$50,000 for Bethel House!

From Lindsay:

The primary ministry the Lord has called me to in Ukraine is helping Dad & Mom with their ministry house, Bethel House.  I was 14 years old when God first gave them the vision for this house in 1996.  I was still living with Dad & Mom when the property was purchased in 2003.  I was here for the joyous moment when the foundation for the expansion of the house was laid in 2006.  Bethel House’s ministry is simple – be a blessing – to the Jew first, and also the Gentile.  The vision of this house has been a big part of my life and yet, that is not why I am here.  Through the years, I was excited to see what God was doing with Dad & Mom’s ministry; I was simply along for the ride as their daughter.

Then, I had the opportunity to go to a YWAM School of Jewish Studies at the end of 2006.  It was there that God birthed in my heart a greater personal love for Israel and a deeper understanding of my call, as a follower of God, to bless Israel.  I felt a greater excitement for the ministry of Bethel House, but it was still just Dad & Mom’s ministry.

It was right as Bethel House began to be built that God called me to Nashville in 2007.  I watched from the other side of the world as God slowly, but surely, continued to build Bethel House.  After living in Nashville for 3 years, God called me back to Ukraine, and I said “yes”, but asked, “What will I do there?”  He said, “Bethel House.”  My joy could not have been more complete, as I returned to Ukraine, not to help my parents because I was their daughter, but to be part of a ministry that was actively seeking to bless Israel, because God had placed that in my heart and called me to join them.

For nearly 2 years, I have primed, painted, lacquered, nailed, scrubbed, cleaned, gardened, cooked, and done all kinds of other work.  I have enjoyed the opportunity of using my hands to help Bethel House become a reality; I have enjoyed serving in many different ministries at Living Word Church.  Yet, through it all, I have anxiously waited for the day when the Lord will complete the house, and looked forward to the actual ministry beginning, hoping that God would still have me here at that time to be a part of maintaining a house that blesses people – especially, the Jewish people.

That day seems closer than ever, with the incredible news that Blessing Ministry has been approved for a $25,000 matching grant for Bethel House.  Before Dad & Mom could even start sharing this news extensively, the Lord had already provided $15,525 towards the grant!  Once they raise the full $25,000 (only $9,475 remaining), there is a foundation that will match every dollar!  So much can be accomplished with $50,000, and Bethel House will be close to completion.  If you would be willing to help them reach this goal, I would be so grateful.  Information on tax-deductible donations can be found at http://blessingministry.wordpress.com/support-2/.  Thank you so much for your consideration of partnering with Blessing Ministry.

The Lord is at work in Ukraine and I am blessed to be a part of it.  Thank you for your love & care for my sisters & I as we are here.  The Lord is faithful!

For His glory,
Lindsay

My heart is a squash. (from bria)

Yesterday, while working in the garden, I went over to tend to the squash patch that I’d planted, and what did I see?

Little squash seedlings trying to push their way out of the dirt to freedom.  My first instinct was to brush the dirt away and make it easier for them, but immediately I remembered hearing once that part of what makes a plant strong & able to survive the elements above-ground, is the battle it has to go through first, underground.  The more it pushes its way up through the dirt to freedom, the deeper its roots push down into the earth, making it all the stronger.  And, like He does every time we work in the garden, God gave me a heart lesson right then & there, with our little squash plants.  For a long time, my heart has been battling some really hard stuff.  It hasn’t been easy, and I don’t know how many times I’ve cried out, “God, where are You?  Help!  Please!”.  And He showed me that my heart is the squash, and He is the gardener.  He sees me trying to push through the dirt, and He wants to help me, just like I want to help those little plants.  But He knows that if my heart will just keep fighting and pushing that dirt away, I’ll emerge above-ground all the stronger.  Stronger than I can even imagine I could be.  So, in His great love, He leaves the dirt there.  He doesn’t brush it away for me.  And maybe, like I did with the squash plants, He even piles on just a tiny bit more so I’ll come through just that much stronger.  It doesn’t feel like love at the time.  At least, not the watered-down, warm-fuzzies kind of love that we think we want.  But it is Love.  It’s the pure, I’ll-do-what’s-best-for-you-even-if-it-hurts-Me, unfailing Love of the Lord.  And just like with the little plants – even though I wouldn’t brush away the dirt to make their way easier, they couldn’t see it but I was pulling away all of the weeds around them, making sure that nothing would choke them, or block their way, or destroy them while they’re pushing through.

He has buried me in a dark place…
…He has rolled me in the dust.
…The thought of my suffering and
homelessness
is bitter beyond words.
I will never forget this awful time,…
…Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is His faithfulness;
His mercies begin afresh each morning…

…no one is abandoned
by the Lord forever.
Though He brings grief, He also shows
compassion
because of the greatness of His unfailing
Love.

