Romanian Pastor with a Heart for the Lost

Pastor Ion and Elena Vasile are sponsored by Praise International.  Ion has such a heart for the lost, a great vision for reaching his region, his country and beyond for Christ.  We has see people come to know the Lord and discipled them.  He has trained many young pastor who go out, win souls and start new churches.

Could you pray for an evangelistic event that they are planning for February 27.  They will call it the Pizza Night!  Members of his church will invite friends and family members who are NOT Christians.  Pastor Ion asks us to pray that God prepare them so they will be ready to open up their hearts to receive the Lord.

One of the pastoral couples that Pastor Ion and Elena have impacted is Marian and Coco Jipa. 

They have a small church that they started.  They start churches in Romania, as in many countries, by meeting in homes and inviting neighbors and friends into their homes.  Pastor Marian presently has 3 new home groups.  Pray for the young Christians in these house churches and for the non-saved people who attend.

The Jipas have a wonderful kids ministry.  I love to do camps for reaching kids.  They are organizing a camp right now and have 21 kids signed up to attend.  Pray for them as they run this camp and share the Lord with these children.

They want to start a mandolin orchestra for children.  They are giving mandolin lessons children right now.  Isn’t that a creative idea?  I’d love to hear this mandolin orchestra!

They are having car problems.  The have an old van that they use to pick people up and bring them to church and other meetings.  Presently they can’t use the van because they need to pay $420 for some taxes on the van.  The van also has need of some repairs.  I have driven on Romania roads many many times.  The roads are often full of potholes.  Often out in the back country, most of the roads are dirt and gravel with deep holes.  Vehicles get a lot of  wear and tear.  Please pray for this need concerning their priniciple vehicle.  It is essential for their ministry.

Would you pray that the Lord bless and encourage them.  The work is difficult.  Pastor Marian says that he wants to get more involved in missions and social outreach.  I’m thinking: isn’t he already very, very busy winning souls?  He says that there are so much pain and suffering around him, who need support and comfort.  What a heart Marian and Coco have for hurting needy people.  Pray for their ministry.


Compassion for the Poor

It’s a blessing to work at Praise International.  Every day I am reminded of how God works through these men of God, serving God faithfully in such difficult circumstances. 
It gives me pause. We have it so good here in the United States. It’s so easy to take it all for granted. This morning I read chapters Proverbs 18-21. There was a lot of encouraging things in there.  Concerning my work at Praise International, a couple principles caught my attention.
Proverbs 19:17 is the Praise International theme verse. 
“One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD
and He will repay him for his good deed.”
Wow! Showing compassion to the needy is like lending to Jehovah!!! Being merciful toward those in difficulty, as our Father in heaven is merciful, is an investment into God’s Treasuries. It has Eternal Dividends. That’s incredible!!! Praise International does this in regards to materially poor pastors and their families in impoverished countries of the world. I’m sure each of us can think of ways to personally apply this principle.
Another verse this morning was Proverbs 21:17a. 
“He who loves pleasure will become a poor man.”
Ouch! Loving pleasure brings neediness? I felt defensive. I don’t consider myself materialistic. Yet I do like things and activities that give pleasure. Is that wrong? I love and serve the Lord! Is enjoying pleasurable things really going to leave me wanting? … wanting, wanting.  Oops!  The word “wanting” ricocheted inside my cranium. It’s so easy to always want more, isn’t it?  To NEVER have enough, to never be really satisfied.
It reminded me of a conversation that I had with Samy, a young Romanian pastor and his wife, Tatiana, during a mission trip.
Samy spoke broken English.  Making conversation I asked, “What do you and Tatiana do for entertainment?”
Samy replied, “What is that word, entertainment?”
“Well, when you and Tatiana are tired and you want to do something fun. What do you do for fun?”
“What is that word, fun?”
“Well, it is something to do that gives you pleasure.” 
Before Samy answered that question, I knew what his response would be and wondered why in the world I had asked those questions.
“What is that word, pleasure?”
It dawned on me. Samy and Tatiana, like most pastors in these extremely poor countries, don’t have the notion we Americans have: “Now let’s stop [fill in the blank] for a while, relax and have some FUN.” After that rather awkward conversation, I was actually concerned that I had inadvertently injected a “pleasure drug” into Samy’s mind.
My devotions time was a warning: Don’t pendulum swing between lover of work and lover of pleasure, rather be a lover of God. Also, Don’t assume that people who have all the material things they “need” are better off than the materially poor people who supposedly “need” to have material things. 
Kandee and I are full-time missionaries with Praise International and we live solely on charitable donations.  Even though the monthly donations we have are not what we felt we needed, we must remind ourselves that God’s definition of need is much different than ours.
See what you think of this.  I think that our greatest need before God is to:
1) stop regularly and worship at Jesus’ feet, as Mary did …and all these things shall l be added to us; and
2) go and proclaim the good news to the poor, liberty to the captives, sight to the blind, and deliverance to the oppressed, as Jesus did …and we will receive Eternal Dividends. 

