Never Shrink Back

(the story of Keir Tayler)

by Maria Erokhina

Keir Tayler is modern-day apostle who exemplifies absolute commitment to the cause of Christ and calls others to a greater courage in the Gospel.

Here is his story.

Acts 9 Experience

Keir was born and raised in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). He qualified in Medical and Veterinary Technology (Histopathology and Bacteriology) and dedicated 14 years of his life to serving in the military, as a part of a Special Forces unit.

During one significant offensive operation, when their group of 70 fought against 5,000 terrorists, Keir was wounded in both legs. In agony, he cried out loud, “God if you want my life, You can have it.” The Lord answered his prayer with an Acts 9 experience—suddenly, Keir was surrounded by bright light and Jesus appeared to him, just as He appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus. God’s presence became more real to him than his pain and the terror of what he’d seen, and his bleeding stopped.

Keir (bottom row, second from right) and his fellow soldiers of a Special Forces unit

Since then, Keir’s greatest desire was to know Jesus Who came to his rescue on that battlefield. Later, someone asked him, “You cried out to God, offering to give Him your life, but He didn’t take it from you, He gave it back to you. So what are you going to do with it?” Keir’s answer was simple, “I will serve Him for the rest of my life, doing whatever He asks me.” Today, Keir has been serving the Lord for 38 years.

The Taylers Come To CFNI

In 1980, after the war in Zimbabwe was over, Keir, his wife Callie and their two small children relocated to Dallas, Texas, U.S.A., where they enrolled in Christ For The Nations Institute. Talking about his CFNI experience, Keir says, “For the first six months at CFNI, I cried every day. The worship, led by Mike Massa and Dutch Sheets, was phenomenal. For two years, I worshipped together with 1,400 students every morning, and the presence of God during those moments washed away the torment, the pain, the aguish and the memories of the war. I had a tremendous hunger for the Word of God; I took every course where His Word was taught. And the love that was there was just incredible.”

The Keirs graduated from CFNI in 1982. During their time in America, they had an opportunity to minister in many churches and were ordained by the Beverly Hills Church. Then they went back to Africa to fulfill the call of God on their lives.

Where The Streets Have No Name

Upon returning to their homeland, Keir became the children’s pastor in a local church. Later, he started taking mission trips to South Africa, Mozambique and other places. This ministry started to increase rapidly, and soon embraced other churches and ministries. That led Keir to found Hand In Hand International.  When talking about the mission of this ministry, Keir says, “My hand is in Jesus’ hand, and your hand is in mine. He trains us to raise up others. Is not about one person, but we’re a family, a church doing the Lord’s work together.” Hand In Hand International has reached 40 different nations, equipping churches and conducting over 100 open-air Gospel crusades.

This photo was taken during an open-air crusade in Mozambique

The skills that Keir had obtained while he served in the Special Forces were a perfect fit for the kind of evangelism his teams are doing. They often go to places “where the streets have no names,” and pioneer churches in areas where no one wants to go. Sometimes they have to walk for three days to get to those places, but it’s so worth it in the end. “We’ve seen amazing miracles and healings, and a countless number of churches have been planted,” Keir says, adding, “I don’t want to stop until I see the revival. CFN’s co-founder Freda Lindsay prophesized over me, saying, ‘You’ll be sent to awaken churches.’ I’ve held on to that commission, and I live to see people awaken to who God really is, to see His Kingdom manifest, to see barriers and limitations removed and signs, wonders and miracles break forth. That’s why we bring revival to the local Church—so that the Church can take it into the world.”

Longing For Revival

Keir and Callie Tayler

This passion fuels Keir to go forward. He says, “Jesus is the best encourager and friend. You can go through anything when you know that He’s close to you, that He approves and loves you. There’s nothing better in this whole world than to be a son and a daughter of the King, completing the mission He’s given you.”

Keir encourages people to press on toward the mark—to fulfill the calling and mandate of God. He says, “Never shrink back from it; give yourself to this cause completely. We’re living in the greatest times. Paul the Apostle is seriously jealous as he is looking at us—and this is just the start! I strongly believe that the best is yet to come. Keep pushing forward!”

Keir and Callie have been married for over 40 years, serving the Lord with their three children and nine grandchildren. To learn more about their ministry, visit keirtayler.com.

If you would like to connect with Keir and Callie, email them at keir@handinhand.co.za

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A Rescue Operation

At Christ For The Nations we strongly believe that caring for orphans is a God-given priority that must be intentionally focused upon. Started by Freda Lindsay, the Orphanage Support program assists orphaned children in different countries. Most of these children have experienced terrible afflictions – neglect, abuse, slavery and the horrors of war.

The humanitarian ministry of Pastor Vasyl Dekhtyarenko, a longtime friend of CFN, helps children who have been orphaned by the recent war in Ukraine. Since 2014, the ministry has been serving refugees and the families of the fallen soldiers. Currently, they are helping 32 families, including 27 orphans. They provide them with food, clothes, vitamins, Christian literature, free legal consultation and professional counseling.

They do their best to care for “the least of these,” but the resources are very limited in the country torn by war, governmental corruption and economic upheavals. Currently there are 183 orphans on their waiting list who need help.

