Surviving The Red Sea Moments of Life
Dr. Hannu Haukka, GCM Ministries Ministry Director
On our journey through life we all will inevitably encounter problems, some of which are big enough to defy imagination. They resemble the Red Sea just ahead of us and the enemy armies of Egypt closing in from the rear.
Recently I read a devotional from a pastor of a major church in America where he talks about seizing our Red Sea moments.
Seizing our Red Sea Moment
"God wants us to seize our Red Sea moments. When we respond in this manner, we are not denying the difficulty of the situation, but we are choosing to trust God to deliver us through the situation. Let me share an example of seizing a Red Sea moment from my own experience.
Not long ago, the church I pastor completed a massive building project. During this process, God gave us a Red Sea moment not only to deliver us through a challenge but also to remind us to trust Him for the future.
Some years ago, we were preparing the plans to present to the church.
At the time, our nation was in the worst recession since the Great Depression. People’s retirement savings disappeared, thousands of people were being laid off every month, banks were in danger of collapsing– and we were talking about the largest church-building program in modern history.
"It's Not Going To Happen"
Our situation began to look more and more impossible. I admit that, like the Israelites looking at the Red Sea, I was looking at our nation’s bleak financial outlook and beginning to wonder if God could truly lead us through it.
"Give Me A Sign"
I prayed, “'God, if You want us to move forward, I need a sign–and I need it today.'” That is a terrible way to pray, I admit, but I was desperate. So I asked God for a sign that would let me know if we were following His leadership in all of this.
That very day, I received a phone call from a friend, who said, “We have been praying about this project, and we want to make a lead gift to get this started.” Several other families, too, stood up and said, “We want to be a part of this in a significant way.
His Miraculous Provision
Six months later, God had miraculously provided one half of the funds for the entire project. But it did not stop there. Our church members realized this was our Red Sea moment. They saw that God had supernaturally parted the waters, and instead of retreating in fear, they said, “'Let’s go forward.'” They gave sacrificially to make it possible. They truly seized this Red Sea moment. And because of our church’s faithfulness and generosity, we were able to raise the full amount. What a testimony to God’s amazing deliverance!
Each Challenge is Different
Of course, I know we will face other challenges as a congregation– and as individual believers. When God is at work, there are always going to be challenges. But you know what? The same God who has led us to this point is going to lead us to the other side."
Confidence In The God of Our Lives
We don’t know what will happen in the future, but we can be confident that God will work through us to deliver us through our circumstances. That is what Red Sea moments are all about.
The Gospel Breaks through In South Sudan
Unbelievable Evangelistic Campaign
The mega city media campaign in South Sudan has been historic in the history of Great Commission Media Ministries.
Over the past four years the civil war in Sudan has claimed almost 400,000 lives. In vicious cycles of revenge across the country, whole villages had been burned to the ground, men and boys killed, women raped, crops plundered, cattle stolen.
When GCMM first visited Juba, the city was under a strict, non-negotiable 7.00 pm curfew. Any violation could have meant death.
No Plans For South Sudan
South Sudan was not on the list of countries waiting for their turn to host a mega city media campaign. We had no intent of going.
But the Lord of the harvest is a God of interruptions. He knows how to interrupt "business as usual" to catch our attention.
In the fall of 2017, South Sudan Council of Churches ambassador, Bishop Dau paid an unexpected visit to the GCMM ministry center in Finland. His mission was to persuade us to come to his country to conduct a sweeping media campaign.
When we agreed, little did we know how devastating the civil war had been. As a result, millions of refugees had fled to neighboring countries. Starvation and disease have taken a horrific toll.
Taking on Illiteracy
According to UNESCO 70% of the population of South Sudan is illiterate. GCMM evangelistic campaigns are conducted in countries where most people are literate. Much of the media is in print form. The powerful, life-changing testimonies are showcased on billboards, in daily newspapers, flyers and social media, not to mention the key campaign tool, the "Power to Change" book.
But the print media would leave much of South Sudan untouched. Illiteracy had to be addressed for the for the campaign to succeed.
Reaching 3,000 Villages
At last four million people in rural areas would be left out. We were told we would need thousands of solar powered digital audio players for distribution to three thousand plus villages across the country.
Twenty thousand players would cost $400,000 USD, as an addition to the campaign budget.
The audio units contained the same powerful life-changing testimonies of local South Sudanese believers as well as the Gospel of John, answers to life's painful questions on revenge, hatred, forgiveness and repentance.
We would need a miracle to buy the units. That miracle came! We moved to order the 20,000 units.
