T H E E N D - T I M E S T I M E S October 12th, 1998
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Sincere apologies for the delay since the last issue - and also
an apology to all new subscribers who were wondering if their
request was received - however, I was on a short-term missions trip
which I described last issue, and talk about in more detail here.
If you are a new subscriber, and would like a copy of the last
issue, feel free to email me.
David M. Williams
BELARUS AND THAILAND TRIP
In September, I was on a short-term missions trip to Belarus
in Eastern Europe, formerly one of the states of the USSR.
I was working with a local missions organisation called
Liberty for the Nations. Their Web site is at
The country of Belarus remains severely affected by the
Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe which occurred in 1986. The land
and water, and therefore the people's food and drinking supplies,
were poisoned with high doses of radiation. The tragic incident
continues to affect the people's lives. Couples are afraid to
have children because of the high incidence of abnormalities in
babies being born.
Children die without any pain relief, from cancers caused by
breakdown in their immune systems.
Pastor Leonid Biriouk in Minsk reports that the population of
Belarus decreases by 60,000 people every year, as a direct result
of the catastrophe. For the world, the Chernobyl disaster is over.
For us, it is just the beginning he says.
When Liberty for the Nations first visited Belarus three years
ago, the team found the Pinsk Hospital's (southern Belarus) medical
supplies cupboard almost entirely bare. The situation, typical in
Belarus, has not changed since. Basic supplies are impossible to
obtain; prices are too high for anyone to afford.
Our team of four men - Pastor Steve, Grant, Chris, and myself -
brought medicines, and money for purchasing more supplies. We also
took clothing and other items, which we gave to the Churches in Minsk.
We all had a wonderful time in Belarus, and our hearts have been
touched by the people there. We especially enjoyed the time we
spent in a Theological Institute in Minsk. Here, the young people
had a tremendous passion for the Lord, and they even go up to the
Academic Dean and ask, 'when are we going to have a time of prayer
and fasting'. The faith and love and conviction were wonderful.
I lectured in the Institute while we were there, about the Kingdom
of God. Our translators were a pleasure to work with.
The Church in Belarus is growing, and is very strong, and
evangelical. We saw salvations in many of our meetings, and the
Pastors would always tell their people that they must keep inviting
their unsaved friends to Church.
During the Communist era, the Church was oppressed. We met many
men who had suffered and been imprisoned for their faith. One
Pentecostal pastor had been heard praying in other tongues by the
KGB, so they assumed he knew foreign languages, and so accused him
of being a spy. They put him in an electric chair, and threatened
to kill him if he did not admit it. So many of the people we
met had stared at death for their Christian faith, and they stuck
with the Lord, and the hope within them. Our team were always
invited to sit on the stages, in all the Churches we visited, but
I could not help but wonder what I could possibly offer these
people who had been through so much, and had overcome. I would
rather have sat on the floor.
Now, though, the Church in Belarus does not face opposition
from the government, but rather the older, established, traditional
Orthodox Church. In the city of Brest near the Poland border,
a Pastor told us how he was building a new Church for his people
(they had outgrown the old one, and were building a new Church to
seat 1,500 people) but the Orthodox Church were telling the people
that they were using crosses in their bricks. Hence, when one would
walk up the stairs to enter the Church, one would be walking on
crosses. Being fairly symbolic people, to walk on a cross was a
horrendous thing. Of course, this was not true, but in many places
the Orthodox were laying accusations and slanders against the
evangelical and Pentecostal Church.