Pastor Vasyl says, “We want to be a touch of joy for these little ones during their toughest season. Many of the children we minister to have asked me if they would see their daddies soon. In nearly 30 years of ministry, this is one of the hardest questions I’ve ever had to answer.”

Unfortunately, orphaned and abandoned children can be found in every country, but in Pakistan, they are especially at risk. Taliban organizations target these children in order to train them to become suicide bombers.

CFNI alumni Solomon and Tina Manzoor got to “kidnap” several such children from the terrorists. The ministry of this brave couple is nothing less than a rescue operation. They say, “Our vision is to raise a new generation in Pakistan that is strong in the Lord. The children at Manzoor Orphan House go to a school run by the Salvation Army, they have daily devotions, and attend church meetings and Christian summer camps. Our staff members serve as a family to them, but we think it is imperative to lay a solid foundation of knowing God as their ever-present Father.”

Manzoor Orphan House, built with the help of CFNI’s partners, currently accommodates 40 children. As the number of children continues to increase, the orphanage desperately needs to expand. By the grace of God, the ministry was able to purchase a property and lay the foundation for an eight-story building that will house 200 children. Solomon and Tina believe that the Lord, who started this good work, will help them complete this project.

You can make a difference in the lives of the orphaned children in Ukraine and Pakistan. You donation to the CFN Orphanage Support program will help more children encounter the love of the Heavenly Father. We invite you to be a part of this rescue operation. When you invest in these children, you sow into the future of their countries.

Donate to the CFN Orphanage Support program today: cfni.org/orphans.

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BIBLE SMUGGLER + RADICAL FOLLOWER OF JESUS

By Michelle Ofori-Ansah

When we think of a “minister of the Gospel,” we typically think of an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher. It’s unlikely we would think of the word smuggler, let alone a Bible smuggler. However, for CFNI alumnus Patrick Klein that is a large part of his calling, and he is anointed for it. For over 20 years, Patrick Klein has helped deliver over 1 million Bibles around the world through some of the tightest security on earth.

But why would a young man, full of vitality and promise, choose such a dangerous career path? Why would he reject his comfortable American life and even risk his life to bring Bibles into closed and dangerous countries? Patrick Klein describes his motivation this way: “When you see pain and suffering up close and personal, how can you walk away from it? How can I live a supposedly normal life, the American dream, knowing girls are being sold into sex trafficking, pastors need Bibles desperately, and there are children living in the sewers? If I really had the Spirit of God in me, things that break God’s heart are going to break my heart.”

By following his heart, Patrick Klein’s clandestine ministry activities have led him to rescue sex trafficking victims over the years in countries most people are afraid to even visit (the names of the specific countries are withheld because of the danger to Patrick and his contacts). For Patrick, darkness is a quest for light, and need is a call to action. He does not shy away from danger when the souls of people are at stake.

Patrick’s passion for the lost and hurting was sparked while on a CFNI summer mission trip. He was a CFNI student, and it was his first time intentionally breaking international law. Patrick had heard about the need in one Asian country for Bibles (there was only one Bible for every 300 Christians in this unfriendly-to-the-Gospel nation), and he and his team were going to do something to help meet that need. Patrick had Bibles hidden in his checked and carry-on luggage, plus the ones he had hidden on his body under his clothes. He didn’t realize it, but his career as a Bible smuggler was about to begin.

81-year-old man receiving a Bible for the first time after decades of praying for one.

Walking through customs, trying not to appear nervous, Patrick experienced almost immediate failure. Customs officials found the Bibles in his carry-on and checked bags, but they didn’t find the ones hidden on his body. They confiscated the discovered Bibles, but cleared Patrick to enter the country. Officially a Bible smuggler, Patrick now had to repack and hide these precious Bibles again. In a rough bathroom with a “squatty potty” (just a hole in the floor), Patrick struggled to keep his bag off the wet floor and his passport from falling into the hole as he transferred the Bibles from his body to the bag. It was an extremely humid 90 degrees, and sweat dripped off his body. His only thought was, “Lord, this is what I am created to do! I love this!”

Years later, Patrick regularly smuggles Bibles into that same country and others, trusting God to bring more and more Bibles through hostile borders. On one occasion, he and his team successfully stayed below the radar of customs inspection while carrying 2 duffel bags, each with 70 pounds of Bibles, through the airport. Ten people with 140 pounds of Bibles each somehow walked right past the customs inspectors.

They weren’t even stopped and questioned. Patrick’s team was invisible! He has seen God’s protection and intervention in similar ways for over two decades. “You know, I hear some people say, ‘I just want to win one person to Jesus in my life.’  Not me, I want to win millions, tens of millions. I want to do all I can to bring Him much glory in this earth.

Tribal believer holding a Bible in her own language.

Patrick doesn’t think this is all that spectacular. He just hears a call for help and moves to answer it. “We do some dangerous stuff in our ministry, but people put their lives on the line for the Gospel all the time. Why are we, as American Christians, exempt from that?”

