Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Prodigal Restored to God

Today I would like to share a testimony from a brother in South Africa, named Lusindiso, who was away from the Lord.  But God used the testimonies of His mighty deeds in the lives of other believers to bring Lusindiso back to Himself.  Here is his personal testimony:

I grew up in a Baptist Church. In my early teens, I then stopped attending church for worldly things like football. In my late teens, I realized I had a spiritual problem. I went from one witchdoctor to another looking for solutions until one day someone in one of the prosperity churches invited me. After a long time there, with no breakthrough in my spiritual problem, my finances were drying up, as they really ask for money there. Everything is about money. They have campaigns whereby you have to come with all your salary plus bonus and sell your things, and put it all in an envelope with a request, which they say they will pray over in Israel for God to answer your problems.

I then stopped going to any church. One day while browsing through the Internet, I came to a website, where I read a story of a certain ex-satanist from DRC, another African country about three hours flight from South Africa. I then began thinking seriously about my salvation more than my spiritual problem. Then while browsing through the Internet, I came to, from which I read a lot of heaven and hell testimonies that really shook me. My uncle has been inviting me to his church. I then decided to go there. Ever since that time, I have been attending there. However, I have been giving them the testimonies from your website, as they are not a holiness church.

Their leader (the Bishop) has been introducing these testimonies to different groups (youth, mothers, fathers, etc). He has even given me the task of compiling these testimonies, and the corresponding videos, to give to these different groups, so that they may read and start letting go of certain things that the church wasn’t aware were sins before God.

In short, I am in a church that is still striving for holiness through the testimonies found from your site. We thank God for that. It’s not easy, as some are resisting what comes out of these testimonies. Perhaps they feel they cannot be told what to do by a ‘new congregant’ such as me. But I believe with time, God will help us, though we may not have time.

Lusindiso Mfidi


Praise the Lord for bringing brother Lusindiso back to Himself by the saving power of Jesus Christ, through the testimonies of what He has done in the lives of others!  Likewise I pray the Lord will also use Lusindiso's testimony to bring more prodigals home.

My Personal Invitation to You
In closing, please let me say that if you are backslidden -- you were once saved, but are now away from Jesus Christ,  He is calling to you today to return to Him.  He leaves the ninety-nine other sheep in the flock to pursue you -- that one lost sheep.  Return to Him with repentance and weeping.  "Take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to Him, 'Take away all iniquity And receive us graciously, That we may present the fruit of our lips.'" (Hos 14:2) He will forgive you, and heal you.  But don't ever go back that way again!

There is nobody on earth more miserable than a backslidden Christian.  It's a terrible place to be. You might fool yourself into believing that your having fun, but the truth is that deep down inside your soul is aching. You have no peace.  The only answer is to cry out to the Lord for mercy and turn your back on sin.  Separate yourself from the world and consecrate yourself to the Lord once again in holiness. Pour out your heart to God in a covenant prayer something like this one.

It all begins with giving your life back to Him. Won't you do that today?

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.The prodigal son image was uploaded to Wikimedia as a donation by the Brooklyn Museum, and is considered to have no known copyright restrictions by the institutions of the Brooklyn Museum.

Author's Note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like to read "Covenant Prayer," "Drifting Away," "The Truth Set Me Free," The Lord Healed My Backsliding, "Holy Living in a Perverted World," and a poem by my daughter called "The Good Shepherd." You are invited to view my collection of blogs at Writing for the Master

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

You Give and Take Away

One of my Russian friends from Ukraine has an amazing story of God’s miraculous provision and protection that I would like to share with you. Due to the fact that he is still a refugee who has found asylum from persecution, I will just call him Viktor. He has a wife and three children. Here is Viktor’s story.

“We lived in a large city in Ukraine where I was born and raised under communism. In the late 1980’s, I worked for the communist party as the third Secretary of Education for my region. My wife Irena also worked and cared for our three small children, Vitaliy, Oleg, and Lubov.”

I Know What it Means to Be Poor
“We were so poor that I had to search for a few small coins called kopiyka, worth only a few pennies, so that I could ride the tram to work. I remember one day saying to Irena, ‘Where are the fifteen kopiyka we had?’ and she replied, ‘I gave those to you yesterday so you could take the tram.’ So I know what it means to be poor.”

