My First Love

Left your first love. This phrase may he illustrated by the warmth of feeling that exists in the first part of the relation of husband and wife. The word love is from AGAPE and its chief meaning is to have that regard for another that will cause one to be interested in his welfare and happiness. Such a love will prompt one even to go out of his way to do things to please the other. Likewise a Christian should have such a feeling for his brother and for Christ who is the bridegroom of the church.

The moral power of the Church and the believer is love. Things may appear outwardly fair and promising, and none but an Omniscient eye may see the lack inwardly, coldness of heart to Christ.

Nevertheless I have this against you –

Greek: But I have against you that you have left your first love.

They did not retain that strong and ardent affection for God and sacred things which they had when first brought to the knowledge of the truth, and justified by faith in Christ.

Remember – Consider the state of grace in which you once stood; the happiness, love, and joy which you felt when you received remission of sins; the zeal you had for God’s glory and the salvation of mankind; your willing, obedient spirit, your cheerful self-denial, your fervor in private prayer, your detachment from the world, and your heavenly-mindedness.

From where you have fallen – Fallen from all those blessed dispositions and gracious feelings mentioned. Remember what a loss you have sustained.

Repent – Be deeply humbled before God for having so carelessly guarded the Divine treasure.

Do the first works – Resume your former zeal and diligence; watch, fast, pray, reprove sin, carefully attend all the ordinances of God, walk as in His sight, and rest not till you have recovered all your lost ground, and got back the evidence of your acceptance with your Maker.

And will remove your candlestick – Remove your ministers, take away My ordinances, and send you a famine of the word. As there is here an allusion to the candlestick in the tabernacle and temple, which could not be removed without suspending the whole Levitical service, so the threatening here intimates that, if they did not repent, He would unchurch them; they should no longer have a pastor, no longer have the word and sacraments, and no longer have the presence of the Lord Jesus.

It is no uncommon thing that, when a church has lost the ardor of its first love, it is suffered more and more to decline, until the candlestick is removed – the church becomes wholly extinct, or vital piety is wholly gone, and all that remains is the religion of forms.

Christ has nothing against His people, His faithful ministers, and true churches, in a judicial way, or to their condemnation, for there is none to them that are in Him; but He has often many things to complain of in them, and to rebuke and chastise them for.

Nothing but the love of the bride can satisfy the Bridegroom; all zeal for His honour must flow from love.

The history of the Christian Church has been too full of zeal without love. The times immediately following the struggle against Arianism, and the Reformation in Germany, testify to the fact.

She had not left the object of her love, the Lord Jesus, whom she loved, but she had cooled in her spiritual affections to Christ and to His saints, which she had manifested in the day of her first espousals; which Christ well remembered and here reminded her of, as He did Israel of old.

Jeremijo 2:2
Taip kalba VIEŠPATS, Aš atmenu ištikimą tavo jaunystės meilę, kai tu mylėjai Mane, būdama sužadėtine, sekdama paskui Mane per dykumą, nesėjamą žemę.

Jeremiah 2:2
This is what the LORD says: I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved Me and followed Me through the wilderness, through a land not sown.

Иеремии 2:2
так говорит Господь: Я вспоминаю о дружестве юности твоей, о любви твоей, когда ты была невестою, когда последовала за Мною в пустыню, в землю незасеянную.

Iyeremii 2:2
tak govorit Gospod’: YA vspominayu o druzhestve yunosti tvoyey, o lyubvi tvoyey, kogda ty byla nevestoyu, kogda posledovala za Mnoyu v pustynyu, v zemlyu nezaseyannuyu.

Hosea 2:14‭-‬15
However, in the future I will allure her; I will lead her back into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. From there I will give back her vineyards to her, and turn the “Valley of Trouble” into an “Opportunity for Hope.” There she will sing as she did when she was young, when she came up from the land of Egypt.

Ozėjo 2:14‭-‬15
Aš ją viliosiu, išvesiu į dykumą ir paguosiu ją. Aš ten jai duosiu vynuogynus ir Achoro slėnį­vilties vartus. Ji giedos ten kaip jaunystėje, kaip išėjusi iš Egipto krašto.

Осии 2:14‭-‬15
Посему вот, и Я увлеку ее, приведу ее в пустыню, и буду говорить к сердцу ее. И дам ей оттуда виноградники ее и долину Ахор, в преддверие надежды; и она будет петь там, как во дни юности своей и как в день выхода своего из земли Египетской.

Osii 2:14‭-‬15
Posemu vot, i YA uvleku yeye, privedu yeye v pustynyu, i budu govorit’ k serdtsu yeye. I dam yey ottuda vinogradniki yeye i dolinu Akhor, v preddveriye nadezhdy; i ona budet pet’ tam, kak vo dni yunosti svoyey i kak v den’ vykhoda svoyego iz zemli Yegipetskoy.

Ephesians 5:22‭-‬33
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church – he himself being the savior of the body. But as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, so that he may present the church to himself as glorious – not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless. In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one has ever hated his own body but he feeds it and takes care of it, just as Christ also does the church, for we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This mystery is great – but I am actually speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each one of you must also love his own wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Efeziečiams 5:22‭-‬33
Jūs, žmonos, būkite klusnios savo vyrams lyg Viešpačiui, nes vyras yra žmonos galva, kaip ir Kristus yra galva bažnyčios,­Jis kūno gelbėtojas. Todėl kaip bažnyčia paklūsta Kristui, taip ir žmonos visame kame teklauso savo vyrų. Jūs, vyrai, mylėkite savo žmonas, kaip ir Kristus pamilo bažnyčią ir atidavė už ją save, kad ją pašventintų, apvalydamas vandens nuplovimu ir žodžiu, kad pristatytų sau šlovingą bažnyčią, neturinčią dėmės nei raukšlės, nei nieko tokio, bet šventą ir nesuteptą. Taip ir vyrai turi mylėti savo žmonas kaip savo kūnus. Kas myli savo žmoną, myli save patį. Juk niekas niekada nėra nekentęs savo kūno, bet jį maitina ir globoja kaip ir Kristus bažnyčią. Mes gi esame Jo kūno nariai, iš Jo kūno ir kaulų. “Todėl žmogus paliks tėvą bei motiną ir susijungs su savo žmona, ir du taps vienu kūnu”. Tai didelė paslaptis,­aš tai sakau, žvelgdamas į Kristų ir bažnyčią. Taigi kiekvienas iš jūsų tegul myli savo žmoną taip, kaip save patį, o žmona tegerbia savo vyrą.

Ефесянам 5:22‭-‬33
Жены, повинуйтесь своим мужьям, как Господу, потому что муж есть глава жены, как и Христос глава Церкви, и Он же Спаситель тела. Но как Церковь повинуется Христу, так и жены своим мужьям во всем. Мужья, любите своих жен, как и Христос возлюбил Церковь и предал Себя за нее, чтобы освятить ее, очистив банею водною посредством слова; чтобы представить ее Себе славною Церковью, не имеющею пятна, или порока, или чего-либо подобного, но дабы она была свята и непорочна. Так должны мужья любить своих жен, как свои тела: любящий свою жену любит самого себя. Ибо никто никогда не имел ненависти к своей плоти, но питает и греет ее, как и Господь Церковь, потому что мы члены тела Его, от плоти Его и от костей Его. Посему оставит человек отца своего и мать и прилепится к жене своей, и будут двое одна плоть. Тайна сия велика; я говорю по отношению ко Христу и к Церкви. Так каждый из вас да любит свою жену, как самого себя; а жена да боится своего мужа.

