Day two over — three to go at WGNB

Wow. It’s been fun. I didn’t think I’d be able to pick things up so quickly. But, I’ve been able to learn the board and have been able to keep people informed and challenged all at the same time.

I’ve been filling in on the morning show at WGNB in West Michigan. I haven’t hosted a morning program in a long time. But, hosting a morning broadcast is what got me interested in Christian radio as a profession. I hosted my first morning program on 88.9 WGNR in Grand Rapids when I was in school.

Moody radio has an interesting mix of music and talk. In my opinion, it’s a little too talk heavy, so it limits the amount of ‘connecting time’ with the listening. Just about the time you  get a good music mix — you’re breaking it up with another short-feature.  I’m guessing they’re playing maybe 9 or 10 songs an hour.

However, I do enjoy the fact that Moody doesn’t play EVERY popular song out there. They’re more interested in ministering to people rather than playing the latest song the record companies want a radio station to play. There’s nothing wrong with playing new music, but there’s also nothing wrong with playing music that’s three our four years old, either.

Tomorrow I’m going to attempt to bring the listener in with telephone calls. I haven’t tried their phone equipment, so it could be a bit of a challenge the first couple of calls. We’ll see what happens.  If you’re interested, tune in at wgnb.fm from 6am to 8:30am.

Morning show on WGNB

Today is Sunday and I’m sitting at home wishing I could be a church. I love our worship services and Bible study hour class. However, because of the snow and blizzard like conditions, church was canceled. So, I’m actually getting ready for tomorrow morning.

I get to do a morning show on a local radio station. I will be filling in at 89.3 WGNB in the West Michigan area for the week. While I’m not going to be able do everything I want to do on a morning show, I’ll get to do what got me into radio to begin with — hosting a radio show.

I’ve been doing show prep and getting ready to have fun. I’m not saying I’m not having fun at Mission Network News — I am. But, this is where I started. Hosting a radio shift and I’m really excited about it. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve hosted a live air shift.

Hopefully, I won’t run into any major problems with technology. That’s the ONLY thing I’m concerned about.

Greg to Dallas with Orphan Outreach

Well, it’s another couple of days on the road. Sunday, January 27 I’ll be heading to Dallas, Texas. I’m a new board member for Orphan Outreach. We have our board meeting on Monday, January 28. I’m excited about joining this ministry.

I’ll also be traveling to visit with World Bible Translation Center and hopefully Buckner Orphan Care International.

I’ll be back in the office January 30.

Russia trip is over

(I wrote this on the plane on the way home and forgot to post it)

Group photoIt was an incredible week in Russia. This is my seventh time visiting the country and each time I’m amazed at how God, in unique ways, reveals the Gospel to those who aren’t even looking for it. Pictured here is the team of guys who traveled into the tundra in North Central Russia.

Anatoli MerechevAnatoli Mereichev is one example. His grandfather was imprisoned for having anti-Stalin views. He was sent to Salahard to serve his ten years. His family followed. Much later Anatoli’s Grandmother was saved. She shared the Gospel with her children and grandchildren. Now, Anatoli at 33 years old is the pastor of a thriving church that intentionally reaching out with the Gospel not only to Russians, but to the tribal people, too.

Peter HudyiPeter Hudyi is another example. He left the Nyentsi people for broadcasting. However, God had other plans. Peter heard the Good News and went through the Russian Ministries training and now he’s an evangelist to his own people, who are largely unreached. Peter drove us all over the Yamal region of Russia. He has a passion for reaching his people, but there just aren’t enough people to help reach his people, which number about 30,000 in the Yamal region alone.

Paul TokarchukPaul Tokarchuk’s family come to Yemal from Ukraine during the Soviet days. His father was looking for work. When the family got there a body of believers found them. Paul’s mother and father came to Christ, then Paul came to Christ. Now at 33 years old Paul is a leader in Russian Ministries.

God’s Grace is truly amazing. He uses incredible ways to reach the lost and confound the wise. He uses people nobody would ever use. Why? Because it brings Him the glory.

