Wednesday, November 27, 2013

First Students Graduate from Baylor - Moldova MSW Program

On November 20th, 2013, The Baptist Standard published an article on first graduates of Baylor University's Master of Social Work program offered on campus of the Bible College in Moldova. I (Oleg) helped in launching and development of the program, serving as a liaison between the school in Moldova and Baylor.

Friends from the Woman's Missionary Union and the WMU Foundation based in Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.A. are to be credited with the idea of the partnership between the two schools. The program began to take shape when first Baylor University's School of Social Work (Diana Garland, Dean) professors Drs. Preston and Genie Dyer visited Moldova in 2005.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Support Turlac Mission in 2014!

We thank God for your faithful support of our ministry in 2013 and with excitement and enthusiasm look forward to the year 2014, which promises to be a great year of ministry. As always, we will continue "helping one person at a time in the name of Jesus."

In 2014, we plan to: (1) travel on mission trips to Moldova and 4 “Stan” countries, (2) provide financial support, Bibles and Christian literature on tablet PCs to persecuted Christians, (3) help women-victims of human trafficking in Moldova by providing for them food baskets, skills of life and sewing machines, (4) help families with autistic children that are rejected by the society and (5) feed street children by supporting soup-kitchen in Northern Moldova.

Please, continue to support the mission work in 2014!

The Heart of Worship Series: Where Are We To Worship God?

Oleg Turlac

"It is always true that an encounter with God brings wonderment and awe!" (A.W. Tozer)

From ancient times we know of existence of places where people worshipped God. Great Old Testament men of God built altars and offered burnt offerings, expressing their gratitude to the Almighty for His blessings. Israel worshipped God in the tabernacle as the chosen people wondered for years in the desert.

Later, the temple was built in Jerusalem, and that city of peace became the centre of worship of Yahweh, the God of Israel. It was the dream of many Israelites and a desire of everyone who belonged to God's chosen people -- to come to Jerusalem and worship God at His holy place. King David is one of the most famous worshippers that we know from the pages of the Bible. In one of the Psalms (5:7) we find the following words, "But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple."

When the Kingdom of Israel was divided after the death of King Solomon, those living in the Northern Kingdom, had their place of worship in Samaria, at the top of the mount of Gerizim, where, according to biblical narrative, Abraham was ready to sacrifice his son Isaac to God. Those living in the South, continued to worship Yahweh in Jerusalem. This division existed for centuries.

The Samaritan woman from the 4th chapter of the Gospel of John mentions the difference between the two locations, "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem." (4:20) Where can one worship God?

To make things clear, Jesus stated that prior to split of the one nation, there was only one temple, in Jerusalem, where all Israelites came to worship, but then He pointed at something very significant, "A time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem." (John 4:21) Jesus expressed a very radical idea. The time is coming when a place of worship will not be of great significance. What will be more significant is the mode of worship, the inner attitude of one's heart. In essence, Jesus inaugurated the new era of God's Kingdom that was not to be limited to one place and one nation. Anyone, anywhere will be able to worship God.

From ancient times, the people of Israel regarded the temple as the centre of worship, but this was not of primary significance to God. Even though Israel had a temple and Yahweh was their God, that did not prevent God's chosen people and their leaders from wondering away from true worship. Having the temple and living in the holy city was not enough. God demanded much more. He wanted people to be as holy as He was, to abstain from taking advantage of each other and from falling into worship of gods of other nations that surrounded Israel. Yahweh wanted His people to live according to His commandments and not just to perform ritualistic acts of worship. The state of human heart was important to God. In the book of Hosea we find the following words, "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." (6:6)

Because of Christ Who is the Savior of all, Jews and Gentiles, now anyone from any nation can worship God. All of us, men and women, can come to praise Him. We can worship God everywhere. Though we have places in our towns, where we come to worship God every Sunday, we do not consider them to be exclusive places where we can encounter God. We can pray, sing and glorify God's name everywhere, worship Him in any church building at any location all over the world. We can also pray under open skies, on street corners, while riding a street car or out in the woods.

God is omnipresent. Though we gather to worship God in church sanctuaries that we dedicated for this high purpose, we can worship Him at any place. In his speech in Athens, apostle Paul expressed the following words, "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else." (Acts 17:24-25)

God is not conserved within church walls but is a part of our daily lives. Many of you know wonderful words of a Christian hymn from memory, "And He walks with me, and He talks with me..." Our worship can be public or it can occur in a private setting -- in our homes, as we read the Bible and express to God our gratitude for who He is and for great blessings that He bestowed upon us.
God is with us in church buildings, in our homes and at the marketplace. One of the well-known benedictions by Blair Monie expresses this idea in a wonderful way,

As you leave this place,
may the Living Lord go with you;
May he go behind you,
to encourage you,
beside you, to befriend you,
above you, to watch over you,
beneath you, to lift you
from your sorrows,
within you, to give you the gifts
of faith, hope, and love,
and always before you,
to show you the way.