Yefesyanam 5:22‭-‬33
Zheny, povinuytes’ svoim muzh’yam, kak Gospodu, potomu chto muzh yest’ glava zheny, kak i Khristos glava Tserkvi, i On zhe Spasitel’ tela. No kak Tserkov’ povinuyetsya Khristu, tak i zheny svoim muzh’yam vo vsem. Muzh’ya, lyubite svoikh zhen, kak i Khristos vozlyubil Tserkov’ i predal Sebya za neye, chtoby osvyatit’ yeye, ochistiv baneyu vodnoyu posredstvom slova; chtoby predstavit’ yeye Sebe slavnoyu Tserkov’yu, ne imeyushcheyu pyatna, ili poroka, ili chego-libo podobnogo, no daby ona byla svyata i neporochna. Tak dolzhny muzh’ya lyubit’ svoikh zhen, kak svoi tela: lyubyashchiy svoyu zhenu lyubit samogo sebya. Ibo nikto nikogda ne imel nenavisti k svoyey ploti, no pitayet i greyet yeye, kak i Gospod’ Tserkov’, potomu chto my chleny tela Yego, ot ploti Yego i ot kostey Yego. Posemu ostavit chelovek ottsa svoyego i mat’ i prilepitsya k zhene svoyey, i budut dvoye odna plot’. Tayna siya velika; ya govoryu po otnosheniyu ko Khristu i k Tserkvi. Tak kazhdyy iz vas da lyubit svoyu zhenu, kak samogo sebya; a zhena da boitsya svoyego muzha.

The City of God (De Civitate Dei) by Augustine (c. 413–426)

The City of God (De Civitate Dei) by Augustine (c. 413–426)

There are two societies, that of the elect (The City of God) and that of the damned (The City of Man). These cities are symbolic embodiments of the two spiritual powers—faith and unbelief—that have contended with each other since the fall of the angels. They are inextricably intermingled on this earth and will remain so until time’s end.

These two cities or communities derive their respective identities and choesion from their allegiance to a common Love.

The one is a fellowship of godly men and the other of the ungodly, and each has its own angels belonging to it.

In the one city, love of God is given first place, and in the other, love of self.

Two cities have been created by two loves. The earthly, by love of self extending even to contempt of God, and the heavenly, by love of God extending to contempt of self. The one glories in itself, the other in the Lord. The one seeks glory from men, the other finds its glory in God, the Witness of our conscience.

The City of God is a community that transcends space and time. The elect who are alive on earth form only a part of its citizen body. It consists also of those angels who remained loyal to God and the souls of the elect who have died and are now in heaven. The members who are alive on earth are called, the City of God on pilgrimage.

Similarly, the members of the City of Man, are not only the lost or reprobate who are alive on earth, but also the souls of the damned who have died and the apostate angels.

The two cities are invisible communities whose duration is coextensive with the history of the world.

Many who are outwardly members of the institutional church are, in fact, citizens of the earthly city.

Without the grace of God (Holy Spirit) man is completely helpless and cannot achieve anything which is not sinful. It is only membership in the City of God which enables a man to be good.

There is no one who does not belong to one or other of these cities.

Those who do not worship the true God cannot be just men.

True justice does not exist other than in that Commonwealth whose Founder and Ruler is Christ.

Justice removed, what are kingdoms but great bands of robbers? What are bands of robbers themselves but little kingdoms? Without justice, the state differs from a band of robbers only in size and immunity from consequences. A state might actually originate in a gang of bandits. If by constant addition of desperate men, this scourge grows to such a size that it acquires territory, establishes a seat of government, occupies cities and subjugates peoples, it assumes the name of kingdom, not by the removal of greed but by the addition of impunity.

Who does not know that kings and princes derive their origin from men ignorant of God who, at the instigation of the devil, the prince of this world, raised themselves up above their fellows by pride, plunder, treachery, murder and every kind of crime.

The state is the institutionalisation of man’s destructive weaknesses: greed, vanity, lust for power, possession, glory. The state cannot be a moral community. It can achieve only a justice which consists not in the absence but in the mere suppression of discord.

None of this, however, is to imply that we must be hostile or opposed to the state.

Sober, Soberminded, Sobriety

Sober, Soberminded, Sobriety

1 Peter 4:7

Πάντων / δὲ τὸ / τέλος / ἤγγικεν σωφρονήσατε / οuν / καὶ / νήψατε / εἰς / προσευχάς

Pantōn / de to / telos / ēngiken
sōphronēsate / oun / kai / nēpsate / eis / proseuchas

Of all things / therefore / the end / has come near / be of sound mind / then / and / sober / for / prayers

Visų dalykų galas arti. Todėl būkite santūrūs ir blaivūs, kad galėtumėte melstis.

Впрочем близок всему конец. Итак будьте благоразумны и бодрствуйте в молитвах.

Vprochem blizok vsemu konets. Itak bud’te blagorazumny i bodrstvuyte v molitvakh.

NIV: alert and sober mind
NAS: sound judgment and sober spirit
ESV: self-controlled and sober-minded
Berean: clear-minded and sober
Contemporary: serious and sensible
NLT: earnest and disciplined
Strong’s: G4993 and G3525

to be sober, to be soberminded
safe (sound) in mind, moderate as to opinion and passion, discreet, sober, temperate, curbing one’s desires and impulses, self-controlled.
to save, keep safe from danger
the heart, the mind, the faculty of perceiving and judging, sympathy, the sensitive nature, the understanding.

sober, calm in spirit, temperate, circumspect
synonyms for circumspect: cautious, careful, guarded, watchful, alert, attentive, vigilant, leery
synonyms for leery: suspicious, distrustful

Greek adjective sophron, and its related nouns, sophrosune, sophronismos; verbs sophroneo and sophronizo; adverb sophronos, of sound mind, and sophronizo, self-controlled, moderate, discreet.

synonyms for discreet: unobtrusive, subdued, soft, restrained, gentle, sensitive.

having lost all sensitivity (Ephesians 4:19)

In some passages, the Greek verb nepho and its derivative adjective nephalios are used in the same sense. 

Ellicott, distinguishes between the two by regarding sophron as pointing to the outward exhibition of the inward virtue implied in nephalios.

(Matthew 26:36-46, Luke 21:34-36, James 5:7-11, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1-2, 1 Peter 1-5)

The Church

Greetings to you dear Church. My friend shared about our family, our life and I know that to be a Christian is not easy anywhere. To stay faithful to Christ is often harder in countries where there is much freedom and democracy. What is important is that God knows how each of us believes, how each of us walks and may the Lord help us all walk in His steps.

I was very inspired by Rasa’s prayer. She asked the Lord that God would guide us. She asked the Lord that she would walk in God’s steps. To walk in God’s steps requires us to know what are God’s steps. And today we are going to talk about the Church. How the Lord sees the Church. And we will see what the Lord longs for from the Church.

