Yesterday, Today and Forever

It’s hard to believe that in January it will be 5 years since the day Richard and Kim dropped us off at the hotel where we left the life we knew as normal behind and stepped out into the world of unknown. We left with hearts full of excitement that quickly lead to tiredness in Germany, where we stayed 2 weeks before landing at our final destination, Moldova. I still remember so vividly the first day of the GO Conference, it was packed with many training sessions and ended that night around 11 PM with a Praise and Worship session. At that moment in Germany; exhausted from jet lag, minus one suitcase full of clothes that had been destroyed, two exhausted children that just wanted sleep; we sat in a room filled with people but, I felt so alone. Tears begin to fill my eyes and I remember questioning God specifically about the decision our family had made to relocate to Moldova. As, the week progressed He reassured me that we were right where He wanted us. Has this journey been easy? No, however I can say with out a doubt it has been worth it.

The first two years were filled with wonder and excitement. We learned a new language, a new culture and how to live life outside what we had known as out comfort zone. Each day brought new opportunities to serve God in a place that was new. The second two years have been filled with many spiritual battles. Some of these times were so difficult, and that feeling of loneliness begin to creep back into our lives. We even questioned if it was time to leave Moldova and return to America.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 NIV

Though out all of this journey God has been writing a story, and in every chapter He has been molding my character. Sometimes its been small bumps that just needed to be smoothed out and sometimes its been mountains that needed to fall. But no matter the amount of molding that need to be done He has been faithful and continues to be.

One of the biggest mountains in my life has been learning to wait on Him and His perfect timing. Many times this year I have fought with God about timing. I know His plan is perfect and in His time things will work themselves out, it is so easy to say this to others but to live it out yourself is a totally different thing. Little did I know at the beginning of summer God was going to put someone in my path that was going to consume a lot of my time, not really physical time but emotional time. During girls camp God placed a little girl in my path that was very sick. There were days at camp that she couldn’t even hold her own body up, she depended on someone else to physically pick her up and move her to a bed to rest. At this time it seemed really foolish not to have called the ambulance and had her taken to the hospital to see what her condition was. However, Moldovan culture says we have a nurse here to take care of her and the government may shut the camp down if we take a sick girl to the hospital. It really made no since to me why we would allow this child to suffer, but God had a greater plan. His plan was to use this one small child to impact a community that has never meet her and may never meet her, until we all reach heaven one day. He is using this child to help others see the importance of standing in the gap for others when they can’t. And He is using this child to help me see that even in the deepest times of pain and confusion He is still in control and He still deserves all the honor, glory, praise and thanksgiving.

This precious little girl is currently in the hospital with a brain tumor, and has been given large doses of medicine to try to reduce the size of the tumor. She spends most of her days alone, except for the children she shares the room with. Her parents are both at home and have turned to alcohol to cope with the uncertainty of life. She has two brothers at home who are coping the best way they know how. Her home life is a true representation of life in Moldova. She just turned 12 and didn’t even get to celebrate her birthday. She smiles though the pain and fights past the tears of fear. She has no clue what an impact she is having on so many people. God is using this little girl to make a difference and impact the lives of so many.

 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8 NIV

Please continue to pray for this young child, the days ahead are uncertain. Pray that He will continue to use this child to have a great impact on the Kingdom. And that in His time we will see the pieces of the puzzle connected and that though this He receives all praise and honor.

 

 

 

 

 

A Locked Heart

Last week I joined a small team and we traveled all over Moldova to visit with various ministries for follow up. Many times, during these journeys we visit with beneficiaries from the ministries. The visits include home visits along with church visits. While on these visits you have the chance to see life first hand in the village, and I have the chance to photograph this life. This has become a recent passion of mine and as I go I am always on the lookout for photos that capture the Lord’s love and His creation. I am also fascinated by the different old doors and style of  locks you will  see along the way. During these visits you will see front doors, side doors, outhouse doors, cellar doors and even barn doors.They all have locks no matter the type of door.  I try to take photos of these doors when I can. The visits last week were no different and on one of the days I spotted a cellar door that needed to be photographed. Just as I took the photo I looked at the door different. IMG_6911The door was a representation of a heart that was locked. As I stood there I began to see more details about this door and lock. Much like us it was bruised, battered, faded and even weathered, this door was an example of a person and the lock was the person’s heart. I continued to stare this door thinking back to my childhood and days gone by, some many memories I have locked away to forget but never really have forgotten. Whether they are  burdens, bad relationships or experiences they all came rushing forward in my mind. Then I thought this is not how we are to live as believers, God does not want this for our lives. Psalm 55:22 came to mind, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken”. He never said it would be easy but we make it hard for ourselves by not giving Him our burdens, worries, angry, and whatever you are holding in that locked heart. More time passed and I began to think about the Moldovans, some many times they do not think they are worthy of Christ because of their past and they too lock their heart up and throw away the key. I know this is not the case, the Lord sent His Son to die for everyone and whoever believes will have eternal life. He has the key to our heart we just have to be willing to let Him open it. So, I close asking you to pray for the people of Moldova, there are many with harden hearts with locks concerning the past, pray for the Gospel to soften their heart. Also, please pray for their protection, especially the elderly, as winter is coming and the air has already turned cooler here and many will go through the cold winter with no firewood for heat. Have you removed the lock on your heart, forgotten the past and looking to God for the future? I pray you have. Be blessed

Born Once – Die Twice; Born Twice – Die Once

This summer has been filled with many amazing days of ministry and outreach. This week I have been looking back and reflecting on how God worked in the lives of many this summer in Moldova. Throughout the entire summer we as team saw hundred’s of foreigners come and go as each Love Moldova started and ended. The adventure has been full of many different types of outreach: children’s programs where they could travel back in time with their imaginations to find out who is God, building of playgrounds in villages which leads to open doors for the local church, trekking across Moldova on trails and cattle paths sharing the Gospel with the least-reached along the way, or floating down the Dniester river where you are greeted by children wanting to be loved at each village on the trip. There was something offered for everyone, but this week I have looked past what we could get from the outreach and thought more about the lives of the people that we visited with. Did we make an impact for the Kingdom, did our love reflect the love of the Lord, will the new believers find their way as they begin their new journey. So many questions.

