As you know, last year the Lord directed me to give Ukrainian pastors and leaders an opportunity to rest and be refreshed. We completed our 3rd “Pastor’s Retreat” a few days ago in the city of Pavlograd. You can find the city on the map above, directly above the large number 2 and in the green, not so far from the lines of contact.
I have been in very few meetings like this: the moment you enter the building you sense the presence of God like walking through a curtain. And again, on leaving, you feel sadness at leaving that Holy presence behind. The presence of God was just that tangible.
Several of the Pastors shared with me how they had not experienced such a time of close intimacy with the Lord since they were born again. It really was a time of refreshing! There are no days off in war, and these men and women have been pouring out their lives non-stop for over a year and a half. Worship, prayer and the ministry of the Word was intense: I preached seven messages in three days on Jesus being “Far Above” all the works of darkness.
David said, “A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you.” (Psalm 91:7)
I doubt we can ever fully understand all the “why's” concerning those who have fallen left and right, but it’s clear we are to understand and participate in David’s strong spirit of faith and victory. Basically King David was saying, "somebody’s going to make it and it’s going to be me!"
As incredible as it sounds, while I was preaching on this very verse, the pastor who hosted the retreat received a phone call from a woman in his church who had just then received terrible news. Her husband had been killed fighting the Russians on the frontline. Someone dear to him had just fallen, but “it shall not come near me!” was ringing in his ears. The Scriptures are intensely relevant to all of life.
I have learned in war, how we must never falter in compassion towards those who suffer; but even more, how we must never compromise the faith of those who remain, but build them up so that they may walk in faith and victory.
Let's be brutally honest when we read Psalms 91. David was talking about war, death and destruction. He wasn't writing poetry for a summer day. Many dear to him had been killed, many he loved were lost. Can you imagine one thousand dead soldiers at your side, or ten thousand dead at your right hand? Would you still have faith to declare, "It will not come near me!"
David didn't deny the suffering of those around him, (he even kept count), but David's faith rose above it all (one could say, "Far Above") to a place of certain victory and no defeat. Can't you hear Paul saying, "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ!" (2 Corinthians 2:14)
My friends, many of these Pastors know exactly what King David was talking about and still they keep going on. One pastor excused himself early and drove back to his city because it was under attack. Just across the river stands a nuclear power plant the Russians are holding hostage with threats of detonation. From this position they drop artillery on the city nearly every day. He ran back to the battle to minister to his people as they were ministering to others.
But I should say, most of the Pastors I spent time with are near the end of any kind of supply. Money runs out, and the people have given all there is to give. It has produced an incredible level of unity for them to work together, pooling what resources they can find, but they need help.
We need to help these Pastors.
Thank you for helping these men. Thank you for empowering them. Thank you for your help in this ministry.