Jesus Gives Us New Lives

In my afternoon class at one of the high schools in my city, one of my students is a Yazidi woman who never went to school as a child. English is the first language she has learned to read and write in. After coming to America nine years ago, she was a busy mom taking care of her family and also working. Last week, she shared with me her regret about not having learned more English by now.

My response was, “You were a busy mom taking care of your family and also working. You are a good student. I am happy you are in my class.” Then we talked about the difference between opportunity and ability. She did not have the opportunity to go to school as a child in Iraq and she did not have the opportunity before now to go to an English class here. We talked about how she has the ability to learn, but did not have the opportunity before, however, now she has the opportunity to learn.

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She has a new life in America with new opportunities she would not have had in her home country. She is learning to read and write in English and seeing her children grow up without living under oppresion.

When I think about 2 Corinthians 5:17, I think about the new life Jesus has given me.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,ย the new creationย has come:ย The old has gone, the new is here!ย 

My old life is behind me and only the memories of it connect me to it. Jesus has not only changed me as a person, but he has completely changed my life. I would have never imagined so thoroughly enjoying getting to know people from all over the world living in my city. I would have never imagined learning to greet people in thirty languages, visiting refugees in their homes, and the wonderful opportunities to share the love of Jesus with people from diverse cultures.

Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves and the changes he brings into our lives bring us to a greater sense of fulfillment than we could have imagined.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Saturday With My Ukrainian Friends & Thank You!!!

This morning when I arrived at House of Prayer Ukrainian Church, the pastor was smiling and said, “Matt we have boxes for you.” All of the items I listed on my Amazon Wish List for the class were purchased and sent. A BIG THANK YOU to those who donated items from my wish list!!!

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Before we studied together, I shared with them that Jesus was a refugee during the first years of his earthly life, so Jesus understands being a refugee.

We had twenty this week including a married couple who came here in July. The wife already knows where stores like T.J. Maxx and Marshalls are. I looked at the husband, smiled, and said, “I’m sorry.” He laughed.

We will add a second class Friday afternoons with a focus on the young people ages 17 to 25. The reason is so I can mentor them as they prepare for college and careers here.

Two of the items on my wish list were packages of different snacks. They were a big hit with the children. It is great to have whole families coming on Saturdays together to learn.

How is your Saturday?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

How You Can Join with Me in Helping Ukrainian Refugees in My City

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.

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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

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Wonderful Time With My Ukrainian Friends

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.

How is your Saturday?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Friday Kind of Vibe

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.

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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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Why She Cried In My Sunday Morning Group

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.

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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.

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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.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

My First Saturday with Ukrainian Friends

It was my privilege to meet ten refugees from Ukraine yesterday during our first Saturday together. It was more of a time of letting them get to know me and assessing their English levels, so I can plan our future lessons. It was good to see them laugh as we studied.

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Of the ten, five were from one family. The family has two daughters and one son. The two daughters are 20 and 19. One of them completed two years in a university in Ukraine in psychology. The other one had just graduated high school a few months ago. I encouraged them that their dreams are not over and that with Jesus they can have a good future here.

The family just came here on Labor Day, five days before I met them. Realizing that, I asked the twelve year old son if he was nervous about starting school here. He nodded his head yes. I encouraged him that the teachers are nice and will understand he is learning English. We talked about how he can learn step by step.

Before we ended, one of the men said we should pray, so I asked him to pray for us. It was the perfect way to end our lass time. I am looking forward to this new adventure with my Ukrainian friends. The class would not have happened if I had not gotten a new to me vehicle Thursday.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Prayers Were Needed/Prayers Were Answered

About a month ago, I shared a post- Prayers Needed that was about an email I received letting me know my current position would not have enough hours to keep my benefits and then my van died beyond repair. The past four weeks have been a valley time.

This week in a span of two days, it turned around. On Thursday thanks to generous donors, I bought a Hyundai Tuscon. Then yesterday I found out I did not get the position I applied for but my hours were expanded so I can keep my benefits. Even better, my current position pays two dollars an hour more and is what I actually enjoy doing. I had only applied for the position to keep benefits.

As Christians we are not immune to life’s problems, but how we handle them can be a testimony. If we give things to God and seek him through the down times, God works through us.

I am grateful I had more time with my friend Luis from El Salvador. He gave me rides home on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and rides to church on Sundays. Because of the extra time, he opened up about what happened to him in El Salvador when a drug gang tried to force him to join. That led to sharing about how Jesus understands trauma. That is one example from the past four weeks.

But now it is on to new adventures like the English conversation group that is starting at the Ukrainian church today. We will have many Saturdays together of having lessons and sharing life. I love helping refugees with their new lives in America and this group will be at a church that will share Jesus with them.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Saturdays Just Got More Fulfilling- My Ukrainian Friends

What I am writing about today reflects how much the Lord has changed my heart over the years. I used to be such a diehard college football fan that I not only made sure to watch my team every Saturday in the fall, but would also watch other games. I planned my weekends in the fall around college football. My favorite team went from being one of the dominant teams to a team struggling just to have a winning season.

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As that happened, my ministry with refugees and immigrants began to take off. Over the years before COVID shutdown, that included many cultures. Returning from COVID shutdown, I began to focus on Hispanics because I speak Spanish and have ideas for possible future ministry. However, that is on Sunday morning.

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Beginning Saturday September 10th, I will be going to a Ukrainian church I helped in the past to provide English Conversation practice for the new Ukrainian refugees in my city. I am looking forward to meeting with them, helping them with English, and having it connected with a church that shares Jesus and the gospel. I won’t plan anything else on Saturdays except to meet with my friend to practice Spanish and be flexible for other opportunities..

My Saturdays are about to become much more interesting. ๐Ÿ™‚

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

How I Got Started in My Ministry/My Go Fund Me

In October 1999, I was in Bucharest Romania talking with a missionary about connecting with people through teaching ESL-English Second Language. It was during that conversation that I felt led to pursue experience in teaching ESL though at the time, it was with the thought of returning to Romania full-time.

In March 2000, I had a training for teaching ESL with our local Literacy Council. I told them they could fill my mornings because I worked evenings. Within a month, I had 10 students I met with as a volunteer. That led to the Literacy Council hiring me in July 2000, which in turn led to the opportunity to teach for our local Community College in July 2001.

I was having fun exploring the many diverse cultures in my city when in 2002 while in prayer, Jesus reminded me he had a purpose for me in teaching ESL. That led to starting my first group at my church in May 2002, God opened so many doors of opportunity and blessed the work so much that my ministry went from an initial reaction of, “do we need that,” to “you can’t leave for Romania because look at what God is doing.”

I was doing ministry on my income as a part-time ESL Instructor piecing together various part-time teaching gigs and happy to do so because of what God had called me to when in 2008 my church began to support me with a monthly check. It is not a huge amount but has helped me make ends meet.

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Chronic illness got much worse about ten years ago. In the past five years, I have spent enough on doctors that I could have bought a new car.

That is my back story as to where I am today and why I started my Go Fund Me to get a different vehicle. Gary is a blogger who has been encouraging me in my endeavor. He wrote about in his post- Limited Time Offer. Please check out his post and blog.

My Go Fund Me link is- Home Missionary and Teacher Needs A Vehicle.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.