Making The Last Lap The Best

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Although I haven’t met them, I feel a close kinship with several WP writers. I often imagine joyfully meeting them in heaven, “Hey! It’s you!”. David Ettinger is one such writer. I’ve read his articles in Zion’s Fire for many years and enjoy his blog, http://ettingerwriting.wordpress. I commented today on his blog about aging and he encouraged me to turn the comment into a post!

At 64, like David, I’m included in the huge population of aging baby-boomers. Sometimes I have to remind myself, “Move on, you’re too old for those jeans!” or, “That’s for younger folks, act your age!” Mostly I need no reminding. I catch my reflection off guard or wonder, what’s the word I’m looking for…

But as believers we stand apart from the vast number of ‘baby-boomers’ and need not clamor over every new study on failing health, mental decline, or worry over aging alone in the world. Yes, take care of our vessel with healthy foods, good exercise and intellectual challenges. But our greatest hope and trust is not in a ‘good lifestyle’ but in a good and faithful God.

Years ago, the Lord taught me the precision of the sword, the word of God, that “…penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit…” My husband Bob grew up in the projects of Brooklyn, his neighbor, Donia Marie, was a strong believer. Her husband abandoned her and their children but her faith did not waiver – she shared the Gospel with the families around her and often invited them to church. When the youths, such as Bob, joined gangs, Donia Marie continued to pray and show them God’s love.

Her diligent prayers yielded much fruit. Several youths, such as Bob, became a true believers years later, always remembering their neighbor’s faithful witness. In 2006 her family called from out of state, sharing that Donia Marie suffered from Alzheimer’s. We went out to visit. This dear sister could not remember Bob, nor did she recognize her own daughter, but she recited scriptures, remembered the precious Gospel, and sang songs of praise while we were there. Her mind may have failed but her spirit and the life of God within her, was alive. Although she died in 2007, her testimony and love are still spoken of today. This encouraged me in many ways, realizing that mental health does not preclude spiritual health, and the purposes of God are not thwarted by our diminished capacities.

The Lord equips us for every season of our life, whether we are weakening from illness, aging or injury. Unlike the world’s challenges, ‘Fight your weakness! Reverse aging! Five Steps to Live Longer!’ our Lord declares, ‘When you are weak, then you are strong!’

Zac Poonen makes this point often in his Bible teaching, succinctly expounding, from Genesis to Revelation, how God waits for our own strength and flesh to reach ZERO for Him to move in with His strength, His purposes, and His divine power.

“All the trying circumstances, frustrations and disappointments, heartaches, etc that we go through are meant by God to bring the strength of our self down to zero”. (https://www.cfcindia.com/wftw/the-new-wine-in-new-wineskins) I highly recommend his books such as New Wine.

Brother Zac cites this truth with the spiritual giants of scripture who, at their weakest point, their ‘final years’, their point of greatest lacking – God said, ‘Now you’re ready to serve!’ When our ‘self-strength’ is gone, the Holy Spirit can move through our brokenness for God’s glory.

Paul Washer also edifies my faith, teaching ‘God is Creating Weakness in Our Life’. Pointing to our precious forerunner, Jesus, Pastor Paul cites Isaiah’s prophetic word, “Here is My Servant, whom I uphold, My chosen One in whom I delight…” God upheld Jesus, Paul Washer expounds, upon how much more must He uphold us!

“Jesus didn’t spend lengths of time in prayer because He was so spiritual or to show devotion; He was praying because He needed prayer, He needed to draw upon the Father’s strength…”

“Our problem is never that we’re too weak! God is constantly working weakness in us. We don’t even know how weak we are!”

Only believers can claim the certainty of ‘strength’ and ‘purpose’ as our natural lives decline and weaken. If we’re still here, still in the race, God’s purposes for us in this world remain: preparing us for His Kingdom, conforming us to the image of Christ, reaching out with the Gospel and declaring the coming of the King.

I pray to grasp ahold of these truths, to walk closer with the Lord – our forerunner in this race – and make the last lap the best lap before I meet Him face to face!

Hayer Miatsek!

Hayer miatsek, miatsek Hayer! Armenians unite!

Once again, on April 24th, Armenians gathered for Armenian Martyrs Day, commemorating the onset of the Armenian Genocide perpetuated by the Ottoman Turks on April 24th, 1915.