Thanks for your prayers for my wife and me.  More importantly, remember to pray for Pastor Samy and other Romanian pastors, also for all pastors who serve the Lord in impoverished countries, in difficult and often dangerous situations.

Persecuted Pastors in India

It seems like we hear more and more of the political unrest in countries across the world.  How many countries of Africa are in the news right now with alarming political circumstances?  Egypt, Tunisia, Somalia, Ivory Coast, Sudan, Gabon. Why am I even trying to list them?  There are too many.  Then in other parts of the world, there is Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, etc. Again, the list goes on and on.  Think about how a country’s political unrest affects the citizens?  How does it affect the national pastors and their congregations.  These people desperately need our encouragement.  That’s what Praise International aims to do.

Take India for example.  Last week India’s Supreme Court rejected bail for Manoj Pradhan, the Hindu nationalist State Legislator in the Orissa district.  He was convicted of playing a “major role” in the murder of Parikhita Nayak, a Christian Indian.  

You may remember the tragic attacks of Christian Indian that happened two years ago. During those attacks about 600 villages were ransacked, about 5,600 houses looted and burned, more than 100 people were killed, including women, children, handicapped and the elderly, many others were victims of rape and other sexual assaults. Some 300 churches and 13 educational institutions were destroyed. Some 54,000 Christians were left homeless.

Pastor Anil is a Country Leader for Praise International in India.

Praise International assists a great deal of pastors in India. Pastor Anil Landge, one of Praise Internationals country leaders, told us recently that there is still a “state of lawlessness and utter fear” among Christians in India.  This is two years later!  They are still traumatized by those acts of violent discrimination.  Pastor Landge says that the persecution of Christians is still happening.  Many businesses owned by Christians have been boycotted. Some Christians are barred from drawing water from the public well. Christians are sometimes publically ridiculed. The police may pull someone over and charge him a fine for no reason except that he is a Christian. Christian cannot trust the police and local authorities.  Instead of righting the wrongs, they condone and even promote the wrongs.  [Contrast this with the Indian human rights organization that is presently protesting the abuse of terrorist prisoners.]

Please pray for Indian Christians. Pray for Indian pastors.  Pray for the national pastors who are supported by Praise International.

Thousands Protests in Egypt … and Ivory Coast

Egyptians are in protest against their president, Hosni Mubarak, in rule since the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981.  Pray for Egypt. Pray for a peaceful solution with no blood shed, or with the very least blood shed possible.

The solution is not that obvious. Electing a new president seems like the best of all solutions.  However, it would all depends who becomes the new president.  

There is a small, yet just the same, significant amount Christians in Egypt, as I wrote about in another PRAISE-worthy News blog, Copts Killed in Egypt.  The Coptic Church represents as many 8-20% percent of the Egypt populations. Some of the revolting Egyptians are Christians.  [1] [2] [3] The Muslim Brotherhood has also been involved in these massive protests.  If these protests dp bring down Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood may be the biggest winners.
Pray for all of the people in Egypt. Pray for the Christians.  It started out as a peaceful protest.  Now things are getting violent and out of hand.  Pray for a peaceful solution. 
And while you’re at it keep praying for the difficult political problem in Ivory Coast, a similar problem.  Laurent Gbagbo is still holding out.  Things don’t seem to be any better.  Maybe things are even a bit worse.

Last week the African Union discussed the problem and decided to make another diplomatic effort.  They are setting up a “high level panel” consisting of African heads of states.  Jean Ping, head of the African Union, said, “The winner of the election is clearly Ouattara, but we need to find a peaceful, negociated, political solution.”  Maybe he is envisioning some form of “bilateral” solution … or a share of power? Would do you think? How would this work?

Keep praying for Ivorians.  Pray for peace between opposing factions, between Muslims and Christians, between the north and the south.   A civil war would be terrible.  Pray for Joseph and Cristine Oulai, who lead Praise International in Ivory Coast and pray for all of the national pastors whose ministry we facilitate.
Praise assists Pastor Albert and Marguarite Kouassi as they serve the Lord in Ivory Coast.