An Update on The Persecuted Church

Persecuted Church:

Can I just say I am honored to be a part of these people’s lives?
I mean out of all the people in the world, why us?
I’m amazed God allowed our paths to cross.
And our lives to intertwine.
I am awestruck.
Last night, two dozen people I love, joined with me in blessing this family. We ate and laughed and offered gifts of love (bed sheets, a trash can, stockings for their mantle…just to name a few) to these refugees from The Persecuted Church. 

Our friends.

Igor shared about his recent trip to the Russian block of countries. The Sport’s Conferences he held were very successful. He traveled to Khazakstan which borders his home country and he met with people from the Underground Church. They were so thankful to receive the duffle bags we sent.
I wanted to weep when he told about their two brief days together. They all had to sneak across dangerous borders to meet him. He saw his parents for the first time in two years! He said they were all so eager to fellowship together and pray for one another, they didn’t  even take the time to sleep during the 48 hours.
Amazing, huh?
I thought my heart would explode when he told of the 100,000 orphans in The Ukraine alone that they held outreaches for and then introduced us to a Ukraine Pastor who traveled back with him. This Pastor has seven children, three who were orphans. 
His name is Serge and he handed me a picture of his beautiful family. He asked us to put the picture on our fridge and pray for them.

The holidays are coming and our economy is unstable.  These are difficult times for so many. And yet, I was reminded again today how much I have and how much I can still give.  
If you would like to help, please click below. (So, many have you already donated and sent gift cards and gifts. Thank you).

Please keep us in your thoughts on December 1st.  Our local Chick Fil A is hosting a Benefit Day and 20% of their proceeds will go towards this family and their ministry.  
I’m praying a lot of people will get The Chicken Craving that day.
I plan to consume a lot of sweet tea.
It’s the least I can d

One Day To Give Celebration

Persecuted Church:

Thank you for taking the time and energy to do something good.

In a world, where bad often gets the attention, I find it exhilarating to be a part of a community where good prevails.
Our family brainstormed ideas for our One Day to Give project. We wanted our kids to help us decide.  And we came up with so many great ideas, we decided to set aside a day every month to give. I can’t wait!
But for this first one, we unanimously decided that since our hearts and attention have been so stirred by The Persecuted Church, that would be our focus.
Our sweet Russian friends are doing amazing things for God.  Our families sat down a couple of weeks ago and they shared the dream God had given them. 
And it included us.
My hubby and I were honored and overwhelmed with their vision. There are many details and exciting things I hope to share in the future.  But during the conversation, we talked about Igor’s next trip to the The Ukraine, which coincidentally is happening right now.  
He is teaching to more than 400 Christians many of whom are Pastors, and many who are risking their lives to attend such a conference. Igor teaches how to use sports to witness about Christ. Using sports as an avenue to lead people to Christ and ultimately into the underground church, is highly effective in these Muslim countries. Many of these people are traveling great distances through dangerous borders with very little money, to learn. About God.
After the conference, Igor is traveling to one of the countries (which borders his home country of Uzbekistan)  to meet with disciples he left behind from the persecuted, underground church in Uzbekistan (the country he was deported from and threatened with death, if he should return). I decided to be vague about details for his protection.
They are meeting together to pray, fellowship, and receive training. It is very dangerous and complicated for these Christians.  And for Igor. He has been arrested for teaching the Book of James by the KGB and was followed the last time he was there.
Please pray for him and these amazing Christians today. There are new laws going into effect right now that make it even more dangerous for Christians in these two countries. You can read about it here and here.
As Katerina was explaining the details of this trip to me, she mentioned that they were collecting items to take to their 40+ disciples that Igor is meeting. Supplies that are hard to come by and personal items that are very costly are at the top of the list: prenatal vitamins, dry erase markers, instant coffee, gum, socks, deodorant and clothes.
And that’s where our One Day to Give comes in. Immediately, I knew what our family could do. We made a list and sent it to some friends and family and our Pastor, and asked them to join with us.  Our church offered to pay for the baggage costs among other things, and we started filling duffle bags. (Sunday, our church took up an offering for supplies for the underground church and to help some pastors travel to Igor’s conference. $5,000 came in!)