It will forever be true that God loves this world and fallen man more than we ever could. He will provide the way for all nations to hear the Gospel.
We still faced the challenge of distribution of these units in dangerous circumstances.
The President Steps In
One day before the launch of the month long campaign, we were in for a pleasant surprise.
The President of South Sudan promised to publicly endorse the campaign.
At a peace celebration the day before the campaign launch the President addressed a crowd of 500,000 citizens in front of the presidential palace.
His speech was broadcast "live" on national TV and radio. A the podium, behind the president were the heads of state of five African nations.
Without forewarning, the president read from our letter containing the campaign message - "live" to over 4 million citizens of South Sudan.
Every day for 30 days following the president's speech, South Sudan national TV and Radio broadcast the 15 life-changing transformation stories across the nation.
God's Perfect Timing
In the 3 years prior to the campaign, all attempts to bring an end to the civil war had failed.
Fierce fighting between tribes had broken out within hours following the signing of every peace treaty. The nation had lost all hope of any kind of peace. There was talk of the whole nation imploding, complete destruction from within the country.
As the campaign progressed into days and weeks, the situation in South Sudan began to improve. The daily killing in the neighborhoods of Juba had with few exceptions, ceased.
Heaven Was on the Move
All indicators showed that something big was taking place in Juba. The media campaign was exceeding all expectations not only for the churches of South Sudan but for our staff as well. Heaven was on the move!
There was only one word that could adequately describe what was happening on the telephones at the ministry center. That word was “tsunami!"
We had installed a maximum number of 15 phones at the call center to receive calls which were generated by the massive media exposure of the campaign message.
The torrent of calls was staggering. The digital readout of every phone showed over 1,500 calls waiting. To handle that volume of traffic we would have needed not 15 phones, but 1,000 phones. In South Sudan, that was not to be.
Panic At The Call Center
We received a panic call from the service provider saying that the whole system was about to crash, something never before seen in Juba.
And crash it did! The provider could not understand what was happening at the call center.
Based on prior experience in over 105 cities we had calculated that 15 phones would be enough for a city of one million people. We could not have been more wrong.
From the start, the flood of calls illustrated the magnitude of the despair and pain in the nation. Every family had been traumatized in some from. Now, we were seeing the nation reaching out to the God that had the power to heal the wounds of their souls.
The media portion of the campaign ended in December 2018. But, to this day, thousands of calls continue to come in, each week.
The distribution of the requested campaign books and the solar powered audio units was proved to be a challenge. Even in Juba, there were no street addresses.
After some fast thinking and a lot of prayer, we set up distribution centers throughout the city informing the people where to go.
Cell Phone Number For a Book
People showed up by the hundreds at every distribution point, every day. By showing their cell phone number they would receive their copy of the book or the audio unit.
Delivery of the solar powered audio units to the villages is another story and will take up to a year to complete.
We found a respected indigenous missions organization in South Sudan that has undertaken the delivery of the units the those villages.
A Dangerous Mission
But there were dangers involved. Last July, two of their missionaries traveling to one village were ambushed and killed in a spray of bullets.
The follow-up process of all who have responded to the campaign is enormous. The distribution of books and audio players alone will continue for the foreseeable future.
The Minister of Defence Repents
The campaign has touched every level of society. Chairman of the Council of South Sudanese Churches, Bishop James reported that the Minister of Defence, a General of the South Sudanese Armed Forces had been convicted of his manifold sins by repeatedly seeing a campaign billboard outside his office window every morning.
Tormented by his sins, he sought counseling. He had ordered the execution of thousands of South Sudanese. He had ordered the burning of villages throughout the country. He told the bishop that he needed peace and was ready to go to prison to do penitence for his crimes.
5,000 Tribal Warriors
Malakal is well know for the bloodiest battles of the civil war in South Sudan.
The Bishop had attended a first ever prayer meeting where 5,000 members of all warring tribes had come together.
The keynote speaker put one of our audio units to the microphone and played the powerful life-changing testimonies for all could hear.
Just before Christmas we received word that the government had placed an order for 1,500 campaign books and audio units to be presented to all government Ministers, military officers and the police force.
These principle of these evangelistic media campaigns is not new.
The same strategy is found in the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul.
Paul deliberately targeted the hub cities of Asia Minor, ministered there and planted new churches where none were to be found. He then strengthened and encouraged these churches.
Paul knew that by targeting hub cities the Gospel would spread to other cities and towns in the region.
Missions, in all its diverse forms, requires patience and perseverance. The same is true for South Sudan.