Patrick tells a story of one of his regular visits to an orphanage in an Asian country that houses children of sex trafficking victims. One little boy contracted HIV from his mother, who has died of AIDS. “When he came up to me, my first thought was, ‘Oh, be careful, he’s got HIV.’ And I thought, ‘Wait a minute, Jesus wasn’t afraid of the lepers, so I don’t need to be afraid of HIV.’  So I scooped him up and spent time with him. I visit as often as I can; I’m like a father figure to him. My faith has got to be bigger than any disease.

Whether he is smuggling Bibles or rescuing women from sex trafficking, Patrick isn’t afraid to wrestle with the moral implications of this radical Christianity. One American pastor refused to have Patrick in his church because Bible smuggling breaks the law. This pastor said, “If God wants the people in closed countries to have a Bible, He will change their governments.” Patrick shares, “I thought, that’s easy for you to say when your office is full of Bibles and study materials. What about the Hebrew midwives who kept the Hebrew baby boys alive when Pharaoh decreed they be killed in Egypt? Or Corrie ten Boom who hid Jews in her house against the laws enacted by the Nazi government during World War II? We’re called to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves, the weak and defenseless. I believe if Jesus were walking the Earth today, He’d be rescuing girls out of sex trafficking. If He had to turn over a few tables and brothels, then He might just do it.”

For Patrick Klein, Bible smuggling is an act of worship, obedience to his calling. Patrick lives by a simple creed: “My life is not mine; I was bought with a price, the cross. I can’t just do whatever I want to do. I belong to Jesus now, and my question is, ‘What do You want me to do Jesus?’” Not everyone can or should smuggle Bibles or rescue sex trafficking victims, and Patrick is not advocating breaking international law. But everyone has a role to play in the Kingdom. It may be traditional, unconventional or perhaps even radical, but whatever it is, it’s time to answer that call.

Patrick Klein ministering to children in Southeast Asia.

See Patrick Klein’s video here

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When Christ is Your Life

(the story of Randy Weiss)

By Maria Erokhina

Randy Weiss, Ph.D., is a Jewish believer in Christ who has over 40 years of experience in ministry, missions and media outreach. A Bible smuggler, a songwriter and Gospel artist, a college professor and a TV show host, his life has been nothing short of wonderful.

An Encounter on the Honeymoon

Randy playing in a local rock band

Before he became known for his academic achievements and television ministry, Randy was a rock and roll musician who dealt drugs and dreamed of fame. In January 1973, he eloped with an Italian girl, leaving on a combination of honeymoon and record promotion tour. On their way to Phoenix, Arizona, Randy saw a tent out in the desert. “Christ Is The Answer” was written on a big sign next to it. Randy thought to himself, “How odd! What is the question?”

In Phoenix, Randy read a book The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey that he had previously bought at a bookstore without realizing it was a Christian book. As he was reading that “all have sinned” and “the wages of sin is death,” he felt convicted. The weight of sin lay so heavily on him that he started desperately looking for something that could ease that burden. The book reveled to him the truth about the Messiah, and a miracle happened. He accepted Jesus into His life and was “set free, cleansed and made His.”

Then Randy remembered the tent he’d seen on the way. He went back there with his new wife and a friend. In the tent, there were many hippies who called themselves “Jesus People.” They were playing contemporary music, and a preacher brought the message of Salvation, followed by an altar call. At that service, Randy was given his first Bible.

 Jesus is Lord

Randy and Adrienne on their wedding day

Since that day, Randy has been preaching about the Messiah. The news of his conversion devastated his traditional Jewish family, and it took year before they started communicating with him. But he knew that the price he had to pay to follow Christ could not compare with the joy he had found.

He also started writing Christian music and got connected with a ministry that produced Christian materials for distribution to underground churches behind the Iron Curtain. Randy and his family personally smuggled these materials. He says, “Often, we didn’t have a plan when we went there. There were many situations where it was impossible to move without the Lord’s protection and intervention.”

Randy had the opportunity to share his songs with the Body of Christ in those places. One of them, “Jesus Is Lord,” was translated into many languages as it soon became a favorite among the Christian brothers and sisters in Hungary, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine, Greece and other countries. It was even sung at the very first Christian gathering in Communist Bulgaria that gathered about 5,000 people.

Loving The Lord

Having been a bi-vocational minister for many years, Randy thought it was time for him to leave public ministry. “I just wanted to minister to the Lord,” he says. “I couldn’t explain it to people, but I just wanted to spend time with God, telling Him that I loved Him and getting to know Him better.” At that time, God told him to go to Christ For The Nations Institute. Obeying Him, Randy moved his family from Indiana to Texas in 1992. What he thought would be one year in Dallas ended up being 25 fruitful years. Five of his children attended CFNI, and Randy became a proud grandfather of 13 “Texan” grandchildren.

Adrienne on top of their VW bug, 1973

In Dallas, Randy not only graduated from CFNI, but he stepped on the path of education that led to him earning three undergraduate degrees, two master’s degrees and two doctorate degrees. He says, “I wasn’t interested in degrees, but I wanted to learn some disciplines and find answers to my questions.” These academic pursuits were beneficial for Randy, opening many doors for sharing the truth of the Gospel.

Break Into My Life!

