Thursday, November 29, 2007

another little pearl at the Istanbul Contemporary Art Fair

God is bigger than our failures

“You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good…”Gen.50:20
Joseph could see the hand of God in his own trouble.
When he became a victim of injustice he discerned the sovereign plan
of God in it.
I’m sure this was an undeniable testimony to his brothers.
God was bigger than their failure.
The Jewish people got offended with Jesus and together with the rest
of the fallen race demanded Jesus to be crucified.
Pilate gave the final verdict and wrote an unwanted title on the cross:
Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. John 19:19
This was not in their plan. They tried to talk Pilate into changing
the text. Pilate answered with the famous words “ what I have
written, I have written”.
Every by passer would be given another opportunity to hear the truth.
We have all the reason to believe that God works in the same way in
our lives today. Even our failures can be turned into victories.
Does Romans 8:28 include failures? Not as a reason to justify them, but as
they are there, why not let God turn them into his victories.

Kutsal Kitap?

an artist's view of the Holy Book at the Istanbul Contemporary Art Fair


He was a rich, young ruler. Matt.19
Seemingly he had achieved everything that life had to offer.
He came to Jesus with an empty heart.
He asked Jesus for his program. Maybe it would help him to
forget about the vanity of everything.
Jesus, what are your rules? What is your method?
What is your program?
Jesus shocked him by simply inviting him to follow him.
Listen to him daily. Depend on him for your next step.
But, how am I supposed to live my life? What is forbidden?
What is allowed? Maybe I can manage it?
In Christianity there are no rules, there is full freedom.
Gal.5:1, I Cor.10:23-24
All things are lawful for us, but not everything is wise.
That sounds very liberal.
Jesus is counting on his relationship with us.
The Bible says, whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. I Cor.10:31
I think that most of us think that God has given us too much
freedom. For sure we will not be able to live right without
an outward control. Rules would make us feel more secure.
Many times people don’t steal, because they simply don’t have an
opportunity to do that. They steal only in their hearts.
But isn’t this the way how God is glorified:
when I don’t steal, even if I had a perfect opportunity to do that.
Why not? Because I’ve been set free not to do it.
True freedom means freedom from inside. It doesn’t depend on people.
It doesn’t depend on circumstances.
It is our greatest responsibility.
Freedom is a sure sign that God trusts in the power of his grace towards us.
If he didn’t, he would have created perfect religious robots that would be
programmed only to obey.
Free will is his first gift to man.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

so many lives are wasted

the family of God

“Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ,
if any comfort of love,
if any fellowship of the Spirit,
if any affection and mercy,
fulfill my joy by being likeminded,
having the same love,
being of one accord,
of one mind.” Phil.2:1-2
Spiritual unity is not in our power to produce.
It goes beyond our subjective minds and experiences.
However, we practice it by discerning it.
God has only one church on the earth.
If I know and honor even the basic doctrines concerning the Body
of Christ, I become a team player together with all the born-again
believers in the world.
I will not accept an evil report about other believers or their churches.
I will not attack the family of God by spreading around the scandals
of their failures. I will not rejoice in other believers’ failures.
Instead I should make a greater effort” to do good to all,
especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Gal.6:10
The worst type of sectarianism is a self-righteous group of
believers who make a big noise of the speck they found in their
brother’s eye, while their own eyes and ears are stuffed with
huge planks.
Let’s learn to rejoice in other believers’ victories and pray that
we, too, could help the family of God to be encouraged today.

P.Joseph in Pakistan

Pakistan news cont.

Every night my hosts organized some kind of activity that involved preaching and teaching. Truly humbling experience, to have hundreds of people in total silence listen to me, they called me “The Voice of God”. They truly believe that when the Pastor speaks from the Bible that is the voice of God personally to them for that day. God really anointed all the messages I prepared, and several nights I had to battle my tears while ministering. 70-90% of Christians in the areas I visited do not know how to read or write! 80% of these families live in rented rooms, sometimes up to 12 persons in that room, it depends on how many children they have.

I had 3 afternoons with the local pastors from the surrounding villages, and I told them that I came to listen to them. I was amazed by their depth in the Word and their clear understanding of Love, Grace, Mercy and their practical Christian lives. These Pators live on the love offerings of their churches, which as you can understand by now is not enough to keep up the family, so the pastors work part time as teachers, or other jobs they can get for the day. This is what I learned from them: they do not believe in accumulating goods for themselves therefore if there is a great love offering or someone in the community finds money that is considered extra they come and give what is God’s to the Pastor who immediately turns it back on to their most needy in the church. It sounds too good to be true, but after visiting their households I can testify that they put their money where their heart is! They give it all, the Acts way.

