Hume Lake Christian Camps

In my 66th year I continue my reflections on my life with a very significant year, 1963, my twelfth year on this earth. A year with a decision that has shaped the rest of my life.

Nestled close to  Kings Canyon National Park in California’s Sierra Nevada is the Youth Camp that I was able to attend in 1963, 1965 and 1967. I was 12, 14, and 16 during these wilderness adventures.

I was raised in a family who attended church regularly and often, very religious. The church I was raised in gave me the impression that because I was Russian and a member of their church that I had an exclusive connection with God. What I learned at Bible Camp was that the only exclusive connection I could have to God was through Jesus Christ and what He did for me on the cross. Being Russian and being a part of my father’s religion did not give me a direct link to God. In 1963 at Hume Lake while listening to a speaker talk about Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross to save sinners I was moved to step out and become a follower of Jesus. God’s plan of salvation was exclusively through his perfect son Jesus, who is fully God and came to earth to live a perfect life among us and be the perfect sacrifice for our sins. I knew I was one of those sinners and I needed a Savior. This decision began a journey of ups and downs, highs and lows, but a journey forward with my God and Savior. When I began my new life following Jesus I was clothed with His righteousness and reconciled to God. I continue on this walk, never perfectly but with God’s grace I carry on. He will be teaching me by His Holy Spirit all the days of my life. My God and Savior is and will be faithful to see me through all of my life on this earth and I look forward with the Hope of seeing Him face to face in heaven. During this same year, 1963, my father began his journey of following Jesus after hearing Billy Graham at the Los Angeles Coliseum share the truth of Jesus Christ and why He came to earth over 2000 years ago. 1963 was an epic year for me and my family. For my father and me we became part of God’s movement of love and grace through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My mother was a follower of Jesus when she married my father. My two older sisters had started following Jesus before my father and me.

I’ll share this verse that Billy Graham proclaims in every interview I’ve ever heard him give. John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

High School scanned4HUME LAKE CHRISTIAN CAMP 1967

Reflections of my story from age 18 onward of my life will continue in another post.

Presently we are still waiting for that phone call. We are happy for it coming later than sooner since baby Addy is enjoying the womb and continues her growth in that comfort. We have a bag partially packed so we don’t have to wonder about something we forgot. We keep the car gassed up and ready to go. We are still in a very rainy pattern here in the Pacific Northwest. Plants should flourish well here this Spring. How goes it where you live?

My Testimony ~ In Evil Long I Took Delight- Hymn

High School scanned4HUME LAKE CHRISTIAN CAMP

Ellen’s simple version of her testimony, March 29th, 2007

I accepted Christ (was spiritually born) in the summer of 1963 at Hume Lake Christian Camp. I was a reluctant, stubborn, proud, follower of Jesus for many years. Similar to the birth process, I was comfortable in the womb (when God was calling me), but at birth when I had to get up and walk down an aisle and be singled out I howled like a baby. (Why do they say down the aisle instead of up the aisle?) I thank God He didn’t throw me back! I was a colicky baby. I fussed when anyone called attention to my bad attitudes, stubbornness, sin. I became more of a pharisee than a lover of God and my neighbor. I had my moments of obedience and peace. I had a long way to go and still do in the sanctification process. It has dawned on me more and more what an amazing thing Christ did for me and the dirty rotten sinner I am. I still need to go deeper in this reality. I’m so glad God keeps after me and loves me. If my memory serves me correctly I cooperated more in the sanctification process after my baptism in high school. I’ve had periods of growth and periods of “being asleep in my faith”. BUT – GOD IS FAITHFUL and His promises are true. I want to follow Him for the rest of my life. Every day I want to say, thank you for saving me, I’m yours Lord. Every day I want to seek Him. More and more, I’m looking forward to seeing Him “face to face”.

I read this classic hymn by John Newton (In Evil Long I Took Delight) in Living the Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney and felt it appropriate to include with my testimony.

In evil long I took delight
Unawed by shame or fear;
Till a new object struck my sight
And stopped my wild career.

I saw one hanging on a tree
In agonies and blood;
Who fixed his languid eyes on me
As near his cross I stood.
Sure never till my latest breath
Can I forget that look;
It seemed to charge me with his death
Though not a word he spoke.

My conscience felt and owned the guilt
And plunged me in despair;
I saw my sins his blood had spilt
And helped to nail him there.
Alas, I knew now what I did
But now my tears are vain;
Where shall my trembling soul be hid?
For I the Lord have slain.

A second look he gave which said
“I freely all forgive;
This blood is for thy ransom paid
I died that thou mayest live.”
Thus while his death my sin displays
In all its blackest hue;
Such is the mystery of grace,
It seals my pardon too.

With pleasing grief and mournful joy
My spirit now is filled;
That I should such a life destroy
Yet live by him I killed.

Olney Hymns, Book 2: On Occasional Subjects (London: W. Oliver, 1779).

See What He Will Do…

About two years ago the Billy Graham Association was asking for email stories of how Billy Graham’s Evangelical Outreach had touched our lives. I sent in the story of my Pop’s conversion. Previously to this request, when our daughter was at Wheaton College in Illinois we were able to visit the Billy Graham Museum on campus. Emotions came to the surface when I saw the photos from the Los Angeles Crusade at the Colliseum in 1963. I knew my dad and I were somewhere in that photo of the stadium filled to overflowing.

