It is exciting for me to be able to help Ukrainian Refugees in my city. This will be at least a one year endeavor of blessings for me.
I arranged for a young woman from my church who is a paramedic to come next Saturday to meet a young woman from Ukraine that was a paramedic there. It ties in with a theme I have with new refugees who are high school or college age-“You Dreams Are Not Over.”
If you would like to be a part of my ministry with Ukrainian Refugees, there are two ways.
PRAYER- Please pray for me for wisdom, energy, and empowerment by the Lord. Please pray for the new refugees I meet from Ukraine for their new lives here and for open hearts to hear about Jesus.
Another way you can be involved is my Amazon Wish List. The name is Matt’s Ukrainian Ministry. I have set it up for all items to be delivered directly to House of Prayer here in Lincoln NE. I will update the list as needs arise, but have the initial items needed on the list now. The link- Matt’s Ukrainian Ministry. Shipping Address- Matt/House of Prayer Church 1333 Morton St. Lincoln NE 68521
Image by LEEROY Agency from Pixabay Photographs won’t tell the whole story Behind smiles can lay trials Hidden crimes Served time And broken dreams. Photographs won’t show you the heartache Sharp focus is hocus pocus Where truth lies Behind twinkling eyes And well pressed seams. However, photographs never tell us the ending They don’t predict […]
My Saturday morning group grew to 15 people this week including a 90 year old great grandmother. We had a fun time studying together. It is such a blessing to see people ,who suffered loss during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, smiling and laughing during class. The morning also had a few other blessings.
One is depicted by the picture. A woman was teaching cooking for Middle School age kids in their church. After my class, I went upstairs and followed the pleasing aroma of food being cooked to the kitchen. She blessed me with not one, but two omelets. I won’t need to eat the rest of the day. When I say omelet, I mean ultimate omelet. It had diced peppers, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, diced potatoes, and cheese.
My translator for today was the 17 year old son of one of the pastors. We had a deep conversation about living with chronic illness. He had surgery for Crohn’s Disease a few months ago. We talked about how God can take our suffering, if we give it to him, and work through us to bless others as 2nd Corinthians 1:3-4 says:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
Now I am sitting in the coffee shop, drinking coffee and giving the two omelets a chance to digest before I go to the Latino Festival.
Having survived my first full week of teaching, five mornings, three afternoons, and four evenings, when I arrived at the school for my morning class, I walked around saying, “Friday. Coffee,” to the amusement of my colleagues. Why do I have such a schedule?
Teaching ESL is my springboard into meeting people from diverse cultures. It is a patchwork of part-time teaching gigs, not a get rich deal, but it has allowed me to be known among the many people groups living in my city. It has opened many doors of opportunities to share Jesus with the world.
So Friday afternoon is here and guess where I am. If you said the coffee shop, aka my office, you were correct. It is time to wind down, refresh, and get ready for weekend ministry. Tomorrow morning will be my time with my Ukrainian friends. Then I will go to our annual Latino Festival in the park. Sunday morning will be church and my time with my Hispanic friends in my Sunday morning group.
God has connected me with some new Yazidi friends from Iraq. My city is home to the largest number of Yazidi people in North America. They were oppressed in Iraq due to not being part of the majority religion. One of the first things I tell Yazidi friends is how much I love having Yazidi students. I might also happen to mention how much I love their food. 🙂
Before I came to the coffee shop, I did something for me. Now that I have reliable transportation, I joined the one fitness place that has an aqua track in my city. Aqua tracks are great for people with arthritis. My schedule will allow me to go there four or five times a week.
But now I am in my coffee shop, my coffee mug is full and so are my heart and soul. How is your Friday?
My favorite song is My Prayer For You by Alisa Turner. She has suffered terribly from Lyme Disease for years. While she was doing better, she recorded her album Miracle or Not that my favorite song is on. It is the only CD I play in my car. There have been times that I repeatedly play My Prayer for You on days that are rougher for me living with chronic illness.
I first heard My Prayer for You after I was diagnosed with Celiacs and had to deal with all that included. No offense intended to anyone with Celiacs, but for me it has paled in comparison to Psoriatic Arthritis. When asked by a doctor about my pain levels, I always answer something like- a 5 to 6 on a good day. Then if asked how many good days I have, my answer is about half the time. That means at least half of my life is spent with days that pain ranges anywhere from a 7 to 9. I also have those days that it is a full blown ten.