When Randy graduated from CFNI, he woke up to the reality of being in a “Christian bubble.” “Everybody I knew was either a pastor or a missionary. That had never been my life before – I had always been around unsaved people. I was convicted. I realized that it was not enough to minister to the Lord only; I knew I had to tell people about God. I was desperate and started looking for opportunities to do that.”

One morning he prayed: “Break into my life. Do anything You want.” That prayer was answered in an unexpected way. The same day, he received a fax message from an old friend who ran the international ministries of Dr. Lester Sumrall. He told Randy that the ministry wanted to buy some of his video equipment and offered to have him host a TV show.

“The news left me crying like a baby,” he says. That was not something he had on his radar, but he accepted the offer. Since 1994, his shows Cross Talk, Today With God and Wize Flix (children’s program) are broadcast in many different languages around the world and reach people who wouldn’t have access to the Gospel otherwise. Randy and his son also built Christian TV stations all over the USA, airing different kinds of Christian TV programs to people from all walks of life.

The Bottom Line

“God wants you to trust Him. God will equip and use every individual who is willing to say YES to Him,” Randy says, adding, “Christianity isn’t a profession. Don’t have a limited view that the only way you can serve God is in the role of a pastor, teacher or evangelist. There are many incredible opportunities to say yes to God. When Christ is your life, it’s glorious.”

To learn more about the ministry of Dr. Randy Weiss, visit www.ibntelevision.com and www.crosstalk.org.

To connect with Dr. Weiss, email him at randy@crosstalk.org.

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If We Remember Zion

By Maria Erokhina

One of the most remarkable things about the recent inauguration of the 45th American President, Donald Trump, was the prayer of Rabbi Marvin Hier. It was the first time since 1985 that a rabbi invoked a blessing at such an important historic event. “Eternal God, bless President Donald J. Trump and America, our great nation,” Rabbi Hier started his benediction. Among other declarations, he also cited Psalm 137: “By the rivers of Babylon, we wept as we remembered Zion. If I forget thee, Oh, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.” What a powerful statement that was!

Throughout the Bible we find God lovingly call the nation of Israel “Zion.” The name Zion refers to a hill in Jerusalem. When God speaks about Zion, He is describing the very heart of His nation.

“Zion!” I can only imagine the tone of God’s voice when He pronounces this name. Waves of love, passion, mercy and jealousy are mingled in it. The truth is, God has never removed the nation of Israel from His front burner, as shown in Isaiah 49:14-16. “But Zion said, ‘…My Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.”

Unfortunately, the nation of Israel has been forgotten by  many countries, including America. Even the Body of Christ is guilty! It’s scary to ponder the years that Israel has been neglected, despised, persecuted, suffered pogroms and the Holocaust. Its very existence has been questioned since its inception. The world has overlooked the fact that the land that lawfully belongs to Israel (historically and according to God’s ordinance) has been inhabited by hostile strangers. We condemned Israel for claiming her rights. We introduced sanctions; we gathered troops; we threatened and manipulated; we ignored her interests. Under the mask of guarding peace, we took upon ourselves the right to decide what is right or wrong for Israel, while God had already spoken about it in His Word.

Zechariah 2:8 makes a strong statement: “For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.’” We can see that God is not passive when it pertains to His people. His wrath rages against those who rob and devastate Israel; everyone who harms it, pokes God in the eye!

With America’s new President, there’s hope that Israel will be remembered again. Let us pray that the hearts of our government officials will be aligned with God’s heart toward  His  nation. Let us pray that after so many years of neglect, America will finally remember Zion, not only in words, but in action. Let us pray that America will be a nation that stands with Israel, defends her interests and protects her! Because if we bless Israel, we will truly be blessed.

CFNI travels to Israel every year. To be part of this powerful trip and learn more about the biblical history of Israel, go to cfni.org/israeltour.

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Called to Love

(the story of Martin Borgai)

by Maria Erokhina

Martin Borgai has a unique story. From a wonderful encounter with the Lord that led him to quit his prestigious job and reach the lost in the slums of India, to seeing the power of God move in miraculous ways, his life is a testimony of God’s unfailing love.

“Martin, Come For the Work”

Martin grew up in Karnataka, in southern India. He enjoyed a successful career in aircraft engineering, had financial stability and a good family. However, he lived with a feeling that there was more to life.

Martin knew about God, but he had never experienced the depth of His presence. One day, as he was praying and asking God to make Himself known to him, God’s glory filled the room. The radiance was so bright that Martin couldn’t see the Person, only His white garments. Martin fell at His feet.

Jesus put His hand on Martin’s head and said, “Martin, come for the work that I want to establish through you in your country.” Martin replied, “Yes, Lord.” Immediately after that encounter, Martin contacted a pastor and was baptized. When he came out of the water, he saw the glory of God. That was another confirmation of the Lord’s calling. Martin resigned from his job and dedicated his life to pursuing God’s purpose for him.

Members of New Covenant church feed the hungry and share with them the Bread of Life, Jesus.

Martin knew that he needed to receive good biblical training in order to be prepared for ministry. He applied to Christ For The Nations Institute and was granted a CFNI International Scholarship. His two years at CFNI made a big impact on him. “I was trained, taught the Word of God and molded to be the person I am today,” he says.