Bob and I waving flags high (under awning “surreal”) in Times Square on April 24th. Ts4-1024x768

Year after year we gather, members of Congress and local leaders speak, proclaiming support for Armenia and stirring up their constituencies. Religious leaders also speak. Our pastor, Pastor Haig Kherlopian, spoke about the resiliency of Armenians, even after attempts to desecrate and annihilate, we still stand by the grace of God to prosper and testify.

As we gather and proclaim, rally and commemorate, we must check our hearts and assure that they are aligned with God. Why must we gather and rally?

Although 1.5 million Armenians perished and thousands were set upon death marches, exiled from their homeland, Turkey continues to vehemently deny these atrocities. Those who dare teach these truths either disappear or languish in Turkish prisons – Turkish prisons hold more journalists than any jail system in the world. We gather because the truth matters – especially for those who died with no voice to proclaim it.

After the recent war – the onslaught of Azerbaijan upon Armenian enclave Artsakh, Armenia lost much historical land and villages which they inhabited for thousands of years.

“The Greek geographer Strabo, who is estimated to have lived from 64 BC to 23 AD, included Artsakh in his geographic description of Greater Armenia, writing that the entire population spoke Armenian by the second or first century BC, an observation confirmed by archaeological finds.” (Read More: https://www.grunge.com/260893/the-long-and-tragic-history-of-artsakh/?utm_campaign=clip)

Armed with the wealth of military weapons supplied by Turkey, Israel, and Ukraine, Azerbaijan now salivates with prospects of further aggression once the ‘cease fire’ period is over. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, believed responsible for supplying the Phosphorus bomb that devastated Armenian environment, openly celebrated with Azeri President Aleyev’s victory. Thousands of Armenians died, thousands are displaced, suffering as the world does not look on. We gather to be a voice for those who suffer in silence – we will plead your cause; we will lift you up in prayer. We will not forget you.

Ultimately, we gather to encourage one another and reaffirm our faith in God, regardless of outward situations. While possibly tempted toward vengeance, we must pray for our enemies – may the Holy Spirit convict them, take away all their false peace, and cover them with a shame and godly sorrow that will lead to repentance. As our people suffer and homeland is stolen and destroyed, we must be the serving hands and feet of the Lord to help them and above all, encourage them that “Հայկական հողէ” – Armenian land- is not their forever home – our heart must be set upon the Kingdom of God.

Armenians unite! Let us honor those who died for their faith by living for our faith for the glory of God.

Where He Leads is Worth the Wait

Some beloved brethren had been praying for me in my search to find a church, not just a church but to be ‘placed in the body exactly where He wants us.’ Instead of writing out emails, I’m posting the Lord’s answer!

The pandemic taught me the value of home worship, personal growth in scripture, and gathering with ‘two or more’ in His name. When churches opened we began to seek out fellowship. After 20 years under Pastor Dave Wilkerson’s godly leadership, we had a firm scriptural foundation and clutched the standards of God’s word.

So often though, our spirits cringed at the compromise, the levity, the carnality, and worldliness that frames many churches today. Without obedience, without preeminence, the Lord will not lead. Godly roots that once bore eternal fruit seemed pulled out and discarded for modern, entertaining, and diluted gospel messages. But we pressed on…

In October I felt inclined to visit a church that I had vaguely known about for several years. I had never visited but during the Azeri invasion upon Armenians last year (Sept to Nov 2020) they were the only church to have online prayer meetings. Joining in, I was impressed with their genuine faith and zeal. The Lord heightened my interest in this church until we finally visited The Armenian Evangelical Church. Bob and I don’t usually gravitate to an ethnic or race specific church but this one proves different.

Week by week the Lord answered the questions in my heart, checking off Biblical standards of worship and fellowship that would not escape my heart. The Bible wholly believed, honored and esteemed as God’s unchanging word? Preaching the whole counsel of God? Service with frequent prayer? Songs, hymns, honoring and exalting the Lord? Pastor personable, available, and offering prayer and godly counsel? Yes, yes and yes!

It is the newest oldest church in New York. New with a bright new pastor, zealous for the work of God to go forth, not just for Armenians but for ‘whosoever’ the Lord will gather. New with folks the Lord called in, Bob and I (a Puerto Rican and Armenian), a Turkish Kurd, a Cuban and Filipino.

Established in 1896, we just celebrated our 125th anniversary. This church, downtown Manhattan, was founded years before the Armenian Genocide which began in 1915. My heart is gripped wondering, how did they gather and worship when our people were slaughtered and annihilated for their faith? What messages were preached, how was their faith challenged, even crushed…

Did they know we would be there today, singing praises and believing God?

