Here's my latest newsletter. May you all have a blessed New Year. To my Russian Friends: May your Christmas Celebration bring you joy and peace.
The year 2001 has come quickly. It seems such a short time ago that we were waiting with a little apprehension for the year 2000. Most of us will remember 2000 as an outstanding year in many respects. The political systems of the world have been tested in new ways as we realize how closely we are connected to all people on the earth. Our own system was tested and found to be sound as we witnessed the most amazing transfer of power during our presidential elections this year. Many wondered if the world would ridicule our system as we seemed to be in a deadlock contest between two candidates. But, I believe the world witnessed an amazing process as the situation challenged all aspects of our democracy. The close election has highlighted many problems in our election process, but I am confident that we will work to correct the inconsistencies at our polls and that our democracy will be even more strong and fair as a result of the unprecedented challenge.
I cannot help but look back over the years past as I look forward to new adventures that wait in the new year. As you know, my heart and mind have been occupied with one general theme ever since my return from Russia. Although God has directed my path in various ways, He continually kept one primary thought in my mind and heart. That challenge has been accomplished and I now wonder what direction my focus will take as I depend upon God to lead my life in 2001.
I am led to devote this first letter of 2001 to a look back over the journey of faith God has led me since I was called home in July of 1998. I pray the journey will be interesting for you and that I am not only writing to satisfy a need within myself. As you read, may God lead you to pray for the plans God has for Yuri's ministry in Khabarovsk. May He also lead you to pray for God's revelation for your ministry in the new year.
I received a letter from Yuri which he sent through Elizabeth to share with our churches in America. It spoke of the vision God had given him for his ministry in Khabarovsk. This is the letter:
"We thank you and your church for the help you give us and for your kindness and spiritual support. When we get letters from you we are inspired and our faith grows. It is very gratifying for us to have the attention from the other side of the ocean. We would like to know more about your church.
I would like to share with you the goals of our church and the vision we received from God. I would like to start by telling you that we were praying, asking God to tell us what our church is supposed to be doing and after some time, when our church was praying, we received the desire to build a church. We thought it was going to be a small church, but God told us to build a big church- for 10,000 people. I could not believe it at the beginning. We waited for a long time thinking that maybe something would change, but nothing has changed and then I dared to ask God how I was supposed to accomplish this. After this, I waited for His reply.
One evening, two homeless men came to our church and they asked us for money to go to another city. They said that they went to many churches, but no one would help them. They were dirty and black from dust and we decided to help them. We always try to help people. We bought good food for them and fed them. We decided not to give them money but, instead, went with them to the station and bought the tickets to their destination and gave the ticket to the conductor on the train so nothing would happen to them. Money can kill a person because there are people waiting to rob them.
When we took them to the train station, we had to spend the night there. This is when the most interesting things began to happen. We had to sleep, so we lay on the benches in the waiting room of the station where there were many people. But, before I fell asleep, I opened my eyes and began to watch the people around me. There are a lot of people here that live in the train station who do not have a home. There are even whole families that live there - there are older people who spend their time in the train station and don't know how to live.
I asked God what His attitude was toward these people and I felt in my heart, God's heart breaking when he sees these people. It was an important moment. I understood that God wants us to do something. I think this was just the kind of situation where we can show hospitality to people we do not know.
In a response to that, I heard a calling from God, how we're supposed to build a big church. It's only part of the big plan. I understood that we need to build a place where we can take those people to wash them, dress them, and feed them. We can give them a chance to rest and to think so that they will realize that they are still alive. This building will also have a small church in it - I think it's going to be a small building, maybe for 40-60 people.
Some time later, I went to a hospital for babies that were abandoned by their parents and I experienced great anguish when I was watching those children. There are not enough people in this hospital to take care of the babies. As an example, babies from newborns to 1-2 years old have never been outside. So I knew we were to also do something for children. We could do some kind of shelter for children - also small for about 30 children. We have a lot of homeless children, no one needs them - just like homeless adults. There's no one else who can spend time with them. If we don't do it, no one will do it.