I sent in my story hoping that Billy would hear and know that I thanked God for his devotion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how it impacted my family.

What a thrill to get this book in the mail this past month, skimming through and seeing my story about Pop published.

I can hardly wait to show my Mom and Pop the book…

My parents are soon turning 86 and 85.

Testimony Tuesday ~ Beth

The following testimony is from my friend Beth. We met after her son Jamie and my son Dan became close friends in elementary school in Washington. Both Beth and her husband Dave are relational people who care about others and are always willing and ready to help those in need. We have been ministered to by them in so many ways. We truly treasure their friendship. Beth and Dave have three sons who are all our dear friends, too. Here’s Beth’s testimony in her own words.

In 1951, God chose to give me physical birth, into a non practicing Catholic family. From my earliest years I  believed in God and knew He loved me. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother who took her Catholic religion VERY seriously. With her I spent a lot of time at church, which I didn’t like, but what was comforting was her love for God. My parents divorced when I was 9.  I ended up going to quite a few different schools, one of them being Bellevue Christian. Mr. Fredricks was my 8th grade teacher. He was an ex-drinker and smoker who loved to tell how God reached down and saved him. I was so drawn to his passion, but didn’t understand the message. My sophomore year I went to a Seventh Day Adventist boarding school. They believe Saturday is the Sabbath, so from sundown Friday till sundown Saturday, we could either study the Bible or go to church services. Up to that point, I had heard the story of Jesus many times in many ways by many different people. I wasn’t seeking, and thought I already knew how much Jesus loved me. But one night in 1967, He chose to give me spiritual birth. He pierced my heart, opened my spiritual eyes and completely overwhelmed me with His love.

         ” The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making  wise the simple.”  Psalm 19:7

 Looking back I have seen how even before I was saved God placed people in my life to nurture, protect & direct me to Him. He has shown time and time again how faithful, how merciful, and how lovingly patient He is. His truth is what I continually seek.

             “In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us.”       Psalm 62:7,8

“With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.”     Psalm 119: 10-16

                                       

These are Dave and Beth’s three sons in Jamie, Aaron, and Matt.      

Testimony Tuesday ~ Kathy (a.k.a. Jack’s Nana)

This is my sister Kathy’s testimony. She is the oldest of 8 siblings. She was born in Tehran and immigrated to the U.S. with my folks shortly after World War II. Kathy is married to Len and she has two daughters Michelle and Melissa. Michelle is married to Ryan and has one son, Jackson.

 

Lana, Kathy, Ellen and Vera (sisters)

Growing up in our family, where our Mom was a Christian and Pop was a very religious man, was a real privilege.  Babushka Vera [our maternal grandmother] was a real prayer warrior and prayed for all of us especially Pop.  Vera [my younger sister] and I would go to Bethany Sunday School occasionally because of our friendships with Tamara and Milla Katkov.  We also went to a midweek meeting at Tamara Kushnerov’s [one of the teachers at Bethany].  I remember hearing my need of a Saviour at this midweek meeting, and then I went home and got on my knees and asked Jesus to come into my heart.  It is all a little fuzzy but I think I was about eight or nine.  Summer camps were a very important part of my growth and maturing in the Lord.  I started teaching Sunday School when I was probably about thirteen, and preparing for that helped me to grow as well.  We used to go to a Tuesday night youth group at YRCA (Young Russian Christian Association) which also added to my growth.  So many events and so many people were used by God to help me grow.

I am now challenged and refreshed by my family as they grow and walk with the Lord.

Thank you, God, for your faithfulness!

Kathy has a peacemaker’s heart and is very kind. She has a degree in teaching but more than that she has the gift of teaching.  Right now besides spending as much time as she can with Jack and substitute teaching,  she is caring for her 93  year old mother-in-law. May God bless her richly for all the good she does in obedience to Him. Kathy truly is an example of a Proverbs 31 woman who fears the Lord and does good for her household and others!

Testimony Tuesday ~ Svetlana

Svet gave me permission to post her testimony for Testimony Tuesday. She was born around the same time as my youngest brother and sister (twins) 13 years my junior. We attended the same Russian Baptist Church years ago. The following is her testimony in her own words.

“I’d learned about God at home, and from my grandparents who often spoke to me about God.  I heard my mom pray to this God every night…so I did too!

I was 7.  Miss Heidi (hi Heidi!) was the most beautiful Sunday school teacher, and she made me feel very important!  She had asked us before, so next time Miss Heidi invited us to “ask Jesus into our hearts”, I decided I’d raise my hand.  I believed that God was real, and, I thought I’d get struck w/ lightening if I waited any longer…I was shy.  Miss Heidi prayed with me and together, we asked Jesus to come dwell in my heart.  I felt great!  I was excited and felt a weight had been lifted…my chances of being struck by lightning had just been greatly diminished!  I went home that day and immediately prayed that same prayer again…and again the next day…and again…and again.  I needed to make sure God heard me, in case he’d been too busy before.  I just couldn’t grasp the idea of his omniscience/omnipresence.