The word “church” in the Greek is “ekklesia”. Who knows where in the gospels it is written about the Church? In two places the Lord talks about the Church in the gospels. The apostles Peter and Paul write more about the Church, but Jesus only talks about the Church in two places and these are found in the Gospel of Matthew.

And the first time when Jesus spoke about the Church, the disciples did not understand the Church as we understand it today, because each one has their own understanding of the Church. For someone, the Church may be a building, for another it may be candles, for another bells, maybe for another it is worship, and for another it is simply a gathering of people. Each one has their own understanding, but the question is, what is Jesus’ understanding of His Church?

To understand this, let us look at the Gospel of Matthew chapter 16. I just mentioned that Jesus used the word Church only twice. The first is in Matthew chapter 16 verse 18. And the other place is the opposite, Matthew chapter 18, verse 17, it is easy to remember. Let us read:

Matthew 16:18
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it.

The first time you read this, it is hard to understand what it means. That is why for us to understand what Jesus means we need to read a few verses prior.

Matthew 16:13-17
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Some understand that when Jesus said, “I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it,” some think this is the Papal institution. Some people think Jesus gave this kind of supremacy to man. In reality, Jesus had something different in mind.

We know that Peter as an apostle had great authority, he preached on the day of Pentecost, he had a very strong personality, but in spite of all this it does not give him the authority to be the Founder of the Church. The Church is not held together by Peter because the church is held together by something else. The Church is held together by belief.

When Jesus talked about the Church, he talked about the faith that Peter had. That is why verse 18 can be translated, “I tell you that you are Peter,” in some translations that name Peter has the meaning of a small stone. And the next word, rock, has the idea of a large rock.

In another place where Jesus says, Peter what you have said, the faith that you have, is like a small stone in a large rock. It is sort of like he was the first Christian to know Jesus. He was the first Christian that God revealed this revelation to. Because when Simon Peter said in verse 16, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in heaven.” This understanding that you received, that Jesus is the Christ, is not to your credit. God revealed this to you. It is a revelation that God gave you. That is why you understand that I am the Christ.

That is why the Church that exists in the world, she is held together by this same belief. She is held together by the belief that Jesus is the Christ, the revelation that Jesus is the Savior. The word Christ means Savior or Messiah. So the first aspect of belief is the revelation of the identity of Jesus. The second aspect is the revelation of His Deity.

Many people have the understanding that Jesus is the Christ, but few of us have the knowledge that Jesus is God. You can go out on the streets and every sixth person in the world will claim to be a Christian. But not every one of those people can say that, Jesus is my God, I obey Him. Christianity is not just salvation, but obedience to God. Obedience to Jesus Christ as God, obedience to Jesus Christ as Lord, as Leader. Obedient to Him in your life. Therefore, Peter understood this and Jesus said on this understanding [revelation], on this belief [faith], I build My Church.

Peter had organized his group in Acts chapter one. At those times in Jerusalem to organize a party you needed to have 120 persons. When you read in Acts 1:15, it says, “the company of persons was in all about 120,” it was not by accident that Luke wrote the number of people who were gathered. It has a meaning because Peter wanted to create his own group. When I read the book of Acts I understand that the apostles did not understand everything that Jesus had said. Peter thought that he would organize these 120 people, this party of persons, and that this would be the Church. But Jesus was not speaking of this.

Jesus had something very different in mind, a holy group of people. A group of miraculous character. People coming together from all different nationalities, all sorts of people, men, women, children, all different personalities, values, all meeting in one place. It would be a miracle that people even from different classes of society would meet, rich and poor alike. It would be a supernatural group.

Jesus said there would be a group of people that would be gathered based on one revelation. And Jesus said, “I will build My Church”. He said, “I will build My Church”. Peter, you do not need to create your group. What man creates does not last long. Can you imagine for a moment that you belong to a group that at one time consisted of only 12 people? When Jesus spoke those words, Peter could not have possibly believed that from 12 individuals it would grow so much that every sixth person in the world would be a Christian.

Brothers and sisters, here is a promise. Here is a word. Jesus says, I will build My Church. It is My work. And it is My Church.

And what is the meaning of, it is My Church? The Church belongs to Jesus. Whenever something belongs to God, for instance, in the tabernacle there were certain holy objects that belonged only to God. They were His property. And that is why they were called holy.

That is why God says, they will belong to Me, they are God’s people. They will be holy. In the Old Testament, God called the nation of Israel, His own nation. He lived in the midst of that nation. He defended that nation. And He accomplished His plans through that nation.

Jesus says, this nation that I will gather and will call the Church, they will be Mine. I will be in the midst of them. This is a promise. Do you believe that Jesus is here among us today? Amen. Because He promised to always be here with us.

Not only did He promise to be present here among us, but He lives within us. Whoever felt the Holy Spirit today, knows that Jesus lives within. He/she knows that within him/her lives God. This is God’s temple. In this holy place, this Church, God lives.

In the same way, when Jesus spoke about stones, I remember another place, it is Matthew chapter 3, verse 9, you know this verse very well so I will simply read it.

Matthew 3:9
And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.

John the Baptist addressing the Jews says, do not think so highly of yourselves that your father is Abraham, because I tell you from out of these stones God can create for Himself another nation. From these stones He can create Abraham’s children.

In the Epistles we read that we are Abraham’s children. What does it mean to be the children of Abraham? God promised Abraham blessing. This blessing now belongs to us. No matter who belongs to the church, grandmas or grandpas, they are the blessed people. To them belongs the blessing. They are the heirs of the blessing promised to Abraham. And God said, those who bless you will themselves be blessed. This is the supernatural Church that we are talking about.

Furthermore, Jesus said, “I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it.” I will gather a group of people, and the gates of hell will not overcome them. Here is a question, pay attention. What position does the Church stand in? Is the Church in an offensive position, or defensive? Do the gates belong to the Church or to hell? What do you think? It is written, the gates of hell.

Sometimes we think. let us close the gates of the Church so that sinners will not come in here. But Jesus sees things completely. He says, in effect, the Church will be on the attack. The Church will advance. In retreat will be hell. On the defensive side will be hell.

She is the Church. Because Jesus is with Her. Jesus who is the Conqueror and King.

And what is hell? Hell is the place where death reigns. Hell is the place where sin is. Hell is the place where there is no hope. Hell is the place where there is no Christ. Hell is the place where Satan reigns. Hell is the place where Satan tortures people.

Do we see all the places around us where Satan is reigning? How many people are being tortured by Satan? How many people around us who are walking in sin?

Jesus is saying, I will gather My people. My people are strong and brave, and they will go into Satan’s territory and Satan cannot overcome them. The gates of hell cannot overcome them.

These people who I will be with, they will destroy those dominions.

Therefore, the Church is not only a gathering of the saints, it is the Army of Christ. And it goes into the places where Satan reigns. And it breaks the strongholds. It destroys sin. It frees the captives. It sets sinners free from their sins. See what kind of authority the Lord has given to us. In addition, verse 19.

Matthew 16:19
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

The Lord has given the Church authority. Today, the Church can bring every person to heaven. Each one of us has the power, each one of us has the ability to bring a person to heaven. The Lord has given this to us.

