Thursday, July 28, 2011

Al Jeffery Fike

Al Fike and I go back many years to when I was pastoring at Pine Level Baptist Church in Greene County, Ms. Al is from Leakesville and, while attending William Carey College, led the music for a revival or two I preached during those days of the mid- 1970's.

Since that time Al, who now lives in the DFW Metroplex, has developed a reputation as a Christian Comedian with a message. Recently he published a devotional book on Proverbs entitled The Ultimate Self-Help Book: 31 Days in Proverbs. If you're looking for a gift book for a friend, or enemy, this is an excellent idea.

Al will be at FBC, Brandon, Ms on Thursday, August 26 & Saturday August 28. If you'd like to have your laugh muscles excercised, plan to catch him. Great, clean entertainment.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Day Two of Ministry in Ukraine--Sunday

Both of the teams have National church members trained in evangelism who are doing an outstanding job of touching each person who comes onto the grounds. I am able to preach to small groups a couple times per day, and my interpreter and I share with individuals, however, the bulk of the heavy lifting as far as evangelism is accomplished by those national church members.

More than 150 have already prayed to receive Jesus as Lord. Please pray that they will be become genuine disciples of Christ. We fully understand that many who pray are simply making the first step toward God without fully being converted. Pray that they will understand their lostness and cry out for mercy to the God of Mercy.

Day Two, Sunday, found us at another location setting up for the clinics. Most churches in this area are converted houses. They usually have a small courtyard and several outbuildings, as well as outdoor toilets.

Fruit trees are in abundance in this area. Apricots, grapes, apples, peaches, and pears are readily available. This year the trees are bearing in such abundance that many bushels simply fall to the ground ruin.

Two of our interpreters: The lady assists the medical team, and the man, Sergei, is my interpreter in evangelism.

A Nurse Practitioner and her interpreter are set up to deal with people. Each day the set up is different and unique, because no two buildings are exactly alike. At times the set up is out of doors.

Two Doctors interview and examine patients with the help of an interpreter. They often sit at these tables for hours on end, seeing as many as 130 patients together in a day.

The Pastor receives New Testament tapes and players for those whose disability prevents reading Scripture

The two photos below are of part of the team gathered for Sunday Night Worship. After some choruses and testimonies, I preached from the Book of Joel.

This is an outdoor cafe on the hotel grounds where Kenny Pogue and I sat to drink a cool refreshing bottle of water and coke.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day One of Ministry in Ukraine--Saturday

After breakfast on Saturday, we boarded two buses for our assigned destinations. The first day always requires the loading of the buses which takes a little longer than the rest of the days.

Arrival at our assigned church means unloading several suitcases loaded with glasses and medical equipment. While the team is unloading and setting up, Sergei, my Interpreter, and I gathered those early arrivals and shared a brief message with them. The setup takes about thirty minutes.

A sign announcing the clinics was posted on the street adjacent to the church where we met. This particular church is pretty new and the building is new also. The courtyard is filled with colorful roses and flowers of many varieties. The well manicured gardens obviously require a great deal of time.

Lines formed quickly after registration and soon the medical team was very busy with their assigned duties.

The inside of the clinic became a veritable beehive of activity. Each person has an assigned responsibility and in many instances they have served for several years and know the routine quite well. So what looks like pandemonium is actually only organized chaos. :-)

Dr. Danny Clifton is working with a patient with the help of an assistant and an interpreter.

This lovely young lady has an 18 month old child, but she has been widowed for more than a year now. Her in-laws are active participants in the local church. Pray that God will send a Godly man across her path to help her raise her child in a Christlike environment.

I was blessed to have the opportunity to present two sets of tapes for the blind with players to the Pastor of the church. I pray that God uses them to help seeing impaired individuals hear and understand His Word.

After loading the bus, the entire team met for a group photo before leaving for the day.

The Russian Orthodox Church remains the dominant religious affiliation in Ukraine, even though the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was organized following the dissolution of the Soviet Empire. Evangelicals remain a small minority of the population.

Kenny Pogue from Collinsville, Mississippi led us in a devotional time following our meal Saturday Night.

Friday, July 15, 2011

We've Arrived in Ukraine

We're here in the hotel in a city in Ukraine which is translated "Crooked Horn." It is 12:43 AM Saturday Morning here, and it is 4:43 PM Friday at home.

I'm looking forward to a few hours sleep before we start out in the morning at 8:00. Our bus ride to our city from the airport was over six hours long. The bus was actually too small to accommodate all the luggage we have because of the glasses.

We encountered the typical shakedown at the customs entry and had to pay duty on the used glasses we brought in. That just goes to show that government is really never interested in the welfare of its citizens. People who cannot afford glasses will soon be able to read and see clearly, but the government must have its pound of flesh. We are thankful for the safety so far on the trip. In the thirty-six hours since I left home Thursday Morning, much has happened.