God often answers our diligent, ongoing, persistent prayer in a multifaceted way. He did not just bring me to a godly church. Not only to a growing fellowship led by His Holy Spirit. Not only to a pastor under whose authority I can submit….

But the Lord brought me to Armenians not gathering to mourn and commemorate, not gathering to protest and march, not gathering for a wedding or funeral but gathering with joy before the Lord, with a living faith and an expectation of God’s leading and life to go forth.

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New friends, new pastor in middle, new smile on my face…

Several of my readers were praying for us and I truly want to thank you and encourage you all, press on, do not give up. If the Lord has you waiting in a pasture, let Him feed you and speak to you there. Where He leads you will be so worth the wait.

Walk by the Spirit, Not by Sight

As I approached the mailboxes yesterday afternoon, there was Margarita*, one of my neighbors, opening up her ConEdison bill as I reached for my mail. Although Spanish speaking, she needed no words to express her angst as she tipped the paper toward me so I could read, FINAL DISCONNECT NOTICE. It seemed clear that she hadn’t paid her bill for at least a year. In our heat-included small apartments, gas and electric bills are fairly small. Margarita works, how could she let this happen?

I immediately sensed something was wrong, other than this big debt. Her countenance and affect seemed disoriented and she stumbled over simple questions I asked. So I urged her, “Call them, Margarita, you have to pay something soon, even $50, to prevent this turn off!”. Is she depressed? Having mental health issues? Admittedly we don’t know her that well.

Something was churning within me. Although Bob and I are quick to help neighbors in need, I felt a strong restraint here. My emotional response, moreover Christian response, is to help. But I know our emotions are fleshly and it is the Spirit that applies the scriptural call in every situation. Although we have on occasion helped Margarita, here, I was disturbed and restrained.

We walked up the stairway in silence. She probably expected some financial help and part of me questioned, “what kind of neighbor am I? She’ll be in the dark within a month!” Some people describe a ‘check in their spirit’, but I had a grip in my spirit and had to submit. I prayed and explained the whole situation to Bob, knowing that leadership comes from the husband. He did not sense the Lord’s leading to give. “There’s something wrong here Bob, I can’t pinpoint it but it’s bigger than the ConEdison bill.” I prayed about it and tabled the subject to the next morning.

I was still unsettled in the morning but after praying, I headed down to her apartment. At least I could call ConEd, perhaps make a minimal payment, or clarify her options. I knocked on her door. Then knocked again. Finally I heard a shuffling and she opened the door just a crack, then a bit wider where I could see in full view an altar of witchcraft. The depths of Santeria, beckoning demons with incantations and ritual, contaminate the soul and almost always bring about a mimicry of mental illness.

Margarita now acted paranoid. She gave me the bill, keeping the door cracked, and I said I’d call and try to help. After calling and clarifying I returned with the conclusion: Margarita herself, or her grown son, must call to discuss even a minimal payment, she has until January to do this.

The churning in my heart was relieved, realizing that the Lord was restraining me. Jesus did not always heal everyone, did not always feed everyone, neither did He meet every need but did only His Father’s will. It is not always God’s will to intervene in every way, especially if recipients give the thanks and praise upon a table of witchcraft. I have seen enough Santeria and Espiritismo to know how powerfully it corrupts a person inwardly and outwardly, always bearing ugly fruits.

Perhaps the Lord will lead us to speak the truth to Margarita, but only He can draw our hearts and prepare hers to hear the word. We will continue to pray for her. Will her lights go out? Will she lose her mind? Only God knows but for sure, if she calls upon Him with a repentant and contrite heart, He will come in with true light and deliver her from evil.

In The Fowler’s Snare For Real!

After refreshing fellowship at church and a tasty lunch at home, FedEx rang the bell with Starry’s Chewy package, yay! I headed down the stairway to the lobby and, as is my habit, I glanced out the stairway windows as I went. I did a double-take at the 4th floor window, my heart quickly deflated. The roof of the next building had a large net surrounding a generator and a big pigeon was fighting wildly to get free.

Caught in the fowler’s snare and no way out!!

pidgeon stuck in net

When owner Columbia University evicted our beloved Bodega to install their own deli, nothing seemed right. I marched into the deli, photo in hand, and approached the cashier.