When a person has authority, they also have a responsibility. Authority always involves responsibility. Verse 19 has very great significance for me. God says, my dear Church, I will do nothing without You. If your friends and family around you are dying, they are dying not because I do not want them to be saved, but because you do not want to go there.

Salvation is God’s work. But God does not save without the Church. God has given us this kind of responsibility. He will not save without us. God always works through His Church. It is a great responsibility.

Today we understood that God is here among us. We receive Baptism, we receive faith in Christ, we become a new people, we belong now to the Lord. And not only do we now belong to Him, but He now leads us. He has given us authority. It remains our choice, whether we go or not.

Today are gathered such people, and in their hearts burns Love. For them it is not just anything that people are dying around them.

Let us not be people who run away from the perishing of others. Let us not allow Satan to do his work. Let us be the people who bring freedom to the captives. Let us not be shy or scared. Because in fact, Satan is the one trembling. Satan is terrified of us. Because Christ lives within us.

What happens in Lithuania is not just any other matter to me. What happens to my neighbors is not just any other matter. What happens to our nation is not just any other matter. I will not just sit with my hands folded when others are dying, when Satan is torturing others. The Church is not supposed to sit.

Today I am speaking to everyone here, to awaken you to this desire, and to this responsibility. So that we would not be indifferent to what is happening around us. May the Lord help you, may the Lord fan into flame this fire in you. That we would be not only visitors to church, but students and soldiers of Christ.

At this moment I would like to invite one such soldier of Christ, who is not afraid to go to the places where Satan is reigning, and by the will of Jesus and the power of Jesus he destroys the strongholds- Jesus destroys them, he just goes. I want to invite our brother. He will testify and witness to how God is working.

Good afternoon Christ’s Church. I’m truly blessed by that construction of God’s Church, that courageous appearance, it truly blesses the heart and encourages the heart to go and do, to put aside fear, to humble ourselves before Him who started the work, our Lord Jesus Christ.

I would like to share with you the passage that has spoken into my life now for many years. It is a passage that has the power to raise my feeble flesh that is very often afraid and does not want to do things. But these words I hear echoing nearly everyday in my heart. These words bring immense power and desire to do something, to win something, to see Christ’s victory, His glory.

And I know it will require those that do something, those that go, who stumble, who fail, but nevertheless, they go and do. Perhaps there will be many scars inflicted along the way, but I tell you, this battle is worth it, it is worth the trying to do it.

And here it is written:

Romans 10:13-15
For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on Him in Whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of Whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

And our primary Preacher is Jesus Christ, He who speaks. Today Jahangir began speaking about the Church. and indeed the word church is “ekklesia” which reveals to us the mystery, the meaning of the word is people who have been called out, people who have heard the Voice, people who have heard the Voice that others do not hear. They have heard that quiet Voice that touches their hearts, which belongs only to them, and they rise and come, and they come so that they can always get closer and hear that Voice always louder. That Voice of Love that comes from heaven and touches our heart, speaks directly to our heart, and which sounds with such immense love that it transforms people.

And I was asked to simply share some testimonies which have to do with looking at one’s life, and to share them offering them to the glory of Christ.

One time in my life while I was serving in a rehabilitation center, a person came into my life and said, “My mother-in-law is dying, she is sick with cancer.” And they said, “You talk about God’s kingdom, you talk about how God loves and heals. My wife and I want to ask you to come visit and talk to her.” This was the first invitation I received to visit a cancer hospital and I remember walking in, the large – you feel in yourself that everyone there is breathing death. Everyone is waiting for death.

That feeling is very strange. It forces you to really think, but it also forces you to really seek God’s grace. Grace for what to say. And I prayed and asked God that He would speak to me. Going in to the emergency room I saw a dying woman who must have weighed only 30 or 40 kilograms. she was a collection of bones, sunken eyes, the person is laying there without any hope. She was suffering from pain, barely speaking, laying in bed, and all cancer patients are waiting for the end.

But I know that in my heart was placed something more than that condemned word death. In my heart was placed the word Life. In my heart was placed Jesus Christ’s words, that even the one who dies, he will live, and he will live forever. And that is His victory and it belongs to Him. But from where to start? Where to start and what to say to that person?

And I asked everyone to leave the room and I simply sat beside her. And seeing her eyes, I understood that we were thinking of the same thing. And I started to speak simply telling her what had happened in my life. I told her about how in my life I had a huge guilt because of what I had done with my life. In my life was fear and shame because of how I lived my life. And I told her about how I heard about Jesus Christ who came to this earth, who taught His disciples to live differently, who taught healing, who taught principles that free a person, but it does not end there. He carried out something else.

He took a step toward death. A death for us. The innocent for the guilty.

And I knew what the woman had, she confessed that she had the same feelings and thoughts, the same fears, the same shame, and she said I have no idea what to do with it all and I am afraid to die.

And I told her in just simple words, Jesus Christ forgives you. Forgives you because of His love toward you.

There was silence. And those words began to penetrate her heart. I know that thoughts tried to explain what was happening, but those words penetrated much deeper, penetrated even to the heart. And they penetrated one time in my life.

And I felt that the atmosphere in the room began to change, I saw her eyes, she begun to cry. I saw that her cheeks began to be flushed red. Cheeks that were already blue, yellow, green, I do not know how to explain the color. And her eyes began to come to life.

And she began to repeat those same words, Jesus forgives me. Jesus forgives me. And she was crying. I cried too. Because to see those victories without tears is impossible. To see someone with joy, deep inner joy that brings tears, it’s impossible to hear when you see that faith has been born. A faith that is born that saves from death.

And you know, she asked for me to leave. She stood and went to the shower. It was her last steps on this earth. And a little of that she knew already, everyone knew. But she .. she .. to life.

The next day she died. She died but I thank God because I was sent to bring that good news. I was sent to preach God’s forgiveness, to preach His love. And that word brings life.

Another occasion. Eighteen year-old girl. We, with our family would speak about Jesus, she would come visit us, she would listen to hymns. The strongest working hymn that she would listen to was about: heaven is calling me.

She said, I feel very strange. I hear how my heart opens up to that hymn. I feel how those words pierce my heart. They knock on the door of my heart and I want to open. She would cry listening to that hymn.

After a while we learned that she was sick with cancer. And the battle began. A half-year battle. It is very painful to see a young person wither. It is painful to see a young person forced to be bedridden by illness. And I have no doubt that many young people in this land do not even stop to think of what awaits them. But that young lady was blessed, blessed with God’s voice, that voice that does not come from somewhere, but it forces one to take thought. She died after half a year.

She died. In her family there was judgments, fault-findings, they no longer wanted to hear about Jesus. Why did God not heal her, why did He not do anything. These are likely the questions that we encounter when we bring the good news. These questions are very painful, to those who pose them and those who receive them. But you know there is something deeper, that there is something inexplicable in Jesus’ love, His plans, and His plans in salvation.

And I knelt and began to pray asking, God, did you save that soul, was it enough what happened. And one day I had a phone call after that prayer, her mother called. She was crying, crying very bitterly saying, I found a note in her wallet. In the note it was written, I dream to find a boy, get married, have a family, have children, with my children to go outside, simply to run with them to play. There was no mention about work or about money, there was no mention about goals, or about things that may lure us in this world and cause us to lose our mind and our soul. But such simple things.