Greg in the tundraI came on this trip to be a help to believers on the ground, but what happened was these believer became a help to me. They showed me that they’re willing to serve the Lord no matter what. They serve the Lord despite government oppression. They’ll reach out to the unreached despite incredible circumstances — like the vast tundra of the arctic.

Thank you for praying and for your comments.

Snowmobile Through the Tundra (day two) – January 8, 2008

Tundra and reindeer in backgroundWe got up to a beautiful sunrise at about 10:30am. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. No wind. But, the temperature was -35. It felt much cold than the previous day. We awoke to more reindeer meat, more tea and more bread. Many of us had to use the bathroom, but there are no bathrooms in the tundra. So, we just used the outside. We had to be careful because the reindeer CRAVE salt. Guess what’s in urine. We had to strategically walk away from the herd and not look like we were doing our ‘business,’ otherwise they would RUN to you.

Typical food in the tee pee.We got ready to hand out the Christmas gift boxes at around noon to the few children who were in this camp of three teepees. Then, we had church. One of the men in our group, Boris, preached a wonderful message, then we sang songs, ate again and prepared to head back to Beliarsk. This is the typical food you’d receive in the tee pee — raw reindeer meat, bread, crackers, and tee.

Women cooking for us, my Dad in background.In tee pee living, the woman is the queen of the tee pee. She rules. She sets up the tee pee, keeps the fire going, cooks, takes care of the children, etc. Men are only guests in the tee pee. Their job is to care for the reindeer heard. This particular family owns 500 reindeer. They can sell it for $5.00 per pound, or $10 per pound in the city. The reindeer feed off the tundra, so when all the feed is consumed, they move somewhere else. It takes nearly a day to strike camp, move and set up camp again.

Woman fixing dinner, my dad is background.The ride back to Beliarsk was only 3 hours, this time, but still grueling. Each person on our team is sore and exhausted, but truly thankful for the opportunity to explore the world and have a small impact on someone’s life. We arrived back in Beliarsk at around 8:00pm, got warm, ate dinner, had some good fellowship, and traveled two hours back through the winter road to Salehard. It was a great adventure. Now all we have left is sightseeing in Salehard, travel back to Moscow for a little more sightseeing and then home on Saturday.

To Russia’s tundra – January 8, 2008

Our three vehicals heading to the tundraWe began our journey to the Tundra from Salehard. We traveled on a rough highway, then a winter highway to Beliarsk, a city with a population of about 2,000. A winter highway is just that. It’s only around in the winter. It consists of frozen rivers, lakes and tundra. It was truly amazing the see what God has created in the extreme north.

Children at orphanage on the way to the tundraWe stopped at an orphanage on the way. Unfortunately, many of the children who would be there were on winter holiday and were with extended families. So, there were only a few children at this orphanage. But, out of all of our travels to date, this received the most resounding response. It was from one little boy — he was maybe 8 or 9. He opened his box and he about jumped for joy. He loved it. Another young boy opened his box an immediately opened his Bible.

Paul and Misha preparing snacks in Beliarsk.From there we traveled the rest of the way through the frozen north to Beliarsk. We stopped at an apartment to eat and get geared up for our snowmobile ride of a lifetime. We snacked on sausage, cheese, crackers, etc. None of us were really ready for what we were getting ourselves in for. Paul Tokarchuk told us we were going about 12 kilometers to our first teepee. And, so we set off.

Paul Tokarchuk getting ready to ride into the tundra.Unfortunately, this evening was full of excitement. The sleds we were riding on were more for carrying cargo, or packages, not people. We struggled to stay on the sleds. Each bump hurt. Each turn, we struggled to stay on. You would think they would stop to see how we’re doing — but they didn’t. They stopped only after someone asked to stop — me. Wow, it was hard. On one of the stops we saw the northern lights. How beautiful! Children at the first teepeeBut, after almost two hours, we arrived at, what we thought was, our destination. It was a tee pee owned by a Ynunsi Christian family. Ynusi are reindeer herders and nomadic. There are only about 30,000 Ynusi. They move their camps (homes) about 7 times each winter to find feed for the reindeer. At this teepee we ate raw reindeer, cookies, crackers, and bread. Tea is served with EVERYTHING. I know why, too. IT’S HOT. We also gave the kids Christmas Gift boxes from the church in Salehard.