Our prayer is that 2019 will be a year of abundant blessings for South Sudanese churches as well as you, our faithful partners.
Thank you for your prayers and for your crucially important support that has made the South Sudan campaign a reality for millions of people in the nation.
Ministering To Churches In The War Zone
Later this year, the churches in East Ukraine's war zone will experience a rare evangelistic media campaign.
Churches in the zone will work together with GCMM to reach two million Ukrainians living in a region called "Donbas."
The campaign will target a 400 km stretch of Ukrainian territory currently occupied by hybrid Russian forces.
Stretching from the port city of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov to the vicinity of the city of Luhansk, the last major city in the occupied territory.
The campaign will be conducted in unusual circumstances. The sounds of war can be heard daily from almost every village along the front lines. In January alone, The Minsk peace agreement signed was broken 200 times in just one 24-hour period.
Recently a small delegation of army chaplains visited the GCMM ministry center in Finland.
Chaplains Albert Homyak, Eduard Tyomny and Chaplain Yevgeni Kovalenko from the village of Chermolyk described the ministry of a chaplain in the war zone.
Chermolyk is located only a few hundred meters from active military activity. We asked Yevgeni, what his duties as a Chaplain include?
– We have served as Army Chaplains for over 15 years. Our task is to assist people living through tough times. We serve in areas where the war has brought much suffering and anxiety.
– Recently we visited European capitals to tell the people about the plight of Christians in the war zone. Europeans were ignorant of the ongoing conflict in East Ukraine.
They said the conflict had ended. In reality the crisis is just beginning to escalate.
During the recent crisis 24 Ukrainian sailors were arrested by Russian forces. They were to arrive in Mariupol. Albert, how did the residents of Mariupol react to this incident?
– Yes these ships were headed to Mariupol to defend the city. The vessels were sent to defend our city in the event of an attack from the Sea.
– This was a heavy blow to us. The very people who came to defend us were arrested. This was the first time that such an attack has happened. several were wounded in the incident and the sailors are in a custody in Moscow.
Albert, GCM Ministries is planning a Power to Change media media campaign in the conflict zone...
– The conflict zone is about 20 km from Mariupol. Military activity can be seen from our window. Everyday we lose soldiers or civilians. The war continues. We live very close to the thunder of heavy guns. Mariupol is the largest Ukrainian city in the war-zone.
Yevgeni, you live in the village of Chermolyk, located along a river separating Ukrainian and Russian troops. Within a few hundred meters is occupied territory. People live there...
– Regardless of the war, life must continue. A Chaplain not only preaches the Word of God but also teaches the people how to get by amidst challenging circumstances. They need to be taught how to move about where fields dotted with land mines, where there is no freedom of movement.
– The people need to know how to live their daily lives in daylight when there is no military activity. After sunset, hostilities erupt. When residential areas are targeted people need to find cover, move to the safety of cellars, etc. When we have a fire, there are no fire trucks, no fire department. People join hands to fight the fire with whatever means they have at their disposal.
– They need to take care when they move about outside. They may step on a land mine. We had one incident recently. Because there are no ambulances we called on soldiers, medics who come to the assistance of wounded people. You have to learn to live in these circumstances.
– There are about 150 children in our village. All public events are held during daylight hours. Often, as darkness falls these same meeting places are targeted by enemy fire. All of this makes it difficult to live in these circumstances.
– We can see the enemy forces with the naked eye. In the same way, they too can see us without binoculars. If they spot an unidentifiable vehicle or group of people, they open fire.
– They even opened fire on a school celebrating summer break. The parents shielded their children with their own bodies as they rushed for cover.
Albert, why don’t the people just leave the war zone?
– Evacuation from the war zone is not an option if there is no place to evacuate to.
– There is not enough housing in Mariupol or any other place for people to go. People seek solutions to their own situation. Sometimes people have been graciously allowed to stay in communal homes. People know that they are not greatly desired, sought after in the homes of strangers. So, many have stayed behind to protect their houses and property the best they can.
Yevgeni: – I want to add that before this war began Chaplains were not greatly respected. But when war broke out, responsibility for evacuations fell into the hands of these same Chaplains.
For example, Albert was on the move constantly as were the rest of us. Our sacrificial service and assistance to those trapped in the war zone was noticed and we were recognized for the professional care rendered to these people in despair. We sought donations from our churches.
I too personally donated everything from my home: mattresses, blankets, cutlery and cooking utensils. I ended up sleeping on the floor with my sons. It was more important to me to help others in need.
