We now have been back in Moldova for nearly a month and we have settled back into life in a foreign country. Over the last few weeks I have watched the people; especially the elderly people. So much that they have become heavy on my heart. Seems as if there are more elderly here than there were before. I know that is not the case but maybe I have become so comfortable with life like everyone else and I just did not see them or maybe returning to the states for the first time without a grandmother to greet you, because she had passed away. Or even maybe the Lord has laid the elderly on my heart at this time. I just know I feel a pull in my heart for them and their well-being.
As the days continue to pass it seems they appear on every corner throughout the city and in the village. Then two Sundays ago we were at church in Panasesti when a brother came to me and said, “Kelly let me tell you about this elderly lady we have been ministering too”. He began to tell me her story, her name is Liuba, she is 82 years old and has lived a hard life. She even still works each day, she has responsibilities to complete for others and even makes sure the animals have food to eat. As I looked at the pictures of her I immediately thought that this lady represented the elderly of Moldova, she was the perfect example. She had aged before her time, her hands and face were weathered by the years of suffering, hard work, and poverty but her body also reflected the scars of her heart. There is a photo where she is going to collect wood for the day, and another where she is gathering food for the goats and sheep, just doing what she had to do to live. I do not think many would do what she does each day or would have over the last eighty years. She is covered, battered and beaten both emotionally and physically with the scars to prove it. She continues on each day in order to live, without much family and the ones she does have are drunks. She does not know she can have peace in her life, or that the scars can be healed; for she has never heard the Good News about the one who died for us with scars I have grown to love.
Then I begin to think more, even if you took the everyday scars away from her she would still be filled with scars as she journeyed through life. Being 82 years old, she lived through some events that many us did not nor did we experience. She was born in 1937, the year Amelia Earhart crashed somewhere over the Pacific, the Hindenburg exploded and the Japanese invaded China. As she grew in age so did the scars, she saw the beginning of World War 2 unfold and even come to her home land in battle as the Jews were taken away by Hitler. She lived through the Holocaust and the end of World War 2 where the Soviet Union controlled Moldova for the years to come. She also lived through and saw her old home land gain its independence in 1991. She may have heard or seen about the first man on the moon and about the fall of the Berlin wall but she was still living each day in poverty and life was hard. She may have had food, a job and a house but spiritually the scars were deep and she did not know about God.
God sent His Son to die for us so we could have everlasting life, in doing so Jesus was left with the permanent scars as a reminder of what He did for us. The scars we live with are just the same as the one’s Liuba lives with. Jesus dying on the cross for our sins covers all of our scars with His blood. These scars can be taken away and forgotten no matter what you did or experienced in life, Jesus is your savior and He has the scars to prove it. These scars I have grown to love, they remind me of the pain He suffered for us but without these scars we would never know who Jesus was nor know the love in His heart.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53: 5 NIV
Take a moment and listen to this song called Scars by I Am They (play Scars). Just really listen to the words, you will be impacted, The Gospel is the truth and I have never looked at it this way, who would have thought we should be thankful for the scars. Please do pray for Liuba and all the elderly across Moldova that they too will hear the Gospel and be thankful for the scars no matter what scars they live with each day. Pray they hear the truth.
It was a simple hello that first day we all meet Sofia and her family, we never knew it would be such a complicated good bye. Recently we moved from our old apartment into a new apartment. After much prayer the Lord provided us with this new apartment and the move was a success but at the same time saying goodbye is not all it is cracked up to be.
There are many things different about mission life that you will never experience until you answer the call to serve the Lord full time on the mission field. One of those differences is making and building relationships, we find this to be hard. You find yourself meeting new friends but not becoming so close to them because the Lord could redirect you or them at anytime. As time passes saying goodbye becomes harder than saying hello. Simple hellos become complicated goodbyes.