As we stuffed the boxes of crayons we purchased and toys from my kid’s room into the bags, we prayed.  We each took a turn and prayed that the simple hygiene items we we tucked into the corner of the bag, would be a blessing. We prayed for the believers who would sip the treasured cups of coffee. And for the children who’s future is uncertain, we prayed safety and peace and joy, as we packed up small toys.
And we asked God to bless them, to protect them and to let them  know that they are heroes to this little family in America.
And Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22: 37-40)
Please pray for them today. And for Igor who is somehow managing to carry six stuffed bags across many borders!

Tie a Ribbon ‘Round Your Typing Finger

One Day to Give is this Friday!  It’s just a few days away, but you still have time to make a difference in someone’s life!

It doesn’t have to be BIG to be important.
Link up your post and share your One Day to Give project.  It will encourage. It will inspire. It will make a difference.  (I will be putting Mr. Linky up late Thursday evening).
One of my readers, Shana, emailed me about something special going on TODAY (Oct. 15): Blog Action Day.  It is an invitation for bloggers to join together and blog about poverty. 
And since our families’ One Day to Give project (that I’ll be sharing on Friday), encompasses some very poor people, I thought I’d share this with you:
In Uzbekistan, where our friends from The Persecuted Church, escaped, poverty is rampant and it touches everyone.  Most families live on $50.00 per month. The rest of the people, survive on less.  Our sweet friends tried to explain just how poor the people are:
“In our country, when you visit neighbors and friends in their homes, you notice that there are switch plates and outlet covers missing. The faucet hardware and shower heads are gone too. Some people have no hardware in their homes at all. This is common. They sell everything ‘extra’. These people have sold bits and pieces of their house in the open market, for food.  To feed their children. They know poverty very well.”
I can’t turn on my lights or plug something in without this image invading my thoughts.
Let’s do something.  
Food for the Soul:Psalm 140:12 “I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.”

The Persecuted Church: Meeting Them Face to Face -Part 5

More than $400 in donations has come in for The Persecuted Church from this blog, plus several items that have been shipped to this family (toys, rugs, clothes). My friends would like to say thank you:

Dear friends, 

We are so thankful for your generous hearts. We are so glad that after we lost so many things in our life, we have found new friends, family and home. Thank you for being friends for us even we haven’t met each other face to face. Thank you for your gifts of love which we received from our friends. Thank you that you are open for needs of others and willing to help them. Through your donation we can see the love of Jesus in our life. We pray that our Almighty God will meet your needs for His Glory. We pray that each of you will have many blessings in your life, family and business. We pray that one day we will meet each other before feet of our Lord and celebrate victory together. Please, keep us in your daily prayers and stay in touch. 
I helped my sweet friend register for some things at Target in the next town over since ours is getting a new roof (thanks to Hurricane Ike). 
You can still donate to the Paypal account. I will leave it open indefinitely.  

If you would like to view the Target registry and actually send them a gift, please email me and I will send you the link. It gives some personal information, so I decided to monitor it more closely.  
(I’m planning a small home shower with a few friends, but you are more than welcome to participate!)
My hubby is meeting with Igor weekly for prayer and discovering ways we can get involved in this great ministry.  And I’ve been helping edit his English for the materials he sends out.
I left the letter above just the way he gave it to me.  Not too shabby, huh?
In the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing more about their current ministry to Russian countries.  It is exciting. It is unbelievable. It is very dangerous.  And we are convinced that God wants us to be a part of it.

How the Persecuted Church has Changed Me-Part 4

Last week we hung curtains together, laughed over homemade pizza, visited a church clothing-ministry, swam in my parent’s pool and chatted on the phone.

My life has become slowly intertwined with those from The Persecuted Church. It is an adventurous road I never dreamed my family would travel. 