Greg's face after just an hour on snowmobileHowever, this teepee wasn’t our final destination this evening. We had to travel another two hours. Unfortunately, the family we were trying to find had moved to find feed for their reindeer. They left a barrel with directions on how to find the camp. It took another 1 1/2 hours to find it. When we arrived at 1:30am, they were waiting for us with tea, raw reindeer meet, and a warm fire to ease the -30 degree cold we were encountering on our long snowmobile ride. After we ate, the fire was stoked, we were covered with reindeer skins to stay warm and we all went to sleep.

Russian Christmas in Salehard, Russia – January 7, 2008

Arctic Circle Monument in Salehard, RussiaWe flew from Moscow to Salehard on January 6. We stopped by this monument, which identifies Salehard as the only city centered on the Arctic Circle. It wasn’t as cold as it was when I was here four years ago. The temp was around 10 above — very unusual for this part of the world. But, that quickly changed. Salehard is a city of about 30,000. It’s separated by the Ob River. In the winter, the river serves as a bridge to the city of Lobitnangi, a city of about 20,000. Salehard was home to thousands of political prisoners during the days of the Soviet Union. Many Christians died in labor camps here.

Pavel Tokarchuk, preaching Christmas day.Christmas Day in Russia (January 7) was a great day. We spent most of it in church and serving others. We started off at the Baptist Church in Labitnangi, just above the Arctic Circle. We heard from four speakers including Paul Tokarchuk, Moscow Regional Director of Russian Ministries. We also heard from Pastor Sergey, who was commissioned when I was here in 2004. The mood was that of worship. It was a blessing to celebrate Christ’s birth twice this year.

Kids recite Christmas poems at church Christmas celebration.Part of our celebration was the annual Christmas program. I don’t think it matters where you all in the world, when you get microphones and kids together you have funny moments — moments that memories are made from. The program contained a little drama, little ones reciting poems, singing and the annual kids Christmas gift. This year the kids made out pretty well. It was a bag full of candy and treats.

The team from Good News Church in Salehard.Following the Christmas celebration at church, we accompanied Pastor Anatoli Merechev to two orphanages to hand out Christmas gifts. It was part of Russian Ministries’ Greatest Gift Exchange – Project Hope initiative. Russian Ministries provided the boxes and Bibles, the local churches provided the candy, toys and other goodies. The presents were handed out to orphans and poor children to allow the local church to share the Gospel. Without the gifts, the evangelical church isn’t allowed in the orphanages.

Good News Church in Salehard, Russia.From there, we traveled to Pastor Anatoli’s church, Good News Church, which is almost completed for good Christian fellowship. Believers from both churches gathered together to celebrate the birth of Christ. They had good food and many people sang, shared a poem, or just enjoyed their time together as a family of believers centered around the one Christ. This serves as both a church and training center for Next Generation church leaders in the Yamal region of Russia, particularly the Arctic north.

Closer to Christmas

I love Christmas. I have since I was a little boy. When I was between 3 and 10 I believed in Santa Claus. My goal was to see him delivering gifts on Christmas Eve. My two sisters and I would devise a plan each year to try to either take a nap during the day see we could stay up to see him, or have one of us stand watch. If either of us saw him, we’d come running.

Unfortunately, none of us could: a. Stay awake that long. b. stay up (mom an dad ALWAYS made us go to bed). And, c. None of us deep down REALLY wanted to see Santa Claus — it was spoil the surprise.

But, I would go to bed with very few Christmas presents under the tree. Then, I would wake up at 2am or 3am and sneak out to the living room where there would be MANY more gifts under the tree. It always AMAZED me how many more gifts would just magically appear under the tree in just a few hours.

