We want to begin this newsletter with the words of the Apostle Paul recorded in Philippians 1:2-3, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I (we) thank my (our) God upon every remembrance of you.” We think of all of you as we read this verse and the ones following. What a blessing all of you are to us as you’ve stuck there with us through the past year and a half. We certainly could not have made it without your prayers and financial help. So thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts.
I know at this point in time Stuart is chomping at the bit to be out there preaching again. That is certainly the goal towards which he is working very hard. Now Stuart has undertaken his own speech therapy as he wasn’t getting much help from the therapist. He speaks every other week at the chapel service at “On With Life”, the rehab center he was at. Preparing his 15 minute sermonette takes many hours to get ready. For now he is using prepared material since he is still not able to process his own thoughts for a sermon. He does add his own practical applications. Once he has laboriously typed it out he then reads it to me two or three times in case he needs to make some corrections. He is still at the point where he has to read it word for word making sure to pronounce words correctly. I suppose if some congregation was willing to work with him he could do something like this. This practice at “On With Life” has been a great confidence builder. One of his friends from “On With Life” who also had a stroke goes with Stuart to this chapel service every week. His name is Walter. He and his wife Kathryn have become our friends. Pray that we can influence them for the Lord.
I now have the privilege of teaching a woman’s Bible class on Sunday mornings. What a joy and pleasure it is to be teaching again. We are studying the subject of God’s amazing Grace.
We still have the 3 children with us who were with us in Nikopol. The two boys Adrian and Zachary are working. Zachary hopes to start college in the Fall. Kaylona is still trying to finish up high school. Both Kaylona and Zachary are in the youth choir which they have enjoyed. The two of them are also in a band with Adrian and 4 more of their friends from church. They bless us with their playing now and then.
We just have a bit of news to share from here in case you haven’t heard. Our dear sister Nina suffered a stroke April on the same side as Stuart though not as severe. Nina is the mother of Vera the doctor who was our first convert from Nikopol. She is quite a lady who would do anything for anyone. The doctors still struggle to get her blood pressure under control. Nina loves to worry about everything which doesn’t help. She is the main reason we are planning to take a trip to Nikopol in September or October. We want to encourage her as well as the other saints there. Of course, we will also plan to visit the church in Minsk at that time. Please keep Nina in your prayers and pray that she will take her worries to the Lord.
We actually have quite a bit of new to share with you from Minsk as we had a nice long chat with Sasha. As you know the church in Minsk has been meeting in homes since they lost their meeting place 3 years ago. For some reason the government has not wanted to register them anywhere though they have tried to secure two or three places during this past 3 years. They were meeting in another church building that was quite a distance from many of the members. Now with the help of Uri, doctor Vera’s husband, they have secured permission to meet in a house for now. It is owned by another church. This is where the youth have met in the past. However, once cold weather sets in this will not work as there is no indoor plumbing or a heating system. Sasha has asked all the people in the church to help look for a place to meet. Uri will continue to help them get registered. Uri has an ex-boss who works in City Hall.
Ideally, they would still like to purchase a place which would have to be done in an individual’s name. There is still a building fund that is not large.
To help encourage one another the congregation in Minsk works with the other Church of Christ in Minsk . The youth in these two groups have met together for quite some time. Now the preachers switch between the two. They are also working in a summer Bible camp together. It has been a great encouragement to many to have the added fellowship.
Some other exciting news is the return of a brother to the congregation. Many of you might remember years ago when Oleg and his family left the church to start a church in their home. Well Andre Maletz went with him as he was close friends with Oleg. Andre said that it was immaturity on his part that caused him to leave. Now Andre has a wife Natasha and two young sons and is again helping out in the church. Andre always kept in touch with us through the years. He is now having weekly Bible studies with the two new christians we mentioned in the last newsletter. They are Uri, doctor Vera’s husband, and Sasha, Anton’s wife. Anton is Dr. Vera’s younger son.
The men in the church also meet for Bible study and prayer once a week which was initiated by Igor the other young man leading in Minsk. We are thankful to hear they are doing this as it is sure to encourage growth in the men as they labor together in the kingdom.
As we mentioned we are planning to make a trip to Minsk and Nikopol in the Fall. Kaylona will be making the trip with us. Adrian is also planning a trip around that time making his own schedule. We are really looking forward to this time so we can encourage the saints and get some teaching in. I know that I plan to share with the ladies. This will be a big undertaking for Stuart so pray for him. We miss all our brothers and sisters over there so much and long to be with them again. God willing this trip can come to pass.
Stuart and Valerie
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