And further on there was this writing: But I know that my dreams will lie down with me in my coffin, and will be buried together with the coffin’s closure. I imagine reading those words as a mother. But I needed something more important. And the last words were these. Jesus, I know I am a sinner, and I ask you to save me. I think it was a ticket. I think those words opened heaven. I think the Father in heaven admired that heart that acknowledged that she needed saving, that acknowledged, Jesus as her Savior.

One more story. When I used to preach on the streets, I would travel to Vilnius station, there would be gathered there prostitutes. And I would very often travel there and talk to them, and I would often hear things that would repulse me, many things that would make it seem that the people didn’t want to receive the gospel. Many things that would seem to quench that which I was carrying in my heart.

And every time coming to the same women, I spoke telling them Jesus loves them. Change your lives. Find repentance in Jesus. Go to the house of Christ, go to Church. Let people pray for you. And this was sounded in that place, maybe not that loud, but it sounded.

And one time, one of the prostitutes came to me and said- she sent me off, she said, get lost, I don’t want to listen to you. You are leading me to the place where there is one thing, light. She understood I was leading her toward the light, She said, do you want me to one day awaken, look in the mirror, and remember all the things those men did with me. You think I can carry that? You think even one person on this earth can love me? You should say it out loud.

I said, I know who loves you. The one who loves you is Jesus. Without any conditions, He accepts you, just the way you are. And there is one other thing, I also love you. I love you. There is enough love in my heart to help you carry everything that you have experienced. I want to help you.

And she disappeared. She disappeared from that station, from that gossip. She had a whole in her back, it was large, rotting, she was suffering with AIDS, her feet were rotting, she had no teeth. And many years passed, many years, and I was driving with my friend who does the same work, who seeks to help people on the streets, learning as he goes, not everything works out all the time.

And we had arrived at an office, and we went inside, and a woman turned to me, a pregnant woman, without teeth, but in her eyes there was already a smile. She saw me, she hugged me. She thanked me. She said, I’m trying to believe what you told me. She said, I got baptized. I don’t know how it will work out. She showed me her tummy.

I believe that it will require a lot of grace but I know that He has it, Jesus, who raises people to life in His love. Only love.

And I know what we will preach. I know that the church will talk about this. I know that the church is full of love.

When I was young, I fell in love. About the woman whom I fell in love with, I told everyone about her. I distanced myself from all my friends. I didn’t need anything. I would fall asleep seeing her in my mind and I would awake seeing her. I would call her and talk with her for six hours. All this happened. All of this is familiar to me.

Today, truly this is what is expected from the Church. Real love. And to fall in love with Christ can only happen in one way. Today I asked God, what are you calling us to? God answered me: to delight in Me. To delight in Me and you.

My wish for every one of you is this, to get to know Him. Get to know Jesus, you will not be able to not admire Him.

I want to invite every one of you in a prayer. A prayer for our hearts. That there would be found there a place for others. Simply for others. If you are not against it, let us stand for prayer.

My dear Father, I thank You that You came to this earth and You loved us, that You left us with news about Your love. Through Your love for each one of us, every situation, every sin, even to one who is dead, You have what to say to them. Even there You overcome. You come to our hearts and You begin to change our life. I pray Lord that our hearts would be filled with love, Your love.

I want to truly know how You love, I want to see how You see. To see people, to see the land, to see my work, my family, my children, with the love that is from You. I want there to truly be room in our hearts for all people, who may be today drowning somewhere.

That in our hearts would be courage, words, compassion, room in our home or car, room on the telephone. That our hands would be anointed with the power to help without conditions, in every case. To help someone. To tell someone a good word. That can one day change their life.

I pray that this Church will be one that brings forth fruit. I pray Lord that You would give us courage, to speak. And anoint our words by Your Spirit. That people would be saved from their perdition. In Your Son’s name we pray. Amen.

Amy Carmichael (1867-1951)

One of the best-known and respected missionaries of the first half of the 20th century was Amy Carmichael. Her 35 books have blessed countless thousands. One who knew her well gives this testimony: “Miss Carmichael was a blessing to all who came into intimate and understanding contact with her radiant life. She was the most Christ-like character I ever met, and her life was the most fragrant, the most joyfully sacrificial that I have ever known.”

Amy Carmichael was born in 1867 into a well-to-do North Ireland Christian family. In her teen years, she was educated at a Wesleyan Methodist boarding school; and at age 13, while still in boarding school, she accepted Christ as Savior. When she was age 18, her father died, leaving the family in difficult financial circumstances as he had given a large personal loan that was not repaid. The family moved to Belfast. There she became involved in visiting in the slums, and seeing the terrible conditions under which many women and girls worked in the factories, she began a ministry with these women. It was a work based on faith alone in God, and He met the needs in most remarkable ways.

She became acquainted with the Keswick Movement, and it was there that she learned of a close, deeper walk with the Lord. One of the leaders of the Keswick Movement, Mr. Wilson, a widower, asked her to come and live in his home and be his secretary. She learned much from that employment. She remembered on one occasion at Keswick when Mr. Moody had preached and afterwards was talking with Mr. Wilson when he stopped in mid-sentence. He had just preached on the prodigal son when the father had said to the older son, “Son, thou art ever with me and all that I have is thine.” Mr. Moody said, “I never saw it before. Oh, the love of God’s love. Oh, the love. God’s love.” Tears rained down his cheeks. Amy never forgot that spiritual truth—”All that I have is thine.” It reinforced her faith that God knew her needs before she asked and wanted to supply them by faith.

She developed a good work among the women in Belfast and was then asked to have a similar ministry in Manchester. There, with her mother at her side, she developed a similar ministry among slum people and particularly the women and girls who were working under very terrible conditions in the factories.

Amy received her Macedonian call in 1892 at the age of 24; and the following year, as the first appointee of the Keswick’s missions committee, she went to Japan. But there she met with disappointments. The Japanese language seemed impossible to her, and the missionary community was not the picture of harmony she had envisioned. Likewise, her health was also a problem. After 15 months as a missionary, Amy became convinced that Japan was not where God wanted her, so without notifying the Keswick Convention, she sailed for Ceylon. She was there only a few months when she was urgently called back to England to care for Mr. Wilson, who was in critical condition.

After about one year in England, she returned to the field, this time to India. She arrived in Madras in November of 1895, a discouraged, confused, and ill young Irish woman. She was 28 years old. Soon after her arrival, she contracted dengue fever, which laid her low for a period of time. She was sent to a more healthful place to recuperate. One friend who met her said, “You look fresh as a daisy.” But Amy’s temperature was 105, and in her own words she felt “wormy.”

She saw in the community where she was that the church was very active but there were no changed lives. She detested the meetings with the other missionary ladies—drinking tea and gossiping, again showing very little concern for the eternal souls of those about them. She felt so alone. One day as she fell to her knees in dispair, a verse that she had learned long before floated into her memory: “He that trusteth in me shall never be desolate,” and she found that to be true throughout her long life of ministry in India. The following lines are so appropriate concerning the missionary community in Bangalore:

Onward Christian soldiers,

Sitting on the mats;

Nice and warm and cozy

Like little pussycats.

Onward Christian soldiers,

Oh, how brave are we,

Don’t we do our fighting

Very comfortably?

