'Jamin (say ‘Benjamin’ but drop the ‘Ben’) and Emily are leading in the Caucasus region of Russia. Ashley (in the Latvala family pic) is the Women’s Coordinator and Joyelle is the team princess.
Before he graduated from Washington, 'Jamin stinted two years among the Buyrats in Ulan-Ude while Ashley was on a team in EA under Matt and Krista Mikalatos. Emily, who is in her 2nd year as Co-Leader of the STINT team, also co-led the 2nd ever summer project to K-town between her Junior and Senior year at CU. (For a good laugh, check out Emily's new hairstyle.)
Their team works with not only Russian students but students from over all over the Caucasus. In fact, there over 50 people groups in the Caucasus and the mothers and fathers and grandfathers and grandmothers pray to Allah every day that their son or daughter can go to a prestigious university like the one on which they serve. So we have this short time while they are students... and are taken out of their Muslim republic where there is so much pressure to conform... to reach them with the Gospel in hopes that they will take it with them when they return home!
'Jamin, Emily and their team have begun to designate Thursday nights specifically for targeting students from these minority groups. They are trusting God for persons of peace like this gal from this certain people group that 'Jamin met while visiting a friend in the dorms.
"She just knows everyone!" Emily said. "We asked her if she would be interested in bringing over some of her I. (abbreviated for security sake) friends and we could have a cultural dinner exchange. While we were hanging out with her she got on the phone right then and there and started to call her I. friends and invite them! So as of now we're scheduled to have a bunch of I. people over Thursday night! (tomorrow - Nov 30th) It's going to be a night of I. and American food! I. and American dancing! And hopefully and night of sharing our I. and American faiths! I can't wait!"
While they are excited about some new changes in ministry to target these nations, it has been difficult. Emily said, "A lot of our time is spent just learning about these new cultures and learning how to more effectively minister to Muslims. Also, we need to empower our Russian believers to lead the Russian movement to free up our time to really go after these Caucasus people."
I am sure you are like me and when you read this you are amazed and overjoyed at what God is doing to reach the nations. But someone is not too happy. He is peeved. I am afraid that he is not gonna take this sitting down.
This week the Spirit keeps taking me to I Peter 5:8-9. I will share it in the version I have been reading lately: "Be sober! Be on the alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings."
Perhaps like me you have heard sermons/talks on this passage where the speaker says something to this effect (in a very pejorative tone perhaps) "Yes, but this lion is declawed" or "He has no teeth. " The audience chuckles: "Silly, toothless lion." We walk away no more sober or alert than we were before. In our minds he is like the lion in the Wizard of Oz.
My dear dear brothers and sisters I believe this is a wicked, evil, deceitful lie!!!! If this lion Peter is describing is declawed, for Heaven's sakes why do we need to be alert?!? If he has no teeth, why is there a warning that he wants to devour us?!? Maybe Peter didn’t pen exclamation points like the Holman Christian Standard version has but I don’t think he put a little smiley face at the end either. Yes, Peter writes in chapter 1 that we are secure and protected by God's power, but he also writes in chapter 2 about the evil desires that wage war against our souls. We are in a war zone. You are in a war zone!
I fear we that walk around like my son Luke when he was two and I took him to the Denver zoo. The first place we went to was the new lion adventure exhibit where you can walk up to this glass and be inches from wild lions. All Luke could saw was, "Eyes." Eyes?!? I am thinking "Teeth! Claws!" I am thinking, "how secure is this glass? And what will I do to protect my wife and son if that lion breaks it?" To my son he was as fearful as a bunny rabbit.
Our enemy is no pet. He is real. He is wicked. He came to steal, kill and destroy. He wants to take you out. He wants to take me out. He wants to destroy our marriages. He wants to destroy our teams. He wants to devour you. He wants to do everything he can to stop the advance of the kingdom. This is War!
Men and Women, let’s don’t be like George Clooney’s character, Everett, in O Brother, Where are Thou? when Delmer is getting whacked up side the head by John Goodman's character and he just sits there on a blanket taking another bit of fried chicken saying "I don’t get it Big Dan".
I am at a lose of words. Perhaps that's okay. You have heard enough talks on how to combat the enemy and Peter gives plenty of advice. Shoot just take about every command in this epistle.
But let's just meditate on what he says here in Chapter 5: Be sober. Be alert. Act in the Spiritual realm like you would if you were walking through a dangerous part of town. Act as if you were in Iraq. Get in combat mode. Resist him. Resist him. Stand firm in the faith. Don’t give in – not for a second. Know that every one of your peers all over the world are facing this same battle. Go to bat for them. Watch. Pray. Stand guard. Do not lose sight of the reality of the enemy and his wicked evil intent to take you out.
... and know that greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world. That He will redeem people from every tribe, tongue and nation. That He will win! That He will never leave you nor forsake you.