While at CFNI, Martin seized every opportunity to learn, meet new people and to serve. “Before CFNI, I had a white-collar job; at CFNI I felt honored to clean up the campus. Christ had left His throne and washed the feet of His disciples, and I wanted to serve like He served,” he recalls.

Martin graduated from CFNI in 2004. In March 2005 he started New Covenant Church in his hometown, Karnataka.

A Life of Miracles

Since then, the church has grown considerably. They live like a family, sharing meals, praying and ministering to people in their community. Martin, his wife Prema and their three children serve in the church together. Martin says, “Women leading a church are not common in India. I know that the same Spirit that lives in me is in my wife, as He abides in every child of God. When my wife speaks the Word of God, God speaks through her.”

Pastor Martin praying before a shared meal

New Covenant Church reaches out to villages and slums, prisons and hospitals, bringing food, education and the Gospel to the poor and suffering. The church’s prayer team meets every night to intercede for the needs of the people. During one such prayer meeting, the team received a phone call from a married couple that couldn’t have children. Martin went to their house to pray for them. He realized that there was an obstruction coming from an evil spirit, and when he rebuked it, it left their home. Soon the couple was expecting their firstborn.

One day, a lady asked the prayer team to pray for her healing because she was suffering from severe pain caused by a tumor on her ovary. The prayer team commanded the tumor to leave her body. The next day, the doctor confirmed that she was completely healed. Because of her testimony, many people have come to the Lord.

Miracles like this happen in Karnataka on a regular basis. Broken families get restored, people become healed of various diseases and even hopeless situations turn around. Martin declares, “Wherever we go and preach God’s Word, He shows up. When we stand in faith, God confirms His Word. When we speak the Word, we speak the power of God. And when we speak the power of God, it accomplishes the will of God. But it only happens when we stand on God’s Word 100 percent, without even 1 percent of doubt.”

Preaching Through Love

New Covenant church exists to tell every person about the Savior’s love.

“We preach the Gospel through love,” says Martin. “Sometimes it’s difficult to love people who hate and reject us, but no matter what happens, love remains our choice. Jesus didn’t come to build Christianity. He came to liberate people, bless them and show them the righteous way. We’ve been following His example.

Love, servanthood, the importance of reaching the lost and unity are the foundational pillars of our church family. I learned these principles at CFNI. CFNI equipped me and made me confident that nothing can separate me from God’s love. Everywhere I go, I share what I received there.”

 

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Miracle In The Slums

By Maria Erokhina

Northern Tanzania. Arusha city is located at the foot of Mount Meru. Its outskirts are occupied by some of the poorest people in the world. Their houses are built out of mud and cow dung mixed with ashes. There is no sewage system, and a sickening stench hangs in the air. During the rainy season, the place becomes a swamp. The area is full of witch doctors, and many suffer from demonic oppression.

Amid this appalling devastation, Pastor Naiman Shemhilu and Mbauda Pentecostal Church bring the Good News to the unprivileged and hopeless. The church began with only five people, but when they started doing Gospel outreaches in the marketplace, the power of God manifested in mighty ways – people were getting saved, delivered and healed.

As the ministry continued to grow, the church members decided to buy a small piece of land in the middle of the slums to build a place of worship. They managed to raise enough money to build the foundation and walls. Unfortunately, they didn’t have enough to complete the building and were earnestly praying for help.

Their prayers were answered through the Native Church Program at Christ For The Nations. The day the church building was dedicated turned into a joyful celebration for the whole village. Even unbelievers came to witness that great miracle. The pastor heard some of them say, “If these poor people were able to complete the church, then God is real.”

Since then, the number of the church members has considerably increased. Many Muslims have given their lives to the Lord. The building is not only used for services on Sundays, but also as a nursery school that provides meals to poor and orphaned children and teaches them skills and the Word of God on a daily basis.

The story of Mbauda Pentecostal Church is a powerful testimony that God cares for His children and can make the impossible possible. This miracle happened because of the support of friends and partners like you, who donated to CFNI’s Native Church Program. Your support of this ministry will help many people around the world experience the love and goodness of God.

Be the answer to somebody’s earnest prayers by giving to the Native Church Fund today: cfn.org/give.

For more information about the Native Church program, go to cfn.org/church-roofs.

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The Center of Our Affection

By Zuzanna Low

Poverty was all I knew growing up in the Communist Yugoslavia. I was the youngest of 10 children, and I would often hear stories of how different life was before the new government confiscated our family estate. It was difficult for me to imagine; dirt floors, an outhouse and hand-me-down clothes from a church charity were my norm.

We attended church as a family, but I never really heard the Gospel of salvation. I was about 13 years old when, on the way to school, I encountered a Presence. It was gentle and kind, it made me feel safe. I knew that it had to be God. I started talking to Him, and I felt as if He talked back to me.

At that time, I did not fully understand what had happened, but I felt that God had marked me for influence and that I had a destiny. I continued talking to God, and when I heard the plan of salvation for the first time at the age of 18, I was very eager to accept Him and begin a personal relationship with Christ. I received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and my life was substantially changed. He became the center of my affection.

