Last volleyball match for the year

“Much of what we call mental illness is not mental illness at all. Rather it is often just varying degrees of irresponsibility.” - a quote from someone who knows much but whose name escapes me.

Who am I to wade into such a subject? I hardly think that a course in counseling gives me much authority to speak… and yet, either we believe something or believe nothing and are lost. From what I’ve been taught and observed, I agree with the quote… and will carefully proceed to help people based on the truth of that statement.


We have had an interesting time the last six weeks, trying to figure out what was causing one of our ladies to act very strangely at times. Was it the onset of Alzheimer’s? Was it that alcohol had damaged her physical brain? Was it “a defense mechanism” which she was using to keep others at a distance? Was it that she was deliberately choosing to not think rationally in an attempt to justify her avoidance of responsibility for her actions before others and God? Was it a “mental illness”? We prayed for wisdom.


clip_image002It’s 10:00 Sunday night... Marie has just come in for a night away from the ladies rehab centre. She’s just regaled us with the stories of the last couple of days... nothing out of the ordinary for the reb centre, but definitely still entertaining.

Babushka Maria is such an encouragement to her. She is loving and wise and firm. Her mind has cleared up a lot since her early days and she’s a good influence on the newer ladies.

Yulia, (turned away from the camera), is also someone whose spiritual growth has been remarkable. She called home not long ago and her end of the conversation went something like this: “Mum... Pray, ok. There really is a God, ok, and we don’t see Him, ok, ‘cause He’s a Holy Spirit, but He does exist.” She’s learning so much about life and living for God. After church on Sunday, she was delighted that for the first time in her life she sang to someone… God.

Vika, (at the end), and her 13-year old daughter, Lera, are just about to “graduate”. They will move into a house not far from the ladies center for the winter. Vika is responsible for the home while Marie is here. She’s doing real well.


Last night was our first “post-summer” mid-week gathering.  We had a few newcomers who no doubt were a bit surprised at the non-formality of the atmosphere.  Our Sunday gatherings could hardly be termed “formal”, but by Ukrainian standards…  well, the word “relaxed” fits us to a ‘T’.  We valiantly waded into Revelation chapter 2 and 3 with the goal of applying to our church the encouragement to grow and warnings given to the churches in Asia Minor.  We will meet as a large group for the next several weeks and only at the end of October break up into a few different groups. 

foodOne of the newcomers was a young drug addict who grew up in New York (smiling in the photo).  He was sent to us from a town in Western Ukraine on Monday and is a fascinating study.  He met some Christians here in Ukraine who realized that God may choose to save him through rehab.  Our initial impression is that he’s very open and eager to be accepted… and He’s eating up a storm at the moment, (four days in).  He’s probably already put on 5kg in weight.  The next two weeks will be the first big hurdle for him as his body cries out for drugs.  If he stays, and I think he will, the next big hurdle after that will be at some period in the next few months dealing with his pride and submitting himself to the authorities in his life.  If you pray for him, his name is Zhenya.


IMG_0679I’ve been “relegated” to my office.  There is a ladies gathering in our lounge-room where I am normally set up and there are several little children in the ministry centre room with Angel and Elle and one of Elle’s friends.  I seldom get “relegated”, but am enjoying it at the moment.

I’ve been listening to a video on YouTube by Dr. James White on John 3:16 as the kids have played.  I’ve given this verse a fair bit of attention over the last month… this isn’t the first time I’ve heard Dr. James White address it.  My conclusion is that like me, most of us have heard it, quoted it, and have a good basic understanding of the truth contained in it.  But still, many have an imperfect understanding of it.  What do you reckon?  Are you in that boat? 

Here’s the test:  1.  To what does the word “world” refer to?  2.  What kind of love is God loving with?  3.  The word “whoever” implies that anyone has the opportunity to believe, or does it?  4.  What sort of belief is required for it to affect my eternity?  5.  Are you sure of your answers?