“I need to see the manager. Look here,” I flashed the pic, “there’s a bird caught in your net on the roof. We need to get up there…”

“Oh, the manager’s not around, probably back tomorrow…there’s no way to get to the roof”

“This can’t wait til tomorrow, this bird will die overnight! Someone must be able to get to the roof.” I went to the back and met with the sandwich guy who shook his head and referred me to the stock man. “Sorry, there is no access available to the roof. It has a special lock and no one can open it”.

“No one” can open a roof door? That’s a building violation.

Already late on a Sunday afternoon, I had to act fast, first contacting the main NYC complaint line, 311 to report Animal Abuse in progress. They referred me to NYPD who did actually show up within an hour. I was so hopeful, so sure they would be on that roof. But subsequent follow-up yielded the same response,

“Sorry, we couldn’t get access to the roof, no one is able to open that door.”

“Can’t you break it down? That bird is struggling so hard, he will surely die a slow death!”

“No, sorry, that’s how we get into so much trouble! We referred this case to ASPCA”

The sun was setting and now Mr. Pigeon is well enmeshed into the net, hanging upside down. I tried every possible intervention, even calling PETA. Bob and I prayed for God’s help. Lastly I turned to the neighborhood social media and posted the situation. Now it’s dark. I need not check on the bird again, my mind played its own tormenting video of the net swinging in the wind, pigeon upside down, and then it started raining hard...

With the wind blowing and rain pelting, the night was restless. With all the suffering in the world, why, I asked the Lord, can I not escape this pigeon? The Snare of the Fowler, by Charles Spurgeon, arose in my mind and gripped my heart. It is an excellent message from this great preacher, in which he quotes a song,

“Satan, the fowler, who betrays unguarded souls a thousand ways….”

The devil’s crafted snares are not for unbelievers – they are already subject to him. His cunning allurements, his deceit and secrecy is reserved for the unsuspecting believer…how could a light weight, nearly invisible net be of any harm anyway? Nothing will happen! Just go near and touch it, fly into it if you’d like!

I tossed and turned, wondering, as I viewed this tortured pigeon on the roof below, what must God’s view be like, seeing His people, called by His name, carelessly toying with sin and compromise – an invisible net that will surely disable and destroy. With love and urgency our Father warns us of danger, and yet so often we near the net, touch the net, believe that it is benign before we’re trapped.

It was still dark when I got up. I prayed but partly hoped the bird died quickly overnight to end his suffering. The media posting was growing with responses and suggestions. The care of unmet neighbors was very encouraging. Bob was leaving for work and I called another friend whom I know to be a ‘fighter of good causes.’ But he was sick and could not help so I offered to help him! But he urged me to check on the bird, “use binoculars” see if he’s still alive and call FDNY.

I really did not want to call the Fire Dept. I knelt and earnestly prayed, “Oh Father, send someone to help me! I can’t save this bird without You!”

With binoculars and a heavy heart I headed to the 4th floor window. Agh, looks dead….but as I watched…he’s ALIVE!!!

JUST THEN the building super came up the stairs to continue work on the 4th floor. “Radames!”, I immediately called out to him, especially since I appear to be spying through the window with binoculars! “Radames, come quick and see what I’m seeing!!”

He peered out, “Ohhh…..”

“Radames, that poor bird’s been fighting all night! My only last resort is FDNY! Do you know the store manager? How can we save that bird??”

“Wait here, just wait here…”

Five minutes later he called out, “I’m up here! I’m up on the roof!!!”

W H A T!?!

radames on roof

My ‘super’ super rescued the bird and held him up to me, wonderful!!! I shouted out the window, “Try and bring him down, I’m taking him for a check up, he’s injured!” I had the Wild Bird Fund ready to take him. Alas, as he loosened his grip the bird flew/tumbled down…Radames came back up the stairs.

“Radames! How did you get them to open the roof door!!”

“Those people don’t know anything! I climbed up the roof myself!”

W H A T!?!

I went outside with him to look for the bird, which had landed upon a high window sill. Impossible to get him, might he mend on his own?

But then I saw how he got up the roof….

back alley

He used two 10′ ladders! Up a narrow passage way, totally death defying to me!!!

Now dozens of people are chiming in on the media page, waiting to see the bird’s fate – the shared joyous relief was so uplifting!