-Lamentations 3

Lessons from the Garden

From Lindsay:

Our family may have lived in a village for over 8 years, but before that, it was all city.  We are city people who love the village life and have bravely ventured into the world of gardening for the last 3 summers.  We figure it out as we go along and do the best we can.  Occasionally, our village neighbors step in to let us know how wrong we’re doing it. 🙂  Such was the case recently, when a neighbor came along as we labored in our large field garden.  The areas we had already planted looked so nice, and she agreed they did, but then whipped out her special garden tool and informed us this was what we needed to be using.  She demonstrated how to use the horseshoe-looking metal thing on a stick to go deep into the ground and pull out the roots of the weeds.  We were told that to not use this tool to get out the roots meant that we would never be able to control the weeds in the garden, as they would pop up constantly all over.  It’s true, too – we still remember well our battle with weeds last year (thankfully, though, God blessed us in our ignorance and we had a great harvest).  Now we’re not ignorant, though.  We know what needs to be done and we must do it.  We borrowed her tool for the rest of that morning to give it a try and thought we were going to die!  She had informed us that she could do our entire plot (small, compared to theirs!) in a single day.  Unlike her, though, we have not been doing this kind of gardening since we were 5, so we didn’t have quite the success she would have had.  After a mere 30 minutes and a tiny fraction of ground done, I could go no more.  With every swing of that tool, my back screamed and my arms threatened to fall off.  It was hard work, but it was clear how necessary it was for a successful garden – the weeds that were coming out by the root were proof of that.  These field weeds here are insane – one root has dozens of shoots coming off of it that grow really long through the ground and send up weeds all over the place.  We found a similar, more modern version of this tool and bought some for ourselves to continue this long, hard process.  With some serious determination and commitment to get out there and do the hard work, we are going to do our best to have another successful garden.

As we worked in the garden with these weeding tools, the Lord began to show us a spiritual application.  How many weeds do we have in our lives – sins, bad habits, old issues, things that hold us back, things that choke out the good, things that just shouldn’t be there?  How often do we do the work of planting good seeds in our spirits, only to bypass the really hard work of rooting out the weeds that will interfere with our growth?  How often, when the weeds get in the way, do we simply chop off the heads sticking up, only to have them pop back up, because we still refuse to get down to the root?

I have continued to reflect on these things as I have pounded away at this physical dirt, pulling out these physical weeds, and these are some of the thoughts that have swirled through my head:

*The weed roots in our spirits have dozens of shoots, too – the longer we continue to leave that root, the more shoots will keep growing off of it, causing little weeds to pop up all over the place.

*The work of rooting out these weeds completely is HARD!  It hurts, it’s not pretty, it’s not fun.  It is completely necessary for us to be successful in bearing fruit!  It takes a commitment and determination right from the start that we will stick with it, no matter what, and see it through to the end.

*We give up far too easily!  We will hit a wall, where we think there is absolutely no way we can continue.  It’s surprising how much further you can go, if you push through that wall.  The Lord told Paul, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)  It is only when we can’t go on that we can receive the blessing of truly experiencing the Lord’s strength.  If we let Him, He will bring us through!

*Rooting out weeds is exhausting and frustrating.  You stare at a bunch of dirt for hours on end, keeping a keen eye out for the bad.  Dig, find the root, pull it, toss it, repeat.  It can get depressing!  However, the Lord, in His grace, has surrounded us with the beauty of His love!  Sometimes, all you need to keep pushing on a little further is to move your gaze – straighten up, stretch, and look around at the beauty.

The beauty seen from our garden

*Don’t try to call the weed a good plant; it doesn’t work!  The Bible is pretty clear, if we let it be, on the fruitful things that will bring a harvest, and the weed-things that never will!  Getting all wishy-washy and trying to explain away the weeds as fruitful plants might make you feel better, but will never allow you to walk in victory and bear fruit.

*Don’t forget the sunscreen!  You go after those weeds and the enemy will use anything he can to try and stop you.  The last thing he wants is for you to walk in victory.  Make sure you put on the full armor of God (Eph. 6:13-17) before you start to battle the weeds.

*Use the right tool!  We’ve been discovering that the wrong tool in the garden just makes that much more work for you, leading to that much more frustration.  Without the right tool, you either have to work harder to dig deep enough, or you just hack the root up as you dig deep and have to search that much harder to find all the little pieces.  With the right tool, you get deep quick and easily pull out the whole root in one piece.  The only tool we’re given in our armor is our sword – the word of God!  No matter what the weed looks like, the root is always a lie.  We get the root out by using God’s word, which is always truth!

The weapon of our physical weed warfare

*Don’t pressure yourself into getting it all done in one go.  Accept that this is a lifelong battle.  You’re not going to get all the weeds out by the root at one time, nor are you going to get all the roots out and be done.  New things will take root and there will be new weeds.  Celebrate the victories as the roots come out and keep praying – “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Ps. 139:23-24)  The original Hebrew word for “search” is “khakar” and partly means “to penetrate”.  So, let’s ask Him to search us – to penetrate and get down to the root.

A pile of victories!

As I have realized the determination I need to commit myself to the garden this spring & chosen to make that commitment, I have been committing myself to this life-long process with the Lord.  I want to be a Jesus follower that is never content to take the easy way out and just chop the weed heads down, but a Jesus follower that is constantly digging deep to find the roots, that I might walk in freedom and bear much fruit!