At the age of 21, I married Jerry, a missionary from Dallas, Texas. When I met him, I noticed that he was different than other young believers I knew. He had a profound peace regardless of what he was facing, and he was crazy about Jesus. Jerry met the Lord while in prison as a result of a lifestyle of drugs. In prison, Jerry read Tortured For Christ by Richard Wurmbrand, which set his life on a course of destiny to the Balkans (Southeastern Europe). Upon being released from prison, Jerry attended CFNI in 1977-1979. Jerry often talks of his “carpet times” in the presence of God at CFNI that brought much deliverance and cleansing, setting him on a solid foundation.

Zuzanna sharing about the needs of her mission field, the Balkans

After serving in a local church for several years, Jerry answered the Lord’s call to the Balkans. Together, we served local churches in Yugoslavia until the political climate began to change and war was in the air. At that time, we had a 9-month-old son and were expecting our second baby. Our church in Dallas asked us to return to the States for a season.

In the USA, I experienced a significant culture shock. Our church was very supportive, and that helped me integrate into a new environment. In the following years, God did much work in me, setting me free and giving me a new identity in Him. I found a job in a department store in order to help provide for the family. I loved my job and wanted to represent God well, so I always gave more than what was expected as an employee. My boss saw leadership skills in me, and soon I was promoted to department manager. I remember feeling like I was on top of the world.

Around the same time, I had a powerful encounter with God at a conference. I heard a clear voice speak Acts 7:34 to me: “I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. Now come, I will send you back to Egypt.” I needed no interpretation – I knew that my “Egypt” was the Balkans. I knew the time was coming when God would send us back to the Balkans.

Prayer at the Upper Room Zagreb House of Prayer which the Lows host in their home

At the time, my career was my main emphasis. I attended every leadership class my company would allow and learned everything I could. However, due to a lack of a healthy work-life balance, I became burned out and empty. I realized that I had placed my career as my first focus, taking God’s place as the center of my affection. I knew that I needed to “pause my life” to make a very necessary adjustment.

With Jerry’s support, I left my job, and we moved with our three children to the campus of Christ For The Nations Institute where I became a student. I attended CFNI for three years and completed the School of Pastoral Ministry. That was a great financial sacrifice, but I look at my years at CFNI as some of the best years of my life.

While at CFNI, God confirmed my call to the Balkans over and over again, but I also felt that the time had not yet come. I returned to the business world with a renewed focus on Jesus, a healthier identity and full of renewed energy. In 2013, 25 years after we moved to the USA, God made it clear to us that it was His perfect time for us to return to the Balkans. Our children were now grown – our youngest daughter was preparing to enter college. We made all the necessary steps for a smooth transition to the mission field while leaving our children in America. Don’t be fooled, as this was not as easy as it sounds; leaving our children and our grandbaby behind was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.

Our first six months overseas were very hard. A week after we arrived to Zagreb, I lost my precious mother. Jerry, a healthy man, became very ill the day we landed – he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure – and fought for his life amid the social bureaucratic healthcare system of Croatia. He was released from the hospital with little hope for any quality of life.

“God, where are you?” I prayed. Those were very dark days for me. I left my children, my career, my secure life…my mother passed away, and now we were fighting for Jerry’s life. I never doubted our call; it was undeniable, regardless of circumstances. Many friends stood with us, choosing to believe in the goodness of the Lord rather than the report of the doctors. God answered, miraculously restoring Jerry’s health six months later.

IST Group adopted this Romanian village and regularly serves its children

In 2015, we founded a ministry based in Zagreb, Croatia called Intentional Strategies for Transformation, or the IST Group. IST Group exists to pioneer and resource redemptive transformation in Southeastern Europe. Our mission is to help the underutilized and disciple leaders, but our main priority is to make a resting place for the Lord, because we believe that only His presence can transform everything. With this focus, we founded a house of prayer, Upper Room Zagreb.

This is our story. Jerry and I have a strong burden to continue to minister the love of Jesus to the poverty-stricken people of the Balkans and to put an end to the spiritual poverty.

If you feel that you are not on the right track in life, ask yourself if God is still the center of your affection. It is never too late to make a course correction. Though it usually requires hard decisions, without these decisions you will simply not be able to fulfill your destiny.

To learn more about Intentional Strategies for Transformation, visit istgroup.org.

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Permission To Dream

(the story of Lazarus Razaily)

by Maria Erokhina

This is the story of a man who decided to choose the important over the convenient and the calling of God over the plans of people.

Big Dreams, Big Challenges

Lazarus was born into an orthodox Hindu family that was deeply involved in witchcraft and suffered grinding poverty. At a certain point, his father became very ill and was dying. A Christian neighbor told his wife about Jesus the Healer and prayed for her husband. At that time, Lazarus’ parents didn’t know anything about Christianity, but they agreed to receive the Lord in hopes that it would make the father well. A miracle happened indeed – his health was restored.

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The joy of sharing food and Jesus with the people of Nepal

After their salvation, the life of the family started to improve. Nevertheless, severe need compelled the parents to send their children to the orphanage. Fortunately, it was a Christian orphanage, where the children heard about Jesus on a daily basis.

