Israel Missions

Comforting Those Who Mourn - August 2007 - Part 3

August 20th, 2007

YHWH Is my Shepherd; I shall not lack. ‚   ‚   (Psalm 23)

My cousin Jodi passed on an interesting quote, and I in turn want to pass it on to you: "To the world you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world."  We may never know how much we touch people"s lives here on earth, but take heart to remember that The Lord may be using you in " ˜hidden" ways to truly bless others. And because of our problems with pride, it is probably better that we don"t fully see how much He"s using us! I"m reminded of Ray Boltz"s song, " ˜Thank You For Giving To The Lord." Think about it: through your prayers and support and love, you are touching many, many lives here " “ and it wouldn"t surprise me in the least that in eternity to come, you may have one who comes up to you to thank you, saying perhaps something like this: " ˜Thank you so much for praying for me! I lost my mom in the terrorist attack, though I myself survived; thank you for all the times you prayed for me, and wrote to me and reminded me I wasn"t forgotten! Jesus used those things to draw me nearer to Him, and that"s why I"m here today." ‚   ‚  

8/15/07, Wednesday: Visited w/ Atsamaz and Sima in the evening. Atsamaz’s wife and their youngest son were hostages during the terrorist attack; his wife was killed but their son (Chermen) was saved. Sima is Atsamaz’s new wife, whom he married a year and a half after the terrorist attack. I had written to them while in the US , and this was my first visit to their home. The Lord blessed us to have a nice visit, and I brought two of my CDs as well as some small things for Chermen; Atsamaz conveyed a very genuine, " ˜Thank you,’ to all who remember them. We discussed several things, and somehow the topic of death came up. I shared how I believe it must be so hard upon the Ossetian people, for theirs is in many ways a culture of death. (Here, when someone dies, there is a three day period of mourning. Then, each week, they have a sort of memorial meal. When forty days have passed, they have another sort of memorial meal gathering. One year after the person’s death, they hold a memorial/feast in remembrance of them; and people can also arbitrarily have memorial meals/feasts for their deceased loved ones at any other time. This means that the very thought and reality of death weigh so very heavily upon the Ossetian people; Atsamaz himself said that it’s rare that three days pass without some sort of funeral or observance or memorial meal in which to attend.) Atsamaz said that I was right, that these things weigh heavily upon them, and then he shared a brief story, which I couldn’t really understand due to the language barrier. As he finished the short example he put forth, his eyes were full of tears, and he said to me, "I’m sorry"  " “ he was apologetic in showing his tears to me" ¦ in this culture, it’s said that men are not to cry. Atsamaz told me about his neighbor, who lost a boy in the school massacre. His neighbor rather quietly received and buried his son’s body after the attack, but himself refuses to believe that his son is dead; he has convinced himself that the terrorists who escaped took hostages with them, and that his son was one of them. He had told people that he thought his son would be returning soon " “ but as Atsamaz and Sima noticed, it’s been close to three years already. Atsamaz’s son, Chermen, who survived the attack is away on vacation and is supposed to come back home tomorrow, so they invited me to visit tomorrow so I could meet him.

8/16/07, Thursday: No one came to English/guitar lessons today, but that was also a blessing - Yah blessed me to finish another song for the new CD today! ‚   ‚   ‚  " ¦Went and visited with Chermen and Atsamaz and Sima in the evening. Chermen is a very special kid; he’s 10, and turns 11 on 9/22. (If anyone wants to send a birthday card or gift to him, I can pass on their address to you.) Chermen especially loves soccer, and in school, he likes math. (See attached photo, which should read "only Chermen survived.") More than once during the visit, Atsamaz remarked to me that it was very interesting for Chermen that I was there, and so I thank Yah for the favor that He’s given me with them.

8/17/07, Friday: Went and visited little George and his cousins today for our English class, and I tested them on the words they’ve learned so far. (George is the boy who lost his whole family in the school massacre, though he himself survived.) His aunt made homemade pizza, and I drew some things for the kids after our English time. When I was walking home, a car pulled up to me and offered to give me a ride " “ it was a family I know here who lost a brother/uncle in the terrorist attack. They asked how everything was going, and they wanted to make sure no one was bothering me or anything here; the dad is a retired police officer, and he told me to let him know if I have any problems here. Thank You Lord for the connections! Coming back to the house, I hung out some with my neighbor (Irak) next door who’s a believer and a little younger than me " “ he played several songs he had on his cell phone, asking what the songs were about (lyrically). He, as many here are, was dismayed to know that many of the songs are just about sex or what-have-you. I lent him Flame’s new CD, "World Fallen;"  Flame is a rapper who boldly preaches Jesus Christ, and has three CDs out which have great music and awesome messages" ¦ he’s a cat who preaches Jesus boldly, and has no qualms about doing so. Amen! ‚   ‚   ‚  " ¦I made more homemade juice and jam today, since Nahzee (the grandma I live with) is away, & this will hopefully be a blessing for her.

8/18/07, Saturday: Taught English in Vladikavkz today; we’re just about finished going through Psalm 23, and The Lord has been blessing our classes as we’ve been talking about This Psalm and how it relates to us. To God’s praise, one of the brothers here shared that today’s lesson was not just an English class, but that it was "Spiritual food"  as well. ‚   ‚  " ¦Later in the evening, after returning to Bsln, I went to visit Madina (who lost her brother in the terrorist attack.) It was her birthday, and so I wanted to be sure to stop by; their family is the one that I’m closest to here in Bsln. As is custom here, people usually stand throughout the meal, saying toasts over their alcohol, and invoking the name of one of their dead " ˜saints’/gods. Some of the youth were doing this, and they turned to me and told me I had to give a toast. I don’t drink, nor of course would I invoke one of their dead idols, and so I said I’d pray instead. They were fine with that, and I prayed a prayer of blessing over Madina, and in The Name of Jesus.

8/19/07, Sunday: Met Nadia, a visiting believer who helped here for four months after the attack as a Christian counselor; she lived with Nahzee during that period. She recounted some about her time serving here, and how thick the atmosphere was; she came only three weeks after the massacre happened. She recalled going to visit people, and coffins being outside the apartments (it took several months for all the dead to be identified), as well as the very real possibility that after the 40-day mourning period there was talk of the men here attacking the neighboring republics from which the terrorists came. As Nadia recalled her time here, tears filled her eyes.

Please pray for:

  • Atsamaz, Sima, Chermen, and family to turn to Jesus;
  • God to bless Nadia for her love for the people here;
  • The new CD i’m working on, that everything will be finished and translated hopefully within a month;
  • Jesus’ help and strength to finish the things that need to be done here. (Lord willing, I’m hoping to visit the saints in Jerusalem and help some there for perhaps two or three weeks before returning to Pittsburgh in late November, which means my time here in Bsln will be finished at the end of October. I’m amazed to realize that’s only about two months away!);
  • The grieving families of Bsln. The third anniversary of the school massacre is quickly approaching (September 1-3), and so those who lost loved ones will once again be reminded of all the evil their loved ones’ suffered. For believers and unbelievers alike, this is an especially hard time of the year.

Thank you for sharing in this labor, and for being available for The Lord to use in many ways. Praise be to Our Redeemer and Shield, The Lord our God, Who has called us out of darkness and brought us into His glorious light. All the glory be unto Him!

The joy of The Lord is our strength,

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YHWH Is my Shepherd; I shall not lack.