All for His glory in Ukraine & the world,
Lindsay

Going Forth

Classes are officially over! It’s so hard to believe that it’s already over and we only have one month of outreach left. It feels like just yesterday I was arriving in Cyprus. I won’t have internet access until I get home in mid-June, so this will be my last blog post until then.

Wave After Wave
This past week we had a couple of days in worship, where we literally experienced wave after wave of God’s presence. On Thursday, we reached the ‘end’ a number of times, and then someone would get another new revelation, and it would start all over again. God began to speak about restoration at one point and His desire to restore. As we cried out for God to bring restoration in our own lives, in the lives of our family and friends back home, we found ourselves again surrounded by His presence, unable to leave the room. Just when we would think we could move on to the next ‘scheduled’ thing for the day, we would get hit by another wave. We literally lingered in His presence all morning. By the time we got up to leave the room, we saw we had missed morning class time and it was already lunch time! You could feel God’s pleasure that morning as He encountered us, His children. We know that He is filling us up to be able to pour it all back out on outreach.

Going Forth in Abundance
One thing we prayed for that morning, was that God would provide the remaining funds needed for student and staff outreach fees to be paid for. We had one student and a number of staff who still needed finances for the trip. As we prayed for the bare minimum needed, we felt faith growing to ask God for above and beyond what we needed. As our leader so well put it, “Only in an atmosphere of faith can your need grow larger. I needed less before we started praying!” When we gathered the next day, we saw our faith answered – overnight the final student received all his funds, a few of the staff received their finances, and the group as a whole had received $10,000 to be applied to anyone who still needed finances!!! It is amazing what happens when we step out in faith. We so strongly feel God leading us to go into Ethiopia in abundance, not just for us personally, but to bless Ethiopia. We have received so many donations of clothes and toys from churches here on the Island, and even a local toy store donated over $100 worth of toys! We are so excited to go and bless the people of Ethiopia, the children in the orphanages, the poor who come to the feeding center, and the Jewish community who are treated as outcasts.

Gift of Faith
I have felt strongly this past week to ask God for a greater gift of faith. As I began to ask God in worship one day for this gift, I was suddenly reminded of times I have had faith for things that didn’t end up happening. I was suddenly faced with the reality that, to grow in faith means stepping out in opportunities that require greater faith. Was I ready for that?! Yes! I believe our time in Ethiopia will be a time of growing in that gift, but I know that it will come through times of believing for some impossible things. I am so excited for it though! God is changing my heart, giving me a new desire for the impossible – not just for the ‘excitement’ of it, but for the faith it will build in me, and for the love it will show to others. I so desire to see the people of Ethiopia encounter God’s love for them, to know that He is passionate about them. I am praying, continuing to ask God to increase my compassion and love for the people we will encounter. I am really believing that God will give me His eyes and His heart on this trip, to see people as He sees them and to feel as He feels. How can that lead to any other response but love? I want to feel what God feels when He looks at them, and respond how He would respond – by showing them His love.

Many blessings from Cyprus,
Krista

Abundance

The final week of class has begun. It’s so crazy to realize that I’ll be home in a month and a half! But, I’m not there yet, and I’m so excited for this last week and the upcoming month of outreach. I know that God still has a lot in store for me. This past Sunday, we had another Streams in the Desert gathering in town. These gatherings are designed to bring together the body of Christ on the Island for a night of worship and teaching. It is incredible to see how much has changed since Gateways began these gatherings. So many people come from various churches on the Island, and it’s such a beautiful time to gather and worship our God together. Usually the Streams events are held in hotels, as was the case last night. As we interceded for the meeting before it began, we noticed a young hotel worker watching us. Then, as the worship began, he approached some of the staff and asked them who we were and what was going on. He shared how he had been in church before, but he’d never seen or felt anything like this. He then stated, “Whatever it is that you have, I want it!” Right there, he accepted Jesus as his savior! What a night of rejoicing it was! God is truly at work here in Cyprus, and we are expectant for even more in Ethiopia.

Three years ago when I first went to Ethiopia, I met a guy named Lazarus. He had throat cancer, we prayed for him, but nothing happened right away. We were still believing for his healing, when a week later we met him and he testified that his cancer was gone! Last week God brought him back to my mind. I am believing this year to see more ‘Lazarus’s’ who will both physically and spiritually be healed and raised out of their graves. We are also believing for a blessing of abundance on this trip – in every area where abundance can be applied. We’re believing for financial abundance for those still needing funds, and also financial abundance to bless the people of Ethiopia. We have already received over 15 bags worth of donations, as well as financial donations to take with us. If you would like to donate towards buying items that will bless the Ethiopian people, donations can still be sent until May 4th (online donations only). You can donate by going to: http://www.gatewaysbeyond.org/donate.php  Please specify donations for Ethiopia 2012 Aid.

We serve such an incredible God and I am so thankful for all that He has done in my life and all that He is still going to do in the future. Never do I regret giving my life to serve Him. He is so worth every minute, every breath, every ounce of energy. To think back to where He has brought me from, I am filled with gratitude, awe, and praise. Yes, there are sacrifices involved and difficult times mixed in with the good, but He is there through it all. He is so good!

Blessings from Cyprus, Krista