A few weeks before the move Mary came to me and said you know Dad moving from the this apartment and saying goodbye is hard for me. Sofia and I have become really close and leaving her will be a big change. I told her I understand and feel the same way about Misha who leaves upstairs. I also told her she will meet new friends at the new apartment, and that there were many more children along with a big playground. I guess I was not really convincing, she just simply said okay and walked away. Then a few days later she came to me again and said she wanted to talk more about Sofia, I said sure what’s on your mind. She said, Dad I am worried about Sofia, she speaks Russian and most of the other kids speak Romanian, leaving her with few friends. Do you think we can come and visit her from time to time. I said we sure can. Then she said I want to give her something that she will remember us by but, something that will be more important to her than us. I asked do you have any ideas of what to give her, she said yep, how about a Bible. If we can give her a Bible she will always be able to turn to it for advice and direction. She will also know that God will be with her no matter the language she speaks. As she finished talking I just simply said to myself Wow, that just came out of the mouth of an eight year-old. She gets it, she realizes we need the Lord each day and she knows the Bible is filled with much help too. That is powerful.
Just a few weeks later we moved and yes it was tough, on one of the last trips to the old apartment we knocked on Sofia’s door and Mary presented her with the Bible. There were some tears but also many hugs. After saying good bye we all waved and loaded in the car to drive away, then Mary says; “Dad saying goodbye was hard but I know now Sofia has a Bible and I pray she reads it realizing she is not alone.
As believers we are called to serve and love like Christ. Mary acted exactly like that when thinking about Sofia and her future, I am very proud of Mary and her actions. Please pray for our family to be more Christ like as we go into 2019 our fifth year in Moldova. Pray our family is more intentional about ones we surround and share the Gospel with. Also, be in prayer for the Moldovans that the word will be provided for them and Bibles will be readily available to them. This gift of a Bible to Sofia is special for many Moldovans will never have a the chance to own a Bible due to the high cost and economic crisis in Moldova. Even thou saying hello is easy and goodbye is complicated we have to remember everything in between for this is the time our life reflects Christ and people are changed. Thanks for your time, I pray these words were uplifting and a blessing to you.
Yesterday I attended a funeral for the mother of a good friend here in Moldova. The ground was covered in snow, the temperature was -4 and the cemetery was all uphill but the people came to pay their respects. Mrs. Ludmila had been sick for several months and on Tuesday she went to be with the Lord. She was a believer; a child of God and she would tell you when you meet her.
Throughout the service many verses from the Bible were discussed, one verse was Revelation 21:4. This verse is actually one of my mother’s favorite verses along with one of mine too.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:4
After Tuesday Mrs. Ludmila had no more pain she did not suffered anymore. She was with the Lord, she is a child of God. Sister Ludmila’s faith was real and now in heaven she sees the hope that we have for she was a child of God. Just as Hebrews 11:1 says, we have faith and hope.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
Standing at the graveside I begin to think, if we believed in the Gospel and we had this hope along with faith why are we quiet. As believers we are children of God and we should want to tell every person we cross paths with about Jesus, but we do not that. We believe right?
As the service ended I was looking across the cemetery thinking about the coming new year, I want to be more intentional about telling others about the Lord and how He has changed my life. Then it hit me why do I have to wait until 2019 for we are not promised tomorrow. I pray the Lord strengthens me and gives me the courage to start now and to be more intentional about sharing my faith and the Gospel for I am a child of God. Just as the song says I am a child of God no longer a slave to fear. Thank you, Mrs. Ludmila, for being an example of a Godly woman.
When one door closes another door opens, this is a saying I have heard all my life but I have thought more about the words recently. This is the week of Thanksgiving, we should step back and look at the past year praising God for all we have to be thankful for. This year I have thanked Him in a different way, I have given Him thanks for all answered prayers whether it was an opened door or a closed door. He has been faithful. Sometimes we struggle with this concept, did I open the door? Did God close the door? It goes on and on.
Seems like we have seen many open and closed doors in recent months but the Lord has been there through each one, this I am thankful for. Just as Deuteronomy 31:8 says The Lord goes before us and He will be with you and not fail you.
“The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8
This is a verse to always keep close to your heart for it is true no matter what you are faced with in life. Many times I refer back to this verse as a prayer, but I find it to be more of a reminder that He is our Father and He love us.
So now that its thanksgiving I thought I would share a few of those answered prayers or in this case opened and closed doors.