Albert: – About 2.5 million people remain in the conflict zone with one two million people on the Ukrainian side.
Eduard, do you have contact with the churches in Donetsk and Luhansk? We hear that the churches are facing great adversity...
– At he beginning of the war, we did have contact. Often, we would visit the prisons and prison camps and minister to people there. Currently, it is not possible for representatives of evangelical churches to minister. Only Moscow’s Orthodox Church has access. There is a lot of hostility toward evangelical churches.
Albert: – They have passed a law stating that all churches in the conflict zone must re-register with the authorities.
– I talked to one pastor who went to numerous government offices repeatedly. No one would sign his reregistration documents. Because of the refusal of the authorities to validate the papers they were declared illegal.
– In the occupied areas the government required churches to re-register but at the same time they created conditions that made it impossible to re-register.
Jevgeni, you have moved to the village of Chermolyk, in the conflict zone.
– Yes, in January of 2015 my friend Albert Homyak invited me to visit his home. We visited the war zone where we met with our met with our soldiers. We also visited with people living in the area. They had been living a normal life with dreams and aspirations regarding their future. But in a brief moment, they had lost everything they owned.
– Those who were able, fled. Others stayed behind. Of the 3,000 people living in Chermolyk only 1,000 people stayed behind. Everyone else left the area.
– This deeply touched my heart. I felt it was God’s call for my life. At first, we visited the villages and then decided to plant new churches. Currently, we have three new churches in the villages of Chermolyk, Orlovsk and Pavlopol, all in the war zone.
Hunger for the Word of God
– People are open to the ministry of the Word of God. There is a hunger. They realize that no one is able to help them. Only God can bring them help.
– And so, that is why they have sought Him in earnest. We understood that this was God's call to us to minister to these people. We landed in these villages like marines landing on a beach. Church planting was our primary goal," Yevgeni Kovalenko says. We must not stop what has been started because these people are important to God. They are like orphaned children. That’s why God has called us to care for them.
GCM Ministries has financed the building of a chicken farm close to the conflict zone...
Albert: – This chicken farm is located in the village I live in. We live in Chervonoye, on the outskirts of Mariupol.
– The broiler farm is of great importance to the whole ministry. There is no longer a shortage of meat-based protein for the many children in "Pilgrim" orphanage.
– The farm produces enough meat for the facility for the elderly in Demyanovka. They are physically restricted. We also deliver broilers to the soldiers on the front lines when we travel to hold services and minister to them. We also help families with adopted children. No matter what happens people always need to eat, and meat is part of a person's normal diet.
Yevgeni: – I’d like to add that the broiler farm is built and operates like a European facility. We have air-conditioning, showers and the workers wear white overalls. I haven’t seen a similar place like this in Mariupol.
– And each time I come to the "Pilgrim" orphanage at meal time the aroma from the kitchen is amazing. The children now have meat to eat, thank God. And, when we visit the soldiers and villagers in the conflict zone we take along 30–50 kilos (65- 110 lbs) of broiler meat.
Albert: – The "Pilgrim" orphanage is a place for orphans live in abnormally challenging circumstances in their young life. Either they have no father or mother or the parents are not sober enough to care for their children.
– Perhaps the worst thing is that people grow accustomed to living in the shadow of war. Once, we took some humanitarian aid to the village of Granitnoye. I met a woman who had two children. One was five, the other a bit older.
– We met on the street and gave her some food aid, and spoke with her. Suddenly, a short distance away we heard explosions.
– Instinctively I ducked, but the 40 year old woman said: “Don’t be afraid, the explosions are to the right of us, near buffer zone where our soldiers are stationed.”
– This lady, who had lived in the war zone from the beginning, was able to clearly identify the type of weaponry used, and where it was used. This was a scarey development.
– Today, if a child is injured, the child receives first aid immediately. Buildings damaged by shelling are repaired without delay as well. At the start of the war, damaged homes stood empty for up to a year. Now we have teams of construction workers to repair them as soon as possible.
Albert, you are the father of 13 adopted children. How do you manage to take care of them?
– Let me make a slight correction, I am the father of 14 children. We took in another boy December 23. Our family continues to grow.
– First of all, we are followers of Christ. And our fellow brothers and sisters do help us. Among them are friends from Canada and the US, and Finland.
– Representatives from GCM Ministries has visited us several times. You visited our "Pilgrim" home for orphaned children. You have supported us with gifts and much needed supplies. You helped us build a very good chicken farm. This past Christmas, you brought us a new washer, dryer and a refrigerator. I am so thankful that our many friends have financially supported this joint project.