These pastors want Bible Schools! They want to educate themselves and their people. I had the privilege of showing them classes from Maryland Bible College and Seminary that was on my laptop, and they eagerly listened to Pastor Stevens delivering a message on Preaching, Pastor Schaller on Discipelship, Pastor Schibelli on Church Planting, and Pastor Love on First John. They fell in love with Bible School !!! So I left my laptop with about 100 classes and messages to Pastor Samuel (the only pastor to speak good English amongst them) to translate them one by one to URDU and re-teach them to their congregations. They promised to start Bible School first week of December. PRAY for this please and GIVE so we can help them with necessary things for the church room so it could be made more comfortable to the students to sit through Bible School classes.

There is so much to share!

Visited many church buildings that are functioning churches, but so poor that there is nothing inside except the rough carpets. They do build churches, the most impressive one has been started 8 years ago and according to the local believers they took joy from their children with giving all their money to have this worship place, giving glory only to God. They are quiet serious when it comes to the worship place, but most of the churches have major structural problems or need major renovation. Many believers come to a new church when the new renovation or construction is completed. Let us provide them with some things from their churches. If you are interested I can show you pictures with structures, and share specific needs.

There is much more to share and this letter will continue shortly.

Please pray for us, I will be taking our daughter Rebecca to Baltimore Wednesday Nov 28th. We will be seeing doctors and have the necessary tests done. Also, I am available from Wednesday night on my US phone number 443 939 0237.

In Christ,

Monday, November 26, 2007

the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands,Acts 7:48

we are learning

We are all learning. That means that we become better.
If we were perfect in the art of life we wouldn’t have to
look for ways to become better.
Jesus made it very clear. Matt.16:24-26
We cannot go on without loosing our lives.
He wasn’t referring to the physical death of his disciples.
Loosing our lives, taking up the cross, means to give up our old
ways of doing things. Often we are so educated and skilled in
our old, godless ways that we see no need for a change.
Learning means to put on the New Man. Eph.4:20-24
We don’t know how to speak the truth. We have to learn it.
We don’t know how to forgive; how to edify; how to love
unconditionally, how to honor.
We have a lot to learn.
No wonder that God calls himself a teacher. Matt.23:8
People have been married for over thirty years and all the
sudden find out that they don’t love one another.
What is God’s answer? Is divorce the only solution?
I believe God’s answer is: Learn to love one another?
You don’t love people. Well, who does?
Look at us. We aren’t really the most lovely creatures in the universe.
We don’t love people, but we can learn.
It’s the new life.
It’s the only life that is worth living.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Welcome to Pakistan !

believers in Pakistan

from Pakistan

I spent 10 full days in Pakistan , in the outskirts of Lahore city, and the outskirts of Shekupura with some of the poorest Christians in the world. You must have heard of child labor and slavery in our modern age, you can see this scary way of life with your own eyes here. The saddest fact is that many that are exploited are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Children from Christian families go to the factory early morning, or to the brick making farm, they go and parents do not see them for a week, or many never return or return without pay, injured, crippled. Many Christian wives work as domestic servants in Muslim homes, where they are often raped, accused of stealing, beaten, abused to degrees I will not dare telling. Also, there are now few cases where Christian families are indebted to Muslim rich people and these Muslims press on the families till they change their religion to Islam. Near Shekupura there is a case of 300 families that had to change religion because of being in debt to their masters causing a humanitarian concern. The shocking part is the amounts of money they are in debt with, that are from 100-400$ per family, and this debt is a generated one over many years of their masters (just like the Egyptians did with the sons of Israel) working them and sucking out of them every life they got. Sad situation, but I wanted to start my letter with these facts so you would understand my testimony that follows latter.

P.Joseph Marian

you can view 1000 pictures from this trip:

pass: grace5


pass: grace5


enjoyable team work

team work, Umid and Hidir

team concept

It sounds so incredible for Jesus to say that in himself he can do nothing.
In John 5:19,30 he makes these radical statements.
He, the sinless, perfect man was not able to do anything outside of his
relationship with the Father. This seems to be the original
team concept. God, the Trinity doesn’t really exist without a relationship.
This is a must. Without a relationship within himself whom could he have
existed to? Existence doesn’t make sense without an interaction.
During his earthly life Jesus was surrounded by his disciples.
Even though he had times when he withdrew from their company,
He chose them to be with himself. Mark 3:14
Working together with his disciples probably wasn’t always
the fastest way to get things done. He had to wait for them, explain,
correct, explain again and keep on waiting. Later these men were
known as the ones who had been with Jesus.
In the times of their trials and disappointments their history with Jesus
was their strength. As they had known Jesus in the flesh, their prayers
after his resurrection, must have been very specific and personal.
They were speaking to their best friend.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me , and I in Him,
bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
In the times when we feel like a rotten apple hanging down, we can comfort
ourselves with the fact that we at least are hanging down in the right tree.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