One year, I had a flashlight in my room and I would sneak out and play with the toys before everyone got up. I got a Lionel Train set one year. Another year I got an airplane that would REALLY go. It was electric…it could take-off, fly around and circles and land. It was cool. Another year I got a Virtibird helecopter toy. It was really cool.

I know many Christian families won’t let their kids believe in Santa Claus, our family does. It’s not the only thing we tell our daughter about. We STRESS the reason for Christmas is the birth of God’s Son, Jesus. We also tell her that without Jesus’ birth, we’d never have salvation. It’s the best gift of all.

Well, I’ve been enjoying listening to my favorite Christmas music: Perry Como – Home for the Holidays (1959), Maranatha Long Play Christmas, Steve Green – Joy to the World, Steven Amerson – Is There A Place, Damaris Carbaugh (especially the song, May God Give His Gift This Christmas). I’ve also been dreaming of a white Christmas. The weather’s predicting 8 inches tomorrow. We’ll see.

Merry Christmas!

Greg

Giving Thanks

I doubt I’ll be posting anything tomorrow because we’ll be heading to church for our Thanksgiving service, but I wanted to take a moment to tell the world what I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving.

First, I’m thankful for God’s grace in my life. It’s incredibly humbling knowing that God is allowing me not only to be a part of his family, but being able to serve him. His grace has been even more evident through my illness, or whatever it is I’ve been dealing with lately. I realize that even though I was dealing with ‘shocks’ in my head and a little light headedness, there are so many other people dealing with things so much worse. I’m also thankful for His work in my life during this time. God’s brought to mind sin, selfishness and other issues that were preventing me from having a better relationship with Him. Pray for me that I’ll be able to win that constant battle against those things.

I’m also thankful for my family, my wife especially. I’m pretty fortunate the God has given her to to me. She’s stood beside me even though I’m not the most pleasant person to be around. Many times my work, selfishness and other things have upstaged her. While she’s been hurt, she’s stood by me.  I’m also thankful for my kids. Each of them have taught me more about myself. While all of them are FAR from perfect, they are committed to the family and that’s a good thing. However, I regret that none of them have much of a relationship with Christ. I’m making a concerted effort to pray for God’s work in their hearts. Anastsia is young. I’m praying God will move in her heart early. With her personality, I believe God has got some great plans for her.

I’m also fortunate to have a Mom and Dad who have always believed in me. I have never been a very confident person. I don’t know why, but I’ve always doubted myself. I’m sure they were wondering what would become of me, since I wasn’t very motivated in school. I really have to thank them for their prayers and unending support for my success. I surely didn’t earn it on my own.

I’m also thankful for my job. I love it. I love being able to literally tell the word what God is doing through His people. I’m a very fortunate person. I’ve also got a wonderful team. Everyone of them are committed to the cause of Christ and the cause of calling more Christians to get off the butts to do something. Too few believers are doing anything for the Gospel.

My church family has also been an incredible blessing. I’ve learned so much from so many people and I can’t imagine going into spiritual battle with any other group of people. We’re truly unified and it’s thrilling.

So, Thank you Lord for your incredible blessing in my life.

Back to Work

It’s 11:00 PM and it’s been a good day, but a tiring one. It was my first day back to work since the ‘shock’ and subsequent hospital visits. It was great to get back in the saddle, even though it was only a half day.

I started off my day getting my daughter off to school. That was followed by a visit to the chiropractor. After that I went to the advancement office to sign receipts and then into the office. It was good to see my friends.  Although, I must admit that I got tired of telling my story over and over again. But, it’s good to know how much people care.

I was able to come home at about 2:30 — about a half day. I crashed on the couch. I’m amazed how tired I got today. I’m also amazed at how refreshed I felt in doing the day-to-day work.

I did have the honor of judging the Intercollegiate National Religious Broadcaster Convention student production competition today. I felt badly being overly critical, but I believe it’ll help these young people become better broadcasters. There were several good ones. I wish them well and I hope they use their abilities for His glory. We need more young people willing to serve God in Christian broadcasting.