We spent some time within the Chernobyl region - though we did
not actually enter the Ukraine, and hence Chernobyl itself. It was
very sad to walk through an entire village which once housed 50,000
people, but was now a ghost town. There was no life anywhere, and
simply signs of evacuation - children's shoes in the door way -
wherever we went. The sad thing is that the Russian government waited
eight days before they actually told the people of the Chernobyl
incident, and so many died or became sick from eating their crops
just as normal during that time. One of the students in Minsk had
been evacuated when he was 12, and he told us of the cancer his
The currency in Belarus is out of control. When our team last went
to Belarus, $US 1 bought 19,000 rubles. However, when we arrived,
the official exchange rate was 65,000 rubles for $US 1. Each day, we
watched the rate increase and increase. On the black market, one could
even get 100,000 rubles for $US 1. By way of comparison, the students
told us they received 400,000 rubles a month - or $US 4. Our main
contact in Belarus is paid 5,000,000 rubles a month - or $US 50, and
that is his whole salary. We all felt so very rich - we exchanged
$US 20 and immediately became millionnaires ! Yet, to many people,
there is no 'life' in Belarus - merely 'survival'. They can pay
for their bread and housing each month, but little else. 60% of the
people have not ever seen a US dollar, and for them, their life
is just farming day after day, going from one day to the next,
living forever in the same village. Even if they wanted to move,
they simply could not afford it. And the thought of going to
another country is just simply a fiction to them.
To buy land and build a Church in the villages though, is so cheap
compared to what I am used to. For $US 3,000 one could do this.
This seemed to me a good project to strive for.
Please do pray for our work, and do contact me if you would
like to send donations towards the purchase of medicines,
clothing, churches or theological resources. I am very keen to
raise funds for the 1999 visit, and bless the Churches of Belarus.
Another thing that impressed me about the Churches was their
heart for the people. The Church in Brest has taken over two
years to build, and they are still not finished. The Pastor told
me he would not buy bricks for his Church while people could not
buy bread. We gave him a sum of money to aid in his humanitarian
efforts - feeding and clothing the people in his city, and showing
the love of Christ in practical and tangible ways.
Belarus was an amazing country, and with such contrasts. We saw
some very elegant European parts of Minsk, and also some of the
most under-developed villages I've been in - horses and carts
drove by, and we were unable to find any hot running water.
Yet, I love this country and the people who are so sincere and
warm and make do with so little. I have undertaken Russian language
learning and look forward to being able to communicate better
in future. I was grateful for the interpreters we were given,
and also for their good humour - they certainly became involved
in sermon illustrations very quickly :)
I look forward to reporting more about the trip in future issues,
and also to scanning some of my photographs, to publish on my
On the way home to Australia, I stopped in Bangkok, Thailand,
for three nights. After Belarus, the country was amazing in
terms of the apparent wealth, with gold Buddha's abounding, and
all the food and material goods available.
Yet, I was also astounded by the blatant immorality. One could
not walk far through the markets without being solicited by
prostitutes - and constantly, too. I was sorry to think that
Western tourists have given the Thai's reason to build up such a
trade in this area. However, we were able to speak with some
prostitutes and talk to them about the love of Jesus. We asked
if Buddha loves prostitutes, to which they said 'no'. But we
could offer them the love of Jesus, and not only this, but his
power to heal, and to change lives.
I was not in Thailand long, and I spent one night working with
Assemblies of God missionaries. There are clearly opportunities
for Christian service in this Buddhist country, and I pray that
many will respond to God's call for the people of this land.
I look forward to returning to Belarus in 1999, and hopefully
to some other Eastern European countries such as Bulgaria and
Romania. I would also like to make it to Moscow. I'll be sure
to keep you informed through the End-Times Times, and again, I
would invite you all to pray about any donations you might be
able to make for the Churches there, as they reach their
communities, and meet their material needs.
I appreciate the mail I have received from you all.
Unfortunately I am not always able to respond personally to every
item, but I do try. Here is an (edited) collection of items
that I received this week. Please include these people
in your prayers.
Ray manages Christian Radio Station WAOY (100,000 watts), which
is part of the American Family Association. I think Christian
radio is a wonderful thing, as it outreaches to the community.
We should pray for Ray in this work. He also writes about his
thorough study of the Book of Revelation (12 chapters in 12 months!).
I am hoping to spend more time writing on the Book of Revelation,
including a commentary, and so I will be sure to publish this in
this newsletter and on my Web site, as it happens.
Fred wrote, and asked a few questions. These are good questions
and it would be nice to answer them in a detailed fashion. However,
for the moment, I would like to give some brief replies as below -
1. If we are saved by faith alone, why are we judged according
to our works?