The Fowler’s Snare, let us be alert and discerning! It is crafted to look harmless, even inviting, don’t even touch it! Against this powerful foe, in our own strength, we will end up enmeshed and upside down! But our Father sees all things….

Thank You Lord, our Deliverer and Rescuer! “… Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare….”

Heartbreak in the Heights

We happen to live in Washington Heights, venue for the popular movie, “In The Heights”. I moved here 40 years ago as a student in the 80’s. It was, at the time, the cocaine capital of the east coast and the Marielitos prevailed in vicious crime sprees. Two blocks over from my building is Armory which, at that time, sheltered 800 homeless men who often spilled out onto building doorsteps. None of this bothered me in fact, it was a renters delight at the time and perfect venue for a social work student.

While I have never seen Dominicans singing and dancing in the street, I have a love for my neighbors and community and appreciate enduring with them over the years. My husband and I remained active in our downtown church for over 20 years, but also hoped to find a church in the neighborhood. While the Lord graciously opened a small Bible study in our home for a year, my heart yearns for more, to worship and share the Gospel within the community. Is it just me or the Lord charging my heart?

We learned of a church gathering in the park just 3 blocks from us. Their website had some solid foundational tenets although with some contemporary ‘buzz words’, but we were open to whatever the Lord would show us, outside in a park on a summer morning. I love the idea of praising God, in English and Spanish, out in the park – may others hear and hearts stir!

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Everyone was kind and welcoming. After a time of praise, the pastor spoke with a simple message from John chapter 3, ok. It was good to be with neighborhood folks, most I have never met. However, after the service we met with the pastor to flesh out the beliefs, mission, and teachings of the church. He was excited about youth outreaches, invites to athletics and games and gauging the needs of the community. From there he spoke with vigor of his Genesis Bible study, expounding on things that most people, including myself, don’t know and never heard of…”the first tabernacle was really in the Garden of Eden…..” He quoted a central author in this discovery whose name he mentioned several times but I can’t remember.

He explained at length how violations of “Social Justice” is the central issue behind of Israelites’ exile, founding the church mission of social justice. We could barely wedgeway into his mount of scriptural justifications – my head couldn’t digest his perspectives. Back to Genesis I honed in to ask point blank, “Do you believe in the Biblical account of creation, that God made all in six days?”

A two second hesitation here is all I need but he fueled up more fervor to explain how he was ‘freed’ from the conventional Biblical account through elaborate studies in sophisticated theology, history, and Egyptian culture. I will not even elude to at or hint at what he shared; unraveling the supernatural demonstrations of God’s power and His magnificence is just devilish.

At the end I restated, “I believe in the Bible’s account, it is the foremost introduction to God’s greatness and awesomeness. To diminish that, questions all of His supernatural power and the miracles throughout the Bible…”

As though speaking down to the ‘unenlightened’ he replied, “Yeah, my father still believes that” (I immediately thought, does he have a church? Where is it?) he added, “…and about 30-40% of our attendees at the church still believe that” (Until, I thought, they take your Genesis course and the truth is scrubbed out of their hearts!)

We left with my head swirling with ‘deep’ religious explanations I had never imagined but, moreover, I was heartbroken for the lack of holiness, brokeness for the lost and a fear of God.

God can surely call us to a place that is imperfect, incomplete – even chaotic. But never where truth is disdained and error is taught with fervor. Not sure how long we’ll still be in the Heights but my heart is still searching for God’s presence here and perhaps some sheep to join in worship, who love God and His precious unchanging word, and have a heart for the lost.

I will “keep on asking, seeking, and knocking”, praying for the Lord to order the steps of my feet and my heart. May He lead us to where He is working that we may co-labor with Him in the fields for the harvest.

Death, Devastation, and God

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Those close to the plight of Armenians in Karabakh deeply lament with yesterday’s surrender, 11/9/2020 at 5pm EST. There is plenty to grieve. The onslaught of radical Islam jars open the storehouse of anguish in every Armenian.

War crimes and terrorism launched against Karabakh – Artsakh for Armenians – ignited and unified hearts around the globe. Campaigns, rallies, protests, and prayer meetings rang through every country with desperate cries for intervention, justice, mercy and outright miracles.

