Wednesday, August 31, 2011

An Important Request

Dear friends and partners in the Gospel,

I recently received word about a dear pastor friend of mine who serves in Ternopil. His name is Volodymyr Kostyshyn (and his wife is Oksana). He is a faithful and humble servant of Christ who has been laboring in Ternopil for the past 10 years. I have known him for a few years because one of my supporting churches (Lakes Baptist in Walled Lake, MI) also supports his ministry and has underwritten a major part of the cost of a new building which is being dedicated in October. My point in writing, however, is to ask for prayer for their 6 year old son, Zechariah. He is profoundly handicapped, most likely with a severe form of cerebral palsy. Since birth, he has required 24 hour care as he cannot move or help himself in any way apart from minimal movement of his hands and turning his neck. He has to be fed with a bottle and requires routine diaper changes. Through all of this, his parents have reflected the love and compassion of Christ. They call Zechariah "God's special gift to us." God has used this "gift" and his parent's obedient trust in God's sovereignty, wisdom, and love to impact their church and community. The church now has a strong vision for "invalids" and God is opening doors to other families in the community facing the same situation, but who have little or no hope. Volodia tells me that when he interacts with these families, they usually believe God has punished them for some past sin. Volodia has used this opportunity to share the hope of the Gospel--and people have been amazed and open about a new way of looking at this problem--and at life in general.

But now Volodia and Oksana are facing a crisis. Zechariah has been in the hospital with a dangerously high fever for the past two weeks. Given all of Zechariah's medical history, the odds (humanly speaking) have been against him. Thankfully, however, his temperature has come down somewhat for which they are thankful. But his white blood count is still quite high. Please pray that God might be pleased to heal him. Pray for wisdom for the doctors as they treat him. And pray for His parents that God would give comfort and hope through remembering God's promises and presence. Finally, pray that God will use this situation to impact their church and community in a way that advances the Gospel.

Thank you for your prayers,

Jerry Benge