As I began to think more and more about these questions and others the Lord placed a married couple on my heart. I have wrote about them and others in a previous blog (The Springing Fountain) but what needed to be said was different this time. So I stopped and prayed for this couple, along with the local church in village, I prayed hoping that the church has been a light for the couple since they repented of their sins.

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It was a hot afternoon and the last day of outreach in village of Sarate Veche before our team returned to Chisinau. We had already visited with many families that day and we were making one of our last stops. We drove high up a hill that overlooked the entire village to a the house of the parents of the pastor’s wife. They were not believers and the pastor’s wife struggled with this, in the village it is hard to understand why you would go and take time to witness to your own family, the time could be better spent with others who are lost. As we arrived the couple greeted us at the gate and welcomed us to their home.  They had been working in the garden and they both said they were tired. They were doing some weeding in between rain storms to keep the garden manageable. His name was Colea, he turned 69 years old in July and her name was Tamara, she turned 66 years old in August. They have been married for 47 years. We began to talk with them more as they invited us to sit on the back porch of their house. familyin srate vechiWe asked about life, they said they both have problems with their legs. He told us that he  had a heart problem two years ago, while in the hospital he had to be shocked with a machine for his heart to regain rhythm. He also told us about a dream he had that was very real to him, he described the dream to us. He was walking down the road and he could hear someone speaking to him, he had never been to this place and the longer he listened to the voice he realized it was God telling him he would live. The Lord was giving him a second chance and he wanted to repent but his legs would not allow him to walk to church. This is when the door was opened for us and we began to tell him he did not have to pray for repentance at the church, he could pray right there on his back porch. He said no one ever told him this before but that he wanted to wait on his wife to repent too. We continued to talk to him about repentance and we explained that he could pray directly to the Lord, there was no need to go to the priest. After some time they both decided that they wanted to pray the sinners prayers, repent of their sins and ask for forgiveness. So right there on their back porch they both prayed and ask for forgiveness, repented of their sins, and ask Jesus to be Lord of their lives. Praise the Lord two more souls saved for entirety. After praying we shared with them they were born again but they would only die once, if they had not repented they would have been born once and they would die twice just as it says in Revelation 20:11-15 when it talks about the second death.

And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence the earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and the books were opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged, everyone of them according to their deeds… and death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11-15)

They both said they understood and inside they felt different. They thanked us for the food parcel and said it was a blessing from God. They told us they would be at church on Sunday to share with others about the change in their life if they could find someone to take them. We told them that we would talk with the pastor and someone would be there to pick them up for Sunday church. As we walked out of the gate they both thanked us again for taking the time to stop and share about the Lord with them. We walked back to the car and I couldn’t help but praise God for sending His Son to die for us, ultimately giving us a second birth and one death.

I close by saying this is just one of the many stories from outreaches this past summer. God is working in Moldova. If you have any question about your faith contact me, a friend or your pastor. I read a quote just a few days ago that I feel sums it up completely.

“Eternity to  believers is a day that has no sunset. Eternity to the wicked is a night that has no sunrise.”

How will you spend eternity, like these new believers in Moldova, I pray that is the case. Thanks for your time and prayers. Be blessed.

 

The Midnight Cry

Most of you know that my grandmother passed away a few weeks ago. Since living in Moldova she has been the first person whom I’ve lost to death and who had a great influence on my life. The Lord has protected and comforted both Christy and I from the loss of close family and friends for nearly four years now since we have been in Moldova. I have always wondered how it would feel, and now that a few weeks have passed I still cannot really explain the feelings. My heart does hurt but I feel like I said goodbye to her sometime ago.

granny ruthGranny Ruth was 91 years old, and had lived a life filled with many experiences, she lived through the Great Depression, she saw the start and end of many wars, and would tell you that life is much different now than back then.   She impacted my life in so many ways; weather it was shared life lessons, talks over lunch, or long drives in country with no planned designation. She truly was a lady who lived to serve others. I do not think she knew how this changed and molded me into who I am today.  As our family serves the Lord and the people of Moldova it is my prayer that a reflection of her servants heart can be found inside of me.

I miss her and think of her often but I know one day I will see her again. On the day of her memorial service my mind and heart kept replaying a song and a Bible verse over and over. It may seem strange to have thought of this song and verse but it was on my mind and heart. The songs title is “The Midnight Cry” (Link to The Midnight Cry) and the Bible verse was Matthew 25:6.

“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Matthew 25:6 NIV

It seems I think more and more about Christ’s return. Knowing He is returning confirms my call to serve in Moldova. There are still many lost people here that have not heard the Gospel and that is why we serve. At same time when I think about His return I get excited, not only will I get to see the Lord I will get to see family and friends who have gone before me including my grandmother. This so encouraging to me, but I also know that the time is short and the Lord will say Son go get your bride. As I think about the salvations from this years boys camp, girls camp, and Love Moldova outreaches I praise God for working in lives of the Moldovan people. A blind man who was searching for everlasting love, an elderly couple who both wanted to repent years ago but had been afraid of what each other would say, and a 11 youth searching for a place to fit in will all be there in Heaven rejoicing around the thrown praising God together.

The Lord is returning for His bride, soon and very soon.  If talk of His return or the many lost souls still out there, does not light a fire in you, you need to do a heart check. If you don’t have a personal relationship with Christ, pray for repentance.  We all as humans are sinful and without salvation we will die a sinful man and spend our eternity in hell.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 NIV

Many years ago God sent his only Son to die for us so we could have everlasting life.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV

He lived a sinless life, died on the cross for our sins, then raised from the grave proving both the fact He is God’s Son and the value of His death for us as a substitute. So believe and you will be saved.

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Acts 16:31 NIV

Resulting in eternal life.

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:31

We are death, but Jesus is the bridge to eternal life.

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In these days it may seem there in no hope, depressing headlines and a world of uncertainty all around us, but there is Good News (The Gospel) though it all. I challenge you to pray, repent of sins if you have not yet, if you have then be the light and share the Gospel. Tell others about what the Lord has done in your life for time is short and soon we will hear the midnight cry.