In “Last Frontier” countries, where Jesus is not welcome, Christians are not permitted to build churches. In Central Asian "Stan" countries one can be fined and jailed just for possession of a copy of the Bible. But these circumstances do not hinder Christians from worship.

When I was in one of the "Last Frontier" countries, together with local Christians, we gathered under open skies late at night, and together we prayed to God, to Whom no tongue is strange and for Whom there are no frontiers. He hears prayers of His children in the "Stan" countries as well, as hears all of us when we pray in America or Canada.

Where are we to worship God? Anywhere and everywhere. What a privilege it is! As you know, I travel overseas quite often. How wonderful it is to be able to read the Bible and pray right on the plane. In those moments, plane becomes my sanctuary.

Worship Him, glorify His name, for He is worthy!

Photo Credit

© 2013 Oleg Turlac

The Heart of Worship Series: Why Do We Worship God?

By Oleg Turlac

“I want the presence of God Himself, or I don't want anything at all to do with religion... I want all that God has or I don't want any.” (A.W. Tozer)

In a song that he composed, Matt Redman expressed the following thought, "I'm coming back to the heart of worship, and it's all about You, All about You, Jesus…"

When one comes to the issue of Christian worship, one usually asks several questions: (1) why do we worship God? (2) Where should we worship God and (3) how should we worship our Lord?
From the time when we are born, we have an awareness of the One who is above us. Our soul longs to worship the One who is greater than we are, to whom we can run at the time of  trouble, and with whom we can share our joys when we are happy.

We Worship God the Creator
First of all, we worship God because he is Creator of the Universe and Creator of us all. In the book of Psalms (33:6-9) we read, “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.”

We worship the One who created us and to whom we owe our very lives. We cannot worship God if we do not recognize Him as our Creator and the One who is superior to us. He gave us, humans, a special place among his creation. The author of Psalm 8 worships God when we writes, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Ps.8:3-9)

But how do we know who our God is since we do not see Him? The Bible tells us of who God is. It is in the Bible that we read a story that in the beginning God created the world. This statement is found in the very first chapters of the book of Genesis. Therefore, in order to worship God of the Bible, one has to believe statements spelled out in the holy book. To trust the Bible's testimony, one has to have faith. It is impossible to please God without faith. Faith is an important component of Christian worship.

As our Creator, God knows who we are indeed and knows what is best for us. We are created according to his design, image and likeness. Therefore, without Him, we cannot know who we truly are. One of outstanding theologians of the Protestant Reformation John Calvin writes in the Magnum Opus of Christian doctrine, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, "It is evident that man never attains to a true self-knowledge until he have previously contemplated the face of God, and come down after such contemplation to look into himself."
When we think of God, we realize who we are, and when we look at ourselves, that directs our hearts to God. When we realize that He is holy, this fact moves us to reflect upon our imperfections and sinfulness, and when we look at our inadequacies, that makes us seek God. Calvin continues, "Thus, our feeling of ignorance, vanity, want, weakness, in short, depravity and corruption, reminds us, that in the Lord, and none but He, dwell the true light of wisdom, solid virtue, exuberant goodness."

We Worship God the Redeemer
We also worship God because He is our Savior and Redeemer. To worship God as a Savior, one has to understand the concept of sin, which is one of the fundamentals of  Christian theology. Because of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, there was a need in a Savior. Because no sinful human could satisfy God's divine justice (Rom.3:23), God sent His own Son to fulfill a very important mission -- to die for sinful humanity on the cross of Calvary and this to atone for their sins before God the Father. (John 3:16) Christ paid the price in our place. Because of his death, we are free from the guilt of sin and are given the gift of new life. We worship God because he set the plan of salvation in motion. We worship him out of a sense of gratitude for what he has done for us in Jesus Christ.

So, at this point we come to realize that only a Christian that understands that he has been bought out of the state of slavery to sin and given the gift of new life, can truly worship God.

There is no question that in order to worship God, one has to be born again, otherwise an individual will always wonder, why anyone has a need to go to church and spend time there every Sunday. We worship God not out of obligation, not because we are forced to do it, not because we are used to coming to the house of worship from our very childhood but because we consciously realize that we have been saved from the guilt of sin, and that God as our Savior deserves our worship indeed. He is worthy. One of the wonderful praise songs expresses this in the following words, "Worthy, you are worthy, King of kings and Lord of Lords, you are worthy!"

To be continued…

Photo Credit

© 2013 Oleg Turlac

Kazakh Pastor Facing Imprisonment

KAZAKHSTAN. Associated Baptist Press (ABP) reports that Pavel Leonov, a pastor of Evangelical church in Kazakhstan, the 9th largest country of the world, faces imprisonment, for leading an "illegal" (unregistered wit authorities) congregation. Read the full story here and make other Christians aware of persecution of their brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.

Uzbek Baptists Lose a Camp

UZBEKISTAN. Associated Baptist Press (ABP) recently published a story of Uzbek Baptists losing a camp, which they purchased 13 years ago. Confiscation of the camp is just one of the examples of persecution of Christians by Uzbek authorities. Read the full story here and make others aware of persecution of Christians around the world.