SHARING HOPE & HEALING IN CENTRAL ASIA
This spring, a team from Highlands (Mike & Darla Lorbeski and Norm & Kathy Hummel) traveled to Central Asia to equip pastors in the ministry of Celebrate Recovery, as well as to personally minister to people dealing with addictions and other difficulties. They bring back with them stories of how God is transforming lives through the hope and healing of the gospel.
Praise the Lord! | Darla Lorbeski
Throughout our short time in Central Asia we were witnesses to the Beatitudes being lived out in front of us daily. Our brothers and sisters from the House of Prayer are the living essence of the Beatitudes. Trials and tribulations have not hindered their ability to praise the Lord but have created a beautiful dependence upon the Lord as they serve others with joy in their heart. We went to equip and encourage and in the process we were blessed and encouraged by our brothers and sisters humble and serving spirits. “Slava Bogu” Praise the Lord!
A Light in the Village | Norm Hummel
This was our first dinner in country. We all took our seats on the floor of Boyd’s house, and there was a feast waiting for us in the middle of the room.
Boyd shared that the first time he heard about Jesus was while he was in prison. And it became apparent to him that Jesus and God were real after reading the bible. His wife came to visit him in the prisons and he gave her a bible to read, the next time she came back he asked her if she had read the bible and she lied to him saying that she had read it. A later time she confessed that she had lied to him ,and then he started to read her stories from the bible. She became a believer. What a great way to start our time in Central Asia. One by one all of his kids shared a memorized bible story or would sing a worship song. It was very apparent that Boyd and his whole family are shining beacons for Jesus Christ. We were blessed to spend our first meal with this family.
Boyd and his family are the light in his village with a strong Muslim presence. He spends his time gardening, bee keeping, grinding wheat into flour (from his own mill)- then selling it to his community. At these times he is bold and shares his faith with them.
Christ Brings Freedom | Mike Lorbeski
After lunch and a tour of the Men’s Rehabilitation Center, we were preparing to leave. I was approached by a man who wanted to share his story. My first reaction was that people were waiting for me and I did not have time for him. The Holy Spirit reminded me that this is a relational culture and the others would wait.
His story was one of drug and alcohol abuse, a life of crime which led to years in prison. My heart hurt as I learned he had spent over half his life in prison. As I listened, I reflected on my 34 year career at Boeing. He had spent that time wasting away in prison. I was filled with excitement as I saw his hope in Christ and his willingness to share openly.
I praise that God is at work freeing the captives and producing eternal fruit through the lives of these faithful brethren who are boldly sharing the gospel in this closed society. I am changed by this encounter and am moved to pray continually for the growth in Christ of my brothers at the rehab center.
Unexpected Blessings | Kathy Hummel
Our team devotional for Thursday was to be courageous about encouraging. Funny how we try to encourage the believers there – but God sees it as a two way street – they end up encouraging us just as much or more. I always find beauty in the unexpected moments and the people we didn’t know would become part of our lives.
Our trip that day was to large city in the southern part of the Country. We were visiting the Hope Center; a small orphanage. Our team included a young woman, one of our students, who for security purposes I will call Tee. It was a long trip – three hours in each direction, but a beautiful time playing with the kids, cooking American Hamburgers for dinner (in a kitchen we referred to as Gehenna, but that is a different story) At 8 pm we started our journey home – as we were leaving our interpreter advised us we would be making a quick stop by the home of Tee’s mom, she was an unbeliever and Tee wanted someone to share with her our Savior. Tee felt our interpreter would be able to speak into her life.
We made it to her house and as 3 people went to visit we stayed back and prayed and visited. Her mom had listened, but had not made a decision. The following day we heard that Tee’s 23 year old brother had heard about the visit and was violently angry– he was the male head of house and how dare his mother speak to the Christians. He threatened to arrange to have Tee married of to a non-believer – they can do that in Central Asia. Young women have very little rights. But when asked Tee said she did not regret stopping and sharing – she knew what was more important. I am encouraged by Tee’s faith and I hope you will be too.
God Opening Eyes | Norm Hummel
Our team taught several of the church leaders some of the advanced principles of Celebrate Recovery. We also had a couple of practical application workshops as well. I taught on working with the homeless, which is near and dear to my heart.
I love to share a story about a woman named Marna.
I instructed the class that we would be learning how to speak with the homeless and that we were to be the face of Christ to them during the practical application time. The entire class would be serving lunch to the homeless, but not just that – they would be sitting down with the homeless and get to know them.
Marna expressed concern about this and said “I can’t do this, these people are bums, dirty and smelly, I just can’t do it”.
Marna was an excellent student and took really good notes during class – she said she would give it a try. She did all that was asked, she delivered the meal and visited with them as she did this
After the practical was over Marna came up to me and said “ I told them to enjoy their meal, and they smiled at me and commented back” I asked her what she was going to do with this experience with the homeless. She told me that she has a new outlook on the homeless and she want to open her home so they can take a shower and give them clothes and something to eat.
I got to see God open Marna’s eyes about the homeless. Slovo Boge – a phrase heard often in Tajikistan that means Praise God.
Finding Hope and Healing in Confession | Darla Lorbeski
While in Central Asia we taught the basic principles of Celebrate Recovery covering many topics including forgiveness and writing a personal inventory.
Each one of us shared examples from our life where we had been hurt and examined how those hurts had affected us. We were very transparent confessing our faults in front of the class which gave our students permission to be honest with themselves and others.
We were warned that they wouldn’t share, but found them to be hungry and thirsty to share in the safety of small groups. Irina wanted to experience the healing promised in James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
On the last day of conference, I was humbled as I listened to Irina’s inventory with aid of my translator. My heart hurt as I learned of her father’s death and mother’s drinking and the poor choices that ensued from her childhood as she coped with a very difficult life.
Through her tear filled eyes I could see the new creation she had become as Christ’s forgiveness rested upon her. I praise God for the privilege to be a part of her story, to pray with her and bring the message of hope and healing through Celebrate Recovery.