"the field is the world", Matt.13:38


Isn’t it strange how thanksgiving so easily turns into politics.
People thank others publicly in order to gain their future
support for their own endeavors. Sometimes the thanksgiving
speeches become annoyingly too long, turning a good intention
to a bad fare show in the flesh.
What are the ways to thank people besides words and financial
It looks like a speechless thanksgiving takes a longer time.
It cannot be just a superficial comment.
Time will show the reality of our thanksgiving.
Naturally we are so inclined to forget God’s goodness towards us.
When he meets our desperate need we thank him from the bottom
of our hearts.
“Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of
the fowlers; The snare is broken, and we have escaped.” Psalm 124:7
Soon we are tempted to trust our own understanding again.
Continuing thanksgiving is our strength.
It’s the best medicine against pride and selfishness.
Thanksgiving should not become a mechanical ritual for the purpose
of receiving something from God.
It’s our uncompromising appreciation to God’s amazing love for us.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pastor Vladimir Tolmachev from Turkmenistan

Greetings from Ashgabat, Turkmenistan!

I want to share with you what have already happened and is happening in our church here in Turkmenistan.

One of the outstanding events that have already taken place was our first Turkmen Christian wedding! Who used to live in the Central Asian countries, knows what the national wedding means. Actually it’s sale-and-purchase deed. The young girl is being sold (without any quotation marks!) to her future husband. Yes, it’s still so on the East. It’s not the Old Testament, it’s 2007 year A.D.! Every young Turkmen lady knows her cost literally in terms of money since her young age. Of course, now there aren’t so many facts of groom having never seen his bride untill the wedding, but it’s happening sometimes.

The wedding that took place in our Mary church not so long ago has its background. The groom and the bride have known each other rather well as several years ago the elder brother of the groom got married to the elder sister of the bride . After that there were big changes in those families as the whole family of the groom believed in Jesus Christ, and so did all the woman’s part of the bride’s family. But it was quite difficult to deal with the men’s part – they were convinced followers of Islam.

The news about possible marriage with the Christian didn’t make happy the man’s part of the bride’s family. They were against it. But if God’s for us, then who’d be against us? The decision of wedding was made.

And now the family council of the groom’s family makes an absolutely incomprehensible for all the relatives decision: 1. The wedding will be without alcohol; 2. People from the church will be invited to the wedding; 3. The wedding ceremony will be held by Pastor. This decision was a huge step of faith for all that family members as there wasn’t any support from the side of the relatives. But God’s put even the traditions on Нis people’s side.

The point is that usually at the East the wedding doesn’t pass for one day. The first day is like a parting of the bride with her parents’ house, it’s an informal day. And the second day the wedding is taking place at the groom’s house – it’s a formal day. This day the marriage is being registered officially, but...the relatives from the bride’s side can’t be there at that day. The Lord took care and there wasn’t any who was against of doing just the opposite.

It was decided first to register the marriage officially and to give out the marriage certificates, and then to hold the wedding ceremony, but God did everything in His own way again. The worker of the Registry Office was late to the fixed time and I had to start the wedding ceremony: firstly God has tightened the bonds of marriage, and then when I declared them a husband and a wife, the Registry Office worker appeared with the marriage certificate where the newly-weds put their signs. Everybody thought it was planned in such way!

Over 300 people in the hall were listening with an interest to the words of the couple’s vows, watching the rings and candles ceremonies. Nobody of them have ever seen that in their lives, if only on TV, but here it was just before their eyes.

Many things were marvellous for the large crowd of guests: songs about Christ, verses about our Savior, testimonies, numerous group of guests from Ashagabat church, and fun without alcohol.

There was another wedding (secular) in the same building on the next floor. And people from there called the Christian wedding a “strange wedding”. It was really strange for many people as it showed the very different joy, the joy in Christ.

Our group was coming back to Ashagabt at night, we were overwhelmed with the impressions and encouraged by those steps of faith our brothers & sisters in Christ are making in the city of Mary.

May the Lord bless you,

P. Vladimir Tolmachev

Mail to:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

freedom to laugh is our privilege

Peter represented Baltimore very well on the dancing floor

Zaur was the dancing star of the night

at the wedding reception in Baku

congratulations Ruslan and Kristina!

spiritual growth

Grace is not a diploma that would prove that one has graduated
from all trials and failures.
It’s rather a road map that needs to be carefully studied in order for
us to find the address of God’s plan daily.
Is grace a weaker motivator than the Law?
Yes, if our knowledge of grace is just something general
and not personal and specific.
It seems like Paul was questioning the need of his trials in II Cor 12.
He probably felt that he had had enough difficulties and trials.
God’s answer was grace.
Get to know him in all circumstances and you’ll be able to
face anything. Trials become your strength.
This is called spiritual growth.
“He must increase. I must decrease.” John 3:30
“When I became a man, I put away childish things.” I Cor.13:11
“forgetting those things which are behind…” Phil. 3:13
When we grow spiritually we become weaker.
We become more responsible.
We become slower in the flesh.
We become more hungry for God.
It looks like life would be so much easier without spiritual growth.
Yes, easier and less interesting.