She is only 8 years old…

She is only 8 years old, almost half of her life she has lived in Moldova. From the standpoint of life & culture she has experienced more in 8 years than most will in 40 years. She has to adapt to new cultures, not just the culture of the country her family serves in, but each new family that becomes part of the team we serve on and each new friend she makes. She has many new friends despite the communication barriers.She often says she is not a Missionary Kid however, she serves with all her heart right alongside our entire family. Her heart and mind are full of ideas, you just have to stop and listen to what she has to say. She meets me every day, at the door or stops playing outside with friends, with open arms and a hug when I return from work. The first thing she says is how was your day. Mary is a very strong will, independent girl, with a heart that loves with all its might; who has already begun changing our world but, one day she will change the world for the greater of God’s kingdom. 

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Life growing up in a foreign country can be tough on a child. They experience struggles like never before but, they also experience days that are blessed with great joy. They are forced to learn and understand a new culture. This culture brings much change and challenge. Even at 8 years old Mary has many questions to why life is so different in Moldova. She sees the struggles of daily life for the people that surround her. In the village, in city and even outside our apartment building life is different and she recognizes that. One of her favorite sayings is “This is Moldova”. She knows that there is nothing wrong with living in a different culture however, it may be completely different from the culture in the US. Many of her friends deal with a lot of the same issues Mary does, like why she does not go to school with them, or why her Mother or Father calls her from the window each day for dinner, or even why she tells them she cannot play on Sunday because her family drives to the village for church that day. So, it is not just Mary, it is two separate cultures learning about each other and their way of life.

In recent weeks we as family have been experiencing some trials and tribulations here in Moldova but, we pray, seek and trust that God will walk with us though these storms. He faithfully takes care of us each time a storm arises. He gives and takes away when necessary to clear our paths. We are no different than other believers, we must awake each day dressed for battle, serving on the mission field does not make us different as believers we are all called to serve God in one way or another. The current battles we have faced have been especially hard for Mary. As a result, I have reached out to many for specific prayer request on behalf of Mary and this time of uncertainty she is experiencing. We have seen some improvement with each passing day. Last week one of my mentors poured wise words into my mind and these words made total sense. They came at a time when I myself needed to be reminded of the world that surrounds us. Yes, we know the Lord loves us and will take care of us but we also have to remember that Mary is only 8 years old. She is exposed to a lot of things that most 8-year olds are not. She knows about and is aware of sex trafficking but does not know what sex is. She sees and hears about mothers & fathers mistreating their children on a regular basis. She knows these children are her age living with little food, no clothes or housing and very little love, it becomes hard for her 8-year mind to wrap around these things. Her brain may be in overload mode, as she is trying to deal with it. Most children know their father goes to work each day but really have no clue to what he does, Mary lives what her father does each day. Every day is life in ministry, every moment people are watching us to see if we carry out the call God had placed on out life “correctly”. But more important our children are watching to see how we choose to respond to these storms. We choose to see our family as any normal family, yes we will mess up no we are not perfect, yes God did call us to leave the comforts of home as missionaries, but we are really no different than every other family called to serve Christ. We spend more time together as a family than we ever have and God is making us very aware of how very important this time is during these storms. How much we need to rely on Him and be in constant communication with Him. Mary is always asking questions, about things she sees or something we have experienced, it is good therapy for her. God is really working in her heart and mind, and has given us the opportunity for us to have some deep discussions with her. She has questioned why God does certain things good and bad,  she is trying hard to understand the problems here in Moldova. She cannot wrap her little mind around all the poverty, corruption and fear she sees in the people. I feel as thou deep inside her heart she wants to solve it all, but God is teaching her something much greater, how important it is to have a relationship with Him.

As we walk through this time of uncertainty Christy and I both know the Lord is right beside us and He is in control. We pray each day for the wisdom and guidance over our family. We pray that God will open Mary’s heart and through this time of uncertainty she will learn to trust God with her life. We pray that as she sees life through her eyes God will transform her heart and draw her into a relationship with Him. We know that she is surrounded by people who love her and pray, so we ask that you continue to pray for her. I thank you for your time and ask that you remember our family as we walk through this season of life together in Moldova. Be blessed, thanks for your prayers. 

Transformation Before & After

After being home for several weeks from girls camp I sit and try to find the words to describe this years camp. I’ve had several people inquire about how camp was… my first response has been it was good but very draining; it has drained me physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Was it worth it absolutely, do I completely know and understand all that has come from this week, no. But I am confident that God was working and moving in the lives of the 104 girls who attended this years camp.

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The theme at camp this year was God transforms us, before and after. In each teaching session we unpacked how God transforms our mind, character, relationships, attitudes, and the choices we make. God had placed on many of the leaders hearts before camp that this would be the year that we would see fruit from the labor of the past years camps. Some girls seemed very open this year almost as if they were comfortable with us, of course not all were. They had many questions about their faith and trusting God. We even had a few girls who repented. We are trusting that this was a true repentance and that they will hold strong to what they have learned during camp, as they have now returned to life in the village.

These 104 girls are from the age of 8 to 16, and come from villages throughout Moldova. They are girls who attend the Day Centers that are funded by OM Moldova. The Pastors from the local church that is responsible for the Center, along with the leaders of the center choose a few girls whom live in the most vulnerable conditions. These girls come from houses where there may be an alcoholic parent living, an abusive (mentally, physically, or sexually) parent living, or they may be standing in the gap as the the parent themselves. Most of them have jobs that can range from working in the fields, taking care of daily chores around the house, or going into the local market to try and sell some type of produce grown at home anything to obtain a few lei to live on. Their lives are hard and they have no time to just live life as young girls. That is why we feel God has given us at OM Moldova the opportunity to hold this camp for them every year. This camp allows them to forget this life for one week and just be the little girls God created them to be.