Miracles needed indeed for a small volunteer army against the military wealth of Turkey and Azerbaijan and the endless supply of hired mercenaries from numerous Islamic countries. I beseeched God, day and night, fasting and crying out the battle cries of David for Armenia…

‘Rescue them O Lord, from evil men; protect them from men of violence, who devise evil plans in their hearts and stir up war every day…Keep them O Lord from the hands of the wicked…Hear O Lord, our cry for mercy. O Sovereign Lord, our strong deliverer, who shields our head in the day of battle, do not grant the wicked their desires…do not let their plans succeed…

But zeal and faith were not enough to overcome the vast enemy nor the inner battles of raging COVID, dysentery, and growing despair amongst the soldiers that fought without a break.

I had planned all night prayer last night, postponing today’s Bible fellowship with a precious new believer Raquel. With Armenia’s surrender however, all night prayer canceled. Somehow I slept well and awoke with the Lord’s words strongly pressed upon my heart,

“My Kingdom is not of this world. If it were, My servants would fight…”

I texted Raquel and asked if she wanted to fellowship – “sure!”. I shared with her how the situation turned out in Armenia,

“I am heartbroken for the destruction, bloodshed and death of so many and the rejoicing of evil people”

Raquel replied,

“We can only do what Jesus said, pray and do not give up and trust in the Lord.”

“Evil people will always rejoice in this world because Satan rules this world. Jesus already tells us that many will die in His name. The Armenian Christians that have been slain will be risen again by the Lord when the time has come and we will win this fight and reclaim the Earth that Father God made for us.”

Remarkably, for a new believer, she went on…

“I know you are heartbroken. Our deaths and suffering are inevitable. We all have a date reserved for each one of us to die. Sadly, many of those Armenians have met the last day of their flesh life. Remember though, they will live in eternity and they will no longer suffer. They are already with Jesus. Remember He said to the convicted man who believed in Him, crucified next to Him, that he would be with Him today. And as are the Armenian Christians who died in His name. He has wiped every tear from their eyes….”

I had not considered Armenia’s defeat, losing Karabakh. I had truly believed that the Lord God would move as He did against evil armies like the Moabites, the Ammonites, and Assyrians. One angel, at His command, could change the battle. I was sure, certain that I would travel to Armenia in the spring, hear the church bells ring at Sushi and burst with rejoicing.

I know this world is passing away. Darker days are coming for us all. I had such zealous hope though for the Armenians to stand and prevail after years of massacres, genocide, and persecution.

The Lord did not “strike the enemy with fear, panic and confusion” and sadly, He did not “bring Erdogan to shame.” But soldiers were baptized on the battlefield. Zoom prayer meetings joined me with Armenian believers whom I never met, to cry out for Armenians and pray for the enemy as well.

In my despair, the Lord’s very words gripped my heart with the truth I wasn’t reaching for and uplifted my heart through the new believer I am mentoring.

“My Kingdom is not of this world”

“…pray and do not give up and trust in the Lord.”

Pressing on….

“Overcome Evil With Good” For Real!

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Interview with captured mercenary Yusuf Alaabet al-Hajii, 11/4/2020

“He told us we should slaughter, kill all Armenians…Abu Hamsha, as well as the Turkish and Azerbaijani servicemen, were telling us that each of us would receive an extra 100 dollars for beheading an Armenian. They also armed us with long knives. Those of us who were afraid were given some special drugs by the Azeri military, and they stopped feeling fear after taking them. I have personally witnessed how the Azerbaijani armed forces servicemen were giving the drugs to our Syrian guys, the drugs were round tablets, I haven’t tried it myself, but many of our guys did,” the Syrian mercenary said.

Those are the words of hired mercenary Yusuf Alaabet al-Hajii, recruited from the village of Ziyadiya, Syria. The full interview can be viewed here: https://armenpress.am/eng/news/1033852.html?fbclid=IwAR3tM5G5LqtIfRobD1i9_FRbQi27y8BBIEw5QXQ-Ed2G3pmR2u0YhqeRE3Y

The mercenary described in detail how they were approached with a $2000 monthly payment promise and, along with 500 others that day, boarded one of the 10 buses to a civilian airport where they flew on Turkish planes to Azerbaijan.

Upon their destination, they met up with 500 previously recruited Syrian fighters. He noted that the Turkish and Azeri soldiers both had body armor however the Syrian fighters had none. Commanded by both Turkish and Azeri military, they were ordered to proceed in front of Azeri fighters, into Karabakh to capture the village and slaughter all civilians….