“President Mikhail Gorbachev brought about radical reforms in the Soviet Union, beginning in 1985 with perestroika, which was ‘reconstruction’ aimed at ending the economic stagnation. In 1986 he began glasnost, which allowed greater openness and freedom, including freedom of speech. And in 1987, he enacted a law that allowed for the private ownership of businesses. So I saw the opportunity to get out of poverty and decided to try my hand at being an entrepreneur. I tried many different small businesses, but one after another they failed. I tried selling roses and then artwork, but neither of these was successful. I also got certified in doing home exterior siding, which was a type of stucco. I got the third degree certification and did this for a while, but I could not earn a living at it.”

Successful Business Venture
“Eventually in 1989, after a few years of failed attempts, I struck out on a new venture to start a company that produced cement. The venture capital I received was in the form of a small loan for only 3,000 rubles (roughly US$20 at that time) from a fellow neighbor. During the first year, my company experienced a $10,000 return on investment. By the second year the return was $1,000,000 and by the end of the third year, we had a $50,000,000 return on investment. The success was not due to my great business wisdom and abilities. I knew that God was blessing my efforts. There were just too many instances where I struggled in vain to reach business deals and then something would happen where all the pieces would come together perfectly in a way that could only be explained by the involvement of God’s hand. I was not necessarily a mature Christian, but I considered myself a believer in Jesus Christ and I prayed to Him often inside my heart.”

“The business grew to a level that was beyond my wildest dreams. We reached the point where my company was producing four million tonnes of cement per year. And the company had become a conglomerate with many different businesses inside of it, including a bank. I had a fleet of cars, trucks, and even some planes and ships. Since the company had 160 cars, I could drive a different car to work each day, and they were Audis, Mercedes, BMWs. What a change from the days of searching for fifteen kopiyka to ride the tram to work! I gave each of my 300 employees a free car, an apartment, and a free trip on my plane to Dubai, United Arab Emirates for vacation each year. I was on the Board of many companies I either founded or participated in creating, and in some case I was the Chairman of the Board. I was traveling all over the world on business, including the United States, France, Italy, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Mainland China. I worked with the biggest investment banks and insurance companies in the States and had an American corporation with an actual address in New York City. In fact, I was the first private Russian businessman to go to China and reach a business deal. This was such an important event, that the Chinese did a photo op with me and businessmen from other countries in front of the memorial for Mao Tse-tung in Tsiananmen Square.”

Relocating Displaced Germans
“Of course, the Soviet Union as we knew it collapsed in 1991. At one point in 1992, on a trip to one of the southern states of the former Soviet Union, I discovered that some of the people living there were Germans who had been displaced from their own country during the Second World War. So I decided to help them. I began a project to relocate them back to Germany at my own expense. I was having them shuttled back to Germany in my vehicles. When the German government found out, they wanted to fund my project. About that same time, a Ukrainian media company asked for permission to come and film a documentary about my project that would be aired on television, and I agreed to it.”

“When the documentary was produced, they did not even interview me or the displaced Germans. Instead what they aired on TV was a skewed story that did not tell the truth. It was a disinformation program made to look like the Ukrainian government was leading this project. This was seen on TV in Germany and when the government found out, they directed the funds to the Ukrainian government’s bank account. So even though all of this was being done at my own expense, the corrupt Ukrainian government was getting all the money for it that was supposed to be transferred to my bank account. This incident, along with the other things that were happening, put me in a very high profile position. I was targeted by corrupt government leaders, because I was one of very few wealthy private businessmen in the former Soviet Union at that time.”

Becoming a Target
“One day, I was called into a meeting with some Ukrainian government officials. I sat in a meeting room at a table surrounded by several key individuals. They passed a document to me and asked me to sign it, turning over to them all my assets. They said that if I did not sign it, they would kill my whole family. Even when I signed it, they immediately locked me in a dungeon under guard. While I was in the dungeon, I made a deal with the guard that if he would help me escape, I would help him get out of the country. He was eager to flee the country for a better life, so he agreed to the deal. I escaped and fled to Vienna, Austria. But unfortunately they considered the guard responsible for my escape and killed him, so I was never able to help him get out of Ukraine.”