The first answered prayer has been both an opened and closed door. Christy and I had been in prayer for several months for a new apartment for many reasons, we were looking at a closing door never thinking a new door would open and what an impact it would have on our family. For two months now we have been in a new apartment, we are settled, and we see everything in a new light. Our old apartment was perfect for the season we were in, but that season ended and we had to move on. The apartment was on the first door surrounded by trees and the taller apartment blocks leaving no light to enter the windows each day. After many months this lack natural light had effected all of us and we did not recognize the problem. We truly loved our old apartment, we had developed many relationships unlike the previous apartment and we knew the Lord had us there for a reason, but we also knew our time was over and the door was closing. Praise the Lord for closing the door to the old apartment and opening a new door to an apartment filled with light in which we all soaked up very rapidly. Sometimes you must close doors, then pray and trust in Him for He will open a new door.
Another opened door or answered prayer has been the recent baptisms at Rock of Ages Church in Panasesti. Several weeks ago there were four new believers that were baptized at the church. Seeing their baptisms is a huge encourage to me, but also to the entire church along with the village. Their baptisms have reignited the light of the church and that light is shining bright for all to see. It is amazing to see the church grow by four but also amazing to watch how the new believers are growing in their walk with the Lord. The process of baptism is not the same as it is in the States or what we may be accustom too. Neither is wrong only different cultures doing it different ways. Sometimes I feel baptism in Moldova is more valued than in a western church. These newly baptized believers are excited and looking for ways to invest more in the church both on Sundays and through the week. The timing of these baptisms has sparked a type of revival among the leaders to help the church grow and reach the lost community of Panasesti, there may be a church in the village but not all have heard the Gospel so we have more evangelizing to do. Please pray for these new believers as they search for their doors of opportunity to opened so that they can be examples of Jesus to the lost in Panasesti.
Another open door has been Maria. When Christy meet Maria this summer she was a very sick little girl. Some days she would enjoy a few hours of the fun at camp, but most of her time was spent in the bed beside the nurse. She was experienceing extreme head aches, fevers, chills, loss of appetite, extreme fatigue, and vomiting. As it turned out Maria was seen by a doctor in Chisinau and under went many test. She was later diagnosed with brain cancer. The doctors told her mom to prepare for a funeral. As the doctors begin to close the door in Maria’s life God begin to open it. God not only has seen fit for Maria to have more time here on earth He has opened a door for our family and many others all around the world to ministry to her and her family. While she is still undergoing visits to the doctor, may need some more chemotherapy, and can’t return to school just yet God is using this door to work in the lives of a family who turns to alcohol when faced with problems instead of Him. Continue to pray for Maria and her family as Maria has a long journey ahead to fully recover and her family needs Jesus as the center of their home. Pray that God will allow this door to remain open so that our family can continue to minister to her and her family.
Lastly we have been praying for good health for our entire family, this is an open door we do our best to keep walking through and God has been faithful in keeping our health good in Moldova. Here health care in Moldova is very different from that in the states, when we stay healthy the doors to the health care system stay closed. And this is one closed door that is an answered prayer!
If the door is closing let it close and think of it as an answered prayer. If the door is open confirm with God walk though it for He has gone before you, trust in Him. Just remember when one door closes another one will open. I pray you and your family have the very best Thanksgiving and that you ponder on what you are thankful for, look around and give Him thanks for the answered prayers no matter if they were closed or open doors. Be blessed.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
As a part of ministry here in Moldova we are given the opportunity to go on family visits. These visits allow us the chance to share the Gospel, deliver food parcels, firewood, goats and other ministry needs. As a family we enjoy taking part in this ministry, it allows us to see first hand how God is changing lives. These family visits are some of the best times when we connect the most with the Moldovan people and make unforgettable memories that will never be forgotten.
This camp is for girls across Moldova who are at the highest risk of being trafficked. This was my first year taking part in this conference. As stories were shared my heart begin to break, these where just girls yet they had already experienced so much in life. Many abandoned by their parents, taking care of younger siblings, and one even being sold for as much lei as 5 US dollars. This camp gave them a week to forget these lives and just be girls.
We always love taking part in children’s programs and one of our favorite places to go for children’s programs in is Lozova. We appreciate to the opportunity to work with Spiridon & Stefanie ( News From Moldova ) and the children of Lozova. Investing in the children in Moldova allows us the chance to share the Gospel with them and it allows them the opportunity to impact the future of Moldova. Below are a few photos from various children’s programs we have been able to take part in at Lozova.