Amy just did not fit into the stiff, staid missionary community of Bangalore and subsequently went to the very south end of India to live with another missionary family. The Walkers were a godly family that really understood the Hindu religion and the tremendous need of reaching out to these debased people. For several years Amy, along with a daughter of the Walkers and several Christian Indian ladies, began an itinerant ministry through the villages in the south tip of India in the state of Tamil Nadu. They were dubbed the “starry cluster,” for the Indians recognized the sincerity and light that shown forth from them. The members of the band had no salary but looked to God to supply needs. Their attitude was “How much can I do without that I may have more to give?” It was during this period of time that she took on the habit of wearing Indian dress, which she continued throughout her lifetime.

A life-changing experience took place in 1901. A little five-year-old girl, named Pearl Eyes by Amy, was brought to her by an Indian woman. The child had been sold by the mother to the temple, and there she was being prepared and taught all the degradation of temple prostitution. Twice she had run away only to be caught, carried back, beaten, and subjected to the terrible perversion of that Hindu temple. Finally, as she was running away again at night, she met with this understanding woman who brought her to Amy, who gathered the child up into her lap and picked up the rag doll and gave it to the child to play with. It was then that she really truly understood the evil of the temple practice. Little Pearl Eyes talked freely as she played with the doll. She told Amy things that they did to her in the temple, demonstrating them using the doll. The date was March 7, 1901. Amy never forgot that day nor the child’s story. It was terrible beyond imagination. This was the beginning of her rescue of these children who had been dedicated to the temple gods.

This incident led to the founding of the Dohnavur Fellowship. Over the years literally thousands of temple children have been rescued and other ministries established there at the Dohnavur Fellowship in South India.

In 1918, they began to rescue baby boys, for they likewise were dedicated to the temple gods and goddesses. Other areas of the work over the years were added, such as hospital, schools, printing, etc. Amy was not understood by many of the missionaries in India. She was also greatly resented by the Hindu priests and was frequently taken to court on charges of being a kidnapper.

Amy was greatly influenced by the life of George Mueller and ordered her work on the same basis, never asking for financial help except as she winged her petitions to the God of all grace.

In 1931 Amy had a fall that left her an invalid for the remainder of her life, and she seldom left her bed. It was during this period of her life that she was most prolific in writing. Occasionally someone would wheel her in a type of wheelchair out onto a veranda where her children would gather outside and greet her and sing to her.

My wife had always been a great admirer of Amy Carmichael and collected most of the books that she wrote. It was a real thrill for us, while in India, to visit the Dohnavur Fellowship.

Dohnavur Fellowship is located on a large tract of land on the very southern tip of the Indian subcontinent. It is a lovely site with many tropical plants and flowering shrubs and trees. The buildings are well built in Indian style. The central building is the chapel, which is a large, lovely facility. Daily devotions are held there. There are no pews per se, but the Indians who are a part of the fellowship sit on mats, Indian style, in the main part of the auditorium. Around the periphery, there are chairs for guests that are visiting the campus. The children are housed in “family” units. Each house takes care of 8 to 10 children with a house mother living with them and supervising them. The boys’ and the girls’ sections are separate by some distance. There are very few boys anymore. That part of the ministry is virtually closed. They do have a hospital, schools, agricultural pursuits, and other facilities. The house Amy Carmichael lived in is still in good repair. It is again typical of the colonial-day housing. It has large, open doors and windows and is very comfortable. The main central room is a dining room. It was there where Amy had her meals until she was rendered bed-bound by her injury. As guests we were invited to have our meals there, served in the same room and with the same tableware that Amy used some fifty years earlier. Off the dining room was her private bedroom, which is very spacious as well. The walls are lined with shelves, and she had a fabulous missionary library. There are several smaller rooms off this bedroom, so it would be possible for her to privately counsel and deal with inquirers who came to her for help. Another door from her bedroom leads out onto a veranda that overlooks a lovely garden. We were told that every evening the children would come and greet Amy and sing to her. Her bed could be rolled out onto the veranda, and she would greet and speak with the children on those occasions. If I understood correctly, the only European who is involved in any ongoing way is a woman who is the treasurer. She cannot get a resident visa to stay full-time, but she comes on a tourist visa for three months, leaves India for a short period, and then returns again for another three-month stint. The rest of the operation is in the hands of the Indians, and they seem to be doing an outstanding job.

It’s interesting that most of the children who are there do not know their birthdates, so they reckon on the day they arrived at the Dohnavur home and call it the “coming day.” That becomes their birthday. On the coming day there is a special occasion with special treats and new clothing; and they honor the individual in some way.

Temple prostitution played a major part of Hinduism. This practice was known by the British who governed India and had been spoken against, but nothing ever happened. However, through the “campaigning” of Amy and some other concerned people, temple prostitution was banned toward the end of Amy’s life. Yet it is still practiced today, for it was never really enforced—a very horrific sexual perversion of these children, both girls and boys (more so the girls), and it is still a blight upon that great land of India.

Surrounding Amy’s house are lovely gardens. She also was quite an admirer of birds, and a number of bird baths and feeders are found in the garden around her cottage. Somewhere in the garden, in an unmarked tomb, Amy was buried. She didn’t want a marker placed over her grave. She wanted just to remain a part of the Dohnavur Fellowship.

The present superintendent of the Dohnavur Fellowship is a woman whose “coming day” was when she was five days old. All of the house mothers, likewise, grew up at the fellowship and seem to be very lovely, caring people. The present superintendent was five years old when Amy passed to her reward in 1951. From the time Amy set foot on Indian soil, she never returned to her homeland—55 years without a furlough.

Amy was very self-effacing-would never allow her photograph to be taken and never referred to herself by name or personal pronoun in her writings.

Upon a life I did not live,

Upon a death I did not die,

Another’s life, another’s death,

I stake my whole eternity.

Illuminating a Darkened World

As young chil­dren, both Ruben and Maria lived in Com­mu­nist Ro­ma­nia. Fre­quent elec­tric­ity cuts, re­stricted me­dia and food ra­tioning weren’t un­usual dur­ing this time. Lit­tle did they know that as their homes were lit by flick­er­ing can­dle lights, God was prepar­ing them to mo­bi­lize their fel­low Ro­ma­ni­ans to go and il­lu­mi­nate a dark­ened world.

Ruben Dubei grew up in Galați, a city in south­east­ern Ro­ma­nia. He went to church with his fam­ily, singing in the youth choir and per­form­ing skits and po­ems dur­ing Sun­day ser­vices. Yet Ruben’s life wasn’t what it seemed.

“When I was about 14, I also had my other life with my friends in school – go­ing to movies and miss­ing classes,” shares Ruben. “Some­times I had to hide money from my par­ents. Some­times I had to lie when they asked, ‘Where have you been?’”

When he was 16 years old, Ruben had an im­por­tant school exam that he needed to do well on. Anx­i­ety con­sumed him. In his des­per­a­tion, he bartered with God.

“I was feel­ing that God was not on my side be­cause I had this dou­ble life. So I prayed to God and said, ‘Look, God, I will stop my worldly life. Please help me with this exam, and then I will give my life to you.’”

When Ruben re­ceived con­fir­ma­tion that he had passed the test, he ful­filled his promise.