“While I was hiding in Vienna, I knew I could not call my wife to tell her where I was or what had happened. Surely our phone was bugged and the government was monitoring all calls. So one day my wife Irena received a phone call at our home from a man who said, ‘Come to Vienna and visit your grandmother.’ She knew that something had happened to me, because I had been gone for so long and she had not heard from me. And she understood this call was an encrypted message from me. So she arranged for a car to take her and the children to Vienna. On the night before she was to leave, she was up late in our home, preparing some food for the long trip. She was in the kitchen with the window open to let the steam out and she heard a loud crash against the front door of the home. Upstairs in their bedrooms, even our children Vitaliy, Oleg, and Lubov heard this dreadful sound. Irena went to the front door and opened it. Because the kitchen window was opened, it created a strong draft when she opened the door and flames immediately rushed into the home. Someone had thrown a Molotov cocktail at our front door. In case you don’t know what that is, it is a bottle filled with gasoline and a rag stuck in the top. They light the rag on fire and throw the bottle. When it crashes into pieces, the fuel splashes all over and immediately sets the area on fire.”

“So Irena gathered the children together and they got out of the house without being harmed. It was a miracle. And they stood there outside the home during the middle of the night watching it burn as the fire department came and fought the inferno. Irena took the children and fled to Vienna. As they approached the customs border on a foggy night, the car in front of them was stopped and checked. But when her driver pulled the car up to the checkpoint, the guard simply waved them on to pass without being checked. This was another of many great miracles that happened. She and the children met up with me in Vienna, and this was the beginning of a new journey in which we became refugees fleeing for our lives for the next eighteen years. We had to move about from one country to another, only staying for short periods in each one. We lived in Austria, Hungary, Germany, Denmark, Serbia, Egypt and other countries during this time. But our Soviet Union passports soon expired and we could not go back home to renew them. So we were a family without a country. And we had no money either.”

Our Lives as Refugees
“Often times I was completely out of money and we had to collect all of our coins together just to buy a loaf of bread to eat! I recall making many calls to friends around the world, asking if they could help us financially. And we were so grateful for the many times they did wire money to us to get us through another month. I recall one time I scraped up enough money from the whole family so I could buy a phone card to call a friend and former business associate in the United States. He had helped us many times before and I was once again calling him to see if he could wire us some more money. There I was in the middle of the night in a phone booth with limited time on the card, asking him if he could help us. He said, ‘Viktor, you know I care about you and your family. And I’ve helped you as much as I can. But I have a family, too. And I need to take care of them first. I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to help you this time, buddy.’ As I hung up the phone, I was so discouraged. I wondered where I would get the money to feed my family. Just then the phone in the phone booth rang and I picked it up. A voice of someone I did not know on the other end said, ‘May I speak to Viktor?’ I said, ‘Yes, this is Viktor! Who is this?’ He said, ‘Never mind. Three thousand dollars is being wired to your name via Western Union today.’ So in this way we saw God provide miraculously over and over again, too many times to recount.”

“We eventually took refuge in a major European city. From one year to the next, we continued to survive there. But we were always under short notice from the Immigration Department to leave the country. We had to obtain an attorney to fight for us. God sent us to a lawyer who had recently graduated from law school and worked for us pro bono, meaning at no expense to us. Our time expired so many times, and we got letters telling us we must leave. This created so much stress in our lives, because we knew that if we returned to Ukraine, we would be killed. We knew they would probably be waiting for us in the airport. But somehow God allowed for us to get one extension after another while our case was being adjudicated in the courts. And this went on year after year for sixteen years! Much prayer went into this, and our lawyer was not a believer. But when he saw the amazing things that were happening, he knew we had the favor of God upon us. For example, in one court hearing, we had the harshest judge we could have gotten and she somehow ruled in our favor to grant us a stay for another brief period. Our lawyer said afterward, ‘I don’t know what church you go to, but whatever you are doing, it must be working. This is incredible!’”

Thrown into Prison
“So it continued like this for many years, always wondering if this was our last month in the country. And many incidents happened that terrified us, causing us to call out to God. I had to make trips outside the country to try and get help, but I had to do so with fake passports that were made for me, since I did not have a valid one. This worked for many years, but as technology got better, it caught up to me. One day as I was trying to leave the country, I was passing through customs at the airport and they questioned the validity of my passport. They pulled me aside, causing me to miss my flight and they interrogated me. I figured I had better come clean, so I showed them all of the fake passports I had and told them I was a refugee. They did not believe me and threw me in jail. I was there for three months and grew my beard out long during this time. I was so depressed. They called Irena and the children in for interrogation and questioned each of them separately to try and check the accuracy of my story. Eventually our lawyer got me out of prison miraculously when it seemed so hopeless to us.”

