“He has shown you, oh man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you,
But to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
A Place of Refuge
“In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge.
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death.”
“When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him”.
In such a time as this, when we are assaulted from all directions by troubling news and all sorts of new sources of danger and countless reasons to fret and worry, our only place of refuge is found in the TRUTH forever steadfast and unshakable: „the fear of the Lord is a source of life”.
Any other kind of „fear” that may attempt to trouble our hearts, is nothing but a permanent source of turmoil, torment, and inner struggle, and is only meant to steal our inner peace, our faith in a God who is sovereign and in full control, and to deprive us of the fruit we could have brought forth for the Kingdom and His glory.
My exhortation for all of us today is that we would earnestly seek to live the remainder of our days of pilgrimage here on earth in the holy fear of the Lord, walking in Truth, holiness, and purity of heart, fully aware that it is to Him alone – who is „ a consuming fire” – that we must give an account of ourselves, before the judgment seat of Christ.
To be that very place of refuge for helpless souls in times of adversity is also the calling of the “Shelter for Women and their Children- survivors of gender-based violence” that I am in charge of, here in the Middle East.
In this „corner of the world” and this ministry, nothing truly is predictable or monotonous. Every day brings with it the unexpected, often accompanied by trials, challenges, and difficulties. However, at times, the Lord surprises us with lovely gifts as well, some of them presenting themselves at a first glance in some crumpled and rather discolored wrappings.
STORIES FROM BEHIND THE VEIL
One such surprises is the unexpected arrival of Miriam at our center, a 14-year-old adolescent and the younger sister of Esther- an extraordinary young lady with a traumatic past, who was beautifully transformed by the Lord during her time at our Shelter, as I mentioned in my previous letters as well.
As for Miriam- she shares the same tragic story of physical abuse, exploitation and suffering at the hand of her alcoholic father, from a very young age. Robed in her black “abaiya” from top to bottom from the age of 12, forced to take care of her younger siblings, day and night, isolated from the rest of the world and prevented from even getting to know her grandparents, Miriam had now become a recluse, while the only friend that seemed to still care about her was an old ragged teddy bear.
„You are a witch… a lunatic… obstinate, just like your older sister…” heavy words invading her mind day and night, without ceasing, while the brutal lashes of her father’s belt kept tearing into her body…
Finally, after another fit of rage and an attempt by her father to strangle her, the young adolescent finds herself thrown, once again, in the street (however this time for good), without a penny in her pocket, shaking with terror, but treasuring tight in her hand the small piece of paper on which she had hastily scribbled the phone number of her sister- the only hope she had left in this world…
„Get away from here… and may Allah curse you, and make you fall into the hands of an evil man to rape you on the road, you wicked girl!” … were the tormenting words uttered by her very own mother, as she pushed her out of the door…. words that kept echoing over and over again in Miriam’s anguished mind.
After several months of care under the roof of our Shelter and many prayers for deliverance (sadly, Miriam’s grandmother -from her father’s side- has been heavily involved in the occult and we quickly realized that Miriam was possessed by evil spirits), Miriam has begun to slowly bloom like a fragrant flower, and we have now witnessed the Holy Spirit penetrating her inner being with much gentleness, as softly as a morning sun beam…
After having appealed in Court through the help of a partnering legal rights organization, the Lord made it possible for us to receive protection orders against the father for both sisters, as well as the legal custody of Miriam, who is still a minor.
It surely was a very intense time for us, as the father, along with some acquaintances of his (affiliated to an extremist group) kept making threatening phone calls to the older sister, and to some of our church friends… but God is the One who fought for us and protected us during this entire nightmare!
I am truly grateful to the Lord for this victory, and how He orchestrated for me to get in touch with this international organization of lawyers, that we collaborate so well with, and which helped us free of charge! It is encouraging to see how ethically and fervently they fight for the human rights of the most vulnerable, who experience injustice due to gender-based violence, in a country that suffers from so much corruption on all levels! We already have appealed to them for legal assistance for several others from our beneficiaries, and are waiting for God to intervene in their case as well.
Another praise report is that in February we managed to move out from our old transitional apartment to a better and more quiet area. This time we expanded our capacity by renting two apartments instead of one. The landlord- a sweet old man in his nineties- was so touched to hear about our ministry and was glad to sign a lease contract for 3 years, at a fixed very reasonable rate. This is a great blessing to us, taking into consideration that the country is going through an unprecedented economic crisis, the cost of living is exorbitantly high, and the government recently approved for all businesses to post their prices directly in US dollars from now on.
