Cote d’Ivoire

Keep praying for Cote d’Ivoire.  It doesn’t appear to be getting better.  Au contraire, it’s getting worse, much worse!  

  • Normally the world’s biggest producer and exporter of chocolate, now the export of chocolate in Cote d’Ivoire has virtually come to a standstill.  But worse that this are what the Ivorian people are experiencing.
  • Hundreds of thousands of Ivorians are fleeing their country because of all the escalating violence. 
  • Cote d’Ivoire is on the brink of civil war.  Some would say that Cote d’Ivoire is already in a civil war.  I would agree. 
  • Close to 500 recorded deaths since the presidencial election that began this mess. 
  • Now it is reported that hundreds of liberian “mercenaries” have gone on rampage of rape and looting in the region of Guiglo, in western Cote d’Ivoire.  That region of Cote d’Ivoire is a lawless zone, they say, because there are no functioning police there.
  • In Abidjan, there are homeless children between the ages of 9 and 14 who wander the street, doing what they can to survive.  Sadly, what they have lowered themselves to do is give sexual favors with adults in exchange for a couple coins, a small bit of food or a piece of new clothing.

Life is extremely hard for Ivorians.  This is probably an understatement.  Pray for Ivorians.

Pray for Ivorian Christians.  I can’t help but think that the presense of Christians in a region like this should be an encouraging things.  Life is extremely hard for Ivorian Christians as well.  And yet, God can help these Christians surmont the difficulties and their testimonies can be an encouragement to many others.

Pray for Ivorian Christians concerning the Gbagbo – Ouattara debate.  Many Christian Ivorians had the sense that Gbagbo should have won, because they believed the Ouattara supporters had made death threats and had forced people to vote for Ouattara.  Gbagbo also happens to be from a “Christian” background, as opposed to Ouattara with his Muslim background.  So it has been hard for Ivorian Christians to know what stance to take.  Even in the evangelical churches, it was not easy because church members may have differing opinions about this subject.  Even to this day, it is still not easy for Evangelical Christians.

So please pray that God give Ivorian Christians wisdom and discernment, mercy and grace.  May these Christians be united, on the same page, like-minded, having one desire :  that God have His perfect way, that His love is demonstrated to the on-looking world and that He is glorified. 

Please pray for Praise’s 40-some pastors and their families.  That God strengthen them, that God will speak Truth through them, that His Grace would flow out from their words and behavior.

Thanks for your prayers for Praise International.

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Moldovan Village Pastors in Poverty

At the end of our Moldovan Pastors Conference we prayed over each pastoral couple.

 

I was conducting a European Pastors’ Conference in Chisinau, Moldova. After our first conference, our mission team took a day-off before our second conference began. That day we visited an area about 100 miles northeast of Chisinau called Orheiul Vechi, where archeologists have excavated virtually the entire 13th century city.  

There’s an Orthodox monastery, called Mănăstire în Peşteră, which had been literally carved out of a limestone cliff by monks.   We turned off the road a bit before we arrived to get a bird’s eye view of Orheiul Vechi at this secret look-out place that our guide knew about.  It was breath-taking. 

Heading back to the car, not to far away from that vista point, we saw a dirt field where an old Moldovan farmer was cultivating the soil with a cleverly conceived make-shift, horse-drawn plow. 

This Moldovan farmer was dirt poor but very industrious. It was so interesting to talk with him.

 He was dirt poor but industrious. We stopped a few minutes to watch.  He was wearing an old sheepskin cap, a wool vest and boots. When he got close enough, we tried to communicate with him through our translator.  The farmer, Vladim, speaking Romanian with strong Russian accent, snickered when he told us that his horse was older than him.  He was a bit shy but had a great sense of humor.  Posing for a photo  with one of the ladies on our mission team, he quipped, “Don’t let my wife see this photo.”   Farmer Vladim’s circumstances are not-at-all uncharacteristic for a typical Moldovan villager.  In this extremely poor country of Moldova, the villagers are the poorest of the poor. 



 Praise International supports national pastors who live and serve the Lord in the remote and undeveloped parts of Moldova.  I met Pastor Sergiu and Tatiana Rutcovschi when they attended one of my Moldovan Pastors’ Conferences.  Praise support them in their quite remarkable ministry.  They don’t fit any stereotype that one might have of a pastor, even for Moldovans.  Born with a serious physical disability, Sergiu could have chosen to live an isolated, sedentary life.  But Sergiu chose another completely different route.  Accepting a call into full-time ministry, he moved to Chisinau, went to Bible school and became a pastor.  He got married and had children. Not only did he begin a church, he also founded the Charity Mission for Disabled of Moldova, which has grown into a nation-wide to Moldovans with all kinds of disabilities.  As if this wasn’t already enough, he solicited additional support from Praise International so he could start an Internet Café in his village.  He wanted not only to better provide for the needs of his family, but also felt that this Internet Cafe would give his church more visibility and credibility, thus more effectively reach out to folks in the community.

 

Please pray for Sergiu and Tatiana, that God strengthen them and protect them.  They have huge responsibilities.  They are allowing God to use them to the max.  In spite the extreme poverty in Moldova, in spite Sergiu’s severe physical disability, they are making a gigantic impact on Moldova for the Lord!  I think that Sergiu would agree when I say that it doesn’t matter what the disability, when we put ourselves into God’s hands, HE IS ABLE to use us.  “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13