And yet every cell within me knows that this is right.
There are only a handful of decisions in my life that I knew were right, were my destiny, the moment I made them:  going to Bible College instead of a traditional university, marrying my hubby, moving back to Texas, and befriending Russian refugees from The Persecuted Church.
It is in my nature to fix problems.  I work my to-do list like a pro.  I made a mental list of this family’s needs and have determined to tackle them. The Church is more than just a building, it’s made up of ordinary people like me and I can’t wait around for others to act.  And many of you are helping…
And while my hubby and I feel compelled by God to help them, this persecuted family is changing me. 
When we moved into our current house three years ago, we moved from a very small rented townhome a few miles down the road.  That simple townhome was a step up from our deteriorating dwelling in Florida.
Our current home is nice.  I think it is beautiful and adequate and a gift from God. But in my town, it is considered a starter home.  Many people in this area live in houses 2-3 times the size.
It’s funny how quickly you forget how far you’ve come.  In the past, when friends have visited, there have been moments where I’ve wished for a grander home.
The other day, Katerina was stopping by for a visit, for the first time.
And I was actually tempted to un-decorate my home. Because suddenly, I saw it thru her eyes.
My eyes were drawn to all my fussy, unecessary decorations.  I felt guilty thinking of her beautiful, but sparsely decorated home.  When I opened my closet full of clothes, I couldn’t help but remember her one pair of shoes and 3 or 4 shirts.
We are supporting this family monthly and helping with some of their more urgent needs. (And on Friday, I met her at a Kid’s Resale Clothing Sale and gave her the $125.00 from your Paypal donations! A little more has come in since then and I’ll give it to them this week).
But I’m struggling with balancing who I am and what I have with what I see in them.
When I look at this couple and their young children, I see one thing.
I see Jesus.
It’s that simple.  It’s that profound.
I can’t explain it any other way.  We’ve sat around for hours listening to how they risked their lives to smuggle 500 Russian Bibles across armed checkpoints in Uzbekistan.  I’ve listened in awe as they shared that the bed they are now sleeping in, is the first real bed they have had in their 5 years of marriage.  
God is changing me.  I still love home decor and I know I can’t change who I am and what I love. But my perspective is changing.  My wants and my needs are more defined. 
God is reminding me that my clothes dryer breaking this week and our sprinkler system coupled with a lower-than-expected paycheck aren’t insurmountable problems.  I’m learning to let go of my tight-fisted grip on our bank account and I’m seeing my life through new perspective. I’ve been reminded that I have more than enough.
And what I don’t have? Well, if I follow Igor and Katerina’s lead, I don’t have to worry about it. Because every time I see them, they weave these words into the conversation:  “Our hope is in Jesus.”   
And I think that’s one reason they don’t feel needy, they feel blessed.
Because He is enough.
Just yesterday, my daughter and I were talking about The Persecuted Church and she summed up how I feel:  “I’m glad Jesus chose us to help them.”  But we both know, they aren’t the only ones being helped.
If you’d like to help them too, please click below.

*UPDATE* $230.00 has come in TODAY! Plus many of the things are being scratched off the list below.  I’m going to speak with them about registering at a store…will let y’all know!

Thank you so much if you’re able to give, if not, your prayers are just as valuable!

I asked them to share their prayer requests with us:

1) Pray that we can go forward for new victories in Christ and never live by our victories from past. 
2) Pray that Holy Spirit will guide us every day toward accomplishment of God’s vision like in time of Paul. 
3) Pray that God will protect us from evil people and bad things. 
4) Pray for success in ministry of Revival Sport and Treasure House. 

Some of their personal needs:
(They attached this note, “I will write a list of things, but of course we can live without them”)

1) big rug for living room
2) the sets of spoon, forks, tea spoons and knifes.
3) scale
4) clothes for children for fall-winter season. (2T, boys, 4T, girls)
5) adults shoes (man -8,5 women -6,5 size) for fall – winter season. 
6) vacuum cleaner
7) tools to fix car or other stuff
8) lawn mower
9) shovel
10) office chair
11) 2 bar stools
12) Adult ladies bike
13) Weed eater
14) Home decor