In March of this year the Light of Hope team was actively preparing for a mission trip to Ukraine. Ten pastors and three medical doctors were about to fly to the war-torn areas in eastern Ukraine. Then COVID-19 came; flights got cancelled, borders were sealed, and churches closed. It was a heart-breaking time for all of us as we realized that the doors of our mission trip were closed. However, our faith was still burning in our hearts. We also knew that when God closes one door, He opens a better one.
Two weeks into the COVID-19 shutdown I received a phone call from the Euro-Asia Division office located in Moscow, Russia. Pastor Daniel Reband called with a very unusual request. He asked me if I would be willing and available to preach a series of evangelistic meetings in Russian via satellite to Europe and Asia. He emphasized that since all those countries are also on full lock-down, people cannot worship in their churches; they are not even allowed go walk outside. They need hope and assurance that God is still in control of this world.
The Light of Hope ministry does not have a studio in Ooltewah. And when pastor Daniel called I did not have a new series of sermons ready or any Power Point presentations to preach for a time like this. When I asked Daniel how soon we need to start the meetings his answer was: "In exactly five days.” That was a testing moment for my faith. Could I say yes when I had no equipment, no budget, and no prepared messages? After a short prayer on the phone I knew that we had to go by faith.
Two days before the opening night of the meetings God sent us a video production team. A special word of gratitude to the "Smallbox" Entertainment group. They agreed to transform our church Fellowship Hall into a professional studio in less than 24 hours. We also needed songs and music for the programs. With the COVID-19 travel restrictions there was no way to bring someone to Ooltewah who would sing in Russian. Once again I could see that our Heavenly Father was opening doors of miracles. Steve Darmody offered to sing in English at the beginning of each broadcast. I found an incredible blessing in translating the lyrics into Russian and having the translation run on the screen while Steve sang! With no hesitation Jaime Jorge agreed to play his beautiful violin during the appeal time at the conclusion of each program. When God calls, He provides!
On April 17 the first sermon was preached from Ooltewah and crossed the ocean to the continents of Europe and Asia. Since that day, Hope Channel Russia and Hope Channel Ukraine are broadcasting these messages over several satellites and cable networks. In addition to our regular TV transmissions, the words of hope are being watched by hundreds of thousands on YouTube and local social networks. After each sermon I stay in front the cameras for a live session of Bible Questions and Answers as well as prayer requests. Thousands of people contact our call-in centers in Moscow and Kiev asking for Bible studies and seeking prayer support. The meetings will continue through May 2nd. Please pray for the dear people of those many countries. They need to know that Jesus is coming back soon. He is our refuge in the time of trouble. In walking by faith I knew that God would provide the means for this evangelistic project. I am grateful for your contributions. They will help us cover all the expenses for this program. I will keep you posted on the follow-up activities. Hundreds of pastors in those far away countries will continue to pray and study with all those who contacted our call-in centers during this evangelistic effort. This is the first time in my pastoral and missionary experience that I am preaching evangelistic meetings on one continent for listeners thousands of miles away from me. Don't we serve an awesome God? Thank you for being my partners in this incredible Gospel proclamation.