We are certainly saved by faith alone, and praise God for this,
because our works are certainly not going to save us. However,
there is a judgment for our works - but this is not to determine
our salvation or not, but rather 'rewards' in heaven, and this is
described in I Corinthians 3:10-13. Theologians call this
judgment the 'Bema' seat of Christ, but it is important to
understand the nature of this judgment. As Dr. Lehman
In the large olympic arenas, there was an elevated
seat on which the judge of the contest sat. After
the contests were over, the successful competitors
would assemble before the bema to receive their
rewards or crowns. The bema was not a judicial bench
where someone was condemned; it was a reward seat.
Likewise, the Judgment Seat of Christ is not a
judicial bench. . . .
Christ's judgment seat is not a negative one; the
materials to be judged are the individual believer's works for
Christ (I Corinthians 3:10-13). These works are classified as
gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay and stubble. It is
unwise to speculate on what acts fall into each of the above
categories, but it is most likely that acts out of a pure
motive, with God-given talents, for the cause of Christ will
fall into the higher categories. Nevertheless, at the Bema seat
no person shall be cast from Christ's presence; rather rewards
will be given based on the result of the testing of one's acts
(I Corinthians 3:14).
More information on this is in my essay on pre-millennial
2. What happens to the soul at death?
The soul does live, although the body has died. We see
believers in heaven worshipping God, in the Book of Revelation,
waiting for the resurrection of their bodies and the climax
of this age.
This is quite an involved subject, but the Bible teaches
that the soul is immortal, and that after death comes judgment
(Hebrews 9:27). Unfortunately, hell is a terrible place and
Revelation speaks of 'the smoke of their torment ascends
forever' so we can only conclude those in hell are suffering.
However, one must point out that much of this suffering is
caused by being away from the presence of God.
3. Will heaven and earth become one in eternity? If they
remain separate, who is in heaven and who is on earth?
The present heavens and earth pass away and all things are
made new. The new Jerusalem descends from heaven and John hears
a voice say, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he
will dwell with them, and they shall be his people and God
himself shall be with them and be their God" (Revelation 21:1-3).
There will be a new heaven and earth, but all the Saints, and
our God, will be on earth.
More information on this is in my essay on pre-millennial
4. Was the entire old testament law (including the ten
commandments) repealed? If not, what was repealed? What is
the law governing now?
The law was not 'repealed' as such, but rather has been
'fulfilled'. In Galatians, Paul explains that the law was a
'tutor' to bring us to Christ. That is, it revealed our sinful
nature and our inability to save ourselves. Paul explains in
Romans that the law is actually good and holy ... but it was
weak, because it could never save, it could only reveal sin.
Jesus has now come, and established a new covenant with us, and
made a way of salvation available.
Jesus effectively summarised the ten commandments in His two
commandments - love God with all our heart, mind, strength and
soul - and love our neighbour as ourselves. If we do these two
things, we will not break the law in any way, but fulfill its
The law also contained many issues of ceremony and community,
and Jesus has fulfilled these by becoming our sacrificial lamb
and great High Priest. Hebrews 10 teaches us that Jesus has
made His one sacrifice, and obtained forgiveness for sins - so
there is no longer any sacrifice needed.
More information on this is in my essays on soteriology (sin
and salvation) at http://www.oocities.com/Athens/Forum/5951
Glenn wrote with some prayer requests -
Peggy and her daughter Lori both need God to move in their life
and reunight Lori with her two small children, both girls.
Dick and Ruby Russell also need God to move in a way that
He will be praised, and that they will be given back their
GOD STANDING AT THE DOOR
by David Hurst
"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,
I will come in and eat with him, and he with me" (Rev 3:20)
Amazing - God standing at the door,
Offering His fellowship for evermore!
He's knocking because He truly cares,
See Him standing humbly there!
He has shown you that He loves you so,
And His fellowship you can really know.
From being astray in that cold, far off place,
You can know the blessings of His grace.
For Jesus who died to save you from sin,
Now lives to bring His presence in!
But this amazing grace you can ignore,
By just leaving Him standing at the door.
Will you invite Jesus into your heart?
Let God have your life in every part.
"Here I am!" - the Light, in a dark land,
Just open the door and take His hand.
T H E E N D - T I M E S T I M E S October 12th, 1998