To our great sorrow, but to her greatest gain, our dearest Mama J., the founder of our organization passed on into eternity during the month of March, after many years of physical suffering… The Lord gave me the strength and the right words to give a tribute speech at her funeral service, in honor of her amazing life and legacy of unshakeable faith and sacrificial love.
Having been named by God “a warrior in the vanguard of God’s army in the Middle East” in a prophetic word she had received many years ago, she truly lived her entire life with eyes for eternity. God used her in extraordinary ways here on earth and only eternity will truly reveal the extent of her impact for the Kingdom.
It was an absolute honor and blessing for me to sit at her feet these past 3 years, drawing wisdom from her, praying, and connecting with her in heart and spirit, in inexplicable ways. And something even more humbling for me to comprehend, is that I was the one chosen by God to receive her “mantle” and the privilege of being entrusted with the responsibility of her precious ministry, for which she had fought and toiled so hard, all these years.
Lately, I have been truly blessed to see how my connection with Mary (Mama J’s beloved disciple and the spiritual mother of our Shelter) has strengthened even more, as we are both mourning together and leaning on each other in profound ways.
We would like to appeal for prayer support for all our beneficiaries, who are in various stages of rehabilitation and who need a special touch from the Lord… we are truly encouraged to see His hand at work among them, and we rejoice for each little sign of progress in their life, no matter how insignificant it may appear.
Also, we ask for your prayer support for our entire team, that the Lord will keep us united in love, close to His heart, and fervently serving Him for the expansion of His Kingdom!
Truly, the last few months have been so intense for us, and we have all experienced unprecedented opposition from the evil one, who came to attack us like a roaring lion from various directions „coming in like a flood”, especially after two of our beneficiaries were delivered from evil spirits and accepted the Lord during the last two months. Unfortunately, demonic possession is something very often encountered here in the Middle East, considering the fact that many followers of Islam are involved in witchcraft and other similar practices.
Here are just a few examples of these attacks: right after the deliverance of one of these beneficiaries, we’ve had a fire break out in one of the stoves of our transitional apartments- which was put out by some neighbors only seconds before the fire reached the butane gas tank which could have caused a major explosion!
Also, right after Miriam got delivered as well and received the Lord in her heart during a church prayer meeting when several of our “little prayer warrior beneficiaries” surrounded her and strongly interceded for her deliverance, our UPS unit (the inverter) burned up and left us without electricity in the main shelter for two weeks.
A week ago, the electrician installed a brand-new system we had bought, with 4 new batteries, which somehow still simply refuse to be working properly without any plausible explanation… so, we have been left in the dark for 14 days now and still waiting for a solution. Since the government electricity only comes randomly for two hours once a day, or even every two days, it has been a challenge for our electrician to time his coming in such a way to be able to check the system and find the problem while charging from the gov. electricity.
Besides that, Mary- who was very instrumental in praying for these women, has also had constant problems in her apartment (water pipes leaking down through their neighbor’s apartment – who have been harassing them constantly, yelling at them to solve the issue). Even though several plumbers have come to fix, no one seems to find the cause. When she eventually called another plumber to come (a fellow believer), he ended up getting a bad hand injury at work, on the same day he was supposed to go fix their water leak.
Moreover, God protected Mary and her husband Rony from a sure accident a couple days ago, when a car came from nowhere heading full speed right towards them, and somehow last minute, they do not know how, it swerved and prevented the impact just inches away!!
I, myself have been struggling for the last two days with a very debilitating bout of vertigo that installed itself suddenly, after having attended a prayer meeting on Friday.
We thank the Lord for the full support of our local church community and its pastor, who have been on our side and are very instrumental in the discipleship of our born-again beneficiaries who love to attend church three times a week. Glory to God who is fighting our battles and helps us remain overcomers through it all!
It was special for me to be able to take a much-needed break and spend Easter with my family in Romania. I thoroughly reveled in seeing the joy my little 9-month-old nephew, baby Lucas, brings to the whole family… God is truly faithful in HIs promises!
In closing, I would like to ask the Lord to continue to touch you all in a special way with His grace and mercy, dearest friends and supporters of the ministry! May the Lord continue to be your refuge at all times, and reward you abundantly for the extraordinary way in which you stand by me in the ministry here in the Middle East, through your encouraging messages, faithful prayers and generous financial gifts!
From a grateful heart,