I began to look at the whole picture from the outside in. I understood that when we build those two houses for the homeless people and for the children, the reputation of the church will grow in the city. I believe it's going to become the key to many people's hearts. These are some of the goals of our church. "
In a friendly letter to Andrey, I mentioned an idea that had begun while I was in Khabarovsk concerning Yuri visiting America and sharing his vision for the homeless and orphaned in our churches. At this time I had been home for six months and hadn't begun to continue writing my newsletter yet. But, I knew that I was to begin writing again and that I needed to share Yuri's vision with all I knew.
I had a pancreatitis attack and ended up in the hospital. I understood why God had called me home because I would have not survived in Russia. During my recovery, God spoke to me clearly about the desire I had for Yuri to visit our country. As I shared my experience with others, my church family encouraged me to begin writing again and I shared Yuri's letter with about 400 readers.
In another letter to Andrey in answer to his reaction to my belief that Yuri would come to America, I wrote:
"As for my vision concerning Yuri and his visit to America, it is still very real in my spirit, but I don't have any details. I am sending a newsletter to about 400 Americans and many are touched by Yuri's vision for his church. Some people are sending prayers and support for his ministry and many are touched by his faith. I can only say that what seems impossible for mankind is possible for God. And so, it still seems very real to me that many people in America will help to bring Yuri here so that he can share God's message with us in our churches. God does work in mysterious ways, but He works in His own time. I only know that God has put the idea in my mind and on my heart and he will tell me what to do and when to do it. Please ask Yuri to pray about this vision of mine and let me know how he feels about it. God will also work through Yuri if this is God's will and not just my desires. Yuri will understand what I am saying. "
I received the following from Yuri through Andrey:
Dear Charlene, Hello,
"I am very grateful to you for everything you are doing for us. Thank you that your love toward us is not finished with the words only.
Today the 10th of May, the Clowns from America made a performance in our church - More than 160 children came! - I believe that this is only the beginning.
Recently, I went to a conference in Moscow and God spoke strongly in my heart. Now, I know that He has a plan to use me not only in Russia, but in all the world. It is hard to believe and imagine, but I now know that this is God's plan.
Today God began specifically to work and to tell me what is necessary for the beginning of the work with homeless and abandoned people and with children who were left by parents. I think that during 1-2 months we will start to feed people at the city's junkyard and on the streets.
At the hospital (where Olya and Lena work), the babies got sick with dysentery and one died. With money I received through Jan from your churches, our girls were checked with necessary tests and are back working with the babies.
For several nights the Holy Spirit touched me strongly and He showed me today conditions of things and what I must speak about in the churches of your country. I believe that God wants me to tell about the vision I received, the personal experience that He leads me through and finally I would accept donations using the verse from Acts 10:4. I believe that everyone who gives will testify for a long time about how God answered prayers as a result of their giving.
For any money I receive, I want to develop two services: 1. The children without parents, and 2. The homeless people.
I want to print on good paper the pictures of the people living on the junkyard and the children. There will be a strong sermon appealing to the needs of the people in our country. And I want to name the sermon this way: "Mercy is Greater than Judgement" from the scripture, James 2:13. I want the flyers to be received by 10,000 people who have two and more shirts.
I believe that in our city we will be able to find the money for building the home for the homeless and a home for the children who are wandering at the railway stations. And this will be the beginning of the growing for the Church of the Living God in Khabarovsk.
Charlene, thank you for everything. We direct money for service for the children and food for the hungry. We are well. Let God bless you and your folks."
With Love, Pastor Yuri
P.S. Charlene! I am ready to preach in 2-3 churches per day with breaks of one or two days per week.
I wrote to Andrey:
"I am beginning to think about when Yuri might come to America. I believe that God is already preparing him, his family and his congregation for the trip. So, when you see him, tell him that I am praying for God to reveal the best time for him to come. As soon as Yuri receives the confirmation from God concerning the timing, please ask him to let me know and I will begin the planning over here. "
Hello Dear Charlene,
" Please forgive me for the long silence. Thank you for your love toward us and for the work you do to help our service to exist. I am sure that God will bless you.