From a very young age Lazarus wanted to become a musician. He had many other dreams, too, but the economic situation in the country and other challenges were steadily choking those dreams to death. Despair was growing in his heart.

In 2001, Lazarus got connected with a group of people who were passionate about the Lord and found the place where he belonged. He testifies that his real experience of salvation happened at that time. Although the circumstances around him didn’t change, hope started to rise in his heart.

A Step of Faith Leads to Breakthrough

Lazarus was serving with a ministry that provided food for homeless children on the dirty street of Kathmandu when he found two boys who “were different from the others.” Lazarus and his brother adopted these children while they themselves struggled financially. “Right after these kids came home, God abundantly blessed us; His favor opened many doors. Our life was changed after that,” says Lazarus. Now these boys have become young men who study at university.

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Lazarus, Sajana and their daughters, Avani and Subani

In 2008, Lazarus married Sajana and they began to overcome life’s challenges together. His ministry was growing quickly. He was invited to lead worship in many different places and served in the leadership of several churches. Still, he felt that there was more to life. He always wanted to become a worship pastor and start a worship school that would equip worship leaders. He was surfing the internet, looking for a school where he could get trained for that vision, and came across Christ For The Nations Institute. He applied to CFNI and was granted an international scholarship that enabled him to attend.

A Year of Change

At CFNI, God blew on the cooling ambers of Lazarus’ dreams. He felt that God gave him the permission to dream big. God also told him, “If I am with you, it doesn’t matter where you are – in the USA, Canada or Nepal – I will take care of you.”

During his one year at the school, Lazarus found direction for his life. Among many other wonderful things that happened, he received a prophetic word that he would be a church planter in Nepal.

In Dallas, he got connected and served with a Nepali Church that offered Lazarus the opportunity to become a pastor and promised to help bring his family to the USA.

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Ministry outreach to a Nepali village

“The dream of every person in Nepal is move to America and break free from devastating poverty and endless hopelessness,” admits Lazarus. Although staying in America (and leading a church!) was a great opportunity, he knew that God wanted him to go back to his homeland. He had to make a difficult decision.

“I knew that I was coming back to a life of struggle. I had nothing, I was going empty-handed. I had to start from scratch with no support,” he says. In the midst of the storm brewing inside of Lazarus’ mind, God assured him, “Trust Me and I’ll show you the next step. I will open doors for you.”

He decided to follow the Lord’s call, taking the road of hardship rather than convenience.

A New Start

When Lazarus came back to Nepal, he found three families that were in a critical condition. The children had lost their fathers and their mothers were struggling to make the ends meet. Lazarus used the money that the Nepali American church gave him and sent all nine children to school. This act of kindness gave each of them a start in life.

The joy that Lazarus shared with these families was his own, too. He even prayed, “If this is what You want me to do in life, I’ll be the happiest person.” When people heard about what he’d done, they started sending their support, and now they are collectively providing for 35 unprivileged children.

Despite the delight of seeing these children taking steps toward a good future, some of Lazarus’ expectations blew up in his face. The church in Kathmandu that he had served with before coming to CFNI refused to receive him back as a leader. His desperate attempts to be heard by the church leadership and serve under their authority were not successful. It was a challenging time for him.

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Alleviating the suffering of the 2015 earthquake victims

At that time, Lazarus opened his journal and found the prophetic word he had received at CFNI: “You will be a church planter in Nepal.” He got encouraged. “This is why my church is not allowing me to serve with them! I am supposed to plant new churches!” he thought. He went to tell his pastor about this vision. In spite of the perplexity of the situation, the pastor prayed over him and released him with a blessing.

Lazarus’ family, including his parents, supported him. They began to meet on a daily basis, praying, fasting, studying the Bible and seeking the Lord. “From the very beginning, our vision has been to be a church that is worshipping, Spirit-filled and grounded in the Word,” says Lazarus. After six months, God started adding new people to their congregation, Levites Church, and many were saved, healed and delivered.

In March 2014, Levites Church moved from Lazarus’ house to a bigger building. They also planted a daughter church in the neighboring town of Makwanpur and played an active role in alleviating the suffering of the 2015 earthquake victims.

Igniting the Heart of Worship

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Bringing God’s presence to the uttermost parts of the world

For two years, Lazarus diligently served the people God entrusted him with. He wanted to be a faithful steward of that most valuable treasure, but the dream of igniting the heart of worship in Nepal was still burning in his heart. In 2016, God said to him, “You’ve been faithful with what I’ve entrusted you, now I want to respect your desire. Do what you have in your heart.”

From then on, Lazarus’ worship and music ministry launched quickly. God started sending him musicians, musical instruments and other necessary equipment. Now his team of 15 dedicated people travels to different parts of Nepal and India, leading worship and teaching about worship. Lately, God has been opening some amazing opportunities for them to serve and glorify Him.

It’s About Him

“My life is given to me by God to praise Him, and all that I am doing is not about me, but about Him. It’s His business, and He is more concerned about it than I am,” says Lazarus. “God’s love is what keeps me moving forward. I get my inspiration, motivation, energy, anointing and resources from Him alone. Challenges will always be there, but we have to be more focused on God rather than the problems.”