Along with a team of leaders from OM Moldova we have a team of foreigners that help with camp. At camp this year we had a couple from Germany attend as part of our foreign team. We were nervous as to how the girls would react to having a male there, but God had a bigger plan any of us could have imagined. We really felt God telling us to use this opportunity as a way to help the girls heal. We had a special session time that wasn’t planned into the schedule but proved to be one of the most touching times all week. This man alongside another male who is an OM leader stood at the front of the room with their backs to the girls. The girls were then encouraged to use the images of the men at the front of the room and take a piece of paper and begin to write about their fathers. It could be good or bad whatever their memories were. After a few minutes the men turned around spoke words of forgiveness and encouragement to the girls. The girls were then encouraged to start the healing process, if their papers were filled with negative feeling toward their fathers. They were encouraged to throw away the papers into a basket. Then they were allowed the opportunity to hug the men and see what it was like to be hugged by a real father. As the time begin you could see tears begin to flow and minds and hearts begin to move. It only took the courage of one small girl to throw away her paper and cling to one of the men. There were girls who I’m sure had never been hugged or felt loved by their fathers just sobbing and clinging not wanting to let go. It was a very heart breaking time that God used these two men to begin a process of healing for these young girls. After, this time was over you could see that the girls were very compelled to reach out to these to men like never before that week. They would randomly give them hugs, want to sit with them during meal time and ask them to join in during game time. I believe God used these two men in a mighty way. I pray now that this start to the healing process isn’t broken now that they are home.

 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  Ezekiel 36:26 HCSB

Please continue to pray for these 104 girls in the next few months. Pray that each time of of these girls is faced with a tough decision that she will remember that God has the power to transform the weak and broken into mighty warriors for His kingdom.

Christy

The Springing Fountain

In Moldova there are over 1600 villages and in each of the villages there are wells for water. A conservative calculation would be 250 wells per village for around 400,000 total within an area that is 1/3 the size of my home state of Georgia in the United States. With that being said that is a lot of wells and water. Many times in my travels from village to village for ministry I pass some beautiful wells along the way but beautiful or not, full or empty I often think about a verse in from the Bible.

but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14

These wells can only give us temporary relief from being thirsty unlike the water from God that will spring up in us like a fountain representing motion not rest and this motion is eternal life. Water may become stagnant but a fountain rises from the energy within itself. This full representation of the Lord All Mighty living within us. He should be our center, our heart and strength.

I am thankful to have been filled with this fountain many years ago but at the same time this is not the case for everyone and even some churches and communities. Just within the last few weeks  my family took part in a Love Moldova Construction/Village Outreach to reach the least-reached with the Gospel and share with them about the living water. During the outreach we were able to ministry to two separate villages in northern Moldova. These villages were very different in many ways, some differences were easily seen but others were discovered as we ministry more with each passing day.

In the first village one afternoon after a thunder shower I went on a walk and I discovered this well pictured above. The well caught my attention because of its beauty but also made think about how it represented the village we were in at the time. You see the village was like a fountain rising to the top. There is a evangelical church that is thriving. Just the Sunday before including our team there were 70 plus people attending the church service. This number speaks louder than words considering there in less than 250 people living in the village. Each day dozens of children were waiting on us to start the children’s program.

On the last day in the village our team presented the playground to the church, the village and the children. There were nearly 50 children in attendance.

So why was this village a springing fountain full of Believers and the church was a light to all in the village? I had no clue about what God was going to show me at the next village.

We arrived at the second village which was very different than the first, not 250 people but 2500 people and with an orthodox church presence. We would only be there for four days and we planned to have a children’s program each day. We were originally told to plan for 80-100 children for the daily program so we were encouraged by this and prepared the program. On the first day we went walking into the village to invite children and posted flyers with balloons to tell all about the program. That first afternoon we only 7 children, wow where where the 80+. Later that evening walking again through the village we noticed the flyers and balloons had been removed. As a team we were discouraged and I ask to the Lord how is this possible, is there not a fountain here are this village. There seemed to be a sense of darkness surrounding this village, like nothing we experienced at the first village. The next day was much the same, children’s program with around 14 children and some visits with families with food parcels. Each night there was a church service where nearby churches came and the yard outside of the church was full of Believers but not so many from this village.

I began to pray to the Lord asking Him what are you trying to show me through these two villages, one is full of Believers who are springing fountains and the other is struggling because the wells are dry. Then on the last day we visited four different families with food parcels and lets just say my eyes were opened. We visited a blind man named Vatalie who lived alone and had no clue who we were or what we looked like but he prayed and repented of his sins right on his front steps, Praise The Lord. We presented him with a Bible and he was excited because his neighbor would read it to him. There was another couple who had been married for 47 years and they had their share of trials and storms in life. They both knew there was a God but was unsure what the other would think if they repented of their sins. We all began to tell them that time was short and we are not promised tomorrow. The husband told us of a time when he had a near death sickness. The doctors told the family we would not survive. He then told us about a vision he had, he was walking down a long road and it was the most beautiful place he had ever seen. He heard a voice that told him he had a second, make your life right but he never told anyone because they would think he was crazy. That was nearly 15 years ago. They both said it was time to repent but their legs were not in good health and they cannot walk to the church. We told them no problem, you do not need to be in church to repent, your salvation is between you and the Lord. So right there just inside their house on a little covered porch in a village in north Moldova they prayed together, asking for forgiveness and repenting of their sins. We all prayed together and left this house with two more born into the Kingdom than we arrived with.

As we walked back to the church I realized what the Lord was trying to show me through these two villages, it was about lives being saved and not so much about the numbers, you see there were three more fountains flowing with eternal life after this day. I also realized I should not get so easily discouraged because the Lord All Mighty is everywhere and in control. I do ask you to pray for this village, I feel as thou I should not give the name but you pray and the Lord knows this village. Please pray for a great awakening in this village, pray they turn from the Orthodoxy ways and come to the realization that they can have a personal relationship with God without someone in the middle.

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So as you drive down the road or travel where ever and you see a well, think about the lost in Moldova who are looking for the living water of eternal life. Thanks for your time as always, be blessed and in our prayers you are.