Monday, November 19, 2007

some things never change, a view in Baku

Pastor Schaller's leadership class in Baku

joyful fellowship after the morning service

Sunday morning service in Baku

it's a responsibility

There’s a big difference between a person who strives to be a leader
and a person who loves God and is therefore led to love people.
A Christ-like leader cannot use other people as stepping stones for his
own promotion.
Christ taught us a different kind of leadership.
You lead by laying down your life.
Only unhealthy people need a leader who controls and demands a
blind obedience.
On his own man is tempted to think that being a leader means
more privileges and more power.
In the Bible leaders are characterized by the amount of responsibility
that has been entrusted to them.
It’s been a great joy to visit the Baku church together with Pastor Schaller.
He mentioned several times that he has never seen
a church that has so much joy.
He was jokingly guessing that it maybe comes from the water.
This kind of joy is so rare in the world today.
It is a gift from God,
therefore it cannot not be taken away by men.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


kin brothers





modern day Exodus

The last Khan of the Pamir Kyrgyz people, Rahman Gul,
saw the Soviet Union born and spread it’s Atheistic Philosophy
to the ends of the world.
In a bold move he led his people, around 5000 of them,
to China. They didn’t want to become a part of the Soviet Empire.
This was the beginning of their journey in the search for a peaceful
homeland. Soon after their move to China, they met with groups of
fanatic Chinese who proclaimed another type of Communism, Maoism.
Rahman Gul was on move again.
They settled in Afghanistan till the Soviet army started befriending
the Afghan government. They escaped to Pakistan.
This was the most difficult part of their exodus. Many of them died
in sicknesses and poor conditions in the heat.
He wrote letters to several governments in the free world.
The Americans promised them a lot in Alaska. Two hours before they
Were about to sign the final contract they received a letter from Turkey.
Turkey promised to receive them to the mountains of Eastern Turkey.
About twenty five years ago they airlifted 3000 people from Pakistan
to Turkey. Ulupamir village was born.
Rahman Gul died seventeen years ago.
His sons are sharing the leadership , but non of them claims to have
the same authority as their father.
Pastor Gani and I visited one of his sons, Arif, for two days.
He sees the tensions rising in Eastern Turkey.
Most of the men in the village work for the Turkish army guarding the
area against terrorism. Their co-laboring with the Turkish Government
has not helped their already shaky friendship with the neighboring
Kurdish villages.
They all want to move to Kyrgyzstan. Only some of them have enough
finances to do it.They have chosen to stay together. All go or no one goes.
Early in the morning, before we left the village, I shared with Arif Bey
how we all seek a country, but it is not here.
We are created for heaven.
Pray with us as we continue encouraging these people in their
time of trouble.

in Ulupamir

Friday, November 9, 2007


Tonight there will be the opening of the art exhibition
FROM MY WINDOW / Matti Sirvio
at 6 p.m.
at Istanbul Ymmo Gallery
Istiklal Caddesi 146
Right after the opening TRIO VOCE from Finland
together with ARIEL from Baltimore
will perform in the Santa Maria Church,
which is close to the Russian Conculate on the Istiklal Street.

Central -Asian leaders in the East Meets West conference

Sunday, November 4, 2007

from my window

it is amazing

It is amazing how God allows Satan
to come so close to us . Even when we desire to do good
solely, evil is present with us. Rom. 8:21
This is discouraging, but victorious in the same time.
God doesn’t give Satan a choice.
He has to be present in our lives.
This is a part of his judgment.
He has to daily witness how the glory of God is revealed in
our earthen vessels.
This is his humiliation in the midst of his ostensible success.
I’m sure that every time when a child of God chooses to give
and to receive grace tons of frustration is experienced in the
demon world. We don’t defeat the demon armies by shouting
louder. They are incapacitated by the sweet words of forgiveness.
The evil is strangely present in the church , too.
Again, I think that God doesn’t give Satan a choice.
He has to” go to church”.
This is where God displays his glory today.
It is not seen in the golden decorations of ancient buildings
God is glorified in human relationships, when believers choose
to look beyond failures in order to see one another’s needs.
“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory
by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while,
perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” I Pet.5:10

Thursday, November 1, 2007