“When we approached the Armenian village, we came under fire, and also mortar fire, in this period 15 of us were killed, the operation was a failure and we had to escape into the mountains. When we fled, I wasn’t wounded yet, we were lost, we went by a path until we found the Azerbaijanis who had accompanied us, they took us through some path, but during this the Armenians began shooting at us. I got wounded, I was wounded for 5 days, no one asked me anything, no one was interested in me. After three days, I began moving towards the Armenian positions, the Armenians gestured me from distance telling me I am safe, when I approached them they took me to their position, treated my wounds, gave me food and water. They took me to safety, they didn’t harm me, they helped and treated me well, may God bless them,” the mercenary said.”

(video of interview here: https://en.armradio.am/2020/11/04/second-syrian-mercenary-capture-by-artsakh-forces-interrogated-video/)

Although the Azerbaijani army continues to kill Armenian POW’s, (https://www.kazakhstannews.net/news/266843554/azerbaijani-troops-kill-more-armenian-prisoners-of-war) this is not the first news article of Armenians utilizing desperately needed medical resources on an enemy captive.

While I beseech readers and others to join in fervent prayer to strengthen and undergird Armenians and thwart the enemy’s onslaught, God is doing more. He enabled the Armenians to “overcome evil with good’. In the words of Yusuf Alaabet al-Hajii:

“I want to thank Armenians, they helped me, they treated me, they saved my life, we were wrong to have come here, they – the Armenians, are much better that we thought, they treated us, treated us well, may God bless them. I, Yusuf Alaabet al-Hajji, am stating that anyone who is planning to go to Azerbaijan should not take that step, because Armenians are very good people, they saved me from death, they helped me. I am urging you all, if they try to deceive you and attempt to lure you with money against this country and Armenians, don’t go, even if you are poor, it is better to stay poor then to go to Azerbaijan and fight for money. The Azerbaijanis call the Armenians infidels, but they themselves are the infidels, we are infidels for coming here and fighting against these good people, I stayed wounded for five days in Azerbaijan and no one helped me, but the Armenians did, they helped me and treated my wounds,” he said.

Thank you Lord!

“Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, says the Lord. On the contrary, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. For in so doing, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good…”

Please continue to pray!

When God Leads Into a Pothole

The three weeks of Prayer in the Plaza proved to be fruitful and defining for me.  I cannot measure the impact of God’s work amongst our first responders, patients, and families but I can testify that keeping an appointment has this great benefit – God shows up.   He speaks and impassions when our hearts seek to align with His.

At the same time, several of us embarked on an End Times Bible Study, posted once a day through Frontier Alliance International*.   This 14 lesson Bible Study is enthralling, opening up and igniting once-familiar prophetic scriptures.  Fruitful prayer time and Bible study churned my heart even more than before.  My husband and I both agreed – we want to be in the flow of God’s work, we want to fulfill all His call and service appointed to us – we so want our lives to count for the Lord in these end days.  

Spiritually invigorated, I prepared for a fast to go further in devotion and hear from the Lord.  To what might He call me?  To serve here in NYC, perhaps utilizing social work credentials to counsel or maybe the Lord would call us away.  I knew He would lead as I drew near…so sure and with such anticipation I began my fast, but it quickly seemed obliterated…

Before leaving for work, Bob unwittingly disclosed something that ignited a past deep marital wound.  My emotions erupted into an argument which continued fuming after he left, even moreso when I blamed him for ruining my peaceful quest to search God’s will.  How could I seek the Lord when I’m so angry?  

I immediately recalled a comment that I had just posted on David Ettinger’s site (EttingerWriting.com)  basically stating that God uses crisis and personal calamity to expose what is in us that we might rout it out to move forward in service.  This truth strongly pressed upon me, undeniably revealing a fleshly wound and sin that must be surrendered.

At first I thought I could ignore the fuming of my heart and open the word of God.  Not possible.  If you’re truly seeking God, He will mercifully corner you with what He wants to say.  I could not escape compelling verses calling believers to ‘obey’ the word of God, wives ‘respect’ their husbands, ‘submit’…there was no way to move forward without hashing this out.  The ‘argument’ was not ruining my fast, it was actually God’s response to my heartcry to serve.

When our heart is at ‘X’ but God commands ‘Y’ we can only pray for the Lord to change our heart, superficial formulas do not work.  (Although I did google ‘How to Respect Your Husband When He’s a Jerk’ which was a bit helpful).  I had to admit though, I fail at having, “…the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”  If God greatly values “gentle and quiet”, He must loath to see angry and argumentative!

