Dear Praying Friends and Family,
Rethinking “Too Close For Comfort.” About three months ago we found out that Naomi was expecting another child. We didn’t expect her to be able to carry this one to full term because of the previous miscarriages. We put it in the Lord’s hands and decided that we would announce it if she made it to the second trimester. We were afraid to hope, but the thought of finally having another little girl got the best of us. When the twelfth week came we decided to get an ultrasound. They said the baby had died at 9 weeks and that they wanted to admit her to the “other” part of the hospital where abortions are performed. It was a hard blow and the thought of her going through a medicine-induced miscarriage surrounded by women getting abortions and the people which perform them did not sit well with us. It was Friday afternoon and the hospital was shutting down for the weekend. They wanted to admit her immediately and have the procedure on Monday. Naomi had some doubts about her dates, she didn’t feel bad, and there was no pain or bleeding so we wanted to give it a few days and then get a second opinion. We still held on to the hope that it was a mistaken date and, thus, too early to pick up a heartbeat, but in the back of my mind I was afraid. Several days later another ultrasound confirmed that the baby had indeed died. We knew what to expect. We’ve been through this before. This would be the fourth time in two years. Naomi wanted to go through it again at home.
The fears added up in my mind after thinking, “What would we do if she hemorrhaged?” The danger was real. First, our newly purchased vehicle was in the shop. We were stuck out here in the “boonies” with no transportation because the transmission had to be rebuilt! Second, there was the real concern about the quality of care of the local hospital. Odessa would be a much better option but getting there was the challenge. We decided to try and wait till Monday and then get to Odessa if nothing happened by then. Naomi felt fine and, like I said, we’ve been through this before.
It started at 2:00 a.m. Sunday and an hour later we realized that she had hemorrhaged. In that moment is was as if the Lord allowed all my deepest fears to come true…every one! Without going into details we knew it was bad. Thankfully, our closest church member, Luda, answered her phone and said she would try to call the emergency room while I got Naomi ready. They never answered. We repeatedly called for an hour and got no answer. Sarah Kline answered her phone and said she would be over with their van to rush Naomi to the hospital. While we waited for transportation I made calls to people in the States to get people praying and even sent up prayer flares on Facebook! Kolya and Luda went ahead of us in their car and laid on the emergency room doorbell till they woke up. After the staff got moving they quickly put Naomi under and began the D&C. There was no way to know how she was holding up. No heart monitors, no nothing. The anesthesiologist, from time to time, would put her hand up to Naomi’s nose to make sure she was still breathing!
In that moment I realized that the Lord allowed it all to happen. My worst fears came true and the Lord Jesus was with us every moment. They say, “Too close for comfort…” but the Lord can never be too close and, as long as He is close by there is always comfort. Naomi pulled through and the medical staff, especially the doctor, did great with what little they have to work with. It was a little unnerving to observe Naomi as she awoke from the anesthesia saying that she was in a “tunnel of light” and could hear my voice the whole time she was under! Praise the Lord that He is with us, “…even unto the end of the world.”
Bible Institute and Charity. Our Bible Institute classes continue to be both a blessing and a challenge to everyone. I am very happy to say that the preachers are showing great improvement in being capable ministers of the word of God. They have been busy passing out literature, doing personal work, and helping with the sick and church shut-ins. We recently found out that one lady had no heat and was sitting at home enduring -10C weather. She had no money to pay for gas and she was saving what little she had for an operation. We loaded her up with wood for her wood stove for the winter. There are a lot of other stories that I should probably include in prayer letters. Thanks to your generosity, we get to help people with things like food, clothing, surgeries, medicine, fuel, baby supplies, and even college tuition to help the children of poor saints take care of their families with better jobs. In addition we give to national preachers and their ministries. We support one pastor by buying him enough wood to heat his house for the winter. Another preacher recently totaled his van that he used for ministry and we were able to help him a little towards the purchase of another. Things like these are the norm for our ministry and go on without being mentioned in our prayer letters. Thank you all for your prayers and support for allowing us the privilege to minister to the Ukrainian people.
Break-In and Big Board. Our church building was broken into again for the third time. The thieves got away with our sound board that is used to record our videos for YouTube. They also got my video projector, a guitar, and our computer monitor. The bad economy and gas prices are driving more to crime. Our church is trying to pull enough money to install European-style rolling window shutters to prevent break-ins in the future.
The break-ins are the normal response of the enemy. You see, we have been getting some very positive feedback about our YouTube channel. More and more Russian speaking Christians say they are “holding on” where they are by watching our videos. One church said they watch our sermons during their evening service ever since they lost their pastor. I get to preach to people I’ve never met! Our men are also getting close to completing a big church sign board for displaying Scripture. It will be illuminated and high enough to be seen from the train station. Literally, tens of thousands of people will see the signboard every day. We are very excited about the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to shine even brighter in our region!
A Church Family Immigrating to Israel! The Jewish man, Igor, and his family who came to us from the war torn area of Donetsk have recently been approved for immigration to Israel. Perhaps you recall me mentioning him in a previous letter and told the humorous story about how I had led him to Christ twenty years ago and we didn’t recognize each other after he visited. They have been here faithfully attending and growing in the word of God, while they sought the Lord’s will about immigrating to Israel. We are very excited about what the Lord will do with them there. We pray that he will bring others to Christ just as he recently did with his friend Yura. There is a good chance that they will be staying in an area where other Russian speaking Christians live and we pray that they will be an encouragement to one another. Please pray for them as they leave sometime before Christmas to begin their new lives in the Promised Land!
Discipleship and Baptismal Service. The Lord once again gave us the privilege of taking another group of new converts through our discipleship lessons in preparation for water baptism and church membership. This time Marina and her two sons, Nikita and Andrei, joyously followed the Lord in believer’s baptism. Igor’s above mentioned friend, Yura, and our deacon’s son Matthew also followed. We continue to pass out literature and witness to others looking for the next batch!
We want to thank you all for your friendship, prayers, support, and all that you do for the Lord that gives us the privilege and opportunity to serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May the Lord bless you during the holiday season and give you much fruit in the New Year. Until our next prayer letter or our meeting in the air!
That Ukraine May Know Him,