That is why My Prayer For You is playing so much in my car, The lyrics, written by someone who suffers from a chronic illness, speak to me. Lyrics like:
For anyone who’s prayed a thousand prayers And still can’t find the answer anywhere Fighting off the lie that no one cares For anyone who’s out there losing hope Feeling you’re forsaken and alone Clinging to the last strands of your rope
May God give you eyes to see, He’s still greater Courage to rise and believe He’s able May God be your peace in the fire you’re walking through This is my prayer now This is my prayer for you
So when I saw her post about her need for medical treatments and her current struggles, it hit home for me. Please pray for her. After watching her video about needing medical treatments, watch My Prayer For You. You will be glad you did.
Even though there are difficulties in this life, we still have reason to celebrate because God is on the throne. Jesus is on his throne in heaven and his resurrection has guaranteed a place in heaven for us. In Isaiah 61:3 we read:
and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
The context is about the Messiah, Jesus, bringing salvation and restoring us to what God has created us for, which is eternal relationship with him.
So while yes in this life we have problems, difficulties, sickness, we can take heart because of Jesus and our eternal destiny as Jesus said in John 16:33″
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
It is good for us to celebrate that truth. I love this video by We The Kingdom because it shows God’s people celebrating in his presence. We can have the garment of praise instead of despair because of Jesus.
A curiosity to me is a choice I have seen some young women make when it comes to hair coloring. I am not referring to purple, green, red etc. The choices that are curious to me are gray and white. Each time I see a young woman who colors her hair gray or white, I feel like saying, “why hurry about that?” The time will come when it happens naturally but then perhaps they will color their hair a different color. 🙂
I joke with my students that I color my beard white to look older because I am young and want them to respect me as a teacher. I don’t think anyone has believed me yet.
In recent years, I have come to appreciate what God said in Isaiah 46:4
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
In the summer of 2020 during the pandemic, classes I had taught for twenty years were canceled abruptly with no notice. I would have to wait until the fall to start with different classes. It meant my main source of income for the summer was gone with no chance to line up anything due to the pandemic. But God took care of it through his people sending money anonymously. That lasted during the three months of lost income and more than made up for the lost income.
Last month when my van died and I was not sure how I would get a vehicle, it was through God’s people being generous that last week I was able to buy my car. It is perfect for my needs being easier to get in and out of as someone living with psoriatic arthritis would want.
By the way, the color of my car is fitting for my topic today. It is gray. 🙂
Whatever age we are, we can look to Jesus for help.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2
Some years ago, a well meaning person at church asked a friend of mine from another country, “How does it feel to be in America?” The person was smiling and his question showed he thought it was better for my friend to be here. While it is true that I love living in my home city, having traveled on missions trips has shown there are good things in many countries. But the main thing is what feels like home. Imagine not being safe in your home country anymore and having to leave family, friends, and the culture you know and love.
That was the experience of my friend from Venezuela. She comes to my Sunday morning group. She is a single mom with a thirteen year old son. She works hard in a factory job to provide for her and her son and send money home to her parents in Venezuela.
She left Venezuela because of the brutal dictatorship. Under Chavez, Venezuela went from being one of the wealthiest countries in South America to people not having enough food to eat. She left her family and everything that was familiar to her to come here for safety and her son’s future one year ago.
It has not been an easy year for her and she longs to meet other people from Venezuela. We do not have a large number of Venezuelans living in my city. We have many from other Spanish speaking countries.
Sunday morning we had three new guests come to my group, three young men from Venezuela. We practiced English, prayed, and then Samuel from Honduras sang a few worship songs in Spanish. As he was singing the second song, my friend from Venezuela teared up. She was overcome with mixed emotions. The song touched her soul. She was grateful to meet other Venezuelans. But she also missed her home-Venezuela.
After we finished singing, she came over to me. I stood up and she cried in my arms. Then she went and got hugs from our three guests. I reassured her that Jesus is with her and that she is safe here. Please pray for her.
John 14:27-“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do no be afraid.”
The peace that only Jesus can give is peace in our souls, hearts, and minds no matter what our circumstances are in life. Jesus does not give a temporary peace like the world does. He does not give it and take it away like the world does. The peace Jesus gives is eternally secure in him.
Any difficulty we experience in this life, we can know that Jesus will be with us every step of the way.