Linda S - October 27 2011

Oct. 27

Dear All,

I'd like to share with you something very special that happened in our field this past week. We have one church out in a village about 30 minutes away from the city. Most of the friends in that church have come out of the Baptist Church. The Baptists here are quite different than the ones at home. I really don't know how to explain the differences apart from, for the most part, they're very strict, lean towards self-righteousness and put a lot of emphasis on the do's and don'ts (putting a lot of emphasis on correction). Well, the elder and his wife returned to Ukraine a year ago after spending 8 years in America because he saw the need for an elder in their home village. My first 4 years in Ukraine were spent in this field and at that time they were being put "through the gears" by some of the older preachers in Odessa because he was one the Baptist preachers in their village. My first 4 years in this country, we visited this couple many times in their home due to a lot of pressure being put on them by their church. It would have made things a lot worse for them if they had of come to our meetings. So, we visited them frequently in their home. At that time, one day 3 older preachers made a 4-hour trip (one way) from Odessa to this village to set up kangeroo court in the church and to intimidate this couple and force them to change some of their thinking. Eventually, things got so bad here for them that they just immigrated to the States. In time they both professed and later all of their 4 children professed and now they're living back here in their original house which they are renovating. It's one thing to live with the comforts of city life here but it's another thing to choose (after spending 8 years in America) to live in a village home here! They are a lovely family. The 3 oldest children are teenagers and they didn't want to return to Ukraine to live but those kids knew that their parents felt very convicted to move back here. I just ADMIRE the attitude of those children when they miss America so much. The oldest daughter is in her last year of high school. Imagine how stressful it is for her trying to get her education in Ukrainian when in the States she got all her education in English and then at home they either spoke Russian or English with their parents. So, really Ukrainian is a foreign language for her and she's taking her last year of high school in a foreign language. Any sacrifice that any worker would make to go to a foreign country to work is nothing compared to the sacrifice that this family have made to come back here to have an open home. This man (whose name is Viktor) is a prince of a man and his wife is a jewel.

Up until a month ago, there is one Sunday a.m. meeting and one Wednesday evening meeting in their village. Villages here are like the size of towns at home. Most of the friends in their village live at either one end or the other end of the village. The friends at the far end of the village are more established in the Truth than the ones at this end. There's only one friend (including the elder and his wife) out there that have been professing for more than 10 years. To save the older people from having to walk across the village in the dark (with no street lights) after Wednesday night meeting and potholes all over the roads, a month ago we started the second Wednesday meeting at the other end of the village. So, that meant that the newer babes were in one meeting at one end of the village and the others who have been professing longer were at the other end. A young couple in that village were baptized recently and he was appointed to lead the Wednesday meeting. That young man (before he professed) had a place in the Baptist church. Because he's a man with depth and there was something to his messages, the people of the church just waited with anticipation to hear his messages! Because he is the only professing man at his end of the village, he was given the responsibility to lead the Wednesday meetings. Well, guess what happened? He came to us recently and said, "We've come out of the Baptist Church and we know we have lots to learn and unlearn. We've learned SO much from our friends at the other end of the village." They wanted to go back to one Wednesday night meeting group. They understood the reason why 2 meetings were started but because they feel they have so much to learn, do you know what they did? They went out and purchased a vehicle. It's not because they could really afford it but it's because they want to be able to take the older and disabled friends to the meeting with them. You might ask the question, "Well, if they have so much to learn why don't they just ask the workers and we could advise them what to do?" There's more to it than this but I want to share one reason that really touched me.

Like I said, the elder and his wife out there spent 8 years in America and they learned a lot about what it means to be responsible for a church. In this culture, women do a lot of the work...including all the food preparations and serving. Obviously, when these folks were in the USA, this man saw professing men helping their wives with even serving. After a recent union meeting I was in in their village, I witnessed something I could hardly believe I was seeing! I saw the elder get up immediately, he went out to the kitchen, brought in some beverages and started serving the friends a little something before some of them left travelling quite a distance to get back home. In this culture a man doesn't do this and that elder knows that. But rather than verbally correcting them (because a lot of them were fed up to their ears with all the correction that was done in the church) he knows that the very best thing he can do to teach them is by being example and he's doing it with such joy. He has learned the "effectiveness" of a living example. Is it any wonder why the babes at this end of the village are picking up on his ways and his Spirit and why this is the way they WANT to learn and why they went out and purchased a vehicle last week? When we told the elder why we were putting the 2 meetings together again, I so appreciated his reaction. All he did was smile and put his head down...such a humble reaction! Deep down he knew the reason why. Is it any wonder why Jesus put so much emphasis on being an example, on serving, etc? It's a VERY gentle and VERY effective way of teaching and it goes very deep. It takes "time" and lots of "self-discipline" to be a living example and to be a servant but there is no other way to get THE BEST results and only those who are willing to pay that price will really have the joy of witnessing such results. This experience has given me a fresh appreciation and a lot more insight into the the story we read about in Luke 22 when Jesus asked his disciples to go and prepare for the passover. They asked him, "Where wilt thou that we prepare?" Jesus didn't tell them to look for a man with the biggest and the best home and the best car and with the best profession. He told them a man would meet them that would be bearing a pitcher of water. "Follow him into the house where he entereth in." That man didn't have to go to America to find out what it meant to be a worthy elder. He learned a lot from Jesus. Jesus knew in that culture there likely wouldn't be another man in that area that would be doing such a humble deed and so he wasn't even concerned about them not finding the right man. It's not just the willingness to serve that makes elders and their wives worthy for their responsibility. There are a lot of other qualities that accompany that quality "alone" that makes them good elders and their wives. It's being responsive to the Spirit that makes men good elders.

The young man and his wife in whose home we put the second Wednesday night meeting into recently have wonderful potential for being an elder and his wife some day. I'm convinced that they don't want to miss ONE thing that they can learn from their elder and his wife. This young man could have had a heart full of pride that he was chosen to lead that Wednesday evening meeting. For them, that's not the priority. For them the priority is getting a good foundation first and having the qualities they need. These people are all just babes. Who is teaching them this? The work of the Spirit is something so beautiful that all we can do is bow our heads and thank God that there are still those in some of these remote lands that are so childlike and humble.

Oh, there's a lot more more I could share with you but it's almost 11 pm and we have to be out of the batch by 8 a.m. tomorrow. So, will close here.

A sister,
Linda S