The support came from GCM Ministries partners. Eduard, what can you say about the upcoming evangelistic media campaign?
– The timing for this campaign is strategic and comes at a time when we need it. Family members and relatives living in the war zone have been separated from each other. Some live in the occupied territory while others live in Ukraine.
– The people are divided even in the villages and towns. Some relatives live on opposite sides of the conflict. They do not live in peace with one another. They need to forgive each other. Otherwise no change will take place. This is an urgent item for prayer. Things do change through prayer.
The fate of an abandoned child is in the hands of the parents. Yevgeni, this must be familiar to you.
– The Bible says: Give to the needy and feed the orphans. At "Pilgrim" orphanage, we have decided that if something happens to the parents we won’t send the children to a government controlled care center. For this reason, Albert has taken the most desperate children that nobody else wanted.
– These children have been through hell and nobody cares. They would have ended up in a government facility and most likely they would have become criminals, violent, murders. They would have ended up in prison for life.
– Albert has adopted them and I am 90% sure that these children will grow up as good people. This is a work of God. Albert could not do this alone.
Albert, The Apostle Paul writes about the ministry of reconciliation in 2. Cor. 5:19. We are ambassadors of Christ.
– We all need to experience change. We have lived in the shadow of war for the past five years. We cannot live without reconciliation. As Christians we have been entrusted with the message of reconciliation.
– Without reconciliation nothing good will happen. We are trusting that this planned media campaign will convict people of change, forgiveness, reconciliation.
– The Church wants to extend a helping hand to all who need it. We pray that an explosion of love in the Donbas region will produce good fruit. I believe it will be the beginning of peace in East Ukraine.
Eduard, anything to add to this?
– I would like to see reconciliation happen in families that have been torn apart by politics and war.
– That the campaign message will touch the souls of children who have suffered because of the war and adults who have remained in the warzone, not being able to move away because of lack of infrastructure.
– Each side blames the other. We need a change of heart on both sides. This is why the campaign is so important in the war-zone.
You’ve got the last word Albert.
– As a pastor, a Chaplain, a servant of God and father of 14 adopted children, I would like to thank our brothers and sisters, all the supporters who have not turned a blind-eye to this catastrophe in East Ukraine.
– Thank you for your financial support and prayers. I certainly see the benefits of humanitarian aid, but we also need your prayers as we travel inside the war-zone with exploding land mines. The Lord is our Protector and provides safety.
– Please continue to pray for Ukraine, for children and people in this area who suffer and who crave peace and a normal life. God bless you and thank you.
Yevgeni: – A big thank you to you. Our prayer is that you would never experience this kind of suffering.
– May your children grow up safe and happy. May you be healthy and happy. We love you.
”Go your ways. Listen, I am sending you...” Luke 10:3
Harvesting Souls On The Continent of Asia
The month long Calcutta media campaign together with over 300 churches of the city reached 17 million Hindus and Muslims. According to secular TV network data millions more in West Bengal watched the powerful transformation stories on television. Several hundred thousand people called the ministry call center to request "15 stories that can change their lives." Follow up of these people has continued through the year. GCMM has conducted mega city campaigns in the Indian cities of Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kathmandu in Nepal and Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Harvesting Russia's Harvest fields with the printed Word
GCMM ministry to Russia continued through 2018. In spite of the tense situation in Russia we printed and distributed 500,000 copies of the Gospel of John, New Testaments and evangelism books. These books are prime tools for evangelism requested and used by hundreds of churches across Siberia to the Pacific east coast. Our 24/7 Russian language Internet TV channel saw daylight. Target: Over 100 million Russians who have smart phones, tablets or computers.
Harvesting Souls On The Continent of Africa
The recent campaign in South Sudan shook the nation (see story on pages 4-7). The nets of the churches were torn. The quantity of responding people outnumbered the capacity to follow them up. The ministry call center would have required 1,000 phones to receive all the incoming calls.
Preparations for a major campaign in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania progressed despite some delays in 2018. The Dar es Salaam campaign is scheduled for launch in October of 2019 with more than 1,000 churches on board. The churches are praying for move of God and a harvest not yet witnessed in the country.
Harvesting Souls in Non Christian Cultures in the Middle East
Satellite is a tireless "missionary," GCMM uses 16 satellite TV channels that beam Gospel TV programs into the heart of Islam from North Africa and across the Middle East to the Pakistan border.
Over 600 million Muslims live inside the footprint of these satellites. In 2018, GCMM programing reached over 100 million viewers per month with 200,000 responses per month.
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