It has been quite a long time since I have sent an update to you regarding what has been going on here in Bishkek. I have posted some pictures and small daily updates on Facebook occasionally, but I will try and be more diligent with my updates in the future. Before I get into what has been going on here I would like to thank all of you who support the work that the Lord is doing here! It is greatly appreciated. The people who give to me financially make everything that I am doing here possible, because you provide me a place to sleep and things to eat. And to everyone who is praying for the work here in Bishkek Kyrgyzstan, I can’t even describe how effective that is. I truly don’t even know all that it accomplishes. I just want to say thank you all so much for your faithful support, and will continue to appreciate that support in the future!
The first big event of the summer was having Jeremy Camp come here! Jeremy and that whole team was so incredible. His team consisted of Jeremy and his band, his father pastor Tom Camp, another pastor named Chaz, and a girl named Lika Roman from Ukraine. Lika is a former model who was named Mrs. Ukraine in I believe 2009. It was a huge blessing having them come here and bless this nation with their ministry and their main performance. For the team of missionaries here in Kyrgyzstan, we got to spend a lot of time with the team. It was awesome getting to have some great fellowship with them.
They arrived on a Monday afternoon, and we met them at a local restaurant. And at first, I’ll be honest, I was a little excited and giddy just before they got to the restaurant. Because I was finally acknowledging the fact that we would be meeting Jeremy Camp. And I was thinking, “what if he is like the stereotypical artist and is conceited and maybe a little jaded and rude?” But my jitters/mental pre-judgmentalness (not a word) was stopped quickly when Jeremy and his band and crew walked in. They were all some of the nicest dudes, and girl, that I have ever met. Jeremy walked in and started shaking all of our hands and giving us nice big hugs. I was the last one, because I didn’t want to be the first one and act all weird, haha. So he finally made his way to me, and trying to conceal my excitement in meeting Jeremy I said, “…Hey, what’s up?” in a very unenthusiastic tone, and gave him my hand to shake. He then swatted that hand away and said, “Come on brother, let’s do a hug!” So we embraced, and it was grand! Ok so once all of the intro’s were over, we sat down to order some food. I sat next to Jeremy’s father Tom, and a friend of Jeremy and Tom named, Chaz. Jeremy sat two seats away from me. Once we began talking, we all totally didn’t care that he was a famous musician. Jeremy and the whole band just became brothers and sisters in Christ. That day was one of the biggest highlights of that whole week.
Every night during their stay, we had different events at our church and one other church. Monday night we had our regular prayer night. It was quite intimidating, because our worship team played music, because Jeremy and the guys were still tired from their flight and didn’t have the strength to play. So we played worship in front of them, and it was a little stressful. Even though we knew that the worship was for the Lord and not them, it was still easy to occasionally look out and make sure they didn’t hear any mistakes. I was playing drums, like I often do here, and I dropped one of my sticks. I quickly grabbed it and was really embarrassed because, I haven’t really messed up like that since I have been here. But, of course the first time I did make a mistake it had to be when Jeremy Camp and the band was listening. I quickly looked right at their drummer named Leif, and he just smiled at me and gave me a thumbs up, and I could read his lips saying, “It’s all good, dude.”
Wednesday night Jeremy and the band led an exclusive worship night for many of the worship leaders of different churches in Kyrgyzstan to come and listen and get to ask worship related questions. Tom Camp gave a message about boldness and not having fear. Fear here is a very big issue amongst Christians, just like it is in the States. However, the fear that the people have here is a little different from the fear a lot of believers have back in the States. If we share the gospel with someone, people may say, “You’re crazy!” or maybe, “Stop talking to me.” Something to that degree. Nothing you can’t get over in five minutes. Here if people share their faith, word may get around that so and so is a Christian and to stop talking with them, and eventually they are totally avoided by just about everyone, even their families. It still is not an excuse to not share the gospel though! So the pastor here, Paul, asked if Tom would share about being bold and not having fear of man but rather fear of God. If you fear man to the point where you don’t dare share the gospel with them then that means that you do not fear God! You can only fear one thing whole heartedly.
Thursday night Jeremy and the band played a bigger concert type thing at a different church that has a much bigger stage and sanctuary. After the band played, Lika Roman gave a message/testimony to encourage young girls and even boys to not worry about their appearance to much but to find their security in God. I don’t know entirely what she spoke about as she spoke in Russian and I didn’t have a translator so I didn’t catch everything, sorry. It was a very awesome night!
Friday night we got together with the band and Lika in their hotel. We gathered in one of the upstairs rooms and got in a big circle and listened to a brief message from Tom and Jeremy Camp. Then we had a very good intercessory prayer time. It was soooo awesome!!! Another cool part about that night is that Tom Camps message was on Philippians 1:21 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Which is my life verse. We were potentially going to take a lot of heat from the government for this concert, so that’s why we were praying so intently and studied such an intense verse. We were just preparing for the potential aftermath of the concert, because Jeremy said “I’m not going to give a sugarcoated message on stage. I’m going to speak the truth!” While I had a blast having lunch with the band on Monday, Friday night was still my favorite part of that week, by far!
So during the concert, which was incredible, he spoke the truth, and as a result, the government wasn’t too happy. And we are still currently feeling pressure from the government. What I mean by pressure is that anyone who is not a Kyrgyz citizen can’t really do anything involving ministry in the church. You might be thinking, “well this is kind of a bummer,” because we can’t really do anything. However, we can see that this may be a blessing! A missionary does not intend to stay in a place forever. We will if that is the Lords calling for our life, but the goal of a missionary is to plant and establish a church in a city somewhere. Then after some time of building up locals in the church and setting them in place as the pastors and leaders, we leave an move on somewhere else. Paul gives us this example in the Bible, of going into a place, helping them get going, then leaving them in control while periodically checking in on them to see how things are coming. That’s our intent here. So by us not being able to really do any ministry, it’s kind of forcing the stronger believers in the church here to step up and give sermons and be the leaders God intends for them to be. And normally forcing someone into a situation like this if they aren’t ready would be spiritually irresponsible, however, this is all happening according to Gods timing. Maybe this is how He is going to move things along! Like one of my favorite quotes not from the Bible states, from William Shakespeare, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.”
Since VBS ended, it hasn’t been super busy here. I have been helping when I am needed, but a large part of my days the last couple weeks has been spent prayer and reading the Word. I am trying to see what God would have me do, or where God would have me go next. Still waiting to hear what the Lord wants for me to do. However in my waiting I know that God is growing me into a stronger follower of Jesus!
Coming up on August 17th our church is having a conference at Lake Issyk-kul! Lake Issyk-kul for those of you who don’t know, is one of the largest lakes in Central Asia or the Middle East. The place where we are having the conference is a beautiful place next to the mountains and alongside the beach of the lake. It will be a good time of relaxing and meditating on the Word of God and listening for His voice in our lives. We are having a few guest speakers, but I am not entirely sure who yet. I will send another update in the end of August going into detail what we learned while at the conference. Please pray that God would do a mighty work in the lives of those people from our church that actually come to the conference!
I would like to end this by asking all of you to continue giving financially and in prayer for the work that is going on here! There is some awesome stuff going on and your prayers and financial support is vital to this work continuing! Thank you all and I pray you all are having a Great summer! And I pray that you are all being bold witnesses for Christ back in the States!
For His glory!