Levites Ministry’s motto is simply “Nepal needs Jesus.”

Because of people with dedicated hearts like Lazarus, Nepal has hope. If would like to connect with Levites Ministry and be part of what God is doing in this part of the world, email Lazarus at lazrusraj@yahoo.com.

 

 

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Why Should You Vote?

By Dennis Lindsay

In June, Ginger and I had the opportunity to attend a historic event. About 1,000 Christian leaders gathered in a closed-door, New York meeting, to have a conversation with Donald Trump concerning the future of our nation.

Flying there, June Hunt, the well-known teacher, author and radio commentator, was seated next to us. June is the Founder and CSO (Chief Servant Officer) of Hope For The Heart. Her two radio broadcasts air on approximately 900 radio outlets worldwide. Ginger told June she was constantly hearing Christians say, “I’m not going to vote.” Why? It’s because they believe that their personal, religious convictions won’t allow them to support either candidate. June’s reply was the next President will select two to five U.S. Supreme Court justices, and it would be a travesty for any Christian to refuse to vote.

The next morning we went to Times Square for the meeting. Franklin Graham opened the event with heartfelt prayer. Dr. Ben Carson, with great sincerity, spoke on behalf of Trump and how he had come to appreciate him. Carson said, “Our ship is going in the wrong direction. We must first stop the ship and turn it around; then we can move in the opposite direction. We cannot fix everything in any one moment. It will be a long journey, but with God’s power we can turn the ship around.” Former governor Mike Huckabee served as moderator and sat across from Trump who entertained questions from Dr. James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Kelly Shackelford, Dr. David Jeremiah, Cindy Jacobs, Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Sammy Rodriguez about religious freedom, Israel, potential Supreme Court nominees and abortion.

Other issues discussed were: defending the right to speak freely from the pulpit without the fear of losing one’s tax-exempt status, the Left’s war on Christians — political correctness, the Second Amendment, the Iran Nuclear Agreement and what type of judges Trump would appoint to the Supreme Court. It seemed obvious that he fully understands the importance of this issue. This is crucial because it doesn’t matter how many good laws are passed if the courts are going to strike them down. Trump continually pointed out that he would appoint judges who would defend religious liberty and be conservative.

Trump’s answer, regarding our concern about Israel, confirmed that he would be a strong supporter of Israel and mentioned that he never understood Jewish Americans who voted for Democrats, like President Obama, who don’t support Israel. It seemed obvious that Trump understands the threat to our country from the religion of Islam and the terrorists produced from its doctrines of hate, even though he has taken a lot of flack from the liberal media for criticizing that religion.

Trump also mentioned that he would take action against cancelling the tax-exempt status of churches if pastors were politically outspoken, which was put into law by President Lyndon Johnson . He also believes that churches should not be restricted from promoting and recommending Christian politicians for office for fear of losing their exemption status and donations from members of their congregation. He wants to give freedom to all pastors to promote individuals who have Christian values and whom they believe can make a godly difference. Other issues he spent time on were restoring and strengthening our military and dealing with illegal immigration.

I sensed tenderheartedness in Donald Trump’s answers. I along with some other Christian leaders haven’t been fans of his because of how he is portrayed by the media — brash, arrogant and sometimes rude, along with questionable investments, vulgar and hateful rhetoric, and biblical illiteracy. At this meeting he was pleasant, relaxed, joking a bit, thoughtful, caring and considerate. There seems to be a mellowed attitude toward receiving biblical values at a greater depth. As Dr. James Dobson mentioned, “I think that he’s open. He doesn’t know our language, and he refers a lot to religion instead of faith and belief.” Dobson’s interviewer responded, “I imagine Saul, when he became Paul, didn’t know the language, either.”

At the meeting’s end, both evangelicals and charismatics knelt side by side and petitioned our Heavenly Father for help in these challenging days for our nation’s future. We prayed for forgiveness, guidance, wisdom and strength to turn this country back to God. I believe it was a very special moment of united power in the spiritual realm. Jerry Falwell, Jr. stated, “If we all wait for the perfect candidate, who has the demeanor of our pastors and agrees with us on every issue, including our personal theological beliefs, then we may all sit at home on election day for the rest of our lives.”

At this event, I saw a reverent and patriotic heart deep within Trump’s 70 years of experience. He remembers when America was great, but now is willing to forget its heritage. Yes, he comes from the secular, marketplace world; yet, he seems to be searching for spiritual answers to his purpose in life. Around him now are some anointed men and women of God. After the meeting I heard Dr. James Dobson state, “Donald Trump has recently committed his life to our Lord.” Pray that in time the fruit of the Holy Spirit will become manifested in his life.

Remember, God gave us this unique, Christian freedom — we are first Christians, members of the Body of Christ, not members of a political party. This is not an endorsement of any political candidate. A responsible Christian should pray, examine character, check the voting record and positions of the candidate to see if they are voting Godly principles. We should not foolishly surrender our right to vote to the enemy. Voting is a priceless freedom and privilege, not only in our lifetime, but for the future of our children. So, go and VOTE!

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