“I went to the church and pub­licly an­nounced that I would give my life to Christ. That was my turn­ing point.”

Maria was raised on a farm as one of eight chil­dren in north­west­ern Ro­ma­nia, in the re­gion of Sălaj. Each Sun­day, she at­tended church with her fam­ily, but like Ruben, her life out­side of church was much different.

“I was a bit re­bel­lious. I still prayed, but I felt like some­thing was wrong with my life,” Maria ad­mits. But when she was 17 years old, she dis­cov­ered Jesus – an en­counter she de­scribes as “some­thing deeper and more real in my life.”

In 1999, Maria be­gan at­tend­ing Union The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary (Sem­i­narul Teo­logic Unit). She be­came in­volved in a lo­cal church, serv­ing on the wor­ship team and in the chil­dren’s min­istry. Dur­ing this time, she met Ruben. Ruben was the as­sis­tant pas­tor of the church and the evan­ge­lism co­or­di­na­tor at the school. Maria and Ruben be­gan dat­ing in De­cem­ber 2000.

Be­fore they got mar­ried, Ruben read the book The Chal­lenge of Missions by Cana­dian pas­tor Os­wald Smith. In the book, Smith urged the Church to en­gage in cross-cul­tural min­istry, reach­ing out to those with­out ac­cess to or un­der­stand­ing of the Gospel.

“I felt that God was call­ing me to mis­sions,” he re­calls. “So I told God, ‘If you think I can do some­thing for mis­sions, I’m here.’ And I also shared with my Ko­rean mis­sion­ary friend about my heart and my de­sire. He said, ‘Okay, let’s pray and see how God is leading.’”

In Oc­to­ber 2001, Ruben and Maria were mar­ried and be­gan build­ing a life to­gether. A year had passed since Ruben and his friend had prayed that day. Un­ex­pect­edly, that friend ap­proached him again and asked if he and Maria were still in­ter­ested in serv­ing overseas.

“I told [him] ‘Yes, we want to go.’ And he said, ‘Okay, I know an or­ga­ni­za­tion, a big or­ga­ni­za­tion – in­ter­na­tional – that does Bible trans­la­tion. It’s called Wycliffe.’”

At that time, Wycliffe Ro­ma­nia didn’t ex­ist. So the Dubeis con­tacted Wycliffe’s Eu­rope Area of­fice. Soon af­ter they were ac­cepted into Wycliffe’s Eu­ro­pean Train­ing Pro­gram (ETP) in Eng­land. There, Ruben and Maria trained in Scrip­ture en­gage­ment, learn­ing how to en­cour­age peo­ple to use God’s Word in a mean­ing­ful way.

Ruben and Maria had their first child dur­ing the pro­gram. As they con­sid­ered where they would go af­ter ETP, they needed to ac­count for the needs of their grow­ing fam­ily as well.

“The di­rec­tor of ETP at the time said, ‘Why don’t you con­sider Africa?” Ruben says. “Three coun­tries opened up and said they would wel­come us – Uganda, Ethiopia and Ghana. Then we started pray­ing for God to close two of those doors. Fi­nally, Ghana re­mained open for us.”

The Ghana In­sti­tute of Lin­guis­tics, Lit­er­acy and Bible Trans­la­tion (GILLBT) in­vited the Dubeis to join their staff serv­ing in the north­ern re­gion of Ghana. Ruben ac­cepted a po­si­tion in Scrip­ture en­gage­ment. Mean­while Maria de­cided she would fo­cus on car­ing for their daugh­ter and sec­ond child on the way and im­prov­ing her Eng­lish. Even though Ghana has many lan­guages, Eng­lish serves as one of the lan­guages of wider communication.

Al­though the Dubeis were con­fi­dent that God was call­ing them to leave Ro­ma­nia and move to Ghana in 2005, it wasn’t an easy tran­si­tion – for them or their families.

“My mom be­came sick. She said, ‘It’s okay to go for a cou­ple months.’ But then she saw that we were not com­ing back,” says Ruben. “But af­ter a while, she got used to the idea, and then she was very sup­port­ive. Many of our friends, they also pre­ferred if we could re­main in Ro­ma­nia, but God’s call­ing is above.”

Ruben and Maria found that ad­just­ing to their new home re­quired even more re­liance on God.

“Every­thing was new. We went to church and we couldn’t un­der­stand any­thing – their Eng­lish and their way to wor­ship were very dif­fer­ent from ours,” ex­plains Maria.

Lan­guage dif­fer­ences made con­nect­ing with Ghana­ians par­tic­u­larly chal­leng­ing. “We strug­gled a bit in the be­gin­ning, es­pe­cially try­ing to com­mu­ni­cate and to ex­press what we wanted to say,” says Ruben.

Maria’s lim­ited Eng­lish knowl­edge of­ten left her feel­ing iso­lated while liv­ing in their vil­lage. “[Ruben] went to work, and I was at home with the kids all day – I couldn’t speak with any­one around.”

But as their Eng­lish skills im­proved, the Dubeis dis­cov­ered that they were able to build re­la­tion­ships with Ghana­ians much easier.

“The pos­i­tive thing was that in Ghana, peo­ple do not speak ‘high Eng­lish,’” ex­plains Ruben. “And of­ten, they were able to iden­tify with us more than peo­ple from the U.S. or Eng­land be­cause they said, ‘We can un­der­stand you bet­ter.’”

Maria even­tu­ally be­gan work­ing in GILLBT’s per­son­nel of­fice. For nine years, the Dubeis lived and worked in Ghana. God used this time to con­firm Ruben’s min­istry in Scrip­ture engagement.

“I saw the need, not only for Bible trans­la­tion, but for help­ing peo­ple know how to use the Scrip­tures. Many of the church lead­ers do not have any train­ing,” he says. “They were open and grate­ful for what­ever train­ing we could bring to help them in their min­istry of evan­ge­lism, dis­ci­ple­ship, church plant­ing, lead­er­ship training.”

God con­tin­ued to use the Dubeis in Africa. In 2014, Ruben and Maria were in­vited to work with Wycliffe South Africa. Maria con­tin­ued to serve in per­son­nel, while Ruben be­came in­volved in oral Scrip­ture trans­la­tion, of­ten trav­el­ing to Botswana to work with four lan­guage groups among the San peo­ple, also known as Bush­men.

Dur­ing their year and a half liv­ing in South Africa, it be­came even more ap­par­ent to Ruben that Bible trans­la­tion al­lows lan­guage com­mu­ni­ties to iden­tify with the God of the Bible.

“Many used to say, ‘[He] is not my god be­cause he doesn’t speak my lan­guage,’ or ‘It is not my re­li­gion be­cause it is not in my mother tongue.’ But when the Bible was trans­lated into the lo­cal lan­guage, [peo­ple are] sur­prised to learn that God can un­der­stand them. They can pray to God in their own lan­guage. And now, when they lis­ten to the Word of God in their lan­guage, they say, ‘God is speak­ing my language!’”

In 2016, the Dubeis were asked to con­sider re­turn­ing to Ro­ma­nia to take po­si­tions at the Wycliffe Ro­ma­nia home of­fice. They agreed. By Sep­tem­ber, Ruben was work­ing as the di­rec­tor of Wycliffe Ro­ma­nia and Maria as the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s per­son­nel coordinator.