Back when…

Back when life seemed simpler there was no Facebook or social media, I guess you could say social media was the local newspaper or the party line for the house phone. In my lifetime I have seen so much change when it comes to communication and the internet.  What have we gained from this change, are we any better because of it? Do we love each more, do we have more time to spend with family and friends? The answer is no, we have not gained from it nor are we better people because of it and we spend less face to face time with the ones we love. This is the truth….

So why was life simpler years ago? Recently Michael came to me and ask if we could discuss something he was pondering. I said sure, what’s on your mind. He said dad, “why does it seem Moldovans live a simpler life than people from the West.?” So, I asked him, are you referring more to people in village, he said yes but also people of Europe in general. I asked him to explain more, he said the Moldovans seem to live simpler than even our family, they do not have stuff or worldly things. I said okay go on. He said they get by with what they need and do not worry so much about their wants. I simply said Michael you fingered it out on your own. In many cases the West lives by their wants and the Moldovans live by their needs. The newest phone is not needed, the biggest house in the community is not required or even the newest car on the block is not important. I said many times the West is not content with their true needs, they only see what they want as their needs. With this type of lifestyle comes many difficulties and I feel as thou we are seeing the consequences for these choices being played out now. I told him to think about this, life in the West is very different than it was even when I was a child. We played outside throughout the neighborhood from sun up to sun down, many days we had to be made to come in. We did not have cell phones much less the internet. I told him I even remember when we got cable tv for the first time, in one day we went from 3 or 4 channels to 40+ channels. He said many people do not have a tv in Moldovan much less cable. I then asked him are they okay without the tv and cable? He said, “yes of course they are”. I told him times were different then; I remember as a family we went and visited other family members. And it was not just on the weekend or a get together to celebrate something or someone, we spent quality time with family. Your cousins, aunts and uncles were close. So, he asked what happened, I said back to what you said, our wants became our needs. In order to meet our new needs life changed, more work to be done, less family time, we began to eat out in a drive thru bag, but we had everything we wanted. 

He said dad, I do not want to live this way. The wants are not worth it if you lose the needs and the needs are to be loved by family, we should be happy with the needs. If the Lord feels it is His will he will bless us with some of the wants. Then he said something that blew me away, “Dad a shirt is a shirt no matter what the tag says, you even put it on the same way, it is a shirt and this pretty much applies to everything in life”. 

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Our conservation ended but I stood there and pulled him close and gave him a hug. I prayed to God in thanksgiving for Michael’s amazing heart, I wish many more young people could experience what he has in the last three and half years. He is 14 years old and he completely gets it. God has big plans for him and I feel he is searching out these plans now by having discussions like this one. 

 

It truly amazes me to see how God holds all the puzzle pieces and how he adds to the puzzle each day. I had been thinking about a simpler life for nearly a week before Michael and I had this conservation. June 1ST is National Children’s Day in Moldova and our family was invited to help with the children’s day program in Lozova. The program was themed to include old carnival games of which many of had never been seen by the Moldovan children. Just simple games from the past, pick up ducks, water gun shoot, ball throw, photo booth, etc. As the program began the children arrived with smiles of happiness and joy for there was something new they had never seen before. The sun was shining down and the temperature was hot but this did not stop them. There were nearly 80 children in attendance, largest turn out for a children’s program in quite some time. The program lasted for a little more than two hours ending with prizes, a snack and cola, a real treat for many. A photo booth was setup for a chance to catch their smiles. They could choose many different goofy props to be used in their photos. It did not take long for the smiles of happiness to appear in the camera bringing not only a smile to my face but also sense of love begin spread throughout the church reminding me of times like this when I was a child. These children just simply want to be loved, something they don’t always feel.  However, it is so easy to show them love because they live life by their needs and not their wants. A few games, a small snack, and a simple prize made them feel love and kept them entertained for hours. 

 

I challenge you to give this some thought, the simple life, slow down and take time to see and feel the love God He has intended for your life. Let’s make our needs our needs and our wants our wants. Remember no matter what the label says in the shirt it is a shirt and we all put them on the same way. Thanks for your time, blessings to all. 

The Fish

As believers our testimony is our story for all the world to see. In daily life people watch to see how this story plays out. No matter if you are a foreigner in a strange country or you are a national at home where you grew up, we have to realize as believers people watch us. So how does your daily life reflect your story, your testimony? Many days I ask myself this, did I show the love of the Lord to others throughout the day, did they feel this love without having to ask me, am I the example they want to be more like and so on…

Over the past year the youth at Rock of Ages church have planned and prepared a youth trip to go snow skiing, this is something most of them had never done before. Not only were they making plans, God was too, He had been laying a foundation and setting people up to be in their paths so that they would need to choose how this chapter of their story would be written.  The New Year came and went and they set off on a journey to enjoy a time of snow skiing, fellowship and evangelism.

Several days into the trip they were faced with their first chance to chose how they would write their story. There was a man named Jion who was out for his daily walk one day, and he saw something that caught his eye. He saw a simple symbol of a fish, the symbol recognized around the world for Christianity. The symbol was an emblem on the back of Petru’s car, that happened to be parked in a parking lot that Jion had walked by that day. the fish

Here’s a little background on the fish symbol for those whom may not know. The Greek word for fish is “ichthys.” As early as the first century, Christians created an acronym using the Greek word: Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter, translated to Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior. The fish also has plenty of other theological overtones as well, for Christ fed the 5,000 with 2 fishes and 5 loaves (a meal recapitulated in Christian love-feasts) and called his disciples “fishers of men.” Water baptism, practiced by immersion in the early church, created a parallel between fish and converts. Even some 2000 years later we still see this fish with  bumper stickers, car emblems, logos, t-shirts, etc. as a symbol of Christianity giving hope to the world. Credit for fish symbol commentary to christianitytoday.com

Back to the story, Jion passing by this parking lot saw the fish on Petru’s car and decided to wait to see if the people returned that drove that car. He was in need of some encouragement and this symbol open the door for him to receive the encouragement. Petru and youth returned at the end of the day and they were greeted by this man. He had waited for them all day just because he saw this fish symbol, much like I said in the beginning people are watching to see how our story plays out, Jion was no different. Petru and the youth laid aside their plans for the rest of the day and simply ministered to Jion. As they talked with him, they learned he had been in Greece for several years working. He was originally from Georgia and he is a believer just looking for some support from other believers in an area, where there are few. This why he was encouraged enough by seeing  the fish symbol to wait all day for these Christians. He has hopes to build a business in the local area and prays to the Lord for direction, but ultimately seeks other believers to fellowship and worship with.