The most frustrating thing was the failure of my phone. However, I ran the battery completely down and recharged it and now it works.
The rural area we're traveling through is heavily dependent upon agriculture. The wheat fields are a variety which is smaller that what we're accustomed to, but there are miles and miles of wheat.

The second most important crop appears to be sunflowers. The sunflower fields rival the wheat for volume of acres planted and harvested.

Nearly every home seems to have a garden and the people rely on those gardens for feeding the families during the long winter months. Many homes also have a cow and some pigs. Beef is said not to be as accessible to the typical family, and pork is an important staple of their diet.

Modernization has been slow to come to the Ukraine, but now automobile travel is greatly enhanced by the new gas stations and service centers popping up along the major highways.

After finally arriving at our city, we enjoyed a meal prepared by one of the local churches. Here part of the team is digging in.

Please continue to pray for us as we seek to honor Christ by being useful instruments in His hands to be used by His glory this week.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Second Leg of the Journey to the Ukraine

Diane and I were up late Wednesday Night packing my stuff for the Ukraine Trip. We were up before 4:00 AM & I left out at 4:30 to meet with the team at Park Place Baptist Church in Pearl, Ms.

7:30 AM check in at Jackson International, then extended wait until liftoff at 9:30.

Enjoyed the trip had a great seat companion who, as a Nurse Practitioner, has been on several mission trips but this is her first to the Ukraine.

Upon arrival in Houston, I received a call from a young man who had lived with us in Korea. He now lives in New York and seems in the process of allowing God to turn his life around. He always had great potential, but we just were never able to help him fully recognize that potential. It was very encouraging to have him contact me after all these years. I pray God will bring about the opportunity for us to renew our relationship.

I met two young women from Brazil in the airport at Houston, sisters traveling to Mexico. I pray God keeps them safe as they seem unconcerned about the dangers of young women traveling unescorted in that lawless area.

I met a woman from Bosnia who now lives in Utah with her two sons. I pray God sends someone across her path to show her just how much God loves her.

My iphone is on the blink. The light barely comes on, and I can barely read the numbers or the applications. This has happened before, but it cleared up right away. Pray that I'll be able to get it straightened out.

Tomorrow is the forty-fifth anniversary of our wedding. Pray for Diane and for me as we're apart during this time. We once were on a mission trip together to Brazil on our anniversary, but this is a real challenge.

Pray for the team that we'll appropriate every opportunity to share Christ in effective ways to receptive hearts.

We're about to board.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Peparing to Prepare

We leave Thursday Morning from Jackson, Ms for the mission trip to The Ukraine and I'm trying to get ready. My passport has been recovered from the deep and mysterious recesses of oblivion where it has been hiding during these many months of inactivity.

Diane has purchased a new suitcase for me. We have absolutely no idea what happened to the last one purchased for me. After all, we have slept several times since its last use. It is certainly exactly what I shall need with sturdy wheels to bounce along steps and across grated passageways. Pockets galore to allow inquisitive minds ample opportunity to investigate the contents during various stages of transport, and a convenient carrying handle, I think is perfect for tying my camera case to.

But Alas!! The clothes fairy has yet to fill the empty case with that for which it was intended. I'm sure there is a better way to do all this. For fireworks, I simply keep a tote bag full of stuff to put on, and I usually keep it in my truck. But this is different. I certainly don't want to go through Homeland Security's anxious gatekeepers smelling of gunpowder. No, I must neatly arrange clothing suitable for a culture with which I'm totally unfamiliar, for about ten days. Thankfully, God's perfect plan can be carried out by imperfect packers, and He will make the best of my bungled attempts.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Archusa Water Park near Quitman, Mississippi is a beautiful setting for Saturday Evening Fireworks. The exotically named Archusa Creek which feeds the reservoir conjures images of past civilizations gathered around campfires as it winds its way through the rural East Central Mississippi landscape.

On this, the second day of July, the deceptively serene landscape is but prelude to the roiling boisterous Independence Day Celebration observed annually at the park. Looking Northwest one could hardly believe the restful quiet will soon be shattered by three inch titanium salutes wound tight enough to startle the most hardy of those early occupants of this land as they explode in thousands of tiny stars three hundred plus feet in the sky.

As the Sun sets in the West excitement builds in the gathering crowd. Children and adults, men and women share in the anticipation of the upcoming show. They have little understanding of the time and energy expended to plan, organize, and shoot this eleven to twelve minute show. They only know that the brightly colored stars and loud explosions bring energy and pleasure even during the dreary economic times they face.

As the crowd, of several thousand, continues to gather; even the threat of rain is no deterrent to their enjoyment. The band two hundred yards away fills the air with music to stir the patriotic fervor and add a distinctive Clarke County flavor to the festivities. The enticing aroma of hamburgers grilling in the shelter manned by the local volunteer fire department permeates the area as it wafts on gentle breezes throughout the park. The set up complete, all simply await full darkness AND...