The main reason for my silence was the absence of any specific picture in my mind. First of all, I wouldn't like to do anything without being sure how to do God's work. Today, the picture begins to become more clear as I understand that God is beginning to work. And so, you can be sure that everything will go faster. "
Hello Dear Charlene,
"Finally, I believe the time has come to speak about the time frame of the trip to America. My silence just meant that I was waiting to hear from the Lord. It is very important for me to go in the proper time. We can plan a lot, but the last word is His. He is the first and everything else is later: countries, peoples, the whole world. If God is waiting for something, everyone must wait for it. We need to be able to wait; Jesus will consider everything and will provide. We cannot know the exact time when the hearts of people will be ready, but He knows best. I have learned that to wait for Him without looking at human feelings is true faith and the prize is His. It is for this the Lord and His Glory have come.
Yesterday was the final day of planning for the trip. My decision is after the end of September. Yesterday a pastor from Korea came and invited me to personally visit him in Korea. During my time in Korea I will spend two weeks on the prayer mountain in Seoul in fasting and prayer. Right after my return from Korea I will come to America. It seems to me that God is preparing me well for the trip. I won't be dry, but refreshed in the Lord. This is most important for me."
And so, Yuri, Jenya, Nadya, Nakita, and Losha left Khabarovsk, Russia on October 7th and arrived in Sacramento, California to begin their ministry to the churches of America. It was very exciting for me to watch God's plans unfold as each detail of the journey was accomplished in most unusual and perfect ways. I learned that indeed it was important to wait for God's timing as Yuri brought God's simple and profound message to American Christians. Although the message varied slightly as Yuri spoke to various churches and groups, the basic Scripture message for American Christians was John 10:27: Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me."
Time after time Yuri challenged American Christians to listen for the voice of Jesus. He told us that the voice of Jesus is clear and precise. He assured us that Jesus has a special path for each of us to walk and that He will lead us on that path. We don't have to guess about what God wants us to do as we serve Him. We only need to be obedient to His guidance. Yuri's prayer for American Christians is that we follow our Shepherd, Jesus.
Yes, it is a simple message and yet seemingly so difficult for American Christians to understand. I have discovered that it is very difficult to place our lives in God's hands. It is perhaps more difficult for Americans than for other Christians around the world. We are used to making our own plans and achieving our own goals. Yuri challenged us to wait and listen to the voice of Jesus as He becomes our Shepherd. It is a challenge for us all, and yet, this challenge will lead us to the most exciting, fulfilling, and rewarding experiences. Obedience leads to blessings and God wants to bless us all.
It is hard to believe the blessings I have experienced as I walked with the Lord during Yuri's time of preparation and the time of Yuri's witness to American Christians. I cannot imagine the plans God has for all who heard the simple message of obedience Yuri taught us. I have wondered what effect the words of God's servant had upon others. Recently, I am beginning to understand that the effect of God's message for us begins in our hearts. Each of us will find God's plan for our lives here in different ways. But, each of us who sincerely follow His leading will find our way. My prayer for 2001 is that you will, "hear His voice, know Him, and follow Him."
As I have focused upon Yuri's visit, I have neglected to keep you informed concerning the work of other Christians in Khabarovsk. Next time, I will focus on the continuing needs of the orphans and those working with the helpless and homeless in Khabarovsk. Your continuing support of these missions is indeed changing hearts and lives of the most needy.
As always, it is a privilege to continue to tell the story of Christ's love in Khabarovsk. Your prayers are an essential part of His plan. Some of you may be called to send your gifts to help support the ministry God is working through Yuri and through others who work in the orphanages in the city. If God is calling you to give, please make your checks payable to Fishburn UMC and send them to:
1215 Fishburn Rd.
Hershey, PA 17033
Please mark your check clearly for the ministry you are called to support. (Yuri's Vision) or (Orphans).
Thank you and may God richly bless you.
In His Love,
Andrey's web page in English: http://get.to/faith