Grace and peace in God our Savior and Jesus Christ the Lord.
Update on the rehab center (see last update). We went back to this place Sunday to continue to preach to and to pray for the men who were desperate and/or responsive to some degree to the preaching of God’s Word. Many of them weren’t there, or weren’t available. But, bless the Lord, we were able to speak and pray with four of these precious souls.
Let me say that this place is much different than America. In the US, it seems like almost everybody ‘knows’ the Gospel (or thinks they do), and most are extremely self-righteous, rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing. But here, these men are broken, beaten down, depressed, and without hope. They don’t know or understand the Gospel. They have never said a ‘little prayer’ and ‘asked Jesus into their hearts’. Many have never even heard that terminology. But the funny thing is, that many of them have been baptized and to some degree trust in baptism to save them.
Actually, they don’t know how to be saved. They are stuck in a works-based mentality. When we sit down with them to talk, the first thing I do is ask them questions and find what their understanding of the Gospel and salvation is. And without fail, they all seem to forget the Cross, forget about Jesus, and faith in Christ. I ask them how to be saved. They say, ‘By repenting of all sin and living righteously’. This may sound good, but in their minds, they think they have to exercise their own willpower to stop sinning, and once they are completely free from sin, start reading the Bible and going to church, and that means they are saved. So we preach and stress constantly the importance of receiving grace and of faith in Christ, of justification by faith alone and the true meaning of the Cross.
Some have so many strongholds in their minds that we have to take a considerable amount of time just tearing them down and preaching the truth to provide a solid foundation upon which their faith can stand. Sometimes it feels like we’re trying to explain to a blind man what the color red looks like. When there is no foundation laid, it takes time to instruct perishing souls in the ways of truth and lay a solid foundation. But like I said, it is much different from America here, and praise God for putting us across the path of people who are lost and know it, for Christ came to seek and save the lost, not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance!
At first we sat down with three men who wanted to talk to us. We shared the Gospel with them, explaining in more detail exactly who Jesus is and what He did. These three were desperate. One was a crystal meth addict, the other two heroin addicts (these are both the worst possible drugs to be addicted to). After laboring in the Word and attempting to get them to see the Gospel, and boost their faith, we moved on into prayer. The crystal meth addict wasn’t ready to serve the Lord; he said he doesn’t want to play games with God and receive anything from prayer if he’s not ready to serve him yet. So we exhorted him to continue to seek the Lord, and to read the Gospel of John, and he left. So we prayed with other two men, both of which are heroin addicts.
Both of these men were doing terrible. They have been off heroin for a number of days. Going through heavy withdrawals. Covered in sweat. Unable to sleep or eat for days. In utter torment. It’s so sad. But after talking with them, both of them prayed to the Lord to confess their sins and ask for forgiveness, and asked Jesus to save them (and we didn’t lead them in a prayer and give them words, they did it themselves).
So then we prayed for them. The first man we prayed for had at least a hundred tract marks on his arms (wounds from the heroin needle). As we prayed for him, a mighty cold chill came upon his whole body and he was freezing cold. As we continued to pray, it left. Then he felt a strong burning sensation in his stomach. We continued to pray, and that too, left. Then he felt better. We asked him if he still felt withdrawals, and he said no, that they went away. Then immediately he began to get extremely sleepy. He was about to fall asleep on the spot. This is a good sign, because he had not slept in days, and the torment was preventing him from sleeping. But now, he couldn’t stay awake! Praise God! So we sent him up to room and told him to rest and gave him an assignment to read the Gospel of John. He needs a lot more work, that hopefully his heart will be right in the sight of God and the Lord will perform that work in him.
The second guy thought he had been a Christian for 5 years in the past, but backslid. After talking with him for a while, he came to the realization that he was never born again. He simply stopped using drugs, stopped cussing, and started going to church, and thought that constituted being a Christian. He knew a lot of scripture too. But the Lord was able to use us to show him the ways of truth, and teach him what true conversion is. We were able to pray with him too, but the withdrawals didn’t leave him when we prayed. So we gave him much instruction and commended him to God. The good thing is that he was much encouraged and renewed in hope, and claims to have repented and says he will serve the Lord now.
After they left, we called in a third guy (we have our own little ‘office’ at this place, which consists of plywood on all four sides, a plywood ceiling, a dirt floor, and a few benches). He wanted to talk with us and for us pray with him. He was an alcoholic and pill popper. We were able to share much with him. He had no understanding of the Gospel, and was baptized both in the Mormon church and in the Apostolic church (The Apostolics here are highly legalist, they deny the Trinity, and say you must be baptized in the name of “Jesus only” and speak in tongues to be saved). We were able to reason with him of sin, and righteousness, and judgment to come, and of the Cross and Gospel of Christ, and preach the way of salvation by grace through faith. He was much affected, and with much exhortation we told him to seek the Lord until He is found, until he knows the Lord saved him, and how to do it. We prayed for him as well.
After we talked and prayed with all four of these men, 7 hours had passed by and the day was expired. Planting and watering the precious Gospel seed takes time. Please pray dear saints that our labor be not in vain, that God would give these seeds the increase and grow them to fruition!
I was highly discouraged by one man we have been instructing and praying for. After much work, he seems to be going like a dog back to his vomit. He hasn’t even read his Bible or prayed in the last week. He won’t seek after God. Just a vessel of wrath fit for destruction? I pray not! Please pray for him!
Please, keep all these men in prayer! May they be washed in the blood of Jesus Christ and made clean by faith in His name.
In Christ – Josef
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