Though I’d never been to summer camp as a kid, in my early 20’s, God orchestrated a series of events that landed me in a job as summer staff at Hume Lake.  It was there that I came to understand how very different Jesus and the Holy Spirit were, from the sovereign, (and distant), God that I knew.  The staff studied Philippians for the first month, and the Holy Spirit introduced himself to me as he used the Apostle Paul to teach me that God was not only a serious, punishing God, but a loving God who took joy, joy, JOY in me, his daughter!  I’d never been so encouraged as a believer as I devoured the book, again and again!

 

Hume Lake Christian Camp

For years my life verses were: Philippians 1:6 along with 2:13
“…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus…for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”  These days, though it may seem cliché God’s word can never be overused, my life verse is: Jer 9:11 “…for I know the plans I have for you…”  It’s such a comfort to know that my Savior is always ahead of me and right around the corner!”

~ Svet

Thinking of Retiring?

You’re 74, your wife is 73, you’re retired, what do you do? My parents, Moisi and Nadia decided to sell their house, many of their household possessions and move to Russia to start a Bible study ministry in a small village near Rostov-on-Don. They filed for a one year visitor’s visa and left with suitcases full of Bible study materials on May 6, 1997. They set up shop in a four-room home with no indoor plumbing. My dad is not an ordained minister. His experience comes from many years of following Christ sincerely, Bible study, service for the Lord, sincere love for God and God’s people. My mother loves God, loves my father, and loves to cook. They work together beautifully.

My parents were both born in Russia. When young, (1932), their families separately escaped out of Russia into Iran. They lived in and near Tehran, where they met and were married. My oldest sister was born there. My dad was not a believer when he married my mom. She was a believer and the daughter of a Baptist minister. Shortly after WWII they applied for and received permission to immigrate to the U.S.A. After customs and registering in New York they traveled to Los Angeles, where relatives set them up with shelter and work. Two more of my older siblings, myself, and four younger siblings were born to my parents. Twenty years into their marriage my dad accepted the call from God to follow His son Jesus as his Savior. This took place at the Billy Graham Crusade at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1963.

This is a photo of all my brothers and sisters at my sister Kathy’s wedding in 1974 along with my brother-in-law Len, his brother in-law as best man and Dear is in the photo, too.

My parents have faithfully followed the Lord in word and deed. On trips to Russia earlier in the 1990’s they felt the need of the lost sheep in this spiritually poor country. While visiting relatives they led a cousin to the Lord. She begged my parents to come and teach her the Bible. My parents prayed, listened, and felt it was time for them to go for longer than a 2-month visit.

A Bible study turned into a small church that met in my parents’ rental home. Up to 15 women started coming to church on Sunday. No men. They did not anticipate the response they’d get from the children in the village. Forty children came for Sunday School.

Many of the children came faithfully each week even though their parents did not come. Some of the fathers ridiculed their children for going. The Sunday School Christmas program brought out a lot of parents. Same for Easter programs. God kept opening doors for the men to hear the gospel, too. My dad was asked to speak at funerals where he always preached the Gospel, the Lord works in mysterious ways. At the end of their first year there were several new believers. My parents had to leave Russia in the Spring. Eight women wanted to be baptized before my father left. The lake was frozen and there was no baptistery in the village. The women insisted my dad baptize them in the largest bathtub in the village!

My parents came home to the States in May of 1998. They had their medical exams and my mother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. She had surgery to remove a cancerous lump and had radiation treatments for 6 weeks. She recovered well enough to encourage my father to make arrangements for another one year visa. They returned to Russia in October of 1998. They had a great reception on their return and their mission there was confirmed. They bought the house they were renting and turned it into a church with their small living quarters.

They built an outdoor baptistery on the church grounds.

They have gone back for a few months at a time since 1999.  Their final trip was just last year. They went to  encourage the existing church and make arrangements for a visiting pastor from a neighboring larger city to come in and teach this small group of believers. My parents turn 84 and 83 this year.

Comparing my folks from this 1999 photo in Russia with their 1997 photo above you can see the toll their two years of service, cancer (prostate and breast), and age have taken on them. They do not have any regrets for the time and sacrifice their service in Russia cost them. They are now living in a Senior apartment continuing in service for their Lord.

I leave you with this song, Remind Me, by Aaron Spiro and Carlo Furlan as a fitting close to this story of my parents.

Remind Me

When I’m old, remind me not to get stuck in my ways
When I’m old, remind me not to sit around day after day
’cause there’s a race to run that doesn’t finish at sixty
And I’m not giving up till I’m safe in your arms

When I’m old, let me bring glory to your super name
When I’m old, remind me not to take your grace in vain

When I’m old, remind me who and what I’m livin’ for
When I’m old, remind me not to hide away and double lock my door

I’ll rest in heaven, retire there. Let me run for Jesus ’till I get there.

Moisi (Moses) and Nadia have certainly lived their lives for Jesus and they haven’t stopped yet!

ht:  I Am, I Am, Kickin’ the Sky / Aaron Spiro & Carlo Furlan