So, my fasting began yesterday with a repentive cry for God to change my heart, heal my heart, and enable me to obey.   Although not perfect, by the time Bob returned home, my heart had softened toward kindness and respect.

Prayer in the Plaza and invigorating Bible studies stirred my heart with a greater longing and passion to know God’s will and serve Him.  Instead, a dust-up revealed flaws of my heart, a pothole I could not but go through.

But going through, I’m pressing on – trusting in our Forerunner with Whom we will not fail!

*Frontier Alliance International   –  for End of Age Bible Study:  First download Frontier Alliance International App, then Go to Maranatha tab,  then Global Bible Study then End of Age (white horse icon), click on  Main Sessions.

 

 

Prayer in the Plaza

Many readers, family and friends may remember our community battles here with Columbia University’s ongoing land grab in New York City, posted here ,  here, and here    for example.  Commandeering housing and small businesses, they set their sites on our street to take a stretch of it for their ‘plaza’.  While the community fought to save our street, the wheels of political and financial power spun against us.  Soon part of our street was closed and the work began.

However, as believers, we grip a hold of God’s sovereignty, even in times of loss, defeat, and disappointment.  “Who knows”, I thought in the end, “maybe we can use the plaza for a Christian event or something…”.  Admittedly I was sour to them though as they closed the street and began their work, “I won’t step one foot onto this plaza!”

That was last year.

All of that is inconsequential to the crisis here in NYC with Covid-19, deeply shaking us all.  While close friends are suffering with this illness, community members have died, and friends and relatives go bravely to work in hospitals and correctional facilities, I prayed, as many do, what might I do, Lord?  Yes, we help those who are affected, sharing and delivering groceries but how can the Lord be exalted?

While praying one morning, it came to me that the ‘plaza’ is adjacent to the hospital.  All the students left weeks ago, it is just a vacant area with chairs, tables and planters.  Ambulances speed by, hospital staff scurry to work….I need to be there, I need to press in and pray and take a stand for the Lord!    

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I sit right behind the sign

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My daily prayer meeting, 10-11am, includes me and the Holy Spirit – and others who are joining in from their homes.  Prayer points include:

  • Prayer for nurses and doctors, EMS, hospital support staff – firstly for brethren who are serving, may the Lord undergird them, speak words of life to them overflowing to coworkers and patients.  For all those who have heard the Gospel, who may have an ember of faith, may the Lord fan those embers into flames and ignite a living faith.  Lord, let them sleep well at night, give them rest, encourage them in every way.  Speak to those who don’t know You, draw them to Your word and let them find strength in You.
  • Patients and their families –   Be a source of healing, Lord, physical, emotional, and spiritual.   Lord, many are now at the edge of eternity.  I pray that there may be a harvest even now, let a believing nurse, attendant, or food service worker speak an apt word, an appointed word.  For those patients suffering who have heard the Gospel, Father in heaven, fan those truths within them and bring them to repentance and safe into Your arms.                                                                                       I pray for their families who tragically say goodbye at an ambulance, never to see their loved one alive again.  Comfort them Lord, and draw them to You.
  • Encouragement for support staff in health care and law enforcement –  they are often hidden away from limelight – food workers, custodial and maintenance staff, nurses aides, secretaries/receptionists, suppliers.  Draw them to You Lord, let them find their strength in You.  Put a song in their heart as they work, often behind the scenes.
  • For law enforcement, NYPD, NYFD, DOCS, and security teams – encourage them,  strengthen them Lord, protect them from criminal assaults and virus infection.  I pray for the believers within, such as Correction Officers for Christ and those in the NYPD,  let Your Holy Spirit pour forth through them, sharing Gospel truths even to the inmates.
  • I pray for all those passing by –  hospital staff, dog walkers, residents –  Lord, let them read the sign and kindle their hearts to ‘PRAY’,  let that word stick to their hearts and follow them.  Let them begin to think of You.

There are many other points to pray as the Lord leads.  Over all this I am also praying…Lord, don’t waste this affliction.  Bring our community, our city, our state, our nation to repentance.  Confound our self-reliance and our pride in this time of shaking and turmoil…in Your mercy turn our eyes upon You. 

This can be our finest hour to rise up and honor God through this darkness.  May the Lord loosen our grip on this world,  give us greater hunger for His word and deepen our devotion to Him.  May our remaining days count for Him and fulfill His purposes – no matter how big or small they may seem.