Many Friends and Loved Ones Killed
“But there were many more trials to endure. During this period, back in our home country that we had fled from, representatives of the Ukrainian government kept trying to determine my whereabouts. They interrogated many of my former business associates. When my former associates did not produce the desired information, they were tortured to the point of permanent physical paralysis and even death. Three quarters of our family was killed in an attempt to destroy us. For example, we received news at one point that my mother had been killed in a mysterious car accident. It was an obvious attempt to get us to return home for her funeral. But we didn’t fall for this. At other times, the gangsters who were after me sent rebels from Chechnya to try and hunt me down and kill me. But God protected me and did not allow them to succeed. There are just too many miracles to tell. I would have to write an entire book to do that. But God was clearly with us.”

The Final Decision
“In 2009 we got the final letter from the Immigration Department telling us that all of our appeals had been denied and this was the final decision. They told us that there would be no more appeals allowed and that we had thirty days to get out of the country. Once again, we prayed and asked our church to pray. Somehow we got permission to remain in the country for thirty more days. And we continued to receive thirty days at a time each month after that for nearly a year. Finally we had our court date in the summer of 2010 for the judge’s final decision. As usual, friends from our church were there to support us in prayer. They anointed the doorposts of the building with oil and prayed for a miracle. When the judge gave her decision, it surprised the courtroom, as she actually criticized the Immigration Department. She announced that we would be granted the status of Internationally Recognized Refugees and be allowed to remain legally in the country. When the judge announced her verdict, a wave of the Holy Spirit went through the courtroom. We felt the presence of the Lord and all began to weep for joy. Then our weeping turned to laughter as we shouted ‘Hallelujah!’ to the Lord who saved us from destruction and gave us refuge. My health and my entire family’s health has been adversely affected by the stress all these years, but we trust the Lord will even heal that.”

Free at Last
“After we received our official citizenship documents, we traveled as a family back to Vienna for a holiday together where it all began eighteen years ago. What a joy it was to legally be out of the country for the first time in all those years. As we crossed the border into Austria, we stopped and celebrated with praise to Jesus Christ. As the psalmist wrote: ‘Our soul has escaped as a bird out of the snare of the trapper; The snare is broken and we have escaped.’ (Psa 124:7). It feels strange to feel normal once again.”

“Since then we have traveled together to France and Italy on holiday and that was also wonderful. Then I even went by myself to Israel on a holiday that was the fulfillment of a dream. As I traveled about in that country, I sensed the wonderful presence of the Lord. There was such peace and joy throughout that whole trip. And my driver who was a Muslim testified that he too sensed this peace and joy like never before. He gave his life to Jesus and later told me that his wife also gave her life to the Lord. Praise God!”

“So you can see that God has been good to us. He brought me from rags to riches. And He seemed to do so in order to show me that He could also take it all away. He did take it all away. We lost all of our worldly wealth. These gangsters took it from us, but we have forgiven them completely and we are free. We have the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit and no one can take that from us. Now we have our legal freedom, too! And right after we we obtained our new legal freedom, God provided the venture capital for my new business project, so we became free financially too! And we rejoice over all the Lord has done for us.”

What About You?
As you can see, the Lord has done amazing miracles for Viktor and his family. Jesus loves them so much and heard all of their prayers these many years as they fled from persecution. I asked him why he believes the Lord so blessed his business and he said, “I think He wanted to show me that He could give it all to me and take it all away, too.” Like Job who said, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away,” Viktor has learned to praise God no matter the situation – in times of plenty and times without. I want to encourage you today that no matter what your situation, if you cry out to him to save you, He will hear and answer.

I’m reminded of a song by Matt Redman called Blessed Be Your Name.

It goes like this:

“Blessed be your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s all as it should be
Blessed be your name
Blessed be your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be your name
You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, Blessed be your name.”

If you have not yet put your faith in Christ, I urge you to do that today. He loves you and wants you to know Him personally.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the links in the side bar. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.