore a couple of times would be perfect. 
There are sixteen girls who would love a pretty dress. Here are the sizes:
2T-2 girls
3T -1 girl
4T-2 girls
5 -3 girls
6 -2 girls
7 -1 girl
8 -1 girl
9 -2 girls1 girl
10 -1 girl
12- 1 girl

If you don’t have a little girl or the ability to shop, but want to give, please consider donating a few dollars towards a dress ball caps, socks, Matchbox cars for the boys. (We will shop before they leave).
If you’re interested in sending a dress, please email me (kristenwrites@yahoo.com) and I will send you my address. I will also mark out the sizes I receive. The style (sleeveless, color, isn’t important, just a really pretty dress!)
My friends are traveling in May.
Thank you. 


P.S. There are several boys too. Do you have any ideas for small, light-weight gifts that we can collect?
*UPDATE* I don’t have boy sizes and we’ve been working on girl sizes for a month! So, let’s do ball caps and socks (all little boy sizes) and a Matchbox car! I woke up to an amazing inbox this morning. I love y ‘all for starting off my day so well! Made me cry!  an>

Most of the girls dresses have been claimed, but you can still send something to a little boy in Russia!

s razhdеstvom (or Merry Christmas!)

Persecuted Church:

Christmas comes but once a year.
Unless your Russian, living in America.
And then it comes again on January 7 (Russian Orthodox Christmas).
Earlier this week, we joined our friends and celebrated Christmas, Russian-style. They put on a play for Russian children in the area (they are helping plant a Russian church in Texas).
It was a really cute program.
And it was entirely in Russian. At one point, my son leaned over and said, “This is so funny, Mom!  What are they talking about?”
Why, here’s my confused son now, mixed in with Russian children, playing a game he doesn’t understand.
Igor (our dear friend from The Persecuted Church) made a stellar dancing deer:
My toddler nearly fainted when Snegurochka, the Russian Santa helper-equivalent (meaning Snow Girl) walked thru the door with a bag of presents.  My girl loves gifts.
A girl after my own heart.
I loved seeing my sweet friend Katerina, dressed as a Snow Girl.
I’ve learned that our friends use our American word ‘interesting’ often in describing our ways, our food, our American lives.
My hubby must be listening to the Russian language CD’s I got him for his birthday.
Because I overheard him say in Russian that the Christmas play (which turned out to be about animals, including a rapping hedgehog and The Ten Commandments) was very interesting.
But his sounded more like this: интересный 

That got him several slaps on the back and hearty Russian laughter!
My friends don’t have many earthly possessions, but they have a beautiful life.  Their sweet spirits, gentle natures, and yearning for friendship have all contributed to our own family’s desire for a balanced life. 
They don’t care about society’s rules or fads. They simply live for God. And that inspires me.
I’m celebrating a desire for a more balanced life with The Inspired Room.

Food for the Soul:
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

{Please note that I will be removing the photos of my friends within 48 hours of this posting for their protection.}