“When they called us to come back to Ro­ma­nia, it was a bit dif­fi­cult for us, be­cause we re­ally liked what we did on the field,” says Maria. “But we felt that if they want us here, then we can help in some ways so that more peo­ple can go.”

As Ro­ma­ni­ans, Ruben and Maria both felt uniquely pre­pared to fol­low God’s call to Africa. They be­lieve that other Ro­ma­ni­ans are sim­i­larly equipped to serve the Lord abroad.

“Be­cause of the hard­ships dur­ing the Com­mu­nist time and the per­se­cu­tion that took place, I be­lieve our faith, as Ro­ma­ni­ans, is deeply rooted in God and in the Word of God,” says Ruben. “I see [Ro­ma­ni­ans] as faith­ful, very faithful.”

The Com­mu­nist era also em­pha­sized the im­por­tance of com­mu­nity – a con­cept that Ruben and Maria re­al­ized many Africans value, as well.

“Peo­ple have things in com­mon; they help each other, be­cause they need each other,” he says.

The Dubeis are ea­ger to share about the many roles that are needed in Bible trans­la­tion ministry.

“Bible trans­la­tion is more than trans­lat­ing the Bible,” Maria points out. “We can use everyone.”

“I be­lieve there are more re­sources in Ro­ma­nia, and the Church in Ro­ma­nia can do more,” adds Ruben. In each coun­try the Lord led them to, Ruben and Maria knew that their work was mak­ing an eter­nal im­pact. Now that they have re­turned home, their work is not done, as they en­cour­age more Ro­ma­ni­ans to en­gage in God’s mis­sion to reach every lan­guage group with his Word. God’s Word is the foun­da­tion of the Church – a strong foun­da­tion that will not be moved.

1 John 4:9-12

This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (atoning sacrifice) for our sins. Beloved, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:9-12)

Encounter with Two Monks (Myanmar)

“It’s quite frustrating that I’m not supposed to kill a mosquito sitting on my arm. Sometimes I find it difficult to control myself. And, I love to play soccer but, as monks, we are not allowed to play sports.” One day we were walking in the park near a Pagoda in Yangon when a young monk started a conversation with us. He wanted to practice his English. At some point, he began to share his troubles and frustrations over trying to keep the countless rules for Buddhist monks. In order to reach Nirvana, monks need to keep 227 rules – one of these being that they must not kill any living creature. They also must be detached from all desire. “It will be impossible for me to reach Nirvana,” he concluded. Then he asked if we were Christians. And thus God gave us an open door to share about Him. The monk, proud and confident, smiled encouragingly at me. Every morning, tourists came to his monastery to see one thousand monks receiving breakfast. He was on duty for sharing the Buddhist road to extinction with westerners. We talked a bit more, and he confided that he was superior to those villagers who donated the food today. Giving alms is just the beginning. Meditation is the true way! He meditated most of the day; at times, for months far away in the jungle. We chatted some more, and I asked him whether he thought he was close to achieving Nirvana. Silence, a sigh, and then he said softly: he would need another 1000 lives to reach that faraway goal.

Pray for this young man and other monks who are faced with their weaknesses; pray that it will urge them to start looking for the Truth.

Pray that God will bring people across their path who can share the Truth with them.

Pray that God will open their eyes and hearts to understand and believe His Word.

I trust Jesus

A young christian myanmar woman recently recounted how her Aunt was demon possessed. Violent and self-harming the family was desperate. She began visiting once a week to pray and share the word of God with her. She also helped her Aunt repeat truth from the scripture. She kept her eyes always open for fear of what her Aunt was capable of. After many weeks her Aunt spoke out of her confusion, “I trust Jesus.” Suddenly the dogs began to go wild outside. Later this woman understood why. Two days later her aunt passed away. God’s grace had protected this troubled woman until she met her savior and God’s grace remained to take her home.
Praise the Lord for the faith of this Christian woman. She has been a faithful servant within the church.
Pray for Myanmar believers strengthened in hope and confident in Christ’s power to defeat the works of the evil one.

We Want to Sacrifice

Mima’s hands grasp the grains of rice, letting it spill from her fingertips as she sets apart a portion of food for the day. The same hands rise in worship and prayer. The same hands make soap; share literature; and help the poor, the widows and orphans. The same hands tenderly care and tend for her family. In Mima’s heart rests this hope: The fruit coming from her hands is something eternal.

We Want to Sacrifice

Every Friday, Mima and other women from churches all across Myanmar meet for a day of fasting and prayer at their Women’s Fellowships. They pray for their families and lift up the needs of the local church. They read God’s Word and go out into their communities to encourage their female neighbors in the Lord. Their sole desire is to know and love the Lord more, and they have seen the Lord work powerfully.

These women find joy in sacrificing their possessions for the Lord. 2 Corinthians 8:3–5, For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.

Not Your Everyday Women

Beyond your average women’s meetings, there is something profoundly unique about this particular group of ladies. Much like the example given in Proverbs 31 in the Bible, these women stretch out their hands and resources to the poor and needy around them.

Like Mima, each woman in the fellowship raises funds for their fellowship and for the kingdom of God. They set aside a handful of rice from the daily portion they cook for their families; they make soap and sell it; and they also sell vegetables in the market. By doing so, Mima and the other Women’s Fellowship ladies sow into the kingdom and their church with the finances they raise. They are not afraid they will go hungry by their sacrifice—to them, it is a sacrifice worth giving unto the Lord.

We want to participate, we want to give, we want to sacrifice what we have, even if it is small things, Mima says. It gives us strength to give for the Lord.

Through Mima and the other women’s efforts, they are able to support three local Bible college students. Last year they were able to provide a few flood victims in their area with rice, clothes and drinks.

In my thinking, fundraising is very important, Mima says. If we don’t have funds, we cannot do any mission work or sponsor any items or activities. So fundraising is very important.

The women also help each other out with hospital bills when one of the women in their fellowship gives birth. Through their fundraising and fellowship, they have seen a strong bond of unity form among them.

Whenever we make an arrangement for fundraising, Mima says, we can have more fellowship at that time, and also we have good relationships with each other . . . also, it gives more happiness to our heart when we participate in activities.

Along with their fundraising, they remain active in sharing their personal testimonies of God’s faithfulness in their lives. For Mima, it hasn’t always been easy to share her faith. There have been times when she simply had no courage. But she would pray, and the Lord would give her strength and boldness to comfort those in need and share His love with her neighbors. Along with these house visits, Mima and some of the other women make it a point to invite women in their community to come to their prayer and worship gatherings.

Blooming and Growing in Christ

Over the course of the years, Mima has seen her Women’s Fellowship come to life. It has grown and bloomed as the women themselves grow in their fellowship and in their love for one another, for God and for others who need to know Him.

Cheerfully and willingly, Mima and the Women’s Fellowship give and make sacrifices. Their efforts have a great reward, for their eyes are fixed on eternal things as they aim to serve God in every area of their lives.

Their hands will always toil with hard work. They will sacrifice a daily meal so others may experience the Bread of Life for the first time. They have joy knowing their efforts, small or large, are making a difference. They walk together in unity and fellowship, all with one purpose in mind—to love the people around them with all they have found in the Lord.