Petru and the youth prayed specifically for his needs and requests and then Jion did the same for them. As they parted ways they said they would continue to pray for each other and if they didn’t see each other again they would in heaven.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.

Thessalonians 5:11 (HCSB)

No matter where you are, in Greece, Moldova, the USA or somewhere else in this world people are watching and our daily walk is our story.  We should be ready to share with anyone who has questions, maybe it’s as simple as a fish on your car. How will you respond, will you clear you schedule for the balance of the day? I ask you to pray for the church in Panasesti as they carry over the blessings from the Lord in 2017 to 2018, let their story shine bright for the entire village. Also, pray for Petru’s leadership and for the youth of the church as they are the future. Be blessed and thanks for your time. God is good, all the time God is good.

A Christmas Cactus

Today was Christmas and truth be know my heart has been heavy along with the days leading up to today. It is truly hard to be away from family and friends at Christmas just as it is for any other holiday and birthday. I think no matter how long you are gone away there is no place like home. It also does not matter if you are serving the Lord, or your country or what ever the reason may be it is just not the same.

Today we celebrated the birth of Christ and share presents of love with each other but again my heart was heavy, you see there were many today who did not celebrate for they had no one to celebrate to with. We see this a lot in Moldova especially with the elderly generation. Shortly after Moldova gained its independence some 25 years ago life changed for many Moldovans. Both husbands and wives alike were left searching for work to support the needs of their families day to day. The jobs ended as independence was gained, so many found their self with no hope. In the begining the husbands fled to work aboard to make the ends meet for their families. This type of life continued for several years and eventually many wives found they to had to make the choice family or work, they also began to flee looking for work aboard due to their husbands had died, found some else or just plain stopped keeping in touch. Basically a large percentage of that generation’s children were raised by their grandparents mostly by their grandmothers. Now many years have passed, the children have grew up, the parents never returned and this left with no one with the ones who shown the most love. These grandmothers are the reason why my heart is heavy today. There are not just a few, there are 1000’s left to finish this life alone all across the villages of Moldova. Most of them have no family or do not know where their family are. I cannot help but hurt for them, some years ago they stepped up and took on the responsibility of raising another generation of children and now they are left out in the cold.

A few years back I lost one of my grandmothers and today I still miss her, some many life lessons were instilled in me over the years by her. Now as we raise Michael and Mary I see many of these lessons shine through me into Michael and Mary, I even find myself stopping to says thanks Nanny for being who you were in my life. My other grandmother is still living and my prayer today is that she was not forgotten for you see all her life she poured into others rarely thinking about herself and now she lives in an elderly home hoping for that same care in return. I miss her today and Granny I hope you had a Merry Christmas. Grandmothers are important and we should never forget that nor should we ever write them off as done. Helen and Ruth, thank you for your loving impact on my life over the years.

As a family we all see there is a need to reach out to the elderly, especially the ones that unreached and never have had heard the Gospel. As we travel to various villages we try to visit with the elderly and not just families. During these visits you will be so encouraged by the smiles you receive just for stopping by to tell them their flowers are beautiful or what ever the reason may be to why you stoped. They have so much to say and tell but have no one to tell it to or share it with. This grabs at the deepest part of my heart.

So we have decided that not just in the villages also in the city we want to invest in these elderly. I want to indroduce you to Maria, she lives on the fifth floor of our apartment building. She is in her late 60’s but time has worn on her greatly. She always speaks first as you pass the street and has a smile about her that will brighten your bad day. She cleans the stairwell in the apartment build for about 15USD a month and her pension is no more than 75USD month. So in total she has an income of about 90USD a month, not much when you consider our heating bill for November was 140USD. Now granted it, her apartment is much smaller than our apartment but having to pay 60-70USD for heat is tough when you only have 90USD for the entire month. She lives the story from above, she raised her grandchildren and now she is left to live alone. About the middle of December we took her a food parcel and out of the kindness of her heart she needed to return something to us, so she asked me to take a plant. She just does not have a few plants she has many, basically two stairwell floors full and just as many inside her apartment too. She does sell these plants as she can but the need is not great considering everyone has plants already.

You see these plants are her life literality. The plants give her a sense of worth, she is able to care for them and in exchange she gets to see her handy work as the plants grow and flowers. Much like she would for her children or grandchildren. The plants also give her something to be proud of along with self-worth.

So as i wrap up this blog entry closing out this Christmas I realize the Maria inspired me to write this entry, she is our Christmas Cactus. Her blossoms of hope are smiles on the tough days. We plan to continue to build our relationship with her along with others that the Lord directs to us in 2018. Looking ahead to 2018 I challenge you to find that Maria, Helen, Ruth or Mary Francis in your life and be the difference. You do not have to be in a foreign country to be a missionary, you can share the Gospel with anyone around you.

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation”. Mark 16:15

As believers we are all called to serve the Lord, investing in someone’s life and sharing the Gospel with them is serving the Lord. Thanks for your time and prayers, be blessed.

Kelly

What Are YOU Thankful For?

Wow, summer has ended, and the air is turning cold from autumn to winter, I cannot believe that another  year has passed here in Moldova. We are so excited and encouraged by the work the Lord is doing in people’s lives here in Moldova. Stepping back and looking at the second half of the year we realize how busy we have been but at the same time we see all that we are thankful for. This period has been a time of growing for our family in many ways. As a family we have settled in our new apartment and have made many new friends which leads to new conservations about Jesus and the Gospel. We have seen several doors opened to share the Gospel unlike in our old apartment building.  Christy and I have truly been reminded of why we were called to Moldova to serve the Lord. Michael is growing into a great young man where everyday we can see his heart growing for missions. The Lord has great things planned for Michael in the years to come as a believer. Mary is also growing, she is actually becoming very tall but at the same time has many questions each day about following Jesus, so I  stop here and ask you to pray for her and her heart to be guided to Jesus.

 

This is a time of Thanksgiving in Moldova, we wanted share some stories and blessings that we are thankful for this year. We hope you are blessed and encouraged by these stories.

 

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A Traditional Harvest Celebration, Rock of Ages Church, Panasesti, Moldova. The members of the church bring something from the harvest to present to the church as a token of appreciation for the year’s harvest.

IMG_4320While at boys camp I befriended a young boy of 9 years named Danu from the village of Gălești, he holds a special place in my heart.  This was his first time at a summer camp and he did not know exactly what to except. The first couple of days he remained very quiet. He lives at home with his mother, he is the youngest of his brothers and sisters, his dad died when he was three years old. He has an older brother and older sister who are married with children. His brother and sister’s husband both work aboard and they are the only means of financial support for the family. With each passing day at the camp he began to open up more and more. On the first day of the camp the boys were given a Bible and I was so encouraged that evening in his quiet time Ion was reading the Bible in his bed. He told me he had attended the Day Center for nearly three years, he enjoyed it there because he felt loved and learned about God. He also told me he was going to miss camp and the people at camp. On the last day, we said our good byes and I told him that I would come and visit him at the Day Center, his response broke my heart, he said “Every day I will wait for you”. Please pray for Danu that he finds the Lord and some stability in his life that he so desperately needs.

In the village of Schinoasa we started a bee hive development project. The project has really taken off, we have received funds for 12 new bee hives and currently we have 6 families in the early stages of the program in which they will receive a bee hive upon completion. This is a story from one of the families. Daniela is 15 years old, she lives in the village and attends the local Baptist Church.BHG She has a heart for missions and is active in youth ministry at the church. She lives in a socially vulnerable home with her family. Neither of her parents are believers nor do they have a job. So, food seems to always be a problem for the family living in such poverty-stricken conditions. Daniela has three brothers, two older than her and one younger. She came to me for help, asking to do odd and in jobs for money. I prayed and feel that Daniela and her family would be a great family for the bee hive project. Beekeeping is something new to her, but she has already shown a great passion to learn and practice beekeeping, she looks forward to working on her own and earning money for what is strictly necessary to contribute to her family’s welfare. Daniela has great dreams and see believes in change, I feel the Lord shining through her with this bee hive project and know He will use her in mighty ways.

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Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Rock of Ages church in Panasesti is on fire for the Lord, you can walk into the building or just on to the property and you can feel the presence of the Lord. The church is growing, we are seeing new faces each week. Over the summer there were three team of foreigners who came and did some construction work and children’s programs. Also the Lord is to provide funds to complete the building process. The church was able to register with the state and now can connect to the gas for heat this winter….PTL! This is an answered pray for we wanted to remain in the church all winter for services. Also you are seeing the willingness of members to take on responsibility and go into the village visiting with the lost. Finally the process of finishing the outside of the building is under way, just not a block formed building anymore.  We have to remember the church is not a building but a structure of Jesus followers who share the Gospel and are an example of His Love.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Matthew 7:24-27

Liudmila Just in recent days I had the opportunity to visit and meet a little girl with a story that will break your heart but at the same time she is filled with the Lord’s love that shines through her smile from the people who surround her during this time of loss. Three weeks ago her mother decided it was best to end her life, making the choice that many other mothers make in Moldova. Moldovan mothers face the every day reality and do not see any chance for hope, this was the case with Liuba’s mother. On this day I visited with her she seemed happy and even encouraged by my visit. She wanted to play games but her cousins did not react the same way, they were very shy and distant. Just seeing her smile and wanting to hug you told me the Lord was in control. Will she have hard days ahead? Yes but the Lord will see her through. Please do pray that repairs are done at the house so she can stay with family or the state will take her to an orphanage.

Early in November Christy, Michael and Mary were able to take part and help in an American VBS type program in the village of Lozova where a couple from OM lives and have planted  a church. On the day they attended the VBS the children were able to fly around the world and visit many different countries represented by OM Moldova. This IMG_0787was very exciting to the children of the village because the idea of travel was new and they have never experienced. They were divided up into team and each different team visited each country where they were told facts about the country and got to try some traditional food from the country. Michael especially enjoyed this trip because it brought back many years of memories from VBS in the states. He said the VBS program made him happy because the children’s eyes and hearts were opened up to hearing the Gospel in a new presentation. His pray is that the children come to know the Lord and together with their families the church in Lozova will grow.

On the weekend of November 10th-12th OM hosted a conference for 57 vulnerable girls, in which Christy attended. These girls come from homes where families are broken and hope seems gone. The weekend was filled with fellowship, fun and learning for the girls. IMG_9317On Saturday, the girls attended three sessions which were taught from Proverbs 31; on how to be a beautiful woman, a beautiful wife, and a beautiful mother. The last session on being a beautiful mother was one that impact the girls the most. Most of these girls do have mothers to care for them. As the girls entered small group time one girl began to share her story, and we were all sadden beyond words…she was not supposed to attend the conference. On Thursday afternoon her mother decided to sell her to a man passing though their village. God had other plans for this young girls life, He sent a social worker to intervene.  This social worker placed this girl in the home of a Godly lady who was bringing some other girls to this conference. As, the girl told her story with tears running down her face she asked how am I supposed to love a mother who loves money more than her own daughter. This is the kind of life most of these girls face each day. They seldom hear that they are beautiful and loved beyond measure. This is why it is so important for these conferences to be held, these girls need to know that beauty isn’t skin deep and that God loves them more than they could ever imagine.

Today being Thanksgiving we look back and see we have so much to be thankful for as missionaries serving here in Moldova. The Lord has given us many blessings to be  thankful for. We were able to enjoy time with our family  in the states at the beginning of IMG_4950the year along with securing partnerships and support needed as we headed back to Moldova in April. He also opened doors allowing us to find and rent a new apartment that was more suited for our family. He has blessed us with church in Moldova that we can call home and have developed deep relationships within the church. He also  has blessed all of us with good health which is truly amazing. Lastly, over the summer Christy and I began to pray for a need for our family. We had no idea what would happen but we gave the need up in prayer to God. God began to work in our hearts,  we defined the need, placed a time frame for it to be meet, reached out to contacts as God directed. Praise The Lord , in just 5 short weeks He provided the funds for a new car for our family, allowing us to remain safe as we travel across Moldova sharing the Gospel and working with various ministries. God is good, all the time God is good!

So as the title of the blog entry says, What are YOU thankful for? We are thankful for the Lord, His Grace, His Love and the amazing life changing stories of people we minister to here in Moldova. God is good, all the time God is good. Be blessed and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Plan or no plan God determines our steps

God has a reason for allowing things to happen. Trusting in His plan when your personality is a detailer is sometimes a difficult task, and it seems satan knows exactly when to strike so that the sword stabs harder every time. This past weekend OM held a conference for girls with a high risk to be trafficked, after helping with a camp for these girls this past summer I was very excited to be a part of this conference. However, I don’t take it lightly when lives hang in the balance and God has given a clear direction to follow. It seemed like this past weekend was approaching fast and plans weren’t being made as to how this conference would take place. The culture I live in now has an approach very different from the one I’m accustom too, I’m not saying that one is right or wrong, they are just different, and after living in this culture for almost 3 years now I have learned to be flexible as long as there is somewhat of an idea of what will be done, we can completely change it in the middle but at least we had something to go into the program with, leaving me with a bit of peace. As, the conference drew closer and the weeks were now days satan knew more than ever that it was a good time to stick the sword in and twist. I had spoken to several leaders who kept telling me just show up there will be something for you to do, each time that was satan twisting the sharp sword, to the point where Thursday came and I still had no clear direction on what was needed from me for this conference. Late Thursday night I told Kelly, I think I’ll just tell the leaders I can’t make it, Kelly suggested I go for the girls. I spoke with a friend,who was also helping at the conference, on Friday morning who said I’m excited that we get to serve together again this weekend. That was the glimer of hope for me to push through and follow through with my commitment. As Saturday morning approached satan was still twisting the sword as much as possible. I still had not been given any responsibility for the conference program, and when I woke up that morning I turned on the shower and no water came out. Was it worth it, had God really wanted me to attend this conference that was the question in my head as I left for the Mission Center where the conference was held.

God had a plan, He always does. After I arrived at the Mission Center He quickly revealed that plan to me. There were a special group of girls coming to this conference that had never been before, and I had no clue they were coming. Girls that God placed in my life about 2 1/2 years ago, that He has been growing our friendships, to a level of trust built between us. It is just another chapter in the story He is writing in my life. As I exited the conference room 4 timid faces entered the front door of the Mission Center, God’s timing and plan was perfect, those timid faces turned into smiles and I was greeted with the biggest hug! At that moment I knew that if for no other reason God had placed me at this conference so that 4 shy girls could feel free to enjoy themselves with out worrying about not having someone they trusted being near. The girls found their beds and quickly joined the group for some fun.

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As most of my time was spent helping in the kitchen to prepare food, I didn’t have a lot of interaction with the girls unless they were on break or eating. However, they attended several large group teaching sessions, small group times, used art to journal their feelings, went out and serve the community, ate, and enjoy a spa time on Saturday night.

Their large group sessions were taught from Proverbs 31 on what it looks like to be a beautiful woman, a beautiful wife and a beautiful mother. We wanted them to see that beauty comes from the inside and is not skin deep. That they don’t need tons of make up, or lots of glamor to be beautiful in God’s eyes. We wanted them to understand that being a beautiful wife meand asking and waiting on God to give them the mate he has created for them. Not settling on or giving into the pressure of the cute boy that comes by, the one that has money, or the one that says “he loves them” but doesn’t really show it. We wanted them to know that God creates help mates that will treat them with respect and honor and love them for them. We wanted them to see that just because their mother wasn’t or isn’t there for them that they have the choice to break the cycle.

As large groups would end and small groups would begin, the leader who was teaching would come down to the kitchen to debrief, pray, and breath. These topics are really heavy ones here in Moldova, the 57 girls attending this conference come from families that are broken. Homes that are filled with drinking, abuse, and pain. Hope doesn’t exist in most of their villages and most people are just looking for a way out. We prayed that walls would fall and that the girls would open their hearts to see that God loves them and cares for them deeply. That they would take this information and let it penetrate their souls, and fill them with hope.

After the session on being a beautiful mother, it seemed that one girl was very restless as she enter her small group. As they begin to talk and use their art journals tears filled this young girls eyes. She didn’t want to have any discussion with the leader of her group during this time, but the leader noticed the drawing in her journal…. it was a picture of a sun. In the inner circle she had written what is a beautiful mother with several question marks. On each ray she had written good and bad qualities of a mother. Some included spend time with my children, make sure my children know they are loved, do not care for men/boys more than my children, do not love money over my children… these were just a few. As the group ended the leader ask her if they could talk. They went into a small room and as they begin the conversation the girl’s eyes filled with tears. She begin to tell her story, she wasn’t supposed to attend this conference this weekend. On Thursday afternoon her mom was faced with a discision that no mom should ever be faced with, sell her daughter for money or to stand up and say no. Unfortunately, her mom chose to sell her to some strange man that was passing through the village. God had a greater plan He intervened for this young lady and sent a social worker to this girls home that afternoon. The social worker placed her in the home of a very Godly lady in the next village who had already planned to bring girls to this conference, so instead of being taken away with some strange man she had the opportunity to be loved and cared for. Please pray that this girl isn’t sent back into her home, and that the social worker will get it arranged for perment housing to be provided for this young girl.

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This weekend was one filed with many emotions. I pray for these 57 girls that they will be reminded of the things they learned when life gets tough and it seems hopeless. I pray that they will begin to understand how much God loves them and how much He cares for them. I also pray that when God gives me a clear command, I do not second guess Him and that I would not let satan step in my path. When God presents a plan I should trust Him even when the path is unclear.

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Please be in prayer for these 57 girls as they have returned to their homes